Shopping Nightmear

Juneau Alaska is a beautiful place with it’s mountains, forest, lakes, and oceans. I love seeing people walk outside our airport for the very first time. Everyone of them have this look of awe in their eye. It takes them a few moments to catch their breath and take in what they are seeing. People have fallen in love with this place and declared they where moving here after just stepping foot on the ground for the first time. I just wish I could have that feeling about every aspect of Juneau.

Customer service in Juneau is all but nonexistent. The frustration I have felt on a simple grocery store run to pick up a bag of ice for a barbecue is enough to cause someone to go on a homicidal killing spree! The inability for the local stores to keep an adequate number of employees working through out the day is the most apparent when you’re trying to check out. Don’t bother asking any employee for help either. You will just get a look of dumfounded confusion or a sigh of contempt as just the though that one of these fucking brain dead morons might have to earn a paycheck by doing their god damn job by helping a customer out.

I am not ashamed to admit that I love to shop. Even in a place like Juneau Alaska where the name brand stores in this city can be counted on one hand, I do enjoy going to the stores and seeing what new merchandise has arrived and what is on sale. When I fly down south to go on vacation or visit family I spend a fair amount of time checking out malls and stores to see what the real world has to offer me. It’s almost like traveling to the future and being told “While your here you can buy whatever you want”. I kind of feel for Marty McFly, in Back to the Future II where he wanted to bring back the sports almanac with him.

You have options and choices when you live in the lower 48 untied states. If you go to a store and an employee is rude or not helping you out, you can always speak with a manager and get him fired. Better yet, you can vote with your dollar and say “If your going to treat me like this I am going to take my business elsewhere”. One does not have options like that up in the great white north. Limited stores with limited products have a shocking effect on how much shit one will put up with.

Theft always seems to be the number one concern of these establishments to consumerism. I can’t tell you the number of times I have purchased a DVD, only to have the store alarm go off when I am try to exit the building. This would not have been an issue if the mouth breather that sold me the movie was not so lazy to just deactivate the anti-theft device.

Another gripe I have, always, without fail, is that you spend more time waiting in line to checkout than you did shopping. I don’t know how stores up here pull off this magical feet of annoyance for their customers, but it happens every time! I recall one particular time at Fred Meyer, I had a full shopping cart and I was waiting in line to checkout. The checkout lines on all 5 maned checkouts had at least 8 people in them waiting to pay. All 5 cashiers where showing as much enthusiasm for their job as a janitor would show after being told to clean up poocano explosion in a porta-potty. The red vest wearing, mouth breather manager supervising the checkout lines would walk from checkout stand number 1 all the way to check out stand number 28 and back again. Not doing anything else but walking back and forth. After literally 15 minutes waiting inline, watching the cashier go as slow as humanly possible and talking with the customer about each and every single purchase they where making I asked the mouth breathing manager “You think you could tell the cashier to speed it up a little bit?”
“Oh no, I can’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“If I do that they will quit. Would you rather have one cashier or no cashier?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
Blinking the manager said “No”.
With that, my frustration grew to such a point that I just walked away from my cart and left the building.

And don’t fucking talk to me about the awesomeness of the self check out system. Fuck that shit. Trying to use that medieval torture device is akin to trying to pull yourself out of quicksand. If you have more then 5 items is seems like something always goes horribly wrong. You try and buy an age restricted DVD and the self check out computer in its robot voice tells you “Please wait for assistance”.

So you wait…

…and wait,

…and wait.

Trying to use a self check out to buy fruit is another god damn nightmare. Don’t even fucking try it. Just walk away. Save yourself the mind splitting annoyance and just walk-the-fuck-away!

Another time at Fred Meyer I was looking for a CD storage box. I buy these boxes to store my DVDs in. I remove them from their plastic DVD cases and put them in thinner jewel cases and then place them in the CD storage box. On this particular trip it appeared that the shelf which housed the CD storage boxes had not been restocked. I saw a Fred Meyer employee walking by, my luck!
“Excuse me.” I said “I am trying to find something.”
“What can I help you with?”
“You used to carry these CD Stor…”
“We don’t always carry the same things.”
“Thats fine and good, but do you have any mo…”
“If you don’t see it, we don’t have it”
“I want to speak with your manager.”
“I am the manager of this department”
“You have got to be fucking shitting me”.
“If you continue to use that language I am going to have to ask you to leave”
“Fuck you.”
I don’t get it. How can they think it’s acceptable (not to mention polite) to interrupt a customer? Then cop an attitude about it? This shit would not fly in the lower 48.

I am not sure where customer service fits in at the Juneau Fred Meyer. I think it’s somewhere between not gathering carts from the parking lot and not cleaning the toilets in the restrooms.

One more bitch I have about Juneau’s Fred Meyer. They charge you for bagging your groceries in their plastic bags. Are you fucking kidding me? Not only do I have to put up with the worst customer service ever, but now I have to pay for plastic bags? I often go to Fred Meyer and by one item. The receipt for that one item is always longer then my fucking arm. Here is an idea geniuses, just show what I bought on my recite. With all the money you will save by not wasting fucking paper on receipts maybe we could go back to giving your customers grocery bags and not pissing them off with the hidden charge. I say hidden because no one at these stores fucking volunteers the fact that you are getting charged for plastic bags now.

I was cashing out at Safeway one evening and was having trouble with my visa card. The cashier asked to see it.
“Oh!” she says “Your name is Joseph.”
“No, no it’s Youseph”
“No, it’s Joseph”
Thinking she just is misunderstanding me i said again and slower “No, It’s not Joseph, it is You – seph.”
“No, It’s Joseph.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Your name is Joseph, I know these things”.
“You know what? Fuck it. It’s not worth it. I know my own fucking name you no talent ass clown.” I grabbed my visa card out of the cashiers hand and walked out empty-handed.

My mom and I have an ongoing conversation about customer service and minimum wage. Will be on the phone and I will hear about a recent trip she took to McDonald’s.
“I went to McDonald’s today and the kid behind the counter messed up my order three times! He also could not count out my change properly. I spent more time teaching him how to count out change then I did ordering my food. When finally I got to my table i realized he forgot my fries! Going back to the counter to get my order corrected was another long snafu.” She said.
“You can’t expect anyone to take their job seriously when they are getting paid minimum wage.”
“That’s not right. He is getting paid to do a job. He needs to do it correctly.”
“I am not arguing that point mom. I am saying, you can’t expect anyone who gets paid minimum wage to care about their job.”
“Then he needs to get another job”
“Maybe, but if it also pays minimum wage he is not going to care about it either.”

You may or may not agree with me, but I think that pay has a lot to do with how people do their jobs. No one in Juneau that works at Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer or Safeway is getting paid minimum wage. They are all getting paid more than that. They are getting paid Juneau’s minimum wage. Living in Juneau costs more. Rent, utilities and food all cost more in Juneau. You have to pay your employees enough so they can live, but these stores are paying them just enough and not a penny more. As a result we have a bunch of people working in customer service who just don’t give a shit. Stores are under manned and over priced.

I find myself buying more and more of what I need online these days. I do take a lot of flack about that from locals because I am not supporting local businesses. To them I say, “ does not talk back to me or treat me like a thief”. All of them pretty much just hang their head low and say “yeah, you’re right”. You’re god damn right, I’m right.

Author: Youseph

Cohost of the TransMissions Podcast. Writer, Blogger, Musician.

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