A Harrowing Account of Laundry Day

This tale may not interest anyone at all, but it’s just far enough south of mundane for me to recount it here. 

All I wanted was three dollars in quarters so that I could do my laundry. I’ve been trying to do my laundry all week. But laziness, work, and Netflix hampered this effort day after day. When I finally got set to do my laundry yesterday, I found that I didn’t have any quarters in which to feed the machine. I didn’t have cash on hand to turn into these quarters either. And so it began. 

I stopped by a gas station after work, because I figured, surely, gas stations are a guaranteed place for cash back, and when they hand me my cash, I can just ask for a couple of dollars worth or quarters. I needed gas anyway, and so I filled up and went inside to purchase a snack so that cash back could happen. I have been wanting to try the new bottled version of Baja blast, and so I grabbed that as well as a bag of the waffle cut white cheddar and black pepper chips. Looking forward to trying these, I took my purchases to the register.

I was not greeted by the cashier as she grabbed my purchases and scanned them. She asked credit or debit as I scanned my card, and then as I asked if I could do cashback on my debit, she informed me that that was not something they did. Eff. 

I went home and had my snack and relaxed for a few. The baja blast gave me a second wind in which I determined, I needed to have a small outing before I tucked in for the night and I may as well try to get this laundry coin exchange thing going. After a browse at the bookstore, where I was greeted by a loud shout at the door and then ignored by four other employees as I looked around, I stopped by the ATM for some cash I could convert into coinage and decided that Krystal was on the menu for dinner. Again, I thought, surely…a food service place will give me my change and have no objections to a couple of dollars worth of quarters…especially on a Thursday night when they aren’t exactly hopping with business.

And so I pull into the parking lot of Krystal. No customers. As I park, I see two employees stare and glare at me through the dining room window. Oh boy. I enter the Krystal and greet the man who has made the effort of leaving the dining room to take my order. He grunts a hello and stares some more as I glance at the menu. Ready to order after a moment, I step up and say, “Hi. I would please like two cheese Krystals, two Krystal chiks and an order of chili cheese fries.”

As I am ordering, I pause after every item to allow him time to enter this in the computer. Because I know that I don’t like when customers come up and ramble off “skinnytwopumpmochawithsoyat120withnowhipandraspberrysyrup…regular size.” But after each pause, this large man, sweating through his white button down, a shiny assistant manager badge on his chest,  is doing nothing but stare at me, vacantly. I beging to wonder…is there something on my face? After placing the entirity of my order, I wait another pause and he repeats the order back and then moves to punch it in.Well, thank god we are communicating, I think. 

He gives me my total, and as I reah for my twenty, I ask, almost forgetting the whole reason for journeying out: “Oh, would you mind giving me a couple of dollars worth of quarters as you hand me change?” 

I figure…this is no big deal. Customers come to me with this request at least a couple of times a week, and I’ve got no problem with it unless I’m out of quarters, and even then I’ll probably call for a manager to help out. But no, this is not the case outside of my cafe apparently, because the assit. mgr of Krystal gives me the most sour face and the stare down resumes. I wait for his answer. He stares at my twenty like it’s dirty money, I’ve obviously gotten from some nefarious scheme I just completed prior to stopping for fast food. The food is probably just an elaborate ruse so that this junkie can get quarters to feed her vending machine habit, he thinks as he considers whether my need merits the use of his illustrious tarnished silver manager’s key. 

I am judged, and found wanting. But after a beat, he takes the twenty and tosses a ten on the counter as he rummages in the change drawer to get my quarters. He drags out the three dollars of quarters I need and hands them over, beginning to chuckle at this silly female and her obsession with silver shiny things. In an effort to lighten this awkward situation that has developed, I say: “Gotta have quarters. It’s laundry day. You know how that goes.”

He responds: “No.”

“Um…” I’m at a loss for a minute, because I’m not really sure how someone doesn’t know what laundry day is all about. Or at least has the customer service skills to fake it to appease the dumbass customer trying to make small talk. “Well, laundry day at the laundromat is just like doing it at home.” I say.

“So you throw it in and then take a nap until it’s done,” he says. 

As the customer, I have the power at this point to be a real snarkbeast, and give him some of his own medicine. He can’t do much about it because I”m the customer. But I don’t do that because I’ve been verbally abused by customers before and I know that it sucks. Plus, I try to reign in asshole tendancies whenever possible. SoI just nodd and smile. 

A few minutes later, as he hands me my food, he says, “Come back and see us when you need quarters again.” 

Customer service at its finest. I guess I have worked so hard to give good customer service to people who didn’t really deserve it over the past three years, that when I am given bad service for no other reason than people are in a hurry and don’t want to deal with me…well it offends me. I “waste” a lot of time making people happy with the coffee services I provide for them, and all I ask is that I am accomodated to get what I want without grief when I’m out spending my money. First I was let down at the gas station, then the bookstore, and then at the fast food restaurant. Convenience, retail and food service all failed to perform. On top of all this, my food was sub par. 

At least I got my quarters. 

But by the time I got home from all this, I lost my slim desire to do laundry in the first place. There’s always tomorrow. 

 

Postscript: If you didn’t enjoy this little tale, look for my next blog. I’ve joined a blogging site where I get free books in exchange for blogging an honest review about the book. I will be getting a copy of “Dear Luke, We Need to Talk. Pop Culture in postcards” soon and I will let you guys know what I think of it! 

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I Cannot Brain Today

It’s true. As the Internet cats would say: I cannot brain today, I has the dumb. (Oh my glob, how much I love Internet cats) After 9.5 hours in a retail setting, (a shopping mall, no less) I am truly astonished at the functionality I am mimicking right now. I’d like to thank coffee and my co-worker’s small and agile hands for keeping me upright right now. And yes, that’s a terribly mysterious segway into my blog. I was a journalist at one point, people. I do know how to write a lead to keep you reading. (Please keep reading)

I was informed late yesterday that the woman in charge of all the cafes in my region is coming for a visit next week. She only visits once a year and so this is a big deal. Not only this, but the district manager is going to come *sometime* that week as well. And she’s probably going to have more fun tips for making my Christmas season hellacious…more than likely something even more asinine than making me color a table with a Sharpie. At least, I reflect, both of my superiors are female and are strong, driven women in a competitive corporate system. Good for them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me be any more prepared for their critique of my management of the cafe. Even worse, I’ve been on vacation for a week and so the cafe is in a deplorable state. My assistant didn’t just drop the ball, she lost it somewhere in the good intentions and desire to be well-liked and respected by the other servers. The only saving grace here is some really bright shining stars that are these other servers. When I was pulling my hair out as a bus of 40ish high-schoolers pulled up and entered the cafe for a frappe-a-looza, my co-worker was calm and helpful. She even massaged a tight stress-filled kink out of my back after the students got their drinks and left. That’s going above and beyond folks. 

So, no matter how bad things spin this Holidon’t Season (see what I did there?) I can at least be greatful that I’ve got a support system of employees who work FOR me and WITH me to keep the coffee brewing. So, perhaps, as a customer of cafes or a shopper this season, you are wondering what you can do to ease the pain of those in retail who are haggard, underappreciated, but tirelessly working to get you in and out of the throng of glitter and wrapping paper? Even if you aren’t, here’s some tips to recieve better service and make yourself seem like a much better human than you probably are. 

1: Yes, you are going to have to stand in line. Coffee, books and toys are a popular thing during the gift-giving time and if you want to please little Sally with her favorite Shakespearian play, you are going to have to interface with humans. We don’t really enjoy it any more than you do, but the difference is, if we don’t pretend to be ecstatic about your purchase, then we may have a less firm footing on job security. The solution is to either to shop online for everything and enjoy the mixed bag of shipping costs and returns OR be patient and enjoy the weirdness that is people being people during the holidays. Grab some popcorn and watch the masses attempt their quest for the perfect feeling to convey they appreciate the other mammals in their life. It’s excellent writing material. 

2: We are exhausted, so if we make a mistake, please be forgiving. Today, I truly understood the hyperbole of being so tired that you “fall into a chair.” It was no hyperbole today. I started working before the sun woke up, and I finished when the sun was calling it quits. Lanks said it was the equivalent of being “so tired you be tripping.” (Isn’t he just swell? I cannot brain today and so I just replied “Fo Real.” Geez) Point is: a little bit of kindness to a barista that hasn’t had a lunch or bathroom break all day, and forgets you wanted whipped cream, can make everyone’s tender little emotions last a little longer. Because, honestly, I used to get really psyched about Christmas and was the girl planning the white elephant parties for the whole office. But, then retail impatience, corporate greed, and mean mean people squashed my little heart so hard that it turned straight-up Grinchly. Be the difference this Holidon’t and inspire good feelings and junk, because that’s what it’s supposed to be about right?

3: Try to remember that Santa is a metaphor. I hope I’m not shaking the foundations of anyone’s universe when I clue you in to the fact that the robust man in the center of the shopping mall is not a diety and is not an actual gift giver to small children. (Even though I enjoy the sentiment, he’s not a drug-addled bear either, Night Vale) Santa is a guy (who probably went to college) who is donning a costume to inspire our hearts to an idea that is larger and most unworthy of us. The idea behind Santa as the figurehead for Christmas, and all the other holidays that parade after him, is that it’s better to give than to recieve. It’s a harder concept than you imagine. When’s the last time you truly gave and expected absolutely nothing? Studies say that even when we hold the door for another person, we are expecting a thank-you or an acknowledgement of our goodness. If we don’t get that affirmation, then we feel slighted. My tip is to break this cycle of dependant emotions, and do something truly selfless. Love someone who (appears ) to not deserve your love and attention. Buy a gift for someone you’ll never see or talk to. True charity, without the swelled chest. It’s a hard one, and I don’t mean to say I’ve got this one down just yet. But I think if more people subscribed to being a yearround Santa when the opportunities present themself, then the world might be a kinder and sunnier place. Even as misguided and sometimes dorky I imagine my father to be, he truly gives to people who need help when he knows his help is what they need. He will pull over on the roadside and offer help to the scraggliest, scariest looking guy in town, and that’s pretty admirable.

Take these musings for what they are worth. National Novel Writing Month is in full swing, and I’m blogging every day to try and do my part to the literary world. And hey, at least I’m not gabbing about babies and my love life today, right? Right. Next entry: Dating someone 10 years before even considering marraige? Is that a thing? And what’s up with the Dutch these days?

 

-Anna R. Kotopple