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Shop 'til you snarl
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
It’s after Christmas, and now is the time for returning those gifts that didn’t quite work out. I pride myself on getting gifts that kick ass, so usually I don’t have to worry about returning stuff. Unless, of course, I ended up getting something for someone that someone else already purchased. But that’s rare. I also don’t make the mistake of buying clothing as gifts, because what I think is cool doesn’t mean the recipient will.
So I ended up going shopping with a friend on Black Friday, hoping to get a decent start. My friend is a proud south side resident and supporter, so we would be keeping to less-crowded
establishments and avoiding the mall altogether, so it probably wouldn’t be too bad. Plus, we would be starting at the civilized hour of 3 p.m. If other people wanted to throw themselves like lemmings at the open doors of retail corporate America at 5 a.m. and risk getting trampled just to get deals like 10 Chia pets for $5, and no-name DVD players for $14.99, so be it. Our first stop was K-mart, where I was a bit taken aback when the cashier asked me for my birthdate. Then it dawned on me I was purchasing a CD with one of those “Parental Advisory: If you buy this, your rebellious, pain-in-the-ass teenager might turn into a serial killer”-type warning labels on it. Maybe the cashier was visually impaired, but my gray hair should have tipped her off that I was of age to buy a CD I would be giving to my underage nephew.
Dollar Tree receives a big fat “F” for customer service. While at the check-out counter, I realized one of my purchases wasn’t quite up to snuff, so I asked the cashier if I could run back and get another one. She grudgingly agreed. So I sprinted back and got a replacement, a trip that probably took a minute at the most. The cashier called me a “slowpoke,” then got impatient with me for sliding my debit card through the reader. No matter what I did, and what she did, it wouldn’t work, so I gave up and handed her a rumpled $10 bill. I was half expecting her to snap at me because the money was obviously less than fresh, but I stood silently waiting for my change, mentally snarling at her. I probably should have blown up at the clerk, but I wasn’t buying fine jewelry, the lady was probably only making minimum wage, and who knows what she had to deal with earlier in the day. But if you happen to be shopping at the Southgate Dollar Tree, make sure you check your items out BEFORE taking them to the check stand. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised; Dollar Tree’s motto is “Where everything is just $1,” not, “We love our customers to death.” But still! Guess where I WON’T be shopping anytime soon?
Tuesday Morning yielded the nicest clerk of the day, a kindly older gentleman who greeted us as we came in, and when we finally checked out, apologized for his onion breath (his daughter had brought him three hot dogs from Coney Island.) He carefully rung us up, carefully bagged our purchases, and carefully handed our bags to us. It was quite a switch from Dollar Tree Shrew. It was a refreshing change, but we wondered if he’d be as careful and friendly had there been 50 people in line. As it was, my friend and I were the only customers in the store. I thought that was strange, since it was Black Friday evening, but we had the place to ourselves. I like the store, but Tuesday Morning, with the elegant yet down-to-earth Lauren Bacall doing commercials for the company, has always struck me as a “Discriminating older women with good taste but small budgets”-type of store. Maybe it was past their bedtime. It meant that my friend and I, two thirtysomethings on small budgets, could grab some bargains without having to say, “excuse me,” or having to wedge past carts and risk knocking expensive glassware off the shelves.
So we got good bargains and made some headway on our Christmas shopping. We didn’t get trampled. And the entertainment wasn’t bad either.
Ronco Veg-O-Matics, Chia Pets and fruitcakes to GloriaDcolumnist@aol.com.