Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meijer and the hope for change

okay, so what am I supposed to think when Meijer hangs banners from the ceiling declaring, "customer satisfaction" this, or "here to help you" that, complete with attractive Meijer associates with shiny white teeth? these huge posters with their winning smiles and pressed shirts lulls my needy, friendless-without-Meijer soul into a warm fuzzy world devoid of reality. see? see how I've been set up for the latest pulling-hair-out Meijer experience?

is it me? if it's me, let me know...

I've just finished scanning my 12 items, just a quick run into Meijer. I've pressed all the right buttons on the screen to declare that yes, I need cash back--ten dolares, please. just as I select the $10 minuscule rectangle, I recall that I need two 5 dollar bills, one to pay son and the other to pay daughter for contracted yard work. the inner workings of the u-scan machine whirls with cash counting noises as I begin all my lucky rituals (knocking on wood, crossing fingers, doing a $5 rain dance), hoping against hope for my change to shoot out in the form of two $5 bills. after a tense 4 seconds of staring at the machine's cash exit, out pops a single $10 bill.

son of a nutcracker! (love the movie Elf don't you?)

as I roll my eyes and lock my jaw in annoyance, I snatch the money and head toward Meijer's u-scan lackey. I start out with pathetic friendly approach--soft voice, tinge of whininess--"hi, the machine gave me a ten dollar bill, I need two fives." apparently, this u-scan lackey confused "pathetic friendly" with "aggressive hostile." her hands shot up next to her head like I just growled "stick 'em up!" she walks backwards away from me mumbling, "I just came here to help, I don't know nothin'!"

nope, I'm not exaggerating. no literary embellishment; that's what she said. verbatim. as my hapless "victim" backs away from me, it hits me: I have to go to the customer service desk! nooooooo!!!

"what's the big deal," you ask?! it's Saturday my friend, and my quick run into Meijer is about to become an epic journey through the bowels of the customer service underworld! I turn in slow motion toward the customer service area, praying that the line is short and hoping that the Friday night Fondue-ers are not in line with their Saturday morning defiled merchandise return, or that the crazed LOTTO potential winners aren't still trying to decide what numbers to play, or that someone isn't struggling over which seasonal book of stamps to buy: "overtly Christmas" or universal "Happy Holidays." that's the big deal!

after all the above and more take their turns, I step up to the counter, obviously a customer looking for some service. instead of "pathetic friendly," (didn't work out so well last time) I try "upbeat easygoing." with a slight smile, "morning, just need to change this ten into two fives." extend hand with money in a casual, relaxed manner.

again with the "stick 'em up" pose! "I can't do that!" she gasps as she backs away from the counter. completely confused, I inspect the money and pleadingly say, "this came out of your u-scan machine. I just need to change this ten, I need two fives!" Suzy wets-her-pants-a lot, staring at the money in my hand like it's the ebola virus in paper form whispers, "we've been told not to open our registers just to make change." I give the what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here look, to no avail.

she starts to be helpful by saying, "if you buy something..." I just look confused at her while my brain screams, "I just bought over $40 worth of groceries, I need to change this money, not spend it!" I glance over at the other "customer service" associate (hoping someone will cave) and see her drawer open. I jump at the chance, pointing like a tattling child I blurt out, "her drawer is open, get the two fives from her!" Suzy perplexed-into-non-action-a lot turns her head, stares at the open drawer, waits till the drawer closes and says, "sorry, can't help you." my exasperation turns ugly and I get loud. "are you kidding me?! I JUST WANT CHANGE!!" yes, I know my contextual usage was incorrect, but at that point I was beyond caring about proper Queen's English. oh, acoustical note: it's amazing how well an echo can carry in a warehouse-like store.

Meijer associate ignores my tantrum and signals next person in line to take my spot. sympathetic person in line waves me over, "try the bank over by produce, maybe they are open." totally dejected, yet still harboring ill feelings to all red-shirted people, I wait in line at the rented-space-in-Meijer bank for the only cashier to stop eating her lunch, unlock the half-door/gate thingy, walk through, lock the half-door/gate thingy, straighten her name tag, look at the line and ask "may I help someone?" like she can't understand why there are so many people watching her every move.

Hope for Change, Hope for Change. if only I could craft a whole grassroots driven campaign against the minds at Meijer based solely on that phrase... hmmm, maybe in 2012.



    Ok, so were you ever able to get change?

  2. yes, was handed two of the oldest, beaten-est, sad excuse for paper money $5 bills that I have ever seen. son and daughter's excitement to get cashola was squelched.