Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Not so service-oriented

The company I work for prides itself on service. On any given day, you can pass our building and hear our Gregorian chants of “service, service, service.” Surprisingly, I don’t work at a customer service place, but it’s just one of the things that sets us apart from the competition.

Since service is so ingrained in me at work, I definitely notice the lack of it outside of work. Take the other day, for example. After work, our family took a little jaunt to the local Sam’s Club. I love Sam’s Club. Where else can you get a 50-pack case of toilet paper, a couch, a plasma TV and some frozen quesadillas? We spend hours there.

On this trip, I decided to try out a new contraption that I bought for Dak. Since he’s larger than most babies his size, he outgrew his infant carrier (he actually outgrew it at 4 months … they’re supposed to be for babies up to 1 year!). But he’s not even 6 months old yet, so he can’t really sit up on his own. This causes quite a dilemma when shopping, because I either need to bring the carrier with me to transfer him from his car seat into the carrier to place it on the shopping cart, or I need to bring a stroller and somehow fit the things I need into the lower portion when I’m shopping (while trying not to look like a shoplifter).

The stroller is not an option at Sam’s Club. Those packages of paper towels are larger than me. And it’s just such a hassle to bring the carrier. So I bought this thing that goes over the front area of the shopping cart so that babies aren’t exposed to all the germs on it. It comes with a pillow, and little straps to keep him in. I then used the straps from the shopping cart and wrapped them around the thing that goes over the shopping cart (there’s got to be a better name for this thing … let’s just call it a cart cozy). So Dak was all settled nicely in the front of the cart. I had my purse on one side and his blanket on the other to stop him from falling sideways.

After an hour, we were finally done with our shopping adventure and proceeded to checkout. Typically at Sam’s Club, they transfer items from one cart to another. If you don’t have kids, you just switch carts and are on your way. With Boogie, we just lift her out of the cart and let her walk back to the car with us. But usually when I’ve had my infant carrier, they just let me have two carts.

Not this day. The woman asked me if I wanted her to leave the front part open of the new cart. I looked at Boogie and said, “Oh, no thanks. She can walk.” “No, I meant for the baby,” she said. I looked at Dak, in his expertly rigged strap system with all of the accessories on each side holding him up. “I just thought I’d leave him in here,” I replied. “No, you can’t do that. You need to switch carts,” she said in a terse tone.

I looked at her in amazement. Did she know how long it took me to get him in there? I couldn’t exactly take the time to do that in the new cart, without holding up the line. So through gritted teeth, I proceeded to unhook all the straps, pull him out, pull out the cart cozy, and the little pillow, and his blanket, and my purse, and try to hold all of these things at one time while my husband finished paying for the order.

Halfway through this process she said, “Oh, I guess you could use two carts.” You think? “Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do in the first place, but never mind,” I said softly, but with enough venom that she knew I was pissed.

I don’t know if she saw my jaw muscles working or not. I didn’t make any more eye contact with her. I just tried to wrap one arm around Dak and all his paraphernalia (that word always makes me think of drugs) and use my other arm to hold Boogie’s hand as we walked in the street (because the cashier decided to put items in the front of the cart after all so none of my children could ride in it). When we got home, my husband told me he thought I was going to get into a brawl. I’ve never physically fought with anyone in my life, so that wouldn’t have happened. I almost thought about calling the manager of the store and complaining about her. But I decided to let it go, and just vent my frustration here.