Thursday, August 19, 2010

In Which I Provide Excellent Customer Service

I work at Staples, and because of this, I have the wonderful pleasure of dealing with many "interesting" types of people. In fact, just today I dealt with the loveliest heroin addict I ever did meet, who was absolutely convinced that our laptops were microwaves, and that if I did not sell him a microwave right that second, well, he was just going to get up and leave the store. I told him that was fine with me.

But that's not what I'm talking about right now. I'm going to tell you the story of the most interesting fellow I ever met at Staples; the craziest customer ever.

I was standing in the printer aisle when I saw him. I was busying myself checking price tags, but when I saw this gentleman's entry into the store, his swagger, his air of misguided confidence, I knew:

This was going to be good.

I approached him, asking in a non-committal tone "Do you need help with anything today, sir?"

He swiveled his head to regard me with an unblinking stare. "Why, yes, yes I do. I have a question, actually."

"Well, that's what I'm here for, sir. What can I do for you?"

He glanced back and forth, licking his lips nervously, like some sort of giant reptile. "I have it on good authority that... laptops... emit harmful radiation. This is true, yes?"

"Well, sir, any radiation that laptops do put out is largely harmless, so I don't think you have anything to w-"

"Now, now, now, I know that's not true." His eyes widened further than I thought any normal human's could. "I know, young man."

I fidgeted with my hands behind my back. "Well, I-"

"It's the cellphones, son! You kids and your cellphones, the radiation from those is melting your brains! The gray matter!" He tapped the side of his skull, attempting to emphasize his shaky point. "See what I'm saying?"

I was beginning to realize whose brain was melted. I didn't think it was mine. I cleared my throat. "Sir, the cellphone radiation has been proven to be harmless. I really don't think that cellphones, or laptops, are any cause for worry in terms of radiation."

The man sighed, and looked up at the roof, appearing to be searching for something. I assumed it was his sanity. After a long, awkward pause, he slumped his shoulders and looked at me again. "I didn't want to tell you this... but this is how I know." He stepped closer to me. I took a step back. "Laptop radiation effects the reproductive system. Because of laptops, I... can no longer have children."

what is wrong with you

I had no answer for that. Staples may meet all your business needs, but this was not an area that we covered. I just opened my mouth and stood there for a second. "I'm sorry to hear that, sir."

He stepped back, all business, as if nothing more important than an exchange of business cards had just taken place. "My question to you is this. Do you carry any lead sheets that I could put over my lap while working on  my laptop?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid we don't."

"Well, do you know where I could find them?"

"...may I suggest a dentist's office, sir?"

A smile lit up my customer's face. He gripped my hand and shook it warmly. "Excellent idea. You have a wonderful day, son."

And off he went, into the cruel world, in search of his "protection". I can only hope the dentist provided him with an excellent lead undergarment.

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