Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I worked for a retail store called ShopKo (think of Target but without the clever marketing campaign or the flashy logo, or think of Walmart without the automatic desire to take a shower when you are done mingling with the other shoppers ), and part of my duties of this job included carry-out for larger items. This typically included ready-to-assemble furniture, televisions, patio furniture, swing sets, or any other item which was probably too large or heavy for one person to carry, or too awkward for fit in a standard size shopping cart.
The basic idea was that I would go to the warehouse area of the store, load the item onto a cart and meet the customer at the checkout counter where they could pay for the item and I could help them load it. For the largest items sometimes this would take two or more employees, and in the case of a children’s swing set we generally would just have the customer pull around to the rear of the store where we would load it for them.
Sometimes when loading a bookshelf or computer desk, the customer would have a full size pickup truck, large SUV or maybe a car with a trailer so it wasn’t an issue. Nevertheless, inevitably in at least three or four times out of ten, we would arrive at the customer’s vehicle only to realize that it was highly unlikely the item would fit in their vehicle. Most of my stories involve hatchback automobiles because for some odd reason when someone drives a hatchback they think basic rules of volume and space don’t apply to them. In the mind of a hatchback owner, if you are determined enough and strong enough, you should be able to wedge a full size refrigerator, snowblower, or even a couch in the back end because after all… that is the benefit of owning a hatchback right?
I witnessed people with small hatchbacks purchasing the largest entertainment centers we had in stock which came in two boxes over six feet tall, three feet wide, and each weighing what had to be around 100lbs. Not only do they lack the interior cargo room to fit such an item in their vehicle, but it never even occurred to them that it might not fit at anytime during the purchase. They didn’t think about it when seeing the fully assembled item on display. They didn’t think about it when seeing the boxed item being wheeled up to the front door, and they surely didn’t think about it when getting to their vehicle and realizing their car isn’t as big as they remembered.
This is the part of the story where the customer would typically do one of three things. They would (A) either call a friend or relative to come pick up the furniture for them, they would (B) return the item for a refund (which meant I got to haul it all the way back into the warehouse), they would (C) suggest taking the item out of the box would allow it to fit (as if a six foot entertainment center is only four feet tall when you take it out of the box) or they would (D) try to convince me that it would fit if I just “loaded it right”.
Guess which option was the most common? If you guessed (D), go ahead and treat yourself to an Oreo.
Now keep in mind arguing with a customer is never a great idea, so in my case I most often chose to simply humor them. If they thought they could fit a few six foot boxes into a Geo Metro who am I to argue with them? So eventually they would figure out ways to flip seats down, remove boxes of junk from the hatchback area, slide the front seats all the way forward, try to convince me it could fit in the back seat (a six foot item generally does not fit across a car with an interior width of five feet), or when worse came to worse try to bribe me to give them some rope so they could tie it on their roof.
It goes without saying that most small cars are not meant to carry much weight on their roofs. Sure a few have roof racks, but aside from a few suitcases or bikes, they really aren’t intended for heavy weight loads, and because of that I would always tell the customer that I would help them get it on the roof, but I could not be held responsible for any damage to their vehicle. I also reminded them they would need to tie the items down and for those without roof racks that could mean going through the windows – which then would mean they not only could not roll the windows up all the way, but they might have to play “Dukes of Hazzard” in order to get in to the driver’s seat.
Keep in mind stupid people rarely think ahead, so telling them about possible roof damage and explaining the need to tie down their cargo served as a trigger which suddenly made them realize it might not be such a great idea.
More times than not however, I managed to get most of the item into the vehicle although the trunk or hatchback would almost never close. This is the part of the story where the customer would ask if we had any bungee cords or rope or string to tie down their trunk or hatchback, and this is the part of the story where I would explain we don’t provide rope or string, but they were more than welcome to revisit the store to purchase a package of bungee cords or some rope (clothesline rope was my personal recommendation).
From time to time someone actually had a strap or cord but had no idea how to use it or they thought fastening it to a license plate frame or wrapping it around a muffler was a good idea, and on other occasions they felt some small twine, string used for a kite, or even fishing line was strong enough. Are you starting to understand why I say people are stupid?
It is probably important to point out that once a customer leaves the parking lot, we didn’t really care what happened to their purchase, so if they dumped it out of the back end a mile down the road, or if their hatchback flew open and everything in their vehicle spewed out on the middle of a highway… I didn’t really care. I might feel a little bad about it, but for the most part I figured stupid people get what they deserve, so I tended to keep my mouth shut.
On more than a few occasions I loaded the item into the vehicle in such a manner than there was no possible way anyone other than a single driver could occupy the car, and in one case I remember a mother telling her kids to go back in the store and she would pick them up on a separate trip. I didn’t ask where she lived, but that might suck for the kids if it was an hour away.
I had to find the humor in the fact that the furniture received top billing while the kids stood on the sidelines. To make matters worse, I’m not sure the kids were old enough to be unsupervised, but apparently she felt ShopKo employees would do a great job of keeping an eye on her kids while she was dealing with her delivery. Again – people are stupid. Not only stupid, but irresponsible as well.
There are numerous other examples that I still have never been able to erase from my long-term memory, so I’ll make a point to document them for future blog posts. I almost have a duty to share such moronic behavior with others so they too can be amazed and/or incredibly disappointed at the intelligence level of the average person.