This morning, my wife sent me on a mission to buy a new portable calculator. At the nearby strip-mall, there are three retail options right in a row: Target, Staples, and Best Buy. Target looked crowded, and the Best Buy is huge and bewildering, so I chose the more modest-sized Staples, where ProEthics has an account.
When I entered, none of the aisle and section signs—there were about two dozen— indicated that the store even offers calculators, though I knew that couldn’t be the case in an office supply store. There was a 15 foot banner proclaiming “CUSTOMER SERVICE,” however, with one female clerk beneath it, processing the purchase of an ancient man who was moving in slow motion. After waiting a few minutes and realizing that the transaction might take until Arbor Day, I asked the Staples employee where I could find the calculators, assuming it was an easily and quickly answered query and that I could get the information before the aged customer finished searching through his wallet.
The employee obviously had no idea. She said, “I think it’s down there somewhere,” pointing to the other side of the store. “Is there an aisle sign that I should look for?” I asked. “You know, let me check with somebody; just wait a minute,” she replied, and went back to Methuselah.
“Bye!” I said sharply, and left the store. [ Update: I was wrong to write that, because I did NOT say anything, sharply or otherwise as I left Staples. A sharp “bye” would have perfectly expressed by state of mind, however. Still, that was a false account.] I then went to Best Buy; its customer service staffer gave me directions, pointed out a sign and a section, and I had picked out the item in less than five minutes.
After completing the purchase, I went back to the young man at the service desk and thanked him for his competence. I also told him how his counterpart at Staples had blown it, and that Best Buy had my business from now on.
I wasn’t done yet, however.