Monday, June 19, 2006

A Tale of Two Customers

The Saturday before Father's Day

Customer 1

I'm running around getting stuff ready for the Clifford storytime that's starts in less than an hour, and I notice that the man sitting at the picnic table with his two preschoolers has put playdough in front of them - right on the actual table. I'm so distracted by this stupidity of this that I idiotically ask him to make sure the playdough is on something other than the actual table top - rather than asking him right away to pack it all up like I should have.

A few minutes later I walk by again, and not only is the playdough still on the table, it is also now, predictably enough, on the floor as well.

I apologize (because we wimmin-folk must always apologize before we ask the menfolk to do something they should have done to begin with - god, I hate it when I do that) and I tell him that I need him just to pack it up and save it for when they get home - like I should have done to begin with. I point out the fact that his kids are like, three and they are going to be messy no matter how well he supervises them.

He looks a little flustered and confused, but says ok. He promises to pick the mess on the floor up as well.

A few minutes later I walk by again, and the kids are still playing with the playdough. Daddy is sitting right beside them absorbed in whatever reading material he is currently browsing. I say - in a slightly firmer and more exasperated voice, that I really need him to pack it all up - now. I make a mental note that he has at least picked the huge chunks off the floor - but that I'll need to pick up all the little bits he missed once he leaves.

However, at this point the jackass starts to argue with me. Not in a threatening way - no, in a wonderfully passive-agressive way. After I respond to something he says by pointing out the little bits still on the floor, he practically feigns blindness and asks me to point out ever single tiny piece on the floor so that he doesn't miss it. Somebody obviously doesn't know how to function without Mommy around - and it ain't either of the kids. (Who, btw, are playing very nicely - they just happen to be so young that I doubt either of them has the motor control to be able to write their names legibly. Keeping 100% of the playdough within a confined space on a horizontal surface is beyond them both in terms of mental and physical development.)

I walk away and come back a few minutes later - and yet again the kids are still playing with the freaking playdough. I say, quite emphatically and visibly annoyed, that he needs to put the playdough away now. Daddy Dearest then proceeds to look up at his preschoolers, who happen to be 6 inches away from him, and say "I told you to put the playdough away." Um, yeah. You know, what, jackass? It's actually quite age appropriate for them to not follow directions when they don't feel like it. You, otoh....

I immediately make a beeline to my department manager who happens to both be in the kid's section at that exact moment and the manager in charge of the store for the next few hours, and I ask her to keep an eye on them and go talk to him if he doesn't start putting the damn playdough away in the next 30 seconds.

He doesn't , of course, so she does, and then he finally does.

A moment later, as I'm walking within spitting distance of him, Daddy Dearest stops me and asks what our policy is regarding things, like oh say, bringing playdough into the store. I say that our customers are welcome to come in and hang out, so long as whatever that are doing is neither interfering with our business nor potentially damaging or annoying to our property or other customers. Exact policies depend on the situtation. Sitting down and using the table to do homework, for example, is ok - as long as there aren't people wanting to use it to browse the books that we actually sell. It's not as if, however, he ever would have brought paints into the store, now would he? He then asks "Is playdough really that messy?" To which I look at him incredulously and ask back "Have you ever had to pick it up off your own floor?" Unfortunately, this was obviously a rhetorical question. Even more unfortunately, he continues being a jackass and accuses my manager, who has walked up, of being rude. Still in that passive-agressive "but I don't understand why you needed to be so rude about it" kind of way. We both have a hard time not laughing when he threatens to report her to her supervisor.

Customer 2

After we are done reading Clifford stories, we invite the kids to come up and give Clifford a hug and get their picture taken with him. As always, the kids rush the stage to form a semi-circle around Clifford, and then patiently wait their turn to give him a hug or to pat his fur. Some are eager, others are hesitant. Some give him a quick hug and turn around. Others linger so long I start to think that I may have to remind them that other kids are waiting.

One particularly cute little boy comes up beside me; inching his way towards Clifford and giggling hysterically the entire time. When he finally makes it up to Clifford, he laughs even harder and starts sort of patting him with his fingers. I realize that he's trying to tickle Clifford, so I say to Collene/Clifford "Clifford, he's tickling you!" because I know you can't see or feel a damn thing in those costumes. (Half the time you can't tell when the ankle-biters are trying to hug you.) She hunches Clifford's shoulders and starts shaking like she's actually being tickled. Little boy giggles even more hysterically, which I hadn't though possible until then. He continues to tickle Clifford for a little bit longer, and then walks off, still having giggle fits. By this time, I am, of course, suffering from them myself.

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