Retail Life episode 17

          There’s one type of customer I hate above all others. The scammer. These people feel so entitled that they find ways to get things for free, steal money, or to trick you into giving them more than what you’re supposed to in change. I have zero patience for these people and I don’t care how far up the corporate ladder they threaten to call – they will not get their way in my store.

          Example one: I used to have a customer that would bring in fake coupons. How did I know they were fake? Well, the number one rule in our coupon handling is “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” So, if she brings in a coupon for $10 off tide laundry soap that’s $11 a bottle? Yeah, that’s a fake coupon. Or a $5 off Febreze, and the Febreze item is in fact $5? That’s fake too. She tried to use her coupons in my store maybe three times before she realized it just wasn’t going to fly and she needed to take her bullshit somewhere else.

          Example two: This has never happened to me personally, but we hear about it all the time. Every time scammers do their thing in a store, an e-mail is sent out by loss prevention so we can be aware of the new tactic they’re trying to get their “free” money. People call the store and claim there is something wrong with our debit machine and they need to load a prepaid card to make sure ours is working. And how do they make sure? We’re supposed to cash out a transaction and read them the number off the back of the card. And what do you think happens next? Now that they’ve gotten the money off the card, they hang up and it’s too late to do anything else about it. Or the new way it’s happening is they come in, get the card rung up, distract the cashier, and cash out the transaction themselves. Or they claim they used to work here, so they know which button to press, “here, let me do it.” And out the door they go and your register is now $500 short.

          Example three: This happened to me just the other day. I didn’t fall for it, because I’m not dumb and have had this happen to me on more than one occasion in my nine years or retail. A man starts up a conversation, usually just some small talk. The other day, he was talking about tattoos. Easy topic with me since I have them on my arms, and so did he. Then he paid with a $50 and his change was $38. I gave him a twenty, three fives, and three ones. He turns away, then turns back and suddenly there’s a one-dollar bill where a twenty was just a moment ago. Since I’m not and idiot and I know there wasn’t a one in my twenty spot, I immediately just tell him, “No, I know I gave you a twenty.” He argues with me for a minute and a line of customers starts to form. Then he asks me to count my drawer to be sure. So I do. Right in front of him and the customers in line. And what do you know, my register was right on the money. He continues to argue though because he really wants me to give him an extra $20. But it’s not gonna happen. This isn’t the first time someone tried to put this over on me, and none of them got a way with it either. This guy was persistent though, even went as far as to get corporate’s number and my name. But he did eventually leave. Without his extra twenty.

          I just don’t understand where these people get off thinking that we owe them anything. They want cashiers to break company policies and come up short on cash because they are just so special. And these cashiers can easily lose their jobs for falling for any of these scams. Take too many fake coupons? Well, you just aren’t paying close enough attention. Fall for the prepaid card scams? You should know better. Get convinced you short changed a customer? You should call management to help you. But sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re being scammed. As a beginner, I probably wouldn’t have known the signs or how to react in those situations. Some people don’t like confrontation and don’t want to start an argument with the customer. Besides, the customer is always right, right?

October Reads

          October was a hard month for reading. I managed to finish three books in the last three days so I still met my monthly goal. Didn’t seem like I was going to at first, but yay! One of the books was even on my overall reading list! I don’t think I’m going to manage to finish that this year; there’s several books left that I don’t even own currently. But I made really good progress on it, nonetheless.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

          I broke one of my rules with this one; I saw the movie without reading the book first. Not something I do often, but this one just kind of happened. Anyway, I already knew some of the heavy things that happened, and I was ready for them. However, there was a lot more going on than what happens in the movie (duh) that made it remain a good read. I understand that not everything can be put in to a movie, but damn. Charlie’s story is way more messed up than I thought and I just wanted to give the poor kid a hug.

          I feel like the style of the book was a little lacking. As the reader, so much more could have filled in the blanks between the letters. The movie did it well, and it kind of makes me happy that I watched it first. However, I did love being in Charlie’s head with the letters. He really painted nice pictures of the people around him. Seeing the crazy situations through his eyes gave it perspective. Especially when he didn’t understand things; you know he had no opinion and he was just telling it as it was. And when he realized the truth later on, you felt the epiphany with him. On the other hand, some of the descriptions fell flat. Sometimes being “happy” or “sad” doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

          This book explored some really serious issues. But they were almost talked about in a light way, showing us that it’s just an accepted part of high school. Which is awful, don’t get me wrong, and something more should be done about it. Rape and suicide shouldn’t be accepted as normal teenager occurrences. I know this book is banned at some schools because of this. But maybe it needs to be the opposite. It needs to be talked about more, not pushed under the rug.

It by Stephen King

          This is another book that I saw the movie first. But I saw the movie when I was about nine years old. I had no idea it was a book at the time and I would have been way to young to read it anyway – since I was too young for the movie, obviously.

          This book was a lot. I listened to the audiobook in my car and sometimes at work. I had to get some headphones because the language was pretty offensive at times. I understand that it was set in a different time and that’s just how people talked, but damn, it was a bit much.

          I’m usually a pretty big fan of Stephen King. However, if he said one more thing about someone’s “small breasts” I would have had to stop the book. Girls don’t think with their breasts. They don’t react with their breasts. Half the time, they don’t even think about their breasts at all. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book.

There was so much depth and detail that rounded out the whole epic tale. Sure, some of it could have been cut to shorten the book and keep to one main plotline, but each character deserved their story to be told. They were all made real and – in some cases – horrifying. As a new mother, the part about the baby being killed was heart wrenching and difficult to get through, but it really demonstrated the coldness and detachment of the boy. Was it really necessary? Maybe not. But it also served a purpose.

          Overall, a great – long – book and I’m glad I finally read (listened) to it.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

          This book was a whole lot of meh. I think I read it when I was younger, but I can’t remember. It’s been on my shelf for years and I figured I’d give it a read. And it was alright, aside from the fact that I discovered my used copy was missing the first 74 pages and I had to download the e-book.

          The language and style of the narrator didn’t pull me in. I know he was young and telling us about his adventure as an afterward, but I didn’t really like it. Every time there was an “I would find out later…” part I would get a little frustrated. It was like revealing the end too soon.

          The characters were also not very well defined. All the gentlemen became one lump in my head and the conversations they had would be a little confusing. Silver also wasn’t as colorful as he could have been.

          Sure, it was a cute little adventure story, but I probably liked it better as a kid.

Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane

This was my craft book for the month and I really enjoyed it. I already didn’t really believe in “writer’s block” and this book helped reinforce that idea. It’s mostly a struggle of showing up to do the writing that keeps it from getting done. It’s all about distractions and building writing up into this big scary thing that you couldn’t possibly do until the stars align and the weather is perfect. Or something like that. This book, though, gives several examples of how to get around these blocks and address what the real problem is that’s keeping you from getting your writing done. I plan on using the techniques I learned about as soon as possible to keep myself on track. Highly recommend it to anyone who has a tendency to get stuck.

          2019 is coming to a close and I’m going to need to make a new reading list. Anyone have any suggestions?

Ghost Stories #5 part 1

Spring

          Shawn and Linda bought the house on Harper Lane after touring several homes in the area. They thought it was the cutest little house in the neighborhood. They felt no reason to question its vacancy. They signed the papers, and moved in.

          There was a small patio surrounded by a low brick wall that had a flower garden just the right size for Linda’s blossoming green thumb. There were three cozy bedrooms, a spacious kitchen and plenty of storage. The backyard wasn’t anything to turn your nose up at either. It was perfect for their family. A room for their little girl, Angie, and a room for an office.

          It wasn’t until a month later that Linda noticed something odd.

          Linda was a compulsive cleaner. She like to have things neat and clean at all times. Everything had a place. And there wasn’t anything that drove her more nuts than cabinet doors being left open. Shawn knew this. And yet, every morning when Linda would get up to start making breakfast, there would be cabinet doors open.

          At first it was only one. And she ignored it. Then there were two or three, and she would close them and go about her day. And then it was all of them. And she couldn’t take it anymore.

          “Shawn!” Linda’s fists were tightly clenched and she resisted the urge to stomp her foot.

          “What is it?” Shawn appeared from the hallway, buttoning up his shirt. Linda gestured around the kitchen; her lips pursed. “Oh.”

          “Oh? That’s all you have to say?”

          “What? You don’t think I did this?”

          “Who else? Angie’s two! Unless she’s been dragging a chair all around the kitchen while we sleep, I don’t know how you could think – “

          “I’m sorry, dear, but I didn’t do this. You’re the last one to bed and the first one up.”

          “Are you sleepwalking?”

          “Are you?”

          Linda deflated. “I’m sorry. I just don’t understand. It’s been all week. I thought… I don’t know. Thought you were trying to be funny.”

          Shawn went around the kitchen and closed the cabinet doors, then he kissed his wife on the cheek. “I don’t have a cruel sense of humor. It’s probably just the foundation. I’ll have someone come out to check it. Okay?”

          “Yeah, sure.” Linda sighed. “I’m sorry I accused you. It’s just been driving me crazy.”

          Shawn kissed her again. “Don’t worry about it, love.”

          But she did worry about it. Because after Shawn left for work, she had to close the cabinets three more times. Even the dishwasher was hanging open when she went to the kitchen to make lunch. She wasn’t sure she believed it was the foundation. She felt like she was being mocked.

          But she eventually put it from her mind. A man came to check the house and scheduled a day to come and level the foundation. Linda was able to dismiss the cabinet doors now, knowing there was a perfectly sane cause for their opening. If only they’d been able to schedule the leveling sooner than a month away. But she tried to live with it the best she could.

          Shawn, on the other hand, discovered his own worries. He had a workbench in the garage where he liked to build model cars. Nothing special, just a hobby to keep his hands busy. His day job was a little monotonous and he needed a creative outlet. He spent two or three evenings a week in the garage to assemble and paint the little cars. It was on one of these occasions that he began to hear the footsteps. It sounded like someone was pacing right on the other side of the garage door.

          “Linda, is that you?” Shawn said. He didn’t know why she might be outside, unless she was just getting some fresh air while Angie played in her room. But pacing?

          When no one answered and the pacing continued, Shawn rapped on the garage door. The sound stopped for a brief moment, and then continued. There was still no answering voice.

          Shawn set down his miniature tools and went to investigate. Linda was in the kitchen washing dishes and Angie was toddling her dolls back and forth in the living room.

          “Where you going, hun?” Linda asked when she saw Shawn heading for the front door.

          “I think there’s someone outside,” he said. “I hear footsteps in the driveway. I’m just going to check it out.”

          “Be careful,” Linda said, but without any real concern.

          Shawn walked around the house to the driveway and looked around. There wasn’t anyone there. He went out the street and looked both ways, but he didn’t see anyone at all.

          “See anybody?” Linda asked when he reentered the kitchen.

          “No.” Shawn frowned. “But I swear I heard someone out there. They just wouldn’t answer when I said anything though.”

          “Hmm… Should we get some cameras, maybe?” Linda picked up on his tone and felt the beginnings of worry herself.

          “Maybe. I’ll see if I hear anything again. It might have been my imagination.” Even though he knew it wasn’t, he didn’t want to cause any alarm.

          Two days later, though, he heard it again. There was definitely someone walking back and forth in his driveway. Just on the other side of the door. Shawn would swear it to anyone. This time he wasted no time and ran through the house and outside to try and catch the culprit. But again, no one was there. No one in the street. No one hiding behind a fence. Nothing.

          “Shawn?” Linda stood in the doorway; her face pinched with fear.

          “I’m going to look into getting some security cameras.”
          “Are we not safe here?”

          “It’s going to be fine. Don’t worry about it.”

          Shawn found some reasonably priced security cameras a week later. He installed them around the outside of the house and watched the monitors obsessively for three days straight. And he saw nothing. He heard nothing. After the fourth day, he relaxed and went back to working on his model cars in his spare time.

          In late April, after the house had been leveled and the cabinet doors didn’t open on their own anymore, after there hadn’t been any sign of a stranger in their driveway, Linda discovered something different to be frightened of.

          She’d been cleaning all morning. The vacuum scared Angie, so she played in her room with the door shut. It was nearing lunchtime when Linda went to find her. But she wasn’t in her room.

          “Angie?” She called into the hallway.

          Linda heard a splash and a giggle from the bathroom. She sighed and shook her head, but there was a smile on her face.

          “What are you doing in here?” Linda put her head around the doorframe of the bathroom and saw Angie in the bathtub. Angie was fully clothed, but the tub was almost overflowing with water. “Oh, Angie.”

          Angie giggled and splashed the water over the edge.

          “How did you fill up the tub by yourself.”

          “I didn’t.” Angie held up her arms so Linda could lift her out of the tub.

          “You know you aren’t supposed to lie to me.”

          “Not lying. She did it.” Angie pointed back to the bathtub.

          “Angie there isn’t anyone there.”

          “Yeah, huh.”

          Linda peeled off Angie’s wet clothes and wrapped her in a towel. She then reached into the tub to unplug the drain. For a brief moment as she tugged on the chain, she felt a hand wrap around her wrist and squeeze. She screamed and jumped back from the tub, nearly tripping over Angie.

          “She wasn’t done with her bath, mommy.” Angie said.