I have a draft of a blog about high school reunions. It is 1/2 written down and partially still rolling around in my head a bit... I promise I'll get it out there after I've thought about it some more. I know you are all on the edge of your seats now.
How was your weekend? Man, was it hot out here! I could not even bring myself to walk up to the pool to jump in. I was happy to just sit in my air conditioned house all day. Rob took B to the pool and said that the water was gross from so many people... good thing I stayed away. To all of my friends being battered by rain and thunderstorms, I feel for you and hope that things dry out soon. I do miss those days when a storm would roll through, sitting on my mom's porch on Jefferson Street, feeling the heat lift for just a minute or two. I used to love to watch the lightening flash and watch the water run down the street. I miss that porch and that porch swing.
Interesting interaction with the manager at Barnes & Noble last night. First, I qualify my statements by saying that I have worked in retail. I know how customers can get and I have had to deal with belligerent and obnoxious clients before. I also have dealt with intelligent people (both in retail and in other venues of life) and I try to acknowledge their intellect and not treat them like morons. Apparently, the manager at B&N did not get that similar lesson. Let me start by saying that we spent quite a bit of money on this little trip to the book store. We carried two bags of books (and a Hello Kitty book light) out of the store. Let me add to this story another qualifier. We are not "rich" although we do enjoy the ability to go to the bookstore and buy books from time to time. So as you read on, understand that while "yes, it was only $10," it was still $10, which might buy us several gallons of milk, or loaves of bread, or a few gallons of gas. (o.k., stop laughing, it would buy a drop or two of gas.)
In any event, when the total came up, I was a bit surprised that it had added up so quickly. I checked with the clerk to make sure that all of the "deals" had been applied. She confirmed that they had and we walked out. After buckling the kids into the car, I pulled the receipt out, curious about how it had added up so quickly. As I scanned the receipt (and as Rob drove out of the parking lot), I noticed that the clerk had not applied all of the "deals" correctly. In fact, we had been charged full price for a book that we were supposed to get 1/2 off. As I quickly did the math in my head, I realized that it was a $7 or $8 difference in my favor. I made Rob turn around and we went back. I entered the store with the 3 books in question and approached a clerk. (The one who had initially rang us up was no longer standing there.) I explained the problem to the clerk. Of the 3 books in my hand, one had a 30% off sticker (40% for members, which we are). The other two both had stickers which read "buy 1, get 1 half off.") When we were originally rung up, the first "buy one get one" book rang up at regular price ($30) and the book with the 30% off sticker rang up as 1/2 off. The other book (which was supposed to be 1/2 off) rang up at full price. I explained this to her calmly and she read the receipt. She then called the manager and tried to explain it to him. His response (which she explained to me), was that it all "came out in the wash" - so to speak. Those were not his words, but the gist of his response was that even if I could not read the receipt correctly, all discounts were applied and I got the deals.
WRONG. Despite his assertions to the contrary, I can read a register receipt and I could very easily tell that I was charged incorrectly. I calmly explained to the clerk why the manager was wrong and she said that she was just going to have him come up. She called him back and said that the customer still had questions. I jokingly said that "the customer is being difficult." She responded to me (after she hung up the phone) that I was not being difficult, but I could tell that she thought I was. When the manager came up to the front, he again tried to explain to me that all of the deals had been applied and I explained to him that he was wrong. 3 books, for which I should have received 1 at full price, 1 at 1/2 price and 1 for 40% off. According to the receipt, I paid full price for 2 and received 1 at 1/2 price. When I said that I wanted to then return the 3 books and then purchase them separately, he hesitated, saying that he did not want his clerk to go through the trouble, to then have it all equal the same. Confident in my math skills (those old-timey skills where you learned to calculate 40% of something in your head and then add it to 50% of something and then subtract that total from another number,) I stood by and watched as the clerk struggled to wrap her head about things. I was worried that there would be a hiccup as she struggled to even return the 3 books at the same time (the manager was standing there trying to "help" her and I worried that even he might not understand.) Finally, the return was completed and $71 was put back on my card. She then rang up the discounted book, for which I was charged $18. Then, finally, she rang up the 2 books that were part of the "deal", for which I was charged $44. Now, those of you out there with old-timey math skills have probably already figured out that 71- (18+44) = 9. In my favor. There was random amounts of change involved, but I won't confuse the issue with that.
Even as the clerk was finishing things up, I could tell (with my old-timey math skills), that I was coming out ahead. I could also see the wheels turning in the manager's head as he tried to figure out if he was right and if it all added up to the same amount. I'm sure that as soon as I walked out, he grabbed a calculator and did the math. Yes, at the end of the day, it was only $9, and it took 15 minutes to get through the explanations and returns before I got credited my $9. But I got my $9. To the manager of the Barnes & Noble, I will say that you really should learn to listen to your customers, particularly those who try to calmly and rationally explain things. I would also urge you not to rely too heavily on your computers, because they are, after all, just machines, and machines can sometimes get it wrong.
Moving on. I posted a status on Facebook a little early, about a sad thing that I saw at lunch today. I had to wait to turn into a parking spot, because a guy had his car door open. 2 kids were crawling out of the back seat. I noticed as they walked up to the sidewalk that they both had headphones on. I parked and ended up following them into Subway. The daughter sat down with a bag of McDonalds, plugged into her mini iPad, headphones on. The son, also plugged in, sat down and waited for dad, who was in line in front of me. We won't discuss the son's name ("Heston") and whether or not that is an unfortunate name, but I did notice that the kids could barely disconnect long enough for dad to get their food orders from them. I did not stick around to see whether or not the kids disconnected once dad sat down with the food, but I have to hope that the electronics were put away. Really, can we not even disconnect the kids long enough to eat? I will admit that when we are out for lunch or dinner with the girls, it is sometimes easy to hand them the iPod or phone so that they can play a few games. It keeps them quiet and allows Rob and I to talk. But when the food comes, the toys get put away and we focus on eating. I will also say that before the phones and iPods come out, we try to engage the girls and get them to tell us about their day or talk about other things. We try. Unfortunately, I think there are too many who do not even make that effort. I have to hope that the dad I saw at Subway had them put their headphones down when the food came out. I have to hope.
And lastly... it struck me the other day, as I was buying something just for myself, that it is not necessarily a bad thing, despite some residual guilt that I sometimes feel. I did not have a lot of the "finer" things in life growing up. I did not have the Barbie Dreamhouse or Corvette, despite making requests to Santa for several years for those things. Clothes were sometimes hand-me-downs and shoes were worn through before being tossed. When I started college and got jobs to help pay rent, I would sometimes buy a CD (or cassette tape) and sometimes splurged on t-shirts that I did not really "need." For the most part, I lived from paycheck to paycheck. Over the past 8 years, I have spent most of my disposable "income" on B and more recently, on K. Even when I buy something for myself, I sometimes wonder if the money is not better spent on the girls. In the midst of one of those moments, I decided that it was OK for me to spend my money on me. I forgave myself for being selfish and choosing to buy that dress (or shirt or scrapbook paper or whatever) instead of buying something for the girls, or for saving my money. I decided that I want my girls to understand that it is good to take care of themselves and that they can still enjoy things while sharing with their family and not deprive themselves in the process. At the same time, I want them to understand that it is my money (or daddy's money) and that because we work to earn it, we do not have to justify how we spend it to our children and we can spend it as we see fit. Of course, if we decided to blow it all on a trip to Paris and leave them without food or toilet paper, I could see where they might take issue with our spending. In the meantime, I think we are doing o.k.
And finally - where did the summer go? K had her first day of summer camp today and all I could think about was how summer has gotten away from us. When I was in school, we would finish up in early June, three long months spread out before us with nothing to do but while away the days. B has just finished up 2 weeks of summer camp and suddenly, there are only 6 weeks left. It is July and we can suddenly see the end of summer looming, just a month and a half away. On one hand, I have things I am looking forward to in the Fall, but on the other hand, the calendar is flying by so quickly that I want it to slow down so that it will last just a bit longer. (Then again, after a weekend of hanging out with the girls in the heat, maybe a new school year is not such a bad thing.) ;)
I hope that you all have a safe and Happy Fourth of July and holiday weekend.