As many of you know, I’ve taken over most of the day-to-day stuff for my mom… which includes grocery shopping. I travel to Rome roughly once a week… her caregivers make a list of what’s needed, and I head out during my visit to secure provisions for the next week. I try to buy ahead a little bit just in case business or the weather keeps me from making the trip. My husband can tell you I’m a huge fan of having things “on hand”.
Let’s just say Rome is limited in its selection of grocery providers. On the East side of town where Mom lives, you’ve got Kroger, Wally World, and… uh…. (insert Jeopardy music here)… that’s about it for your major retailers. The powers that be up there keep saying a Publix is coming…
So this past Thursday, I took my list and went to Kroger to buy what was needed for the coming week. First off, they’ve remodeled and enlarged the place, so I’ve got to learn where everything is all over again. Fortunately, my list was small this week, so it wasn’t that big a deal. It didn’t take long to gather items on the list and head for the checkout. Mom and her caregiver were at the hairdresser; I needed to buy groceries, take them back to the house and store the perishables in the fridge, then meet them for lunch. So I had a bit of a time crunch.
(As an aside – I’m happy Mom is feeling well enough now to go get her hair done. You can pretty much tell the health of a Southern woman of a certain age by whether or not she can make her weekly visit to the hair salon. If she misses her appointment, it’s Defcon 1.)
I get in line to check out. Now, there are two young men trying to bag my groceries. To protect the guilty, we’ll refer to them henceforth as Dumbo 1 and Dumbo 2. (You can see where this is going now, can’t you?)
Each week, I purchase a half gallon of buttermilk and a half gallon of whole milk. Anyone who grocery shops can tell you that you always have to dig to the back to get the milk with the latest expiration date and therefore, the freshest milk. I was pleased to have scored expiration dates nine days out.
Dumbo 1 bagged the milk together. I looked over, and one of the milk cartons had busted in the bag. The bag was filling with plastic milk jugs swimming in free-range milk. He placed the bag in my cart. I began to sense that this wasn’t going to go well.
“Hey, wait just a minute…” The cashier stopped. I motioned to the equivalent of a milk-filled water balloon in my cart. “The milk broke open.” She looked at Dumbo 1 and said “You know better than that.” He took the seeping jug out of the bag…. and put the remaining milk-filled extravaganza containing the second half gallon back in the cart.
“No, I’m sorry… I’m not taking that. It’s going to get all over my car. I don’t have time to clean that up. I want two different containers of milk. And please mind the dates. I shop for my mother once a week, and I need the dates as far out as you can get them.” (At this point, I had the idea of an olefactory nightmare as the seeping milk bag got all over the Hummer and curdled in the hot Georgia….winter… it was 75 degrees today.)
Enter Dumbo 2. He was assigned the task of fetching the brand new containers of milk while I finished the checkout. I pulled my cart over to the side to get out of people’s way while I waited.
Dumbo 2 moved with the determination and speed of a snail. He finally reached me — with one container of milk. He very proudly showed me that he had checked the date and it was indeed the farthest one he could find.
“Thank you. I really appreciate that… but I had two containers. This is just the buttermilk. I need the whole milk too.”
Brooktrout. (You know. That look like a fish staring at you with its mouth open, completely expressionless.)
“Nobody told me to get that.”
“Well, I need that too. And please check the date like you did for this one.”
Dumbo 2 scurried back to the dairy case with the speed of a snail on barbiturates. He finally came back with a container of whole milk. I looked at the date. It expired in two days. My patience had begun to wear thin.
“No, I’m sorry. That milk expires in two days. I told you that I shop once a week for my mother. Would you want someone giving your mama that milk?”
“I guess I can go get another one.”
“No. I want you to watch my cart while I go get it.” I hurried to the back to get the milk while placing a call to mom’s caregiver, because I was going to be late for lunch.
When I returned… Dumbo 2 had abandoned my cart, and was making time with a young woman several checkout lanes away. At that point, I lost it.
“Hey, thanks for watching my cart!” (snarky tone)
“Oh, you’re welcome. Would you like me to help you take that stuff to your car??”
“Oh. My. God. You’re so stupid you don’t even recognize sarcasm, do you???”
I turned to leave, but I had to make one more stop. Customer Service.
“Is there a manager on duty?” “He’s on a conference call.” “GET. HIM.”
At that point I saw the problem. On the wall at customer service, they had a sign that said their target customer satisfaction rate was 73%. Not 100%. Not 90%. Not even 80%. These people are professional underachievers. And they didn’t even make that. Their rate last month? 67%.
So the manager came. I pointed out Dumbo 1 and 2. I told him I could understand that the milk busted by accident, but their service went downhill from there. Of course, he promised to address it. And in true underachiever style, I’m sure he never did.
I’m also sure someone snapped a photo of me with their phone and put my picture in customer service with a “Beware” sign.