Monday, January 16, 2012

Your Treasure, My PITA

Maybe there should be a committee that approves the newly-minted names on birth certificate applications, because a woman I saw today should not have been wheeled out of the hospital with her inspired selections intact.

I didn't catch Mom's name as she negotiated a highly complex financial transaction with one of my co-workers. Apparently she had to review and approve the displayed price for each of her dozens of treasures before it was copiously wrapped and placed in a bag. (I hope the crew of the International Space Station appreciates the incoming delivery of 99-cent votive candles and holders.)

The children's names, on the other hand, are etched into my brain. Daughter Solace was compelled to leave all her worldly possessions strewn across the floor. And to touch anything within reach. And to climb to anything beyond reach. Maybe it was just my ears, but "Solace!!!" started sounding more and more like "Soulless" as it ricocheted around my skull.

Not to be outdone, son Odin demanded everything in sight. And tried to run away. And attempted to take out every adult in his path. When his ill-conceived plan failed, he threw a conniption worthy of his Norse god self. In about 25 years he'll have to tell little Thor all about it.

Seeing Solace and Odin reminded me that I haven't seen Princess Precious Cupcake and her mom in at least a year. The protective lining around my sanity has erased the Princess's real name from memory -- "Krystal" or "Angelique" or "Madisyn" or something equally precocious. Mom thought she was a Treasure (maybe that was her name).

Precious Treasure would climb all over the checkout counter and try to scan things they were buying. (Or not buying. Mom was also a "meticulous" shopper.) She'd pull things out of bags and scan them again. She'd scan random things and run away with them. Mom -- if you could peel the phone off her ear -- might notice and whimper, "I'm asking you not to do that, please. Next time I'll be sad." Baby Cupcake would shoot flames from her eyes and continue along with her evil plan.

But one day she crossed the line, invading my side of the checkout counter. Hiding and wreaking havoc. The first time in, I responded with: "You're not allowed back here; go stand with your mother." Second time: "I explained this to you; don't do it again." Third time (being the charm and all) I bent over and went eye-to-eye: "Listen to me. When you come back here and stand behind me, I can't see you. If can't see you, I'm going to step on you. When I step on you, it's going to hurt. You are not going to like it." She took my point.

I wonder where Cupcake is these days... my money's on the child pageant circuit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Future is Now

When our manager announced last summer that we were being converted to a "Store of the Future", I wondered what we'd been up to this point -- Store of Last Year? Y2K Store? Store of the Cold War? I -- of course -- also immediately envisioned us with shiny-new jet packs and unisex jumpsuits. We got:

1. A streamlined merchandise return process (old way: read down a receipt and manually find/enter/cross off individual items; new way: scan barcode on receipt, scan items, and done). Thumbs up.

2. A reconfigured checkout area with one queue leading to the next available cashier. (No more playing Guess The Quickest Line and watching people jump lines when another cash register opens up.) BIG thumbs up.

3. Elimination of my job function. Thumbs down. But... my post-demotion job is actually more fun than the old one.

4. Two-way radios with an earpiece and microphone. At first, they were universally despised. We felt like a pathetic band of Secret Service agent wannabes. Then we discovered that radioing each other for business purposes ("This customer thinks her paintbrush is on sale. Is there a sign back there?") saved mileage on our feet. Most importantly, we could kvetch and vent to each other over the airwaves ("The paintbrush is not on sale. If she saw a sign, she's hallucinating. And who's in here what that screaming kid?")

Radio Free Us crackles with life now.

"Did you tell some woman that she could have a 99 percent discount on this spray paint because the label has a smudge?"
"No. I told her to grab one of the five other un-smudged cans."
"I just found an abandoned basketful of beads. I hate putting away beads."
"Do think anyone would notice if we closed early tonight?"
"Did someone tell a customer that *everything* in the store is 40 percent off?"
"Yeah. Isn't that what we tell everyone?"
"Is it that guy with the red shirt? Is he *still* here? He needs to go home."
"Where are the sketch pads? What the hell happened to all the stuff in Aisle 33? Where is it?"

Sadly, there were no jet packs. They probably would've lit the place on fire anyway. And no jumpsuits. Thank our lucky stars for that one -- not pretty.

I still have my fingers crossed for a teleporter, though.