Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Silver Haired Lady

The other day we had an unordinary amount of errands to complete.   By nature, I am not a list maker.  I normally organize in my head and so far have been able to retain and access my "brain list" at will.

With all of the life changes we have had recently, my mind is in constant motion, sometimes it seems it is on the verge of spinning out of control.
That's why on this day, I sat down with pen and paper and made an actual written list. Also, because we had to make several stops at locations in different directions, it made more sense to see everything in front of me.

All of the errands required interactions with customer service people.  That's what prompted me to write this piece.

Last weekend, on Friday, my washing machine stopped working.  Of course it decided to quit right in the middle of a wash cycle.   That meant that I had a tub filled with water and sopping clothes.  I tried to manually coax it along, turning the dial mechanism gently, click by click.  No luck.
Obviously, the first thing we had to do was pull out and ring out each piece.  Then we had to bail out a full tub, bucket by bucket.
Since the machine is 17 years old, I didn't even bother to call a repair person. No I take that back, I did call a repair person.  I chose this particular company because they advertised an immediate call back.  They also had an answering machine with a message promising a call back.
They lied.
Perhaps it had something to do with the message I left telling my tale of woe about my "boo hoo" 17 year old, broken washing machine.
We went to Home Depot and purchased a washer and dryer.  My dryer still works, but it is also 17 years old, so I figured why not.  The new units could not be delivered until eight days after the day we purchased.

Which brings me to the first errand.   The laundromat.  I haven't had to use a laundromat in a long time.  The last time was probably twenty years ago.   Besides having self service machines, this laundromat provides a wash and fold service.  I chose the wash and fold.  Ross and I dragged our four full laundry bags into the building.  The guy at the register rudely shooed us away, telling us the person in charge would be back in 25 minutes. 

Off to a false start already. So much for having an organized and numbered written list.  So we dragged our four bags back to the car to continue onto number two on the list which now became number one.

After we completed list number two/now-one, we headed back to the laundromat.   Once again we dragged our four full laundry bags into the building.   Having never been in the laundromat, I wasn't sure where we were supposed to go or what we were supposed to do.
There was a woman behind a desk. I guessed she was the person in charge. 
You know how when you are in a place and a circumstance that you've never been in before, how it takes a second or two to acclimate to the new surroundings?  That's what I was experiencing.  I must have hesitated a second or two too long at the door, because Ms. Im-in-charge impatiently motioned us to her.
The woman was weathered looking, with short spiky black hair.  I would say she was in her fifties.  She probably spent her days off, baking herself at the beach.   She had a raspy voice.  She probably spent her breaks smoking out back.
"They have to be weighed," she said in what I felt was a tone of exasperation.
Not saying anything, I looked around, to see if I could tell where I was supposed to put the bags.
She pointed to a wire basket which sat on top of a scale.
I picked up one of the bags and placed it in the basket.
"Uh, do you have any blankets or quilts in there?" she asked.
I told her that I did have a quilt in one of the bags.
She said that I had to take the quilt out because it had to be weighed separately.
Not remembering which bag it was in, I rummaged through all four until I found the quilt.
I won't bore you with the blow by blow back and forth conversation which followed.
But in essence, she was impatient with me, even after I explained that I had not "done this before".
The rest of the "list" sort of went the same way.

There was the young man at the grocery store, staring off into space, waiting for me to realize that I had to re-enter my debit card because apparently it didn't take it the first time.
"Do I have to reinsert my card?" I politely asked.
After getting no response from the kid, I said "Hello?"
He turned toward me, I think he nodded.
He also reprimanded me when I put a head of lettuce into the bag with the dairy.
"No, no," he said.  "That goes in the bag with the vegetables."

The last one I will mention, number 5 on the list, was to exchange a pair of pants at our local department store.

Even though I was the only one in line at the exchange/return "customer service" desk, The guy behind the desk was apparently in hurry. 
I had one pair of pants to return, and two to purchase.
He wanted to know if I wanted a store credit or "put it back on your card".
Huh?  I said to myself.  What is he saying to me?
He repeated himself, the exact same way.
I still didn't get it.  What did "put it back on your card" mean.
I wanted to return one pair, and then buy the other two, is what I kept repeating.
He finally said, "I can give you a store credit or I could issue a credit on your credit card for the return.
Okay, I finally said, "Credit my card and then put the other two pants on my credit card."

When I got home, exhausted from all of the running around and dealing with "people", I began to wonder if having silver hair has something to do with the way I am treated by customer service people.

Do they assume I can't hear, or comprehend?  And if that were the case, shouldn't they be more patient?

By the way, the clerk at the bank, was an older woman with a pleasant manner.  The woman who does our clothing alterations was very helpful.   The young perky waitress at the diner was cheerful and served us with a smile.


  1. Customer service is a job with minimal training, low wages, and high turnover. It sounds to me like most of these people don't have experience with not having experience. And they hate their lives. So, they're taking out their misery on the rest of us.

    I hope your next errand day goes more smoothly.

    1. I hadn't thought about the lack of training. Makes sense. Oh my goodness, I thought the same thing about them hating their lives.

  2. Ah the joys of aging. I must say I haven't had your problems but as I hobble around with a cane, maybe it makes a difference.

    I have been meaning to say to you, have you contacted your local Alzheimer Group. They can be very helpful particularly for caregivers. I am really benefiting from the TEACH programme which I gather is a standard programme they run. Worth looking into.

    1. Thanks Jo, I have yet to look into resources. I am still a little overwhelmed. I will check them out soon though.