I was at The Bay yesterday. Not as crazy as it sounds; I ventured out for the first time to pick up some Christmas stuff, and within 90 minutes had a tree, a stand, cat litter, gift cards, various stuff for the boys, and gas. Most of this was from different places, but I plotted my course and went. Got parking, had quiet stores (it was about 2 in the afternoon), and was relieved. I hate shopping.
All was going along swimmingly until I got to The Bay checkout. Now, many of you, if you've shopped in the last decade, will have noted that big department stores now have about 3 checkout tills that they hide. You can follow overhead signs for ages, only to find the checkout, looking more like a duck blind than a customer service place, unmanned. You then have to wander around some more, trying desperately to avoid the perfume section (which means instant migraine) which takes up most of the real estate of department stores. I can only imagine the profit margin cosmetics have to deserve such placement.
I actually found what I was looking for (I'm sure I could safely say what I got here; nobody in this house reads my blog) but I you never know. Arms loaded, I started to go through the maze looking for a checkout. There was a lineup, but I was prepared for that. I should have left my coat in the car, but the two lines were moving fairly quickly.
Until. Until the woman started digging in her purse. Crap. A return. I worked retail for ten years. Doing a return happens in dog years. The line, as if having a mind of its own, instantly formed on the other side. Good thing; Returner had no receipts. Returner had no tags on the sweater she was trying to bring back. Returner didn't even have it in a Bay bag. So of course, considering all of this, she acted the only way that made any sense: she got all stroppy with the clerks.
She argued. She started pulling random strips of paper from her purse. Some were from other stores. One might have been her grocery list. By this point, two clerks were corralled trying to deal with her. At a time of year when clerks are pretty thin on the ground, I found this pretty frustrating. I had just been in the men's underwear department ALONE, yet she got two helpers.
I'm usually okay with shopping for the kids. I've mastered the Grandma Trick of holding it up so someone close in size to see if it'll fit, or close in age to see if it's nerdy. A funny thing happens when you start doing this in the men's underwear department. Geez, guys. I'm shopping for Christmas presents.
Returner had now been at the checkout for twenty minutes. I know this because I wandered off to shop some more. I entertained the notion that perhaps the Bay plants belligerent returners on purpose, just so people will wander off and shop some more. Back in line, the one that wasn't moving, we listened. You couldn't help it. "I'll take a gift card," said Returner, with a giant exhale we all took to mean "can you believe this place?". No, it's you we couldn't believe, Returner.
I turned to the woman ahead of me. "Looks like we'll be spending Christmas together," I told her. "Please tell me you know how to make gravy."
After half an hour total, Returner finally seemed to be in the home stretch. They had sorted her maze of crap, and decided she was entitled to a refund of 22 dollars. If I had known this, I would have chucked a twenty at her half an hour ago. As they went to put it on a gift card, she all of a sudden produced a receipt. The one she didn't have half an hour ago. Clerk One perused it - I marveled at her ability to not run to the Gun Department and shoot someone. Oh wait, this isn't an American Wal-mart. No guns. That's why Canadians are so polite. We have to be.
Returner had originally paid on her credit card. They said they had to credit it the same way. She geared up. I mean it. She yelled "no! that's not fair!". I am not kidding. Just as I was about to go teach her the meaning of 'fair', they zipped a gift card through the machine and handed it to her.
As the next person in line - who had now grown a beard and had a birthday - stepped up, Returner announced she wanted to make a payment on her account.
I am writing this from jail. Just leave me here until after the holidays.