Riddle Time: How Many Big Store Employees Does it Take to Find a Hammer?

Some reports say that some service desk employees nap while on the job.
Some reports say that some service desk employees nap while on the job. | Source

Customer service employee adventures

Vintage customer service workers.
Vintage customer service workers. | Source
"With this cheesy smile, people will think something is wrong with me and not ask me to help them."
"With this cheesy smile, people will think something is wrong with me and not ask me to help them." | Source
A smile goes a long way if you work in the service providing business.
A smile goes a long way if you work in the service providing business. | Source
Karen and Richard Carpenter.
Karen and Richard Carpenter.
The job of chimney sweep is one job where the sweep deals with customers one-on-one.
The job of chimney sweep is one job where the sweep deals with customers one-on-one. | Source
"What's this for?" And if this stumps me, then I cannot give customers the answer of what it is either.
"What's this for?" And if this stumps me, then I cannot give customers the answer of what it is either. | Source

All I wanted was a regular hammer.

The sun was hot and sweat was dripping down my neck as I walked slowly toward (one of) these department store giants that's located in my hometown. I was dressed casually. It was pointless to wear a suit and tie for such a menial shopping task which was to purchase a hammer a common, garden variety hammer, no flash, no glitz, hammer to help me in my birdhouse construction.

If you were like me you would automatically assume that every red-blooded American, Soviet, Chinese, Japanese and other races would know (without a Dept of Commerce tutorial) what a hammer is and what one is used for. But you or no one else is not like me and I was wrong. Dead wrong on people of all races, ages, and heights knowing all about hammers.

I said not a word as I slowly walked up to the service desk a/k/a "Gateway to Horror" in most big department stores, planted my feet, took in a relaxing breath and waited for the, (how do I say this with full political-correctness?) "service-person" to finish twirling one strand of hair and chewing her gum as if a band of Amazon natives had infiltrated the United States overnight and made off with all of the Wrigley's chewing gum (without her knowing it) except what she had in her "Down With College" over-shirt.

I could have told her that college was certainly one thing she would never have to worry about. And not knowing about the nation-wide robbery of Wrigley's chewing gum was nothing for her to lose sleep about. By the looks of her eyes, clear and bright, she appeared to get her 18-hours of snoozing per night.

"Jenn," short for Jennifer, not her real name, finally looked at me. "Uhhh, yeah?" she managed to say.

Live, get confused, and learn.

Sometimes I dream of being the iconic cartoon guy wearing nothing but a robe and a sandwich sign that reads . . ."The End is Near," so that in this context, I would be taken more serious than I am now.

Something, or some (things) are wrong in our country, folks. Wrong to the point of causing me, probably others with silent opinions to wear faces of tomato-red embarrassment when walking into one of the "big three" department store chains in the United States. Hint: And one of these three department store chains is not Costco.

The sun was hot and sweat was dripping down my neck as I walked slowly toward (one of) these department store giants that's located in my hometown. I was dressed casually. It was pointless to wear a suit and tie for such a menial shopping task which was to purchase a hammer a common, garden variety hammer, no flash, no glitz, hammer to help me in my birdhouse construction.

"True" service personnel who get little or no credit.
"True" service personnel who get little or no credit. | Source
Sometimes it's the little things that confuse the service employees.
Sometimes it's the little things that confuse the service employees. | Source
Granted, "some" customer service employees think that all they have to do is stand around and look good.
Granted, "some" customer service employees think that all they have to do is stand around and look good. | Source
This guy was once THE original service employee. He was the milkman.
This guy was once THE original service employee. He was the milkman. | Source
A great attitude is what  makes a great customer service employee.
A great attitude is what makes a great customer service employee. | Source
A true customer service employee enjoys serving her customers and it shows.
A true customer service employee enjoys serving her customers and it shows. | Source
A customer service employee is not satisfied until the customer is satisfied.
A customer service employee is not satisfied until the customer is satisfied. | Source

So, everyone is not familiar with a hammer?

If you were like me you would automatically assume that every red-blooded American, Soviet, Chinese, Japanese and other races would know (without a Dept of Commerce tutorial) what a hammer is and what one is used for. But you or no one else is not like me and I was wrong. Dead wrong on people of all races, ages, and heights knowing all about hammers.

I said not a word as I slowly walked up to the service desk a/k/a "Gateway to Horror" in most big department stores, planted my feet, took in a relaxing breath and waited for the, (how do I say this with full political-correctness?) "service-person" to finish twirling one strand of hair and chewing her gum as if a band of Amazon natives had infiltrated the United States overnight and made off with all of the Wrigley's chewing gum (without her knowing it) except what she had in her "Down With College" over-shirt.

I could have told her that college was certainly one thing she would never have to worry about.

And not knowing about the nation-wide robbery of Wrigley's chewing gum was nothing for her to lose sleep about. By the looks of her eyes, clear and bright, she appeared to get her 18-hours of snoozing per night.

"Jenn," short for Jennifer, not her real name, finally looked at me. "Uhhh, yeah?" she managed to say.

"Yes. I need to know if your store stocks hammers that caarpenters use to build houses," I asked and inside of me, I prayed for God to touch "Jenn's" mind and say "Yes, yeah, you bet, sure thing or you have come to the right place," Any of these would have sufficed.

And there it was. That famous glazing of her eyes and that "I do not know" stare. Shoot! The glazing over her pupils would have made Krispy Kreme envious. And "Jenn," if ever asked to play a mannequin in a college play would certainly win the role without even showing up for an audition. She was that stationary

And now the confusion begins.

"Uhhh, hammer? Uh, I, like, guess, but let me see . . .," she mumbled while twirling that one strand of hair for good luck. I think she figured out how to use the store intercom because not long after she said, "K, like, k, yeah, bye," the manager, a Civitan Club-looking guy named "Tim," not his real name showed up in his corporate image of positivity and said, "So, you need a hammer?" "Jenn" was now nodding her head to whatever excuse for music was on her earbuds, snapping that worn-out gum and twirling that one strand of hair. I gave her credit for remembering what I had taken her from.

"No, sir," I said. "I was only asking if your store stocked hammers that carpenters use to build houses."

"Well, now, I know that two and a half weeks ago, we received a shipment of "Tuff Guy" hammers with rubber handles. Is that what you need?" "Tim" asked with anticipation in his voice. "Jenn" was now napping and making it look like she was looking up something on the company computer that I have too much respect for to name here.

Before I could say, "yes, that will do, 'Tim'", he said, "Hold it, friend. I will get my assistant manager up here and we will have you on the road in minutes." Man, oh man, was I happy.

Finally. Someone in upper-management who can think.

Have you been keeping count of how many big department store employees that have helped me find the answer to my initial question of "Does your store stock hammers that carpenters use to build houses?"

Other Signs to Know That a Customer Service Employee Does Not Know How to Help You . . .

  • They look past you and never make eye contact.
  • They look down at the floor and squirm like they are on fire.
  • They say "uhh," a lot.
  • They gaze at their watch every 15 seconds.
  • They try to make funny cracks about your product that doesn't work.
  • They try to affirm you with words like "don't sweat it. Things will work

This piece was NOT a knock on customer service employees. In fact, this is to point out to the American consumer that there are, a lot of fakers, people who just show-up for work in the customer service department and act like they are working during their shift.

I just hope this hub helps you to know the difference.

Kenneth

Three people so far.

I come out with three counting "Jay," the assistant manager who could pass for a young James Garner. Why? I do not know, but I found the fact of his scary resemblance to Garner very interesting.

"Jay," before joining the conversation, did what most assistant managers do when put on a spot: suck his teeth, hit the roof of his mouth with his tongue while dancing back and forth from foot to foot. Oh, he was good at keeping my attention. I gave him credit then and there. "Jenn" was now gone to lunch, well, I knew that she "was out to lunch" (lyric from 60's super-group The Association's "Along Comes Mary) when I first mad eye contact with her.

"Will just a common, everyday hammer be okay with you? Now mind you. We at (Name of big department store) will "move heaven and earth" to make you happy," "Jay" said in a perfect Perry Mason tone of voice. I was highly-impressed.

"Jay, what are you doing?" "Tim," the store manager asked. Oh, how I prayed that he had went deaf while "Jay" was talking to me. "Jenn," my mistake. Did not go to lunch. She simply went outside to smoke. My God! A sophisticated task to someone like "Jenn" who has just mastered chewing gum and twirling one strand of hair. I felt like an idiot thinking such harsh, sarastic things about her.

"Sir, a common hammer will be great. Now can you direct me to where they are?" I asked with relief.

Just because I mentioned them in my hub . . .and for your pleasure.

I learned a lot about hammers that day.

"Jay" and "Tim" looked at each other and tried to keep back the laughter. "The Hardware Department, sir." "Jay" finally said. I think they both were making fun of me. All except "Jenn" who was this time, really taking her lunch break. I think she took her lunch break 12 years ago if anyone were to ask me.

"Do they have prices near them?" I asked.

"Do what have prices near them?" "Tim" asked in wonderment.

"Hammers. You know. The hammers you said were in 'The Hardware Department," I said getting a bit angry.

"Hammers?" "Tim" said with mild shock. "Jay," did you ever find out for this man if we even stock hammers?"

"Yes, sir. I did," "Jay" said in his finest "brown nosing" voice. "But sir. This man only wanted hammers that carpenters use to build houses and the only kind we carry is the everyday 'garden variety' type."

All I recall is turning 12 cartwheels and jumping over a display of feminine hygiene products and then catching my breath and saying . . ."Gimme a case of those hammers and I will be on my way!"

"But sir," "Tim" said. "Those are not the kind carpenters used to build houses."

"On the contrary," I replied quickly. "I just remembered that I was on a business trip to Las Vegas years ago and I saw Richard, the late Karen Carpenter's brother, using an everyday, garden variety hammer to break the glass in one of those huge department stores with people in management who are more annoying than knowledgeable."

And while I was finishing my cute comeback, "Jenn" stumbled back into the store and asked "Tim" what day is was.

A customer with a complaint who isn't satisfied is one less customer in the future.

Although this is a prank, there is a lot of truth behind this joke.

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Comments 8 comments

Jennifer Mugrage profile image

Jennifer Mugrage 15 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

OK, you have a glitch where about the first third of your article repeats itself, but other than that ... Wow! There are a lot of laughs in this article.

Sounds like something about you made them mad, so they decided to get all sarcastic and give you the runaround. Could you have been talking to them like they were idiots? Nah, nothing in your Hub gives me that impression ... :-)

I have had the experience before of saying to a salesperson, "Could I get a such-and-so?" They get a blank or panicked look and say, "No. We don't have them." And I say, helpfully, "It's right on the shelf behind you." "Oh! OK." Then they get one down and sell it to you. That was overseas. I'm not sure if it was because the sight of a foreigner freaked them out, or because of a culture where employee mistakes are punished so harshly that it's safer to say No to everything.


Kenneth Avery 15 months ago

Dear Jennifer,

Thanks so very much for helping me with your comment. I am not making excuses for my glitch. I just do not write that many hubs these days with my birdhouse business going on. And what hurts the worst, I do not have the original text.

But with that being said, "Jennifer, thanks again for such a sweet comment. And being a great friend. Come back anytime for you always make me feel great."


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 15 months ago from Central Florida

Kenneth, is this a true story? Why was "Jenn" in customer service if she doesn't know the store? Same with the manager. Sheesh, next time go to Ace. The employees there know the store inside and out.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 15 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear bravewarrior,

Hello. Thanks for your comment and although I will not mention the store, this episode rang true the fast and furious manner in which big department stores hire too young, but old enough (legally) to help with certain customer surges each year.

Ace is a great place to shop. One thing though. The nearest one is about 30 minutes or more away. Our town doesn't have one.

Believe me, sweet friend, if you were to travel to my hometown, you would think (upon arrival) you had stepped back into the dark corridors of time by the way certain things are done here.

Have a happy day my dear friend.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 15 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Funny, but I'm still wondering - did you ever get that hammer?


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 15 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Dear BlossomSB,

How are things in Australia?

Read toward the ending when I told the manager(s) to, "give me a case of those," meaning (a) hammer and so on and so forth.

This store has a hometown record of manager changing. It is like they are playing "Musical Managers."

You get used to one and then over night, bam! A new one.

Thanks for your nice remark and please keep in touch.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 15 months ago

Very much what we experience in some stores as customer service. You kept my interest through the story. Hammers, what kind of hardware store doesn't stock these? Hmmm.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 13 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

teaches12345,

Nov. 9

Firstly, I apologize to you for being so slow in replying. I had to undergo a

heart cath in mid-October due to congestive heart failure and needless to

say, I am recovering slowly and on a very strict diet. Tough is not the word.

Thank you, dear teaches, for your interesting comment. We do have ONE

big department store in our town and I have seen the time that I have dreaded

spending money with them thanks to the sorry attitude of some of their

employees.

But since I cannot drive or get out much, I do not fret over this anymore.

Please keep in touch. And have a great Tuesday.

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