Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blowing a Gasket

In the world of retail one has to serve what I imagine is a reasonably representative cross-section of society. So you get your lovely folks, and you get your bastards. Yesterday I had the deep displeasure of serving (or rather trying to serve) a woman falling firmly into the latter category, and in order to move on from the encounter I feel the need to vent here!

"A lovely store, but I really must take exception to the ridiculous inclusion of Nanci Griffith in the country section," she snorted, approaching the counter with her purchase yet looking all about her rather than addressing my boss Steve or I directly. I took one look at this woman and hated her instantly. We have all met these people who inexplicably wind us up without rhyme or reason before they say a single word, and even without her comment one glance whence it came confirmed this woman was one of mine. She simply had that look and a lofty, superior air, what with her outraged eyes with pin-prick pupils, and half-eye glasses perched right on the very tip of her nose like a school ma'am. "Punch, kick, gouge," I thought.

"Oh, why is that?" I enquired. "Well, she's a bluegrass artist, of course!" proclaimed the evidently Stupid Woman. "No, she isn't," I responded, hackles rising. "Yes, she is," Evil Woman snapped back. Sensing Steve's concern and an almighty ruck ahoy, I put my hands up and said," Well, I beg to differ, so let's leave it there." "She hasn't got a country voice; she has a bluegrass voice," continued Imbecile Woman, with real 'authority' on the subject in her tone.

At this juncture, the old adage of the customer always being right burning hot in my brain, I simply could not resist but pile in once more. "If anything, if you want to get pedantic, Nanci Griffith is a folk artist, so neither a country or bluegrass artist," I countered, "but she is most associated with, and appreciated by, the world of country music. Besides, the defining factor of bluegrass is the banjo, and there's not a lot of fiery banjo in Nanci's music, eh?" The woman looked aghast, especially when her pleasant husband piped in and said, "Aha, he's got you! Please forgive my wife...she's rather opinionated!" Perhaps unwisely, I laughed and said, "Yes, I can see that!"

Anyway, we batted opinions back and forth in an increasingly heated manner as Steve twitched behind the counter, then the woman spat, "Anyway, I have no doubt there is only one person present who was born in Appalachia, and that would be ME! I've been listening to bluegrass my whole life, and Nanci Griffith is bluegrass!" "Okay, fair enough," I sighed in mock resignation, understanding the debate was headed nowhere as she walked out of the store, leaving her embarrassed husband to pay.

I later pictured her in my mind, still all in a tizzy (like I am today), cursing my name and ignorance of the bluegrass giants to her exasperasted, long-suffering hubby, wondering how the hell I got a job in a music store (all those decades ago). I don't want to come across as an archetypal, "Hi-Fidelity"-esque record store asshole or smug music snob, but I know my country music, and I know my bluegrass, and I know that Nanci Griffith is categorically not, nor has she ever been, the latter. When entirely necessary I will bend over and take one in the name of a quiet life, but when confronted with such arrogance, even in a working situation, I will always speak up. So...

The opening paragraph of AllMusic's entry for Nanci Griffith:

"Straddling the fine line between folk and country...has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer... began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-'80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter... etc."

Genres: Country, folk, pop/rock
Styles: Contemporary folk, country-folk, progressive country, singer-songwriter, contemporary country

I don't see too much evidence of bluegrass categorization there, do you? So, f*** you lady!


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  2. Dave, being in retail now and then as long as you have been you must know these devils exist. I am in the same predicament, and had almost the same thing happen in my office the other day. A lady came in and Jennifer, one of my team, tried to look up her name on the computer. It was an unusually spelled name, and Jennifer told her she could not find her in the system. The woman proceeded to spell her name, clearly quite irritated. Jennifer then found it and simply said "oh there it is. I wonder why it didn't come up before?" The woman spat back "BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SPELL!" with the look of hate in her eyes. Jennifer told her "I am not going to wait on you" and the woman had a seat up front to wait on someone else to help her.

    I had to have a brief but understanding with Jennifer the next day and explain to her we are required to wait on people unless they are being abusive (cursing) or inappropriate (asking her out, making inappropriate sexual comments, etc.).

    As if this was not enough, another customer that same day called on the phone and spoke to Lisa, telling him he did not know when he could make his payment, now 24 days past due. He was cursing and yelling, so Lisa put it on speaker so we could hear. There was no one in the office but employees. The bastard later that day called our customer care center and complained on her for putting him on speaker, saying he felt his privacy was compromised. It made me so mad I later grabbed a small wicker decorative basket and had a stomping/smashing party with it to fully expunge my deep displeasure.

    I shouldn't have done that because it made my sore knee hurt even worse. But even more so, I should not have because I allowed this evil person to steal my joy.

    Don't ever let them steal your joy bud. :-)