Bible Verse

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Friday, April 24, 2015

From the Other Side

Last week I wrote about customer service and how frustrating it is when my role as a customer is not the focal point of the clerk.

I’ve never been a retail clerk, but I did work as the small claims/district civil clerk in the Circuit Clerk’s Office where I served the public every day.

Most of my customers were very nice, polite folks. Some were real stinkers.

I had one customer who was always a little too friendly, if you get my drift. Each time he came in, he would be sure to tell me that his wife was out of town for the weekend and he just didn’t know what he was going to do without her. On the day he finally got up enough nerve to actually ask me to accompany him to a local dance, there was a co-worker in the next room who heard every word. It was all I could do to keep it together, because I knew she was in there silently laughing her head off.

Sometimes it was hard not to laugh, though. When a young man came in and wanted to have his marriage “annoyed,” I laughed a little and said, “I think you’re way past annoyed.”

One lady was suing the driver of the car that had run into her truck. After she left, I looked at the form to see what details she had added. I saw “mintle angus” and thought maybe they had hit a cow named Mintle. Then I realized she meant “mental anguish.” I’m glad she wasn’t there when I read that, because I don’t think I could have kept from laughing.

A couple of times, customers insisted they were not on the second floor of our building, that they had not come upstairs via the stairs or the elevator. I told them that they may not have come up, but they were going to have to go down to get out.

What aggravated me the most, though, were the folks who insisted on arguing about how things should be done.

The conversation would be something like this:

“Walter owes me money, so I want to garnish his check.”

“Do you have a lawsuit against Walter?”

“No, I just want to get my money out of his check.”

“You’ll have to sue him first and try to get a judgment against him.”

“No,” getting a little exasperated, “you don’t understand. Walter owes me money and I want to get it from his check. He works down at the chicken plant.”

“I’m sorry,” getting a lot exasperated, “but you’ll have to sue him first. That’s how it works.”

“Do you mean to tell me that I can’t get my money out of Walter’s check unless I take him to court?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean. Would you like to fill out a complaint to get the ball rolling?”

At this point, some would walk away in a huff, railing against the injustice of it all. Some would just stand there and stare at me in disbelief.

Sometimes I would have to tell them they needed to see an attorney. There was only so much that could be done in small claims court, so seeing an attorney would be the next step.

One guy asked me about suing someone for $100,000 in small claims. I dutifully said that he couldn’t use small claims court for that amount and he would need to see an attorney. He used up the next five minutes asking me the same question five different ways. My answer was the same each time. 

Finally, I interrupted his sixth try and said, “No matter what you say to me, I’m going to tell you to see an attorney.” 

He looked puzzled and then said, “Oh, I have to see an attorney about this?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Okay,” he said agreeably. “Thank you for your help.”

I’m still shaking my head over that one.

Friday, April 17, 2015


My mother is obviously elderly. She doesn’t look her 93 years, but she is obviously elderly. I make this point because when she was at the beauty school for a pedicure and tried to sit in the chair, she actually sat in the water! Her rear was soaked, so they gave her a towel to sit on. After the pedicure, they offered another towel to use in the car, but she declined.

It’s a funny story that Mom tells on herself. She didn’t get hurt, just wet.

I say all that to say this: No one offered to help her into that weirdo chair with the water hazard.

Good customer service is hard to find. When Alice was about 12 years old, she said I ought to teach a class on how to go about pleasing the customer who is standing right there in front of you.

She made this astute remark every time we went shopping because on each trip I would rant and rave all the way home at how awful the clerks were. I loudly pointed out every detail of every failure I had seen.

This may be why Alice was such a good retail clerk as she helped pay her way through college. She probably heard my voice pounding in her head, saying things like, “Don’t ignore the customer,” and “If you’re on the phone and a customer walks up – and I can’t emphasize this too much – HANG UP THE PHONE!”

What I really do not understand is their misperception that I am not vital to their job. It makes sense when you think about it. Tick off enough people and they will stop coming to your employer’s store, the place will go out of business and then – guess what? YOU LOSE YOUR JOB! This concept puts the customer at the highest level, with the employee there to serve them, make them happy, let them believe that you are grateful for their participation in this little slice of your life.

But let me be clear about this. I know there are lots of wonderful clerks out there; it’s just that I rarely find one.

The blame lies with the employers. They are either not training their people well, or they’re not supervising them closely enough. I know it takes a lot of effort to effectively train someone. I have heard that some places just stick a new clerk on a cash register, tell them what all the buttons mean, and then they are on their own. With stores frequently cutting personnel, they don’t have enough supervisory folks to watch everything. I understand that.

So how does Chick-Fil-A do it? Have you been to their place? If not, here’s what your experience will be:

Every employee will seem genuinely happy to see you. If they catch your eye, they will give you a big smile, even though they may not be the clerk that takes your order. That clerk will ask you what you’d like to eat. If you hesitate, they will gently suggest different ways you can buy your chicken. They do not appear to be in any hurry whatsoever. They are not talking to someone else while you stand there trying to decide. They competently answer all questions. They do all this with a smile. After you have paid for your meal, they wish you a good day. When you say “Thank you,” they say “My pleasure.”

My pleasure.” What a great comeback. What a wonderful way to show that you value your customer. Even if I don’t particularly like what I’ve ordered, I still feel good because I’ve been treated so well.

Being a retired clerk, I know that there can be some stinkers out there who can be a royal pain. But I’m not one of them – usually.

All I’m asking for is some respect, and that should do the trick.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Agent with a History by Guy S. Stanton, III

In this first entry of his series Agents for Good, prolific writer Guy S. Stanton, III, takes on the task of moving New York Police Detective Lisa Candace Tauranto through a series of action-packed adventures.  The detective, a beautiful woman by any standard, has a past that just won’t stay there. As she tries to untangle the connections to a crime that includes torturing the victim, she finds herself being sucked into an evil vortex that links her past to her present. There is a treasure out there that many, including her own father, are trying to find before anyone else gets the prize of wealth beyond imagination.

I enjoyed this book because of its stand against abusing women. I did have a problem in that while God was mentioned favorably several times, the ending was not, in my opinion, a Christian solution.

If you want adventures that rival those of Indiana Jones with a lot of clean romance thrown in, this is the book for you.

The author provided me with a free copy of his book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We have both kept our ends of the bargain.