Posts Tagged ‘culture’

I Pick APEC of Zippers

November 14, 2011

My coworkers and I are helping an interesting couple, they’re European, at least by accent and attire. At one point, the husband comes up to me asking for help. He needs some sweaters, so I am glad to oblige. I search the floor where I’ve seen extra pairs–as sometimes they end up where they aren’t supposed to be. Seeing none, I ask for someone to check the back, as I double-check our inventory at our register.

The man comes up to me, “Well?”
“They’re checking in the back.” I search the computer, and I see him come behind the register to stand behind me looking over my shoulder. “Oh,I’m sorry, I need some space, sir.” I take a few steps away from him walking through the register area to get away. Finally, they find the sweater, well I actually go into the back to get farther away.

Later, he’s in the fitting room trying on the zip jacket, and unzips it, walking to me. I wonder if he’s going to ask for another size.
“You know, where I come from, the zipper is on this side,” he points to the right, while shaking the hanging end, “for men. For women, it is on this side.” He shakes the end of the zipper, where our zipper also ends. I stare at him blankly. “It’s backwards. Your zipper is backwards. The females have it on one side, the men have it on the other.” I stare at him blankly, because I suddenly think he’s crazy. “It’s okay, it fits good. I am just letting you know, it’s backwards.” He walks away, seeming almost proud to have informed me of this great wealth of knowledge.” I leave the fitting room behind, and leave him in the hands of other people.

I examine every single zipper in the entire store. Every single one connects on the left side. There is no ‘male-side’ or ‘female-side’ for these zippers. Sure, I know buttons are on the left for men, right for women. I tell one of my coworkers this ‘revelation’, noting, perhaps, in his country men’s pants and women’s pants must button on different sides. (Go ahead and look, your button should be on the left side.) So I begin to wonder what kind of country he’s from.

I see the couple approach the register as I go back to the fitting room, free of their backward zippers. Then I hear the cashier ask, “How do I do a Tax Exemption? These people are from APEC.” (APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, they have conventions–The Greatest Convention in the Pacific; people from around the world take part in it, hammering out trade-agreements and forward visions of future financial status.)

Either way, I am suddenly stunned that my financial future is in the hands of guys like this. (Even though a coworker has pointed out, some people are very knowledgeable about one thing, and absolutely clueless about every thing else.) I don’t know how far they had to travel from Kazakhstan, but I can tell they sent their best delegates from the Kazakh Ministry of Finance this time around.

Customer Types: The Dumb, Lowered Expectations

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Shiva Reborn

October 3, 2011

Yes, I write about retail. Yet, I think about the world as a reflection in many ways. As a single pebble can cause an avalanche, this same pebble sitting properly can help avoid the same chain-reactions. Man, humanity, homo-sapiens as the destroyers, is this outlandish?

Moving into a macro-scale, we can consider human beings as a trend through history. These are the killers and hunters, the creators of extinction and genocide. We transform the land. Look around you, without a doubt you are sitting no more than five-feet away from a human construct, a change, a disruption in the balance of nature. We do not conform to the world, we force the world to conform to us. We destroy, we change, we topple, chop, dig, and break. We build, yet the ramifications of our creations often harbor far greater destruction.

We topple each other’s nations and civilizations. We find greater ways to kill each other. We destroy our ancestral homes, pillaging and stealing from long honored and revered sites. How many have sought destruction before others have sought restorations? How many tides of human lives, pools of blood and massacre are laid before monuments, and how much of the land was razed just to create such monuments?

Even in today’s age, even every single one of us, how uninformed are we about our own natural propensity for destruction? I have measured my ‘carbon footprint’, and even though my impact measures far less than others, I have the understanding and knowledge of how much destruction I shall cause through my lifetime. How many bags of trash do I create each year, even with recycling? How can I live without producing trash since it is the very fabric of our beings-the wrapping of our own personal daily gifts, may it be food, clothing, or other additions to our personal life.

Look at our transportation and how it was designed. Our cars, our pollution, our single, personal modes of transportation streamlined and made to be as efficient, yet pollutant as possible. The idea of using clean fuel did not come naturally, nor was it something we even thought to do. We move backwards through time–our efforts to save species from extinction only as an answer to the fact we’ve driven so much life to death. Our civilizations worked to ‘conquer the old worlds’ decimating people and culture.

We are, at our base, easy destroyers and hard-to-become creators. In our ignorance, in our natural state, we destroy, we change, we shatter. It takes a great deal of concentration, focus, and work for us to overcome our natural state of being. Before each of us dies, if we took the time to examine how much destruction our life creates, and we try in opposition to instead create and save, do we see how difficult it is and how far away we are from being such pure and mighty creatures–even if we divine ourselves to be so?

I put the magnifying glass to the microscope, I bring nothing into the scene again–I focus on the pebble before the avalanche. I look at customers shopping in stores. We know all stores have some form or vision for their merchandising standards–a look they want, piles folded, shirts hung, and everything set in it’s place. It is a good template for a natural order, if humanity was nature. The customers, our barbarians, pillaging, destroying, and leaving ruin in their wake. How many educated ones know how easy it is to separate a pile of medium from large, and easily replace the mediums on top of the large? How much effort is that? Let us think about how hard this is versus grabbing and ripping a large size from under a pile of clothing, toppling the pile, creating a mess of destruction. Can we actually parallel that to transforming the landscape of the world to our desires? Can humanity, as an evolved species, understand how to take the little it needs without destroying everything around it? I would highly doubt it, if humans can’t even learn to take a size without destroying a simple peace of nature.

It is the state of humanity. It is our basal nature. We are destroyers. We don’t even have the commonest courtesy to keep our destruction away from each other. Just as someone must eventually deal with the trash of our existence–may it be our descendants or the Earth itself–someone must also clean up after the destruction you create just ‘browsing’ through a store. It is an odd, yet useful metaphor.

Cultural Heritage

January 10, 2011

In terms of rudeness; in terms of backwards illegitimate ignorance; in terms of throwing acid on someone’s face, disfiguring genitalia, basic human cruelty; in terms of using your culture to be inhuman, irresponsible, and absolutely, ridiculously narrow-minded and ignorant–there is no excuse.

Okay, I write about retail. I write about modern-society. I write about everyday instances which can happen to anyone. I also write about people, about culture, about society. I write about what people consider normal, just, about habits and actions people have which they think is totally fine, okay, and socially acceptable. I may just write about idiots who don’t know how to calculate one-half of a price, about people who can’t discern between one or all, sale or regular-priced. Yet, each and every one of these people, these human beings will inevitably rely on, lay upon, and use principles of their societal belief to justify their own ignorance and stupidity. They will blame society’s rules, how things are as a reason, as a way to excuse themselves for acting like moronic half-wits.

When I espouse evolution, when I speak about teaching society, to help us take steps forward into a real future, a real society where we can finally understand equality, true compassion, and true realizations about how to act as a real society–it is the simplest, smallest instances of stupidity which manifest and tear down these dreams. Why can people not act reasonably? Why must they walk into a retail store and suddenly become brainless, yet so many of them expect the people working there to be less intelligent than they are? Why can people never apologize, or say sorry when they are wrong, especially when they’ve made a huge scene about their stupidity? Why do they think ‘the customer is always right’ so they can abuse salespeople, whine and cry like irresponsible children just to get their way? Why have people learned, why has society created a world where this is even acceptable?

Why shouldn’t a customer be wrong? Why can’t they admit they’re stupid, admit they’re wrong, and apologize for acting like immature, worthless brats? Why can’t they be called out when they act racist or act with gender-discrimination? Why can’t their intelligence be called into question? Why must salespeople walk carefully upon the tracks of idiots, just to satiate them and make them feel grand in the most empty and meaningless of ways? Why does a society promote this?

You see, people of all cultures come in and act like rude, dumb customers. They can say it’s okay in their culture, they can say it’s how they were raised, but is that really a good reason, other than an excuse? When will we as a human race, a species agree together there are many, many glaring social structures, social rules which are just archaic, if not lost in the annals of time. Some cultures still allow discrimination between genders, some countries still allow race and religion to alter their decisions. This is far down the line, but one day, one day people will look at other people as human beings and give them the respect and dignity they deserve, because they are human beings–not because they are a woman or a man not, Caucasian, Asian, African or Middle-Eastern, not because they believe in Christ, Allah or the Buddha; only that we are all human beings.

Coupon Literacy

October 28, 2010

I’m at the register, the bane of my existence, and we have special coupons, which give a pretty good discount on regular priced merchandise (You can read this as full-priced, non-sale items, etc. Yet, knowing society, people will choose the dumb options on how to interpret clear English. Because you know, they ask, “How long will this be on sale for?” And they could mean marked-down product–which never return to full price–or they could mean promotional items, which return to regular price eventually.) I got side-tracked, where was I? Oh yes.

A woman comes up with a bundle of items on promotion–read this as items on sale, because they aren’t regular priced if they’re not full-priced, right? (I mean today, I had to deal with cheap people who wanted me to mark items back to regular price, since they were on sale, in order to get the coupon savings, which amounted to roughly $1 savings. Congratulations for you! Big saver! Bring out a banner! I just love how special promotions bring out the sale-mongers who decide their I.Q. has dropped twenty points in order to shop.) Either way, I ring up the woman’s items, and I tell her, the register will remove the promotional price–thus the item becomes full-priced/regular priced; this is actually automatic–and then she’ll get the discount off the regular price. (This comes out to about $2 savings, lucky lady!) To which, the woman angrily yells at me, “How can you do that? Where does it say that? I want to read it!” (There really should be a test for people to be allowed to shop in person, with so many people lacking social skills. One question should be repeated twice, “Can you clearly read and understand your native language?” “Are you sure you can read English/native language?”) I point at the coupon, of all things, it isn’t even in the fine print, it says on the very top, ” Regular Priced Merchandise.” To which she complains, mumbling to me saying, “You should have made it clearer! I wouldn’t have even come in if that were the case. I wouldn’t have even bought this!” I love when it’s my fault.

If that is a threat, I don’t know if I care. Does it look like I have a thousand ripples of pleasure having to deal with your stupidity and lack of literacy where you can’t even read English? Do I really care if you’re trying to make me responsible for not only your greed and lack of intelligence, but also you pointing your finger at me as if it’s my fault? I didn’t teach you to read, nor did I teach you to use this lack of logic, nor did I make you come trying to money grub super-discounts and getting items for free. Some people actually do have to pay for their rent and feed themselves in this world, woman.

Of course, all I said was, “Please swipe your card.”

Customer Types: Big Baby, The Blind, Capitalist, The Dumb

Fake Japanese?

August 17, 2010

I have just finished helping a Japanese couple, speaking with the sparse Japanese I do know and understand. I greet the next customer. He’s a 6’3″, 225 pound man who has the look and accent of someone from the Mid-Western United States of America. He says, loudly, “Aye-Ree-Gah-Toe!” I instantly look away, thinking, “Are you serious. Why do I have to deal with these kinds of people?”

I quickly try to do my transaction, as he says random Japanese words he’s heard and can’t pronounce correctly. I speak to him in English, since I’m quite aware I look like a Japanese tourist and can act like a Japanese tourist. I tell him the total, and he proceeds to count, “Nii, San… Nii, San…” Or perhaps it’s, “Nissan, Nissan.” I much prefer the homophone, “Ichi, Nii” which sounds like, “Itchy knee.” Either way, I’m standing there rolling my eyes, since he can’t keep track of counting his counts, while saying “Nii, San.” I’m all but too happy to see him go. Really, why do I get the weirdos?

Customer Type: The Dumb, Lowered Expectations, The Racist,

Customer Comment: Do I Just Go Into Any Room?

July 24, 2010

There are customer comments that irk me to no end. They seem like a social norm, as so many people say it to me so often from so many different cultures. They walk into the fitting room, walking by me as if I don’t exist, then they turn around and ask, “Do I just go into any room?” Well, you just walked by me like a wall, why stop now? What am I doing in here, being paid to be a statue? Of course, I enjoy standing around and all I do is clean after you people, like you’re grown children who have to return things inside out, with deodorant stains and lipstick marks.

You know, people in fitting rooms have different duties, and depending on how you actually treat them, you might find out what they are. Many fitting rooms with attendants aren’t just there like a restroom attendant handing out towels waiting for a tip, while thinking about topics for the next American novel. Workers in the fitting room can actually help you find sizes, help you build an outfit, offer you suggestions, and a multitude of other things. If the first thing you do when you walk into their work-area is ignore them, then ask, “Do I just go into any room?” you’re already losing many opportunities for real and actual help. Many times you create the world you live in–if you act like a jackass, people treat you like a jackass. Think about it. In the end, so many of my coworkers seem used to these “Do I just go into any room?” customers, that they stand there and waves vaguely at a wall of doors, while saying, “You can take any room.” In actuality, they should be helping you to a room, saying they’ll help you, already offering suggestions, and trying to help the store make money.

Maybe the next time you walk into a fitting room, you can ask to try the clothes on. It’s not like retail workers are already demeaned in so many other ways.

Memorial Day, Yay?

May 31, 2010

I don’t know what Memorial Day or any other holiday is to customers, but it is one of those special days where people come out acting more rude, demanding, and disgraceful as human beings. Or maybe holidays are the few times those lower-end humans come out of their caves and interact with society, defining their severe lack of social skills as they decide to go shopping, and act like total assholes while there. Then they hobble back to their caves, and go back where they belong, away from other human beings. Yay for Holidays meant to honor humanity, pride, and respect! We give great honor for things people fought for by acting like pricks. Congratulations.

For Shame!

May 19, 2010

As a testament to my statement that I can ‘Act More Korean Than a Korean’ I have a story to tell. It was the end of a long, irritating day, part of a long and irritating week. I already had two bad happenings, which I’ll write about later. Two Korean women come up to me asking if this ‘discount on denim’ works on their chambray shirt and denim shorts. And I tell them, “No, it only works on the full-length jeans. The computer doesn’t accept shorts or shirts. Only full-length.” After making sure they were clear, I went along on my way.

Several minutes later, I am in the fitting room, and I hear on the walkie-talkie, “Hey, does the discount work on a shirt or denim shorts?”
“No, only regular jeans.”
“Well they said someone told them it works.” I turned my head faster than the world spins; I’m quite sure the earth stood still for a moment in consideration.

I stalked out of the fitting room, straight to the cash registers; nay, I stomped, bashing floor tiles as I walked. I turned the corner, and there they were, the two Korean women, playing tricks. I go up to them, shaking my head.
“For shame, you lie. You know I told you it doesn’t work. For shame!”
The cashier turns to me, “Are you speaking to me?” She has just given them the discounts, which they know they should not have gotten.
“No,” I point at the women, “They asked me, and I told them it doesn’t count. They lied. For shame. Shame on you! How embarrassing you have to lie. For shame!” I continued to speak to them as children, shaking my head, and their only response was to turn away, looking down, because they couldn’t make eye contact with me. I also made the ‘tsk, tsk’ sound, just for emphasis. I will explain all of this later. I kept saying “Shame, for shame!” as they took their ‘deals’ and walked away. I will not be forgetting people who lie, especially using me for that cause.

So what just happened? Shall we explore it?
You see, many Asiatic cultures, especially around Vietnam, China, Japan, and Korea have ancestor worship. They live as examples of honor and respect for their family and those who came before them, this often includes anyone of their culture whom is older than they. My words were chosen correctly, because if I challenged them, if I said they lied in a different fashion, then they would have and could have yelled back. When have you not seen a Korean being lectured, who yells back and get obnoxiously loud? When they are wrong.

I spoke to them as a child, as they too have spoken to their children who lie, who do bad things, telling them to be ashamed of themselves. They have made their parents, their parents-parents, and all their ancestors who no longer live bear a sign of shame because of their actions. This I reminded them, by saying “For shame,” over and over, so they knew, they would get their discount, but at what cost? They lied to save a few dollars, that is embarrassing, it is disrespectful to me, and brings shame to them and their houses. All the spirits of their family will look down on them as they carry their disrespect and shame. All to save a few dollars. For shame. For shame!

They could not get mad or yell at me, as they have done. They cannot have long discussions and questions challenging this rule or that rule, as many do every single day. They knew they were wrong, and admission of this fact was their inability to look at me, or speak. They knew who was right and who was wrong.

As my coworkers gasped in amazement, I just shook my head. The older Korean women looked down, not making eye contact with me and walked away with their discounts and their pride broken. They’ll know better next time than to lie, especially to me or about me. I told my coworkers, those women will need to put out some extra oranges in their shrine tonight for the deals they got.

Customer Types: Capitalist, The Liar