Posts Tagged ‘knowing’

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, MARKDOWN!

April 24, 2010

Eeny, meeny, miny, markdown,
Make me have a big, fat frown.
I fold for you a dunce’s crown,
Eeny, meeny, miny, markdown!

I always find myself in the sale section helping customers, because so many of them float there and get stuck, like branches during a flood. We already know about the cool people with the amazing ability to find the only item left NOT in their size, so they need to ask everyone if we have just one more, somewhere, buried, waiting for them like a cheap pirate looking for nonexistent treasure while holding a torn map be bought for a pence, with a branch for a leg because he can’t afford a good peg-leg from a stool.

This time, my lovable pirate is a one wearing two eye-patches. So I ask if they are doing okay, and they shove a sweater at me, saying, “Why is this price higher than the others? How much is it?” And I look at a wall with at least five of the same sweater, in the same color, and same size–all marked cheaper. I tell them the price–from those sweaters. And I’m thinking, “Why do you want the one that’s not marked correctly? What makes this one so special? Why do you need to waste your life and another person’s life for this? And is it not common sense that this one is marked wrong?” Why in the world do you have to find the only one marked wrong, do you think you’re doing your job for us?

So they have an argument with me, obviously one-sided, because I know it’s not marked right. Then I get blamed because it’s marked wrong. It is my utter joy being the middle-man between people who just have to find the one mis-marked item and thus desire it with a grand passion, and the co-worker who decided to miss that item while fumbling through this mess of sale, which I should remind you is generally a mess because of these self-same customer rummaging through sale like a tossed salad. It’s called the Circle of Retail Life in the Sale section.

So we go to the register and scan the item–lo and behold, wait for it, wow, it is the lower price like all the other sweaters! Isn’t that amazing? Totally mind-shattering, world-altering experience. And of course, they want that sweater. (Because it is better than the other sweaters which were marked correctly, you know that, right? They are drawn to it like flies to an electric shocker just waiting for their death to come.) As they try to shove the sweater at me and pull out their credit card, I point at the long line behind them saying, “You have to wait in line first,” then I wade my way back into the river to find another branch, lost and stuck because they have to find the one unique item that isn’t like the others, because they want to complicate the world by not opening their eyes. Because, you know, the mis-marked one is so much better than the others.

Eeny, meeny, miny, markdown,
It’s not I that make you a clown.
Now go wear your deal around town,
Eeny, meeny, miny, markdown!

Customer Types: Agreeing to Disagree, The Blind, Don’t Kill the Messenger, Micromanagement, Piggies

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Diminishing Returns

April 3, 2010

This will be a more thoughtful post, revolving around the idea of prices, mark-ups, and mark-downs. You see, I often hear people saying, “This costs just two-dollars for them to make,” which is true to an extent. If you could go down to the various factories where clothes are made, and people are paid pennies, then yes, I’m sure you could buy it for two-dollars. But then, oh wise Capitalists, would you travel all the way to these third-world countries in order to buy those products? No, not really.

So, we have to pack and then ship the product to a local store. The costs for packing, shipping across an ocean on a boat to a sorting factory, then shipping to individual stores and locations by plane, in order for a guy to carry it to a store near you, then someone unpacks the boxes, sorts the clothes, hangs them, and displays them… I could go on, but each of these people get paid for your convenience–for our convenience. If you could go to a shipyard and buy it off the boat, that’d be great, but would you? Ha-ha, not-so-much. If, and totally if, you could buy it right after it was processed and ready to sell in a store, then it is worth the price on the tag. This is rarely the case.

The entire process, for me, ignores the Brand price, which you really ‘should’ keep an eye on. Made in Italy means the people are paid a lot more to make it compared to Made in the Philippines, so the final cost is multiplied. Yet, some companies still make their stuff in ‘those’ countries that you’d never want to visit, and then mark it up because they are “The Big Thing”, so they can mark it up, because people will buy it–supply and demand.

Back to the topic on hand, once the price is tagged and the items are on the floor, sure, it cost two-dollars to make and then more to get it where it is, but what then? Then people try it on, and someone else has to re-fold it, re-hang it, and replace it where it was. Someone is paid each and every time this happens, over and over, until that piece of clothing is sold. If you look at the minimum-wage in your state, if this item is worked on a total of one hour, how much is it currently worth? I actually think the more a piece of clothing is touched, the more it is worth, but these are the diminishing returns. Eventually, the items are marked down, which again takes time and effort to move it around as it becomes less-and-less of the ‘main product’ being replaced by newer products. Then they sit ‘on sale’, actually worth more than they were worth when they first touched the sales floor because of all the extra time and money used to upkeep it (it even costs money to have it on display where a store pays rent). In the end, you might sell something for twenty-dollars, but paid all sorts of people so much, you just make a profit of two-dollars on that product.

So when a snotty genius lifts a shirt, ruining the fold, and throws it down, saying, “This costs two-dollars to make,” I wonder how shallow their minds really are. I can learn to accept the rude, but respecting the dumb is a different story.

What Size Do You Wear?

February 19, 2010

It’s a busy day, there are a lot of customers asking for help. I’ve learned to avoid co-workers that have questions from customers and try to ask me for either help or opinions. Suddenly, a co-worker waves me over, because they’ve been trying to decide on her husband’s size–saying I am the same size as her husband. I have no stands or walls or fixtures to duck behind. I’m caught!

“What size do you wear?”
“Small.”
The woman looks at me in disbelief and shakes her head at me, “No, you don’t.”
And I look at her, while holding clothes for another customer who is waiting for me nearby, and I make a face with fiery eyes.
“You can’t be wearing small,” she says.
And I’m thinking, “Am I fat? Do I look fat? Are you telling me I’m fat? Because that’s really rude.”
“My husband wears medium. There’s no way a small would fit him,  but he’s your size,” she gestures at me.
And I”m thinking, “Then why are you asking me what size I am, if you already know what size your husband is?” Is it my responsibility to make your husband grow up and stop dressing like a kid, wearing clothes that actually fits him because he’s no longer going through growth spurts–which is generally why parents buy slightly bigger clothing. Or perhaps they were hoping he’d keep growing since he’s only a small, but after twenty years, you’d think it would sink in. And this woman definitely doesn’t look like she’s married to a rapper or a baller, whom over-exaggerate the idea of wearing big clothes which actually make you look smaller.

Listen, if the seam on the shoulder of your shirt is hanging more than two-inches over your shoulder, you’re probably wearing your clothes too big. Sure, you want to be comfortable, but did you know different companies make different widths and lengths of the same size for different target markets? A lot of what people consider ‘thug’ clothing will have larger than average sizes (either wider or longer, while still being correct at the seam), just as much as athletic stores will make more slim-fitting clothes for their athletic styles. It’s called fashion sense. Think about your shoes, even if you need a narrow or wide fit, do you get it two-inches longer than your foot?

“If you know what size he is, you should get him the size he usually wears.” And I turn to my co-worker, “You don’t need me here if she knows what size she wants.” Then I walk away. I hear the woman asking to for one of her manager friends–who is away on vacation–so she can complain about me.

There are sensible people who ask me what size I wear, and they see my clothes fits perfectly fine (it fits as it should fit), and they ask what size I wear, and they accept my answer–seriously people, it’s the size I wear. I’m not some baboon working at a retail store, lacking fashion sense–it’s generally the people who don’t work around fashion or avoid going near retail stores whom lack this sense the most, like her husband. Then there are those people who ask what size I wear, and look at me like I’m lying to them, then buy a size larger. That’s why I’ve learned to just point at a mannequin and say, “He’s wearing medium.” It keeps me out of the equation of insults.

Customer Types: ESP, The Riddler

Teaching the Kids

February 16, 2010

Do parent’s know their children watch them, witnessing how they interact with other people in different situations thus developing an understanding of how they will eventually interact with the world when they grow up?

When parents walk into a store, ignoring a kind hello with a cold-shoulder, their children see this and they’re learning; when a sales person offers them help, when they are obviously looking for something, and they are rudely brushed off with “I’m just looking” even though they actually do need help; when parents treat salespeople as slaves, only existing when you need them, and essentially less than human, just mobile fixtures in a store, only useful when you acknowledge them and need something only a salesperson can ‘find’ for you–your children are there watching every moment, growing and understanding that is how they should act, that is how they should treat other people, acting like this is right not wrong. Treating another human being like garbage is fine, because mommy and daddy do it all the time. Yes, you are obviously a good parent. They say parenting doesn’t come with a book, well common-sense doesn’t grow on trees either.

One day, these children will be adults, pushing their strollers through stores treating sales people in the exact same way, passing on these valuable, unconscious lessons to their offspring so that your grandchildren will be rude, unconscionable human beings. Do you not think these lessons are passed on beyond the retail world? Do you not realize you set a bar for how people can be treated? You may not be hitting or abusing them, but treating them like they’re worthless is still terrible parenting. From what I know from social teachings to religious beliefs, human beings are important, special, unique, etc. but the way we have developed our meandering society which belittles being human based on ridiculous situations based entirely on monetary value, not human value.

This is a perpetuation of a lack of respect, a rudeness which makes no sense. You wouldn’t walk into a doctor’s office acting the same way, walking into a bank treating tellers like this, yet certain sectors of the ‘service’ industry have grown and developed into an accepted avenue where mistreatment and degradation is a norm, is accepted and expected–that treating someone like they don’t exist, that they are less than human, that they only exist to serve you–this is good, this is right, and this is okay.

The customer is always right. No, I’m just looking, can I shove my hand in your face? If I meet you outside the store, then you, salesperson, are an equal, a human being, you exist and you are real, but once you clock into work, you’re worthless, insignificant, invisible, and useless, unless I need you. If I meet you outside the store, how many of your rude, disgusting humans look away or pretend you don’t recognize me, when your reaction says you do? Compare this to kind, good, respectful customers who engage with sales people, talking to them. We actually recognize each other outside the store, wave, and say hello. This is a huge difference, almost a revelation of what it would be like if everyone treated people like human beings and not modern-day slaves.

Remember that son. Remember that daughter. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t talk to strangers. Salespeople are modern-day slaves, you don’t need to give them any respect.

Because you know, if you did give them respect, then the entire structure of sales and retail would be worthwhile, enjoyable, and not as much of a life-draining, self-esteem crushing, pride-absorbing industry that makes you feel so shitty inside. If you actually went into a retail store and treated people as human beings, what a difference you’d make; what a difference everyone would make.

Remember, it’s so simple to just say hello when someone greets you, your children are watching.


Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 2.

February 15, 2010

I am standing at the denim wall. We are having a sale on certain colors of denim–old washes out, new washes in. They won’t let me move the sale denim from the wall. So I can only put a sale sign at the top of the column.

“Excuse me, which of these are on sale?”
I show the woman which columns are on sale. (You know a column goes up and down, and a row goes left and right? You’ll need to remember this vocabulary for later.) The denim is arranged from light to dark between each style, each in separate and very clear columns. I try to keep it as organized and obvious as possible, by telling people and showing people.
“So it isn’t everything?”
“No, just the column with the sale sign on top.” I show her the two columns with sale signs above them. Out of sixteen columns, there are only two columns on sale.
“So this one isn’t on sale? I thought it was the whole row on sale.” She points from right to left. Even then, the signs are on the same row, they are not staggered, nor are the colors arranges into rows, so this would make no logical sense.
“Oh, no, it’s top to bottom, each column has different washes, and only certain ones are on sale.” I wonder again how she can think a row is on sale, when each stack is a different color.
“Why?!?” She begins to raise her voice at me.
I don’t know what to say exactly. I wonder if things have become too obvious to me. I always try to think how someone walking in would think when the see our displays, how confused can they get? Yet, I walk around the mall, and everyone else puts their denim in columns, not rows. Why? Because what if it was arranged in rows, and your favorite color is on the top row, where you can’t reach it? How sad would you be?
“This sign is totally misleading! This is false advertising! It makes no sense! It looks like the entire wall is on sale!” Now she begins to yell. Again, just two columns out of sixteen are marked with any sale sign.
I try to point out how the colors are different in each column. Because obviously, I”m not dealing with logic here.
“No, you aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, that sign up there, looks like everything is on sale!” Now she is yelling and pointing her finger in my face.
I try to explain that I tried to remove the sale from the wall, but they wouldn’t listen to me.
“No, stop! You stop talking! Right now! You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me! Why don’t you put these denim in rows, it would be easier to follow! It wouldn’t be so confusing! I’m not stupid, don’t treat me like I’m stupid! I know! I know a lot! Don’t think I don’t know! Do you understand me? The way your denim is set up makes no sense! You don’t understand! You have no idea! You’re not doing anything right! What’s wrong with you? You’re going to lose so many customers like this! You have to change this! This is false advertising!”
I have nothing to say, but my eyes are watering. I tell her again, the walls have always (and I mean always) been set up in columns (including any store that sells denim). The sale sign is on top of each column that’s on sale, what else is there to say?
“You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, right now, you tell your bosses they need to change this, because it makes no sense! This wall is misleading. How can anyone shop here? Listen to me! You can’t treat customers like they’re stupid! Do you hear me! Don’t tell me what I know or what I don’t know! Because I know! You’re the one that has everything wrong! You don’t understand anything! You don’t tell me I’m wrong! You hear me? Don’t tell me what I know! Do you hear me? I know! I know!” I do believe, she’s already spit on me  in her rage–not on purpose, I hope. If I had the freedom to act, right now, I would definitely do more than spit. Do people really think they have the ability to speak to other people in this way? In what situation can I walk into any place of business and start acting this way? Is this seriously how society sees retail, as some invisible border where you can suddenly lose all manners and responsibility, and just be totally rude, disrespectful, and ignorant?
I stand there for almost fifteen minutes listening to her telling me what’s wrong and what needs to be done, how much she knows about things, and how much I don’t know about things; how much I don’t understand anything about customers or marketing, or what customers think or need. She told me everything I needed to change, everything I needed to stop doing, everything that was wrong with our store.
I know my face was red, my eyes were watering, and I was shaking, because the last time someone did that to me, I almost broke their fingers–one at a time. I actually just wanted to quit, so I could slap her across the face. After she left, I wanted to leave the store, so I could find her in the mall, and give her my peace of mind. These are people that would have much less backbone outside, where they’d consider me an ‘equal’, but just because I have a crappy retail job, they ‘think’ they have some superiority that makes them better than me. That is one of the greatest follies of the state of retail. Why do we empower customers with this ridiculous, in-genuine sense of power?

If you actually think you’re better than someone because you have money, then you actually are worthless and truly need the money to give you a delusion of grandeur. Amazing people are superior in many ways that don’t include money. If you value yourself totally by the money you possess, then you are a sheep of society who has little idea of the true worth of things around you–when you find the one thing you truly want that can’t be bought, you’ll understand.

I do all I can to try and benefit the customers, I do all I can to try any make it easier for them, I even challenge the management to change things to make it easier for customers (which of my coworkers actually do this?)–of all the people to yell at, to belittle, and treat like a child–I am the last person to do that to. After her, I stopped trying so hard, I stopped working as hard to try and help out the customers–taking their crap, dealing with their stupidity, practicing patience in the face of insolence. I gave up, and I was no longer the guy that ‘wow, nothing ever bothers you, whatever you’re on, I want some, too’. That person was officially dead.

Later, I told my manager what happened, and they all gasped, saying, “You never need to put up with that! Ever! If anyone ever does that again, you have every right to turn and walk away from them. And if they don’t stop, tell a manager and they will be taken off the property. We don’t accept that kind of treatment to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Ever.”

Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 1.

February 15, 2010

This will be one of my few two-part blogs, which is only meaningful, like season finales, as telling a longer story and having an inevitable movement, development, and transition. You see, I don’t stand against customers. I actually stand for customers, which makes their insults, attacks, and actions that much more offensive, because it actually matters to me–they matter to me.

I have always stood on the side of the customer, to benefit the customer, because of my backgrounds in marketing, selling, and psychology. I actually do believe we need to set-up displays, marketing, and even customer-service to benefit the customer, to help them buy what they want to buy; in contrast to trying to make people buy what they don’t want to buy through coercion and trickery, i.e. credit cards. In order to do this, I have always pushed for improvements. Once, I went to the district manager, just to ask her if we can alter the order of our sizing, so it’s easier for customers to reach–i.e. smaller sizes near the bottom and larger sizes near the top of columns. She agreed to this, saying, “We already have a language barrier with our customers [like Japanese tourists], what does it say to them if we put their sizes out of reach?” Exactly.

I always move things around, as much as I can, trying to help out the customers. I try to train my co-workers to know things which will best benefit the customers. I put marketing, not to be pretty, but to be helpful and easy to read and recognize. I do what I can to remove confusion from the workplace. I don’t step into the store as an employee only, but also through the eyes of the customers.

I do realize and understand the majority of customers that are rude and irritating are, in fact, also stupid, some abnormally so. I just take greater offense when they take out their stupidity at me, as if I did things to make their life miserable, that I don’t do anything to help them. Even when I’ve met regional vice-presidents, I tell them the things customers tell me, I ask for solutions to problems that seem persistent and unresolved. I am one of the few people to consistently fight for better selling, to work out ways to help the customer. I actually do try to do something about problems, I don’t believe in complaining for the sake of complaining.

Don’t complain about things that can be solved.
Don’t complain about things that can’t be solved.

Why am I writing all this? Well I could write more, but honestly, I’m writing this so you don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to hate all the customers. I actually want to find solutions to these problems, and I do believe these problems can be solved. I do believe this society, this culture can actually evolve to remove this abscess of needing to think, needing to be respectful, and turn retail into an act of social interaction that is enjoyable and not riddled with the lacking points that capitalism seem to instill within it. People don’t need to be idiots, companies don’t need to come up with hundreds of rules and clauses to control rampant idiocy, and people can be respectful to each other, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Now, I will write about the customer that broke my resolve, the one customer of all the customers that made me want to cry on the sales floor and made me stop taking their crap, their insults, and their attacks upon my intellect, my self-esteem, and my pride…

Family vs Employee Discount

January 28, 2010

A woman comes up to the register with a package and some clothes. She tells me she got a gift and she wants to exchange it. So I take the package and pull out a tank-top. Scanning the receipt, I realize she has an employee receipt. She tells me her nephew bought her a tank-top, but it doesn’t fit. Then, I look at the pair of denim and two shirts she wants to get. I look into her face, and I know there will be trouble.

“I can probably exchange this tank-top for another color or size. But I can’t use the discount on the other stuff.” Already, I’d have to break the rules a little to do this, since the employee needs to be there to do the exchange with their ’employee’ discount. Hence, the employee part.
“No, I don’t want this tank-top, so I picked something else I want instead.”
“I can’t give you the discount, because he needs to be present to use his discount.”
“Why not? I have the original receipt!”
“You have an employee receipt. He was supposed to give you a gift receipt so you could return this item. Giving you the employee receipt means he needs to be here to sign for it.”
“He’s not in the mall! I need this clothes for a trip tomorrow!” Why can’t you just give me his discount?”
“Because you’d get him in trouble. He could get fired.”
“But I’m a customer!”
“Exactly. This is an employee purchase. The rules are different.”
“Where is your manager? I want to speak to your manager. Right now!”
“Sure.” I call the manager over, and we discuss the situation.

So my manager says, “I’m sorry, your nephew has to be present to use his discount.”
“Why not?!? He’s not in the mall! I don’t understand why I can’t use his discount!”
“He wasn’t even supposed to give you this receipt. He was supposed to give you a gift receipt,” my manager states calmly.
“Why can’t I use his discount?”
“If we did use his employee discount, he would be reported, and it could lead to his termination.”
“Isn’t there someone higher I can speak to?”
“No, I’m the manager, and I’m telling you that you can’t do this.”
“I don’t have time for this! I’m leaving for a trip tomorrow. I’m going to call him right now! Wait right here.” As if her nephew, who must be very new, and will obviously be very freaked out when his aunt calls saying she’s complaining to a manager, and thus might actually get him terminated regardless.

So she leaves angrily, in a huff. I would only be afraid if we find out her nephew owns the company. Because we already wrote his employee number down and planned to call his store to tell them to speak to him about how he buys ‘gifts’ for people. She is definitely an ‘aunt’ I would not want to have, since she didn’t even flinch hearing her nephew would be fired for her babbling, whining and ranting. Sure, she’s a customer, but the rules are different with employees. Whining customers can get far, but aunts with employee discounts can’t even get in the front door. There is a clearly cut line between where customer stops and employee begins. It isn’t a line you cross over. Do you seriously think you can walk into any store and say, “Hey, my nephew works here, I want an employee discount, now!”

So she returns several minutes later, apologizing for the situation. Hopefully, he was crying on the phone saying, “You ruin everything, aunty! You always ruin everything!” At leas, that’s what I imagined. She says she called him and worked everything out. She’ll just buy everything now, and he’ll use his discount later. This, too, is breaking our employee discount rules. I roll my eyes without rolling them.
Damn lady, you are so stupid.

Customer types: Big Baby, Capitalist, The Complainer, The Deaf, The Dumb, Tattle Tale

When is a Sweater a Sweater?

January 27, 2010

Oddly, today I had the exact opposite of a person mistaking a sweater for something else. (Like someone mistaking a pile of poop for a fillet mignon.) A couple brings a V-neck sweater to the cash register and when I scan it, they say it’s on sale. I’m not sure about that item, so I ask them to show me the sign. They take me to a table with V-neck sweaters separated from V-neck T-shirts. There is a promotion on V-neck T-shirts.

“Oh, I see. This sign says V-neck T-shirts.”
“Yes.”
“That was a sweater.”
“Yes.”
“This is for T-shirts.”
“But it’s a V-neck.”
“Yes, it’s a V-neck sweater.”
“So it’s on sale?”
“No, the T-shirts are on sale.”
“It says it costs $15.”
“It says regular-price is $15, but if you buy two T-shirts they are cheaper. The original price on these sweaters are $40, not $15. They aren’t even the same item.”
“I don’t understand. They’re the same.”
I point at the sweaters, lifting one up. “This what you brought me.”
“Yes.”
“It’s a sweater. It’s long-sleeved, see the sleeves? It’s thick, feel it. It’s warmer, this is a sweater.”
“Yes, I like it.”
“Yes, and this,” I lift a T-shirt, “It’s a T-shirt. Look, it has short-sleeves.” I show her the short-sleeves. “Feel it, it’s light-weight cotton. This is a T-shirt, this one is on sale.”
“I like this one though,” she points at the sweater.

*Sigh* Eventually, I get her to buy the sweater for the regular price, since it isn’t even a T-shirt.

Customer Types: The Blind, The Dumb

Tube Socks

December 21, 2009

At the same time I had my gift receipt customer, I hear a loud, rude customer next to me speaking to one of my more sassy coworkers. I hear the woman ask for socks, and my coworker points toward the sock wall we have for woman.
“No, I want tube socks!”
“Tube socks?”
“Tube socks! Those aren’t tube socks. You don’t know what tube socks are?” The woman turns toward her friend and says with way too much cocky attitude, “Tube socks, those are the thick ones, right? Tube socks, the ones that are long and go up your leg, right? Tube socks. That’s what tube socks are!”
I’m utterly surprised my coworker didn’t snap back, nor point out the fact tube socks like that are of the manlier variety and I’m sure men’s socks would have been perfect for her womanly virtues. I laugh, and say, “I think we have those kind of socks in the back.” Since, we do have winter socks, which are thick, but not tube socks, but it would be good enough for this customer. Otherwise, I’d point at the men’s socks, because they’re ‘thick’ and ‘go up your leg’.

Some people are just too much, like when guys ask for the jeans with elastic, or woman ask for ‘mom jeans’. I know what they are, not everyone knows, but that doesn’t mean we or anyone else carries it for the plethora of customers that come asking. Supply and demand usually means buying a lot of what you like before it becomes extinct.

Customer types: Lowered Expectations

Simple Math.

December 5, 2009

50% of two dollars is one dollar. 25% of one dollar is twenty-five cents. And ten dollars? 50% is five dollars. 25% is two dollars and fifty-cents. If you are already lost, pull out a calculator, you’ll need it.

We have an additional 40%-off sale. A woman gets my attention waving a shirt at me. “This is 40% off? How much will this cost? Can you check?” I’m thinking, okay, expecting to see some random number, like $25 or $35. I pull out the tag and blink. It’s ten dollars. 40% of ten dollars is? $4.00. I’ve only taken one step away, only two seconds have gone by when I turn around and tell her, “40% of $10.00 is $4.00, so this costs $6.00.” My face is blank. She’s speechless, I can’t tell if she’s amazed I could do that without a calculator or she thinks I’m lying to her.

Customer Type: The Dumb