Tag Archives: Black Friday

Things that Irritate Me (Part 3, with some apologies)

clockBelieve me. I am the last person who thought there would be cause to revisit this theme of mine. At the end of my last “irritated” post I was as happy as the rest of you to be done with it. Never, in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that a shallow person like me would have any sort of list, much less a growing list, of irritations. Maybe it’s the “Black Friday” thing. If my memory serves me correctly (and you know how often that happens) I recall that it was this time last year, while in Seattle doing a little bargain shopping myself, I encountered the New Yorker whom, for whatever reason, (maybe she had just broken up with her partner of 16 years and was engaging in some retail therapy to deal with the despair) seemed to feel it was ok to lash out at the poor woman behind the cash who was not only working as hard as any human could be expected, but doing it with a smile on her face. Maybe we are all in too much of a hurry these days to actually care about other people, and their feelings, even a little tiny bit. Or maybe we have become too accustomed to talking to what are essentially machines (you do know that iPhone of yours is one) and have forgotten to notice when we are not. Whatever the cause, I am finding myself increasingly irritated by people who are rude. Just plain, outright rude. To complete strangers. Like me. Shall I explain? Well that’s about as rhetorical as a question can get.

So it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m at my fav coffee shop, standing in line, waiting patiently for my turn at the till. So far, so good. There’s no one behind me which, I think to myself is a “good thing” because I’m about to present the Barista with my half price coupons which the good people at coffee HQ have so generously deemed I have earned as a result of the truck loads of dimes I spend at this place. Let’s face it. Shallow people are known for their propensity to waste gobs of time sitting and drinking coffee as what better place to while away the hours playing games like “who’s that guy/gal”, which perhaps explains the above speculation on the New Yorker. Unfortunately, but as can be expected, things did not go as quickly as one would hope and as both the Barista and I struggled with codes and apps and other technologies that were apparently required to make this happen, the line began to grow. Which was fine until a voice from the really not so long line called out “Give it up! I’ll pay for your coffee”. Now under normal circumstances I would be rather pleased to have a complete stranger offer to buy me a coffee because it’s kind of a nice thing to do. You know, one of those “pay it forward” things. But these were not normal circumstances and he was not being nice. In fact, he was being quite rude and that more than kind of irritated me. And I told him so. And it felt good.

I mean here’s a guy who, in the midst of his very busy day (I know this because he told me so), apparently found the time to stop in at his local coffee shop for a cuppa. Now it’s not like this is one of those self-serve places where you run in and out in mere seconds with something dark and murky, the sole purpose of which is to perk you up for the remainder of the day and most of the night. Nope. This is a rather popular, gourmet haunt in the middle of an upscale mall where at times you give serious consideration to offering up your first born in exchange for a parking spot. Where shoppers far more skilled at their craft than I, effortlessly wend their way through the hoards to the myriad of shops specializing in everything from gourmet cheese to high-end duds. Where in the midst of this retail frenzy there is an oasis of calm, a place we all go where, while they might not know your name, you know they’re going to ask for it. And you may have to wait. Let’s face it, they don’t call it a break for nothing. So if I’ve said it once I’ve said it six or seven times. “Unless you’re a contestant on The Amazing Race, what’s another couple of minutes in the line?

You know it’s not in my nature to dole out advice so consider this a suggestion. Next time you find yourself chomping at the bit to berate someone for higgledy-piggledy wasting two or three precious minutes of your life, take a moment to think before you speak. Because at this joyous but I understand, rather hectic time of year, maybe we all need to be just a teeny tiny bit nicer to each other. I’m pretty sure it’s going to make you feel a whole lot better but if you’re still not convinced, well take a good look at the line. If there happens to be a 5 foot 2, 105 pound (the treadmill really does work) shallow looking woman with a striking resemblance to Babs in that line, get prepared to hear about it. And trust me, those two or three minutes will be some of the best of my day.

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Sleeping in Seattle

Seattle skylinePicture this. You’re in the shoe department of Nordstrom’s on Black Friday and, in most people’s books, it’s pretty frenetic. Not that there are shoes flying everywhere or anything like that. I mean this is *Nordstrom’s* where a live pianist replaces the drone of the mood-altering Musak and shoes range in price from “ok I can do that” to “maybe not, I’d still like to eat this year”. And everything considered you gotta know that they’ve done this before because things go like clockwork. I mean you nonchalantly pick up a shoe and before you know it there’s someone with a loud speaker summoning help on your behalf. Almost instantaneously they provide you with not only the “E.T.A.” but just about all of the information you need to become good friends with your “shoe consultant” (their term not mine) which, in my case of course, might just happen. All in all, given the circumstances, it’s not a half-bad experience and, as my Mother would say, worse things could happen to you. This however, is apparently a sentiment not shared by the woman I unfortunately came to know when paying for my purchases.

I should make something clear. The shoe consultants at Nordstrom’s all work on commission which explains the great service you get and the fact that you are bound to walk out with more than you had planned. But who can’t use an extra pair or two of Tom’s especially when the design is exclusive to Nordstrom’s so there is no way you are going to pick them up once you are north of the 49th and anyway, you’ve just bought yet another few pairs of shoes for children in need. (Note: excessive shoe purchase justified.) And for the most part, they are nice people just like you and me who simply want to do the best job they can even on days like Black Friday. Which is why I found the “woman from New York City”(WFNYC), as I have now come to know her, particularly heinous.

I’m not one to make generalizations about extremely large populations of people but, according to WFNYC, all people in New York move quite a lot more quickly than the rest of us. And by the rest of us I mean (and again, I defer to her judgement here) the people of Seattle. Now I am aware that there is a slight tendency for those who are partial to life on the Pacific to be a tad laid back but I am not certain there was evidence of this in the flurry of activity I was witnessing behind the cash desk at Nordstrom’s on this, the busiest shopping day of the year. And yet, her conversation went something like this:

Shoe Consultant: Let me ring this up for you. Was there someone helping you today?
WFNYC: I can’t believe how slow things are here. Just ring the f—— thing up! (Might I add here that this is the first time since the inception of this blog that any such language has been used or alluded to but in this case I am afraid it is germane to the telling of the story so please accept my apology on her behalf.)
WFNYC: I’m from New York! I’m not used to this! Everyone is so slow here!
WFNYC: I can’t believe how slow they are here! I’m from New York! This would never happen in New York!
WFNYC: It’s so slow here! WTF!!!! I’m not used to this!!!!

Well as you can see this was a rather one sided conversation but more importantly, and what should be noted, was that the WFNYC was not only speaking like this to those of us who had the misfortune of being able to hear her but also to whoever it was that she was simultaneously talking to on her phone which solidified for me just how busy a person she really was. And how a delay of even a few seconds was eating into her otherwise “chock full of important things to do” day.

But wait. Isn’t this Black Friday? Is this not a holiday in the U.S. of A? Are not all of the businesses, other than retail closed on this day? And didn’t she mention once or twice that she was from New York? Would it be reasonable then to assume that she was not on her lunch break from work where, if she was a minute late to return would risk being fired on the spot? So where exactly was she going? Now I can’t say this for sure but given the day and the circumstances I’m thinking she was going to do more shopping. Which leaves me to wonder why it was that she couldn’t take a second or two to let the cashier know who had helped her buy her multiple pairs of boots and shoes so that sales person could be appropriately rewarded for their time. Because it seems to me that if you are sleeping in Seattle you should at least take the time to be decent to the people who live and work there.

And then a rather frightening thought occurred to me. For one split second I realized that I may just have met the person who is better placed to write this blog than I am. Good thing she will never have the time to do it.

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