Recently I read Cracked.com’s post on “7 Great Occupations for Horribly Stupid People”. The number one item on this list was “Best Buy employee”. Interestingly, the reason they were listed as the stupidest is that they constantly interrupted your shopping with the phrase, “Are you finding everything OK?”
I want to know where such Best Buys exist. There is a Best Buy that is a relatively convenient distance from where I live, and I used to go there to purchase electronics. Not anymore. For whatever reason, New Jersey Best Buys are staffed by hibernating bears. I will inevitably see some of them lumbering around, awake from their naps, when I enter the store. There is someone to greet me when I come through the door. I will find what I am looking for, which will be inside a case created for one of Houdini’s original escapes, and requires approximately 4,750 keys to open. My only hope of getting at the product I need is to locate a salesperson. At this point, the salespeople can detect that I need help. I can imagine an alarm going off in the employee lounge, that says “Alert! Customer needs assistance! LEAVE THE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY!” The whole store suddenly goes quiet except for whatever inane music they are playing, and the staff suddenly vanish. The ones who are not so quick to leave avoid eye contact and try to scurry out on their hands and knees to the nearest exit. You think I’m kidding.
I’ve discussed my “Best Buy” experience with other Jersey folk, and they have encountered a similar phenomenon. You might blame the drinking water or the mafia, but I suspect this is an East Coast thing. Best Buy employees that seek to help you are clearly working in the Midwest, or perhaps down South. It’s been years since I’ve been out to either part of the country, but from what I recall, everyone who worked in retail in Missouri or in Alabama was so nice that it made you suspicious if you weren’t from there. (They’re also really slow, but that’s another matter). When my brother moved to Austin, Texas from New York City, he was alarmed by his first grocery store experience, where they not only packed your groceries, but took them to your car for you. And they actually made pleasant conversation and thanked you for coming in. When I was traveling through Ohio and Indiana, every time I stopped at a store, restaurant or hotel, they acted like customer service was actually of personal interest to them, in spite of the fact that they were being paid 5 bucks an hour. You’d think you’d landed in Disney World or something.
On a minimally (OK, barely) related note, Facebook has changed their interface yet again, presumably in the name of improving our “experience”. I’m not as angry about the changes as some folks (I’ve stopped caring, truthfully), but some of the changes have had rather comical results. For instance—they’ve always had those annoying “friend suggestions”. They’re always helpfully suggesting that I friend people who are ex-boyfriends, stalkers, and other folks that I have, at some point, tended to spend some energy avoiding in my day-to-day interactions. Below the friend suggestions they now have this “new” thing to get you to “reconnect” with Facebook friends you haven’t interacted with in awhile, or to suggest friends for people who don’t have many friends. Some people who don’t have many friends do so by choice; others I look at and say, “Really? They actually HAVE 10 friends? In real life and not just Facebook land?” I can’t really help those people. I allowed them to friend me, even though I probably have little to do with them in day-to-day life, but perhaps they were a colleague, or someone I knew years ago. While I don’t hate these people, I do recognize there is a reason why they don’t have friends. (Sorry if that sounds mean, but it’s just a sad fact sometimes).