Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Off the Cuff Offseason Presents: The Continuing Misadventures of Napoleon in Rags, Vol.3

To fill some space during the offseason I’m going to be running a series of stories about the “hilarious” mishaps that I am growing ever more accustomed to. My days are generally filled with fraudulent attempts at professionalism, lame attempts at humour and staggeringly transparent attempts to fit in with the normal humans. It’s mostly gaffes, apologies and dizzying social awkwardness – just ask anyone who has had the misfortune of being romantically linked to me. Don’t worry, not everything is 100% accurate or 100% hilarious. Here is today’s installment:

Stupidity in Spades

I don't consider myself old enough to complain about the youth of today, but seriously what the crap is up with the youth of today? It's not the Twilight, the Facebook or the unbearable air of entitlement... well it is those things, I just don't have the energy for them today.

Today is about the stupidity. So, so much stupidity.

More specifically stupid kids working in the retail industry. Can someone please explain to me what exactly the qualifications are to be employed these days?

As far as I can tell, you simply have to be breathing to be employable. And, I mean just breathing - a functioning motor system is a luxury. People skills? Meh. And complex brain activity, forgetaboutit.

Let me set the stage for you as to why this has suddenly set me off. As of late I've had the distinct displeasure of frequenting certain big-box retail establishments on a fairly regular basis. And I would say the level of engagement from the staff at these stores ranges from catatonic to palpable hostility.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry to inconvenience you by making you actually do your job. I know you're pissed that I called you away from chatting up the female in your department - who's actually a 6, by the way, but seems like an 8.5 because she's the only female working with a bunch of dudes - but she's still out of your league, just so you know. Trust me, if I could help it I wouldn't want your help anyway - I mean, would you want to talk to you. But sadly I do not possess the ability to conjure my own bedding plants out of dust and positive thinking - if I did, I assure you I would not be inflicting this unpleasantness on myself. So if you'll help me for literally 15 seconds I'll be out of your life forever and you can get back to failing to impress the sea-hag in aisle 7 with tall tales of the wicked new spoiler you're putting on your Fiero."

So now you're cursing yourself for leaving the house and only just clinging to a few scraps of your sanity. But you've got your [insert item here] and you're making a Bo Jackson-esqe run for the door.
In a perfect world you'd be able to just walk out the door and get on with your life. Sadly, things like morality, commerce and the legal system get in the way and compel you to pay for everything you've taken off the shelves. But good news for you, dear reader, some innovative and technologically-advanced retailers have installed automated check-outs that allow you to pay for your items on your own.

I know some people lament the decline of human interaction taking place in almost all aspects of human society. But not me - I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. The less I have to come in contact with moody, unhappy and unpleasant people, the better - and that pretty much describes 98.6% of the service industry.

Automated customer service telephone line? Awesome.

Touch screens and fancy computers helping me check out my purchases? Sign me up.

Robot wives... perhaps I've said too much.

But as it stands now, most retailers still have an honest-to-goodness human manning the check-out line. And "human" is meant only in the most literal sense - I generally get the feeling that there's not a whole lot of cognition happening in front of that till. I think this brief description pretty much sums up the whole experience:

- You walk up to the till and put your items on the counter and await them being scanned.
- Chances of getting a hello: 1 in 15
- The young female behind the till generally looks like she just came off a 13-day meth jag and has the disposition of, "If it meant I could have another hour's sleep, I would tear your face off without a second thought." (Note: It's not my intent to be sexist - these positions are usually staffed by females)
- A total price is mumbled at you
- Money is exchanged
- Have to ask for a bag
- Dirty look in your direction
- Transaction completed
- Over/under on the total number of words spoken by both parties during the entire encounter: 5.5
- Exit

And thus your brief glimpse at the future generations is complete and you're breathing fresh air again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no rocket scientist so I don't expect everyone else to be cracking the human genome. But man oh man, is a basic level of social interaction and intelligence really too much to ask? I swear I feel like I'm one step away from yelling at kids to get off my lawn - because I genuinely believe that kids are getting dumber and dumber. I'm not sure if this says more about me or them?

One programming note, Sports As Life will be closed next week as your host with the most is on vacation.

1 comment:

Trebor said...

I had the pleasure of working as a cashier, one of two males out of I don't know 50. This was like 10 years ago so maybe things have changed, but the people that know me know that I'm not Mr. talkitive, so the job suited me fine.

However most nights/weekends when I worked I was in a good mood and I would try to engage the cutomser with a how about that weather, or how about that local sports team eh? I'm not sure what else you can say, when you know that your converstaion has a limited time and you can't go into deep converstaion about globalization or ..... but I digress.

What I found is that if I said more than hello, how many bags would you like... (an aside, gnerally people who buy bags are idoits..yeah 4 bags is going to be fine for that brimming cart that can be pushed by no less than 3 people...iditos).

Anyways, more words than that caught people off guard and people don't like that. They like the editor want to go in and get out as quick as possible, their shopping is not enjoyment but rather a chore and here's this handsome young man smiling at them asking how their day was.... I got stink eyed all the time, half the time I would get the look and not even a response. And the customer generally wasn't a youth.

I admit that I think that today's youths are in point I was at the zoo yesterday in front of the tiger exhibit and some 16-17 yr old boy comments how tigers kinda look like big cats, and proceeded to tell his friends about how cool it was that these tigers were so cat like.

However I'll stand up for the cashier becuase generally people are grumpy and not a pleasure to deal with. You have 100 people going through your lane and maybe 5-10 do more than grunt, you kinda start to do the same. Sure the next day you may piss off 1-2 people but the other 98 are on their way not even noticing.