A wee bit of Cali encountered in Fabulous Ferndale

cablecarActually, I think we were in Pleasant Ridge for this cute little encounter. Megalopolis sorta all runs together for me, especially when I cross city limits by walking up an alley. Well until you get down into Dee-troit proper, where whole neighborhoods look like they’ve been bombed and even the normally fearless GG doesn’t like to get off the main thoroughfares.

Geez oh pete! Remind me to *never* try to pay for anything at The Plum Market via a check! I chose lane number 1 today, not without some trepidation. The woman ahead of me didn’t have a lot of stuff, maybe 10 items, but three of those were bottles of champagne and that means extra bagging and there was no bagger in sight. Still, I gambled and put down my five items behind her and, with my backpack already unzipped ready for loading and my debit card in hand, I waited for my turn. And waited. And waited. The bagging was pretty quick even without a bagger. But then. The woman ahead of me asked if she could write a check. Well, of course! Oh boy… But still, how long could this take? It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r… Even though this woman had her phone number and her driver’s license number and I dunno what else PRINTED on her check, the clerk had to check all of that stuff off, write down the license expiration date, and I do not know what else. And THEN!!! Something was broken. A machine to scan the check maybe? Check the ABA / account number maybe? I wasn’t sure. But the clerk had to CALL someone and even after that, she did more excruciatingly slow writing on the check. Meanwhile… At the adjacent express counter, people came and went, came and went. Why did I not choose the express counter? I do not know. Everyone in line there when I chose lanes plus about five more customers were long gone by the time I got outta there.

The check-writing woman apologized for slowing everything down and I joked that I doubted I could even *find* my checkbook. That statement was an untruth. I know where my checks are. I just rarely use them! I don’t *ever* carry them to the grokkery store or anywhere else around town. I do try to remember to throw them into my backpack when I am traveling somewhere. Sometimes they do come in handy.

It was different when I was a kid working as a cashier at the old Sault Ste. Siberia Tempo Store. (Let’s go… to Tem-po… The price is low at Tem-po… Tempo is your store with more… At lowest possible prices. Doo doo doo.) The cash register I ran was the old-skool kind where there were rows and rows of buttons. We had to add up our own sales tax, helped by little numbers that showed up in the “windows” at the top of the cash register. I am good at things that require using my hands, like typing and playing the flute. I am good at remembering things like prices and “line numbers” and “tag numbers” and calculating sales tax percentages. Those skills transferred well to running a cash register and many was the time I could “ring up” somebody’s stuff before they even had a chance to put it down on my conveyor belt. (Did we have conveyor belts there? I cannot remember…)

Back in those days, most people paid by cash or check. When people handed us credit cards, it was a pain in the you-know-what. We had to use those infamous old credit card carbon-copy forms, where we hand-wrote the price and sales tax, then stuck the card underneath the form into a low-tech device that imprinted the card info onto the forms. If the total was over $50, we had to call the store office and the office had to call an 800 number to get a verification code that the card was okay, which we would have to write (with a pen) onto the form… This could take a while… Sometimes the office staff was busy and didn’t answer the phone immediately. Sometimes the damn *800 line* was busy. A manager could override that situation but sometimes the *managers* were busy. Did we have impatient people in our lines? Yes we did. I particularly hated when I had to make someone wait who I knew had picked my lane because they knew how fast I was. It wasn’t my fault. It was company policy.

I always try to remember those days when I am in a situation like I was today. The cashier was doing her best but had to follow company policies but I’m sure she got that I was radiating impatience (even though I understood her predicament). Being an on-line banking systems analyst and a once cashier, I also try to think of ways the store could make a better customer experience, not that I have any control over that at my neighborhood grokkery store. (And I love The Plum but stuff does happen. Breathe, KW.)

Sunnier today. Sunny enough that the I94 18-wheel Clogway accident of the morning was due to sun and not black ice. We got up to 45 degrees this afternoon and I’ll take that. Cold virus? Still coughing a bit but a quantum leap forward and every cough seems to be productive and that’s about as far as I’ll go with that except to say that it’s a good thing.

2 Responses to “A wee bit of Cali encountered in Fabulous Ferndale”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I rarely write checks, but I’ve had more issues with people in line with faulty debit cards, inability to follow through at pressing the buttons or using approximately 100 coupons. Ugh.

  2. jane Says:

    I write a check once a month, but otherwise, hardly ever. The sun was VERY nice to see yesterday, and again this morning. supposed to be 50 this weekend!!!