Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, October 17, 2008


"Genius is nothing but continued attention."
-Claude Adrien Helvetius

Spouse was eager last evening to locate the October issue of a certain magazine. The edition was for an anniversary special and so, it already being two weeks into the month, we were experiencing a degree of trouble in acquiring a copy. The only available copies seemed to be those of November, as though we were somehow remiss in keeping up with the calendar.
We decided to venture to a particular chain bookstore some thirty minutes away in hopes that they yet carried in their archives the dusty, cobwebbed prints from October.
I thought we should first make a telephone call to ensure they had what we were hoping for. When the call was connected Spouse named the magazine he wished to buy.
"We have November," the lady began with good cheer.
"No, that's just it. I'm looking exclusively for October's issue, since it was a unique edition."
"Oh, yes, we have October, too."
"October? Really? I just want to make sure. I don't want to come all that way for November!" Spouse brightened at the prospect of at last being successful.
"Special Anniversary Edition?" the assistant breezed with the utmost confidence, tapping on a keyboard.
"Yes, that's the one. Thank you. I'll be right there."
We were in our car before she had time to hang up.
"No," we were advised when we reached the store and could not find what we wanted on the shelves: "but we have November though!"
Spouse said the name of the assistant he had spoken with; perhaps she had put a copy aside for us. The assistant was duly brought forth.
Without further ado: the long and the short of it is that the store did not carry the October issue and in fact had quite run out of all copies within a day or two. Three assistants told us this, and three assistants beamed brightly as they did so.
Certainly, we were at the right store; we located the correct assistant who- although vaguely- recalled the query, and who gushed confounded apologies for our wasted visit. I doubt that she had actually expected the voice to turn up in person.
Afterward, I came to understand that the lady Spouse initially spoke to did not, conversely, tell any lies: she just did not listen to a single thing that he wanted, did not look at the detail and did not much care whether she was discovered to be in error. At the risk of sounding acerbic, I reserve most of my respect for those that place a high value on listening, and on paying attention to others. It is worth more than any commodity for sale.


Beth said...

How totally frustrating! This has happened to me as well and I cannot understand it at all. Why do a job in the "service" industry if you do not provide a service. I think you should write a letter to the manager, the young person who waited on you should learn the importance of doing her job properly or perhaps she would be better suited for a different job.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Beth, I think I will write a letter. She did fail us. I know it was just a magazine but then, if it's so simple, why not get it right? It was no misunderstanding- she bluffed, and got caught.
You're right, I don't even know why anyone would take a job like that. We didn't challenge her very much at all and yet that bit of nonsense happened. And we made absolutely sure it was there, as much as we could.
I think the letter is a great idea.

Unknown said...

It is so rare that people actually do follow through. Sometimes people do learn that their actions affect others.

Barb said...

Ahhh ..... "customer service". A valuable commodity of which we have precious little in this world. B

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Kip, that's very hopeful- I hope they do.

Barb, what I realised, is that when somebody does provide good service, it often goes unnoticed, or not as noticed as the bad. Which is sad.

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