Sunday, December 11, 2016

gotta serve somebody

Mrs. Pincus came across two Macy's gift cards in her wallet. My first reaction to this discovery was: "Who the fuck still shops at Macy's?" (I sort of answered this question around this time last year.) Well, we were about to find out, because after dinner last night, we decided to take a quick run up to the Macy's at Willow Grove Mall to use them.

Despite its close proximity to our house and the frequency in which I find myself in the surrounding area, I have not been inside Willow Grove Mall in years. Now considering it is eighteen days before Christmas, we easily found a parking space in the multi-level parking structure. We drove through level after empty level until we had our pick of spots near the Macy's entrance. Macy's was packed with merchandise, but not so much with shoppers. We headed straight for the kitchenware department, where Mrs. P could pick up a few small items to use as gifts or to possibly make a quick turnaround on eBay. The escalator, which cuts vertically right through the center of the store gave us a panoramic view of all three floors... and there were maybe a dozen potential customers roaming aimlessly around the aisles. Maybe less.

Mrs. P perused the shelves of the kitchen department and settled in front of a display of mini waffle irons. Mrs. P calculated the value of the gift cards and piled my open arms high with twelve little boxes, selecting different colors where available. I carefully balanced the boxes and made it to the cashier without dropping a single one.

Somewhere along the way, though, we must have entered into The Twilight Zone.

The large cashier desk was staffed by two older women each standing behind a small computer monitor. One woman, Marie, was helping a young lady who was arranging and rearranging a stack of toddler outfits on the counter. I swear Marie was moving in slow motion. She picked up each item, examining and admiring it before scanning the price tag. Janine, the other cashier, was resting her chin in her hand. Her elbow propped against the top of her monitor. Her eyes were half shut. I approached Janine. "Hi.," I said as I plopped my collection of boxed waffle irons on the counter. Janine did not return my greeting. In slow motion, she began to stack the boxes in a different arrangement. My wife told her that she had a gift card. Janine offered no acknowledgement. She didn't care. She scanned the first box at a painfully slow speed. If she was any slower, she would not have been moving at all. If they would have brought a mannequin over to process this sale, it would have been quicker. After Janine scanned three of the twelve boxes, she fumbled around under the counter and eventually came up with a large plastic bag. She meticulously placed two boxes in the bag and it ripped right down a seam. Janine emitted a disgusted sigh and muttered something that sounded like a complaint. She slowly removed the two boxes from the torn bag. She gathered up the defective bag into a large balled and searched for a trash can. She discarded the bag, reached for a fresh one and started the whole tedious process over again... and she still had nine more boxes to ring up. Midway through the remaining boxes, Janine stopped to have a brief conversation with another sales associate who walked past the cashier desk on the opposite side from where we stood. She also stopped to to comment on the toddler outfits that were still being rung up my Marie. Marie, of course, chuckled and commented as well. Mrs. P and I covertly exchanged glances. Was this really happening? Were we both asleep and having the same surreal dream?

Finally — finally — we were finished. The waffle irons were rung up, bagged and now, I was carrying them away from the cashier. As we walked away, we heard Janine engaging a co-worker in conversation while another customer stood waiting to make a purchase.

My issue with Macy's, when I ranted in last year's post, was the fact that merchandise was so expensive. Comparable items could be purchased at any number of stores for far less than Macy's was asking. Now that we found merchandise at a reasonable price, the sales clerks could not possibly have been less interested in interacting with customers. As a matter of fact, they behaved as though they would rather have been any where else in the world than working at Macy's. I can't figure out why Macy's even bothers with brick and mortar stores. They could very easily take their business to a fully-online entity. They would only have to maintain warehouses and stock help and not be bothered with sales associates who obviously don't want to be bothered themselves.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

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