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Overly-Cautious Clerks Turned Me Off From Shopping

I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.

If a clerk insists on showing you several items, you are not obligated to do so.

If a clerk insists on showing you several items, you are not obligated to do so.

I remember the day as it was yesterday. Actually it was in 1977. Quite a ways off, but still, the fact I am sharing is not that long, but very true. In this piece, I aim no insults, wise cracks, or evil toward the people I am going to introduce you to, I am just going to warn you because you could be the next.

I am talking about those big department store clerks. Some are good as professionals on the job. Some are as far from that notion as the east is from the west. I hate it. Especially when it happened in my hometown. Okay. In anyone's hometown. When I get to whom I talking about, you might be shocked. Truthfully, I hope that you are.

I was working with our local newspaper in the capacity of calling on local merchants to service their display advertising needs and while the job was fun, it also taught me a great lesson: do not believe everyone who may talk to you. Not a joke here, by any means. I know that the advice sounds funny, but no. The advice to you, I do hope that you heed to it. It could help you avoid a lot of embarrassing moments. And who needs that?

If a clerk follows you in the store, be nice, but ask if you have done something wrong.

If a clerk follows you in the store, be nice, but ask if you have done something wrong.

The store, (which I will not answer), to my knowlege, folded years ago, probably consumed by a take-over or just plain went bust. Both situations are sad. And if I had a cookie, I would sit here and watch it crumble to show you a grand lesson. Life is not put upon granite stages to hold it up. Sometimes there are small cracks that appear which no one sees and before long, the cracks lead to a bigger, sinister conglomerate that can and will cause many their jobs as well as their lives. Like I said, who needs that?

The store where I was going to shop, was a really nice and clean store. The manager was nice as well. His store clerks were always busy doing their work in their various departments. So much so that watching them reminded me of a well-oiled German clock. Hardly any small talk. Mostly work. What America was once built by that.

An older clerk smiled and asked if she could help me. I nodded. Smiled and replied, no, I am just doing some shopping, thanks. And walked away. I walked to the sporting goods department as most men do, and when I found the guns (yes, guns in the time I have mentioned), she was there. Smiling with hands folded. The same store clerk. She asked this time, if there was something that I needed. I replied again, no, ma'am. Thanks. I am just looking. And tried to walk away without getting into a long, drawn-out needless conversation. And did.

Then I tried to find a gift for my wife because of three reasons: one, she and I had only been married for two years. Two: it was her birthday and three, I loved her. Reasons enough. My personal business that would play a part of my not shopping with this store again. No. I am not a cold-hearted heathen or a member of the anti-Christ. I know what I like and don't like. I do like to be treated good if i treat people good. This is what I did. Only to be cramped into one small space and buy whatever I was told to buy, which to me, was a forced action.

The store clerk must have been part fox because she was wily as a fox in the forest. This is compliment. But she popped up in the cards department and said in her monotone voice, these are pretty cards. Now. Who are you shopping for? I was red in the face. I mumbled something and continued to shop. She insisted on knowing what card that I was going to buy. For the third time, with all of my patience straining, I said, just looking. Thanks. And walked away, but I should have walked out.

No use in making you go to every place in this store, but no matter where I went, there she was. Now I was at the point of talking to her manager, but why get someone in trouble because along the way, I might need some compassion, so I didn't. But she kept on. Not a bit angry or snippy, but kept wanting me to buy something that I was tempted to ask if she was working on commission, but I knew that this was wrong. There had to be reason.

The best part of this hub is when I left the cards, I went for the scarves because my wife wears them occasionally. This time, the clerk did not force me to talk, but she stationed herself about a section away from me and was "acting" like she was also shopping for scarves. Now. It was "go time." I started to leave, but she spoke-up and said, can I show you something? In a nice, humble way, I asked, are you afraid that I will do some shoplifting? If you are, don't worry. I will not cause you or anyone in this store any more worry. Have a great day.
The clerk smiled.

Then in a few years, I read where her store and the rest of the chain folded. I instantly thought of her. And wondered, did she treat all of her customers like she did me?

It didn't matter. But I did hope that she was happy.

June 29, 2021____________________________________________________

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Guard against shoplifters, not customers.

Guard against shoplifters, not customers.

© 2021 Kenneth Avery

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