Is two dollars worth murdering a video clerk over?

Retail is one of the few things in life that actually manages to slowly, but oh so surely, drain the human soul of the very essence which sustains it, thus ridding helpless employees everywhere of their will to live. And this isn’t to say that retail is inherently intolerable, because it isn’t. I don’t, for the most part, mind my job at Hollywood Video. So what is it that makes selling goods and services to the general public so ridiculously unbearable?

To be perfectly honest, it’s the general public. Yes, you, society. It's all your fault. For shame.

When I inform someone of their late fees (which I am actually required to do), they typically have one of two reactions. The first, which is most assuredly preferred by me, goes a little something like this:

ME: It looks like you have some late fees on your account.
CUSTOMER (slightly surprised): Oh, really? How much are they?
ME: Well, “You, Me and Dupree” and “Superman Returns” were both two days late, so the total, after tax, is $8.68.
CUSTOMER: Hm … well, I suppose I’ll take care of those.
ME (breathing a sigh of relief): Cool. Thanks for not yelling at me, sir.
CUSTOMER: You’re very welcome. Here, have a cookie.

This reaction is quick, painless and relatively nervous breakdown-free for everyone involved (the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie doesn’t hurt, either). This second response is, unfortunately, considerably more stressful:

ME: It looks like you have some late fees on your account.
CUSTOMER (shocked): What?
ME: You have some late fees. “Cobra vs. Python” and “Little Man” were both two days late, so the total, after tax—
CUSTOMER (becoming increasingly frustrated): No, that’s impossible. I don’t have any late fees.
ME: Sir, I’m just telling you what we have in our system—
CUSTOMER (knocking a gift card display over in an ape-like fit of rage): I don’t care what your damn computer says, I returned those movies on time!
ME (ducking under the counter to avoid the man’s wildly flailing fists): OK, well let me see what my manager can do for—
CUSTOMER (kicking a puppy out the door on his way out): Don’t bother, I’m taking my business elsewhere!

And then they leave, most likely only to return a week later because they’re too lazy to drive the extra ten minutes to Blockbuster. Sadly, this last exchange isn’t too far-fetched (to be honest, I’ve yet to see someone kick a puppy as they storm out angrily—but it is only a matter of time). I deal with dozens of people every day who feel that our computers somehow generate bogus late fees at random, charging arbitrary customers $13.00 because “Roadhouse 2” was two weeks late. Maybe they’re just too ashamed to admit that they actually rented “Roadhouse 2.”

I once had a woman berate me about Hollywood Video’s late-fee policy for a full 10 minutes because she had approximately $2.00 in late fees. Life is precious, do you really want to waste 10 minutes of it yelling at a nervous Guest Service Representative about something he hasn’t the slightest ounce of control over? Don’t you want to hurry home to your husband, or maybe your children?

I can’t even begin to imagine why she would become so irate at a measly $2.00 late fee. Perhaps her family was brutally killed in a tragic late fee accident? That would explain her unbridled rage over the two bucks, and also why she was in no particular hurry to get home (too many memories, you know). My advice on the matter? Get a grief counselor to help with the whole family-being-killed-by-rampant-late-fees thing, and then actively try to pick your battles. I’m sorry that you have a buck-fifty in late fees, but it’s really not worth yelling at/murdering me over.

1 comment:

  1. matt. i love you. and i'm going to start reading your blogs more often cause 1. you're a great writer and i will always support you in anything you do (tear), 2. i love you and wish that you would marry but there is something (or should i say somebody in the way of that happening, i won't name names.), 3. you're so damn funny and it makes my day brighter when i read your blogs. nuff said. you're bossum! (that's a mix between the word boss, which isn't very popular yet but is currently on the rise with my aid, and awesome). love,


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