Customer Service

I am in search of the Customer Service desk at Lowes. They called, or rather a robot called to tell me that my order had arrived. So, I’m here to check in and pick up my stuff.

If you’re like me, I cringe at the thought of dealing with customer service of any kind because I know what that typically means. In a lot of places, real customer service has gone the way of the Wooly Mammoth. It is extinct. The retail service desk is often run by people who care more about their phones and nail polish than they do about solving any customer issues.

You could rename most of them the I-don’t-give-a-crap-about-customers desk and said description would be a lot more accurate.

Today, the line is not so bad. In fact, I thought at first that there was no line at all until I realized I had walked up to the employee side of the counter.

“I think I’m on the wrong side.” I was playing the helpless old man role.

“Yes sir,” said the young lady. “That’s no problem. Step right over here and let me see what I can do for you today.”

Her name is Natasha. I can see that on her red vest just above the words “Customer Service”. She is pleasant and she makes eye contact with me, something I don’t get a lot of these days. So, I am hopeful.

I explain that I’m here to pick up a special order. I got the call at work, and I didn’t bother to go by the house to get my receipt.

“I hope that won’t be a problem?”

“Oh, no sir.” This gal is so stinking polite it renews my faith in humanity. “Let me have your phone number and I can find it that way.”

She clicks away at the keypad. “Hmm,” she moans. My heart sinks. “Oh, there it is. I’ve got it right here.”

She shows me the order. “Does everything look right to you?”

I inspect the lines on the screen. “Looks good to me.”

“Okay then. Mr. Chappell if you want to have a seat right there on the bench, I’ll go in the back warehouse and get someone to pull your order for you and they should be here soon to meet you.”

“Natasha, thank you so much.”

“It’s my pleasure,” she says.

By the time our little exchange was over, the line in front of the counter had grown. Shopping carts, bags, a large box sitting on the floor. All of it to be returned or exchanged.

From my place on the bench, I get a front-row seat to Customer Service.

The first guy up to the counter is in his early 80s. Ball cap set straight over the eyes and the bill creased in the middle. Nylon slacks and tennis shoes; his pants pulled up to his first rib. Ex-military. I could tell because he talked loudly and with a demanding tone. Plus, he pointed out that he was ex-military several times.

He wanted to return an item and he had a picture of his receipt on his phone, but it was too fuzzy to read.

“Can’t you look it up by my phone number?”

The young lady tried but couldn’t find it. She was patient and asked if it might be under a different number.

“Check my wife’s number,” he barked. That didn’t work either.

“Well, that don’t make any sense,” he says. “I’ve been shopping here for over 20 years and you people always look me up by my phone number. You’ve got my phone number in there somewhere. Maybe you just don’t know how to find it. Get one of these other girls to try. Maybe she can find it in her computer.”

While this is going on, behind him in line is a lady with a dog on a leash. She is also near 80. The dog, whom she calls Honey, is well behaved but energetic. She’s a muscular dog, Rottweiler looking, and could probably drag this woman a hundred yards without breaking a sweat.

The lady has her left hand bandaged and covered with an adhesive wrap. This is the hand in which she holds the leash and against which Honey is constantly tugging. It makes me wonder if Honey might be the reason for the bandage.

Meanwhile, a middle-aged man steps up to the special-order desk. He has his receipt with him. The young lady asks him for his phone number anyway. It doesn’t take but just a minute and she’s gone off to find his order. He takes a seat next to me on the bench.

“Crazy in here isn’t it,” he says.

“Yeah. I don’t know when I’ve seen this many people in Lowes.”

“Spring break,” he says. “Everybody is out.”

I nod because with no connection in my life to a school calendar I had no idea.

Ex-military guy is still agitated but he hasn’t let it escalate into being rude. Forceful just seems to be his way and the girls at the counter seem to take it in stride.

Honey is still up and down and eager. The lady is talking to the person behind her in line and Honey seizes the opportunity. She takes two steps forward and buries her nose into the very private crevice of Mr. Ex-Military’s backside.

Needless to say, he is surprised and for an old guy can still jump pretty good. Just as he turns to look at the lady, she feels the tug on the leash and turns to look at the man with her own look of surprise.

Sitting on the bench against the wall, I’m at eye level and we all look surprised. I’m half expecting the old guy is gonna go off on the lady about the dog.

She says, “I’m so sorry.”

“That’s quite alright,” he says with a grin.

She quickly adds, “Oh, that wasn’t me,” as she puts an open hand over her heart and turns three shades of red.

One minute later the guy on the bench with me gets his order. I’ve been sitting here for nearly 30 minutes. Natasha disappeared and never returned.

One of the service agents finally finds Ex-Military guy’s phone number.

“I told you it was in there. I knew you had my phone number,” he says.

They offer him an in-store credit, but he has to leave the line to go out to the car and get his driver’s license in order for them to process his credit. I could see the shoulders of those behind him slouch to the floor in agony.

By now I’m standing, hoping to catch a glimpse of Natasha. I spot her 50 yards away behind the cash registers. When I get to her, I ask if she has any idea what happened with my order.

“Oh, my goodness, you’re still waiting?” She was honestly shocked.

In about ten minutes, I had my order. A couple of guys loaded my truck for me, and I was on my way home.

What a day! I got my stuff and a little free entertainment.

Kudos to the gals at Lowes.

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