• David Flowers

Retail Rudeness

Coming off the lengthy and heavy Notes from Manresa series, I feel a deep need to return to my rightful place as a curmudgeon.  Two things in particular have been bugging me.

First, how much longer are cash register receipts going to get?  When I first got married in 1988 (I was six years old), receipts had the name of the store, the date of the transaction, what was purchased, and the purchase price.  That was it.  They were usually about three inches long.  Last time I went to Home Depot my receipt contained all the above, plus notification of a website where I could take a survey, some kind of gigantic SKU at the bottom, about 42 paragraphs explaining why I should take that survey, and words at the bottom about the Return/Exchange policy.  On the back was the exchange policy written out in full, along with the first ten chapters of Moby Dick and the storyboards from The Lion King.  There were even watermarks splattered on the page, so as to be sure to add as much text as possible.  The receipt was somewhere between 48 and 52 feet long. When I folded it to put it in my wallet, it was three feet high. I was glad to have something with me to use next time I was at Home Depot and needed to stand on something to reach a product on a high shelf.  Last time I went to the grocery store I received a receipt that was equally long.  I pulled it out of the dispenser and was going on my way, when it began spewing out coupons — four or five of them.  Do you use these?  If you do, I’ll bet a thousand dollars you’re not a dude.

I think one of the worst offenders is Rite Aid.  Rite Aid is where I began my now-established custom of listening patiently to the “be sure to take our survey” speech, and then simply tearing off the bottom half of the receipt and leaving it on the counter, asking the cashier, “Can you throw this away for me?”  I am never rude about this, but on the other hand, I didn’t ask for all this extra paper and have no interest in carrying it around.  By the way, shouldn’t there be a backlash against this 50-ft. receipt wastefulness from the Going Green crowd?

Second, I have run out of patience for having drinks handed to me at the drive-through that are drenched in spilled soda.  Part of me has found this bothersome for a while, but part of me has felt sympathetic to the busy, underpaid people working in fast-food restaurants who are doing their best at a thankless job.  Years ago I decided not to be upset about this, but simply began nicely asking the drive-through worker to wipe off the side of the cup (which of course does nothing to address the problem of the soda that often gets trapped under the lid and spills out as soon as the cup is tipped).  But twice in the past week I have kindly made this request and received glaring looks and rolling eyes from the employees, communicating, “What – just this little amount?  Geez, what’s your problem?”  So here’s the deal:  If you work in a fast-food drive-through and decide to hand me a cup with Coke beads on the outside, and I ask you to wipe it off, can you not treat as ridiculous the notion that I might not want Coke between my legs for the next couple of hours?

By the way, shouldn’t there be a backlash against this from the I Don’t Prefer Coke In Certain Places crowd?  Surely that crowd is out there.

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