Picture this, if you will:
There are a total of three shoppers in the warehouse store of stationery. Two guys in the over-sized blue Officeworks shirts are having a Geek chat about USB drives.
A female employee is on the phone at the service centre. She is laughing.
Wolfgang, the German guy who works there, is the only one who really and truly is doing his job. He’s stacking merchandise, going up and down a ladder.
It’s pretty quiet over at the copy centre. I thought the girl would eventually finish picking her teeth. She stood behind a giant colour copier and looked right at me. Three times. The machine wasn’t running. There was no one in the DIY copy centre to her left. The air was not scented by heated plastic of the laminating contraption.
There was just me.
Standing at the counter.
After three minutes of pretending that we never made eye contact, she looked around, checking to see if there was another employee she could fob me of to. Once she realised she was marooned on her own personal Island of Copying Hell, she exhaled visibly and made her way to the counter. There was no greeting, no offer of help.
She simply looked at me.
"Hi, I said, real friendly-like, "I’d like to buy three of the largest comb binders you have. The services book here on the counter says that’s fifty-one millimeters.
"I think all’s we got is thirty-eight."
"That’s too small. Can you check for a larger size?"
I got a vacant-eyed stare. She showed me her dead, dead eyes that said I am in a dead end job so what should I drag my dead ass over to the other side of my island to look for anything?
"I only need three," I said.
After another hefty sigh, the Officeworks ZOMBIE shuffled to the far side of Devil’s Isle where she proceeded to lean against the copier…
Allow me to cut to the short story version now. After a lot of farting around, she actually looked, found what I wanted, and then came back to the counter without them to tell me she couldn’t sell me the combs. I had to have my binding done in order to get the combs. Or I could buy a BOX of them from the shelves.
Of course this is ridiculous. So I asked to see the manager.
Zombieworker shuffles back across her lagoon of loserdom, to the place where the Officeworks phone/PA system is. And yes. She leaned against the copier again, for like an hour, and I imagine it would have been longer, but someone else came to stand at the counter with me. So, instead of calling the manager, she suddenly grows a set of customer service balls, shuffles over to the service counter, and asks the guy if she can help him. He wants a copy of a single page.
So she takes the paper to the copier, makes a copy, and returns with the original sheet, but no copy. When she realises her mistake she goes to retrieve the page.
By now, becasue there are TWO people standing at the service counter, another employee appears. This one smiles. This one asks how she can help. I tell her I want to buy three combs. She tells me it’s no problem,hurries off to grab me the 51 mm ones I want and returns lickety-splity
"That’ll be $12," she smiles.
TWELVE DOLLARS! Twelve whole dollars. For plastic doo-dads. Twelve bucks for three plastic combs that are worth at most, twenty cents.
I remind her I could buy a box of them for $13.
She shrugs, "I know that’s not very cost effective," and still smiling, she says she has to charge me the price for binding, which I point out is a major rip off since I’m NOT having any binding done.
So she says, "I can let you have them for three dollars."
Ok, three bucks I can do.
But that’s three bucks for each.
What can I tell you? I need the mother scratcher to bind the thesis and novel into one big-ass book. I have to submit things according to the guidelines. So I grumbled and complained and shelled out nine dollars.
"Have a nice day," Ms Smile worker says as I gather my combs.
And a second later, Zombieworker shuffles over and asks me if I still want to see the manager.