Saturday, February 16, 2008


I see him standing there in his tan corduroy pants. His wrinkled polo is the same two colors as his employer's logo. He looks to be in his indeterminant 40's. Man, I think, what a shitty life this guy must have...

He is a sales clerk. Yet, all I see is an irritatingly unnecessary obstacle between me and the durable good I've come to inspect.

"Can I help you?" He asks, with that slight over-eagerness that can only come from a commission sale.

"I seriously doubt it." I think to myself. And it's true. Chances are, if I am standing in your store, and I am looking at any particular fixture, appliance or gizmo, I have already educated myself about it. I have price compared. I have read the specs. I have read the online reviews. I have been to the manufacturer's web site, and I know all of the options, add-ons and trim levels. I seriously doubt that the retail sales clerk will be able to tell me anything that I don't already know.

...Well, except where the damn thing is.

I am prepared to plow past the menace, as I would a street punk begging for change. However, the display in unhelpful, and I suspect (and hope) that the sales clerk might happen to at least know where the merchandice is in his own department.

So, I ask.

And he doesn't.

Quickly, he takes to reading the same product tags on the shelves that I was just reading. By "help," it appears that he is basically offering to help me read. Something, by the way, that I do not need help with.

Turns out he can't do that well either. So, I wander away to read the tags on my own.

My buddy at work recently observed that I have a lot of personal rules. I was surprised by this, but he began to list them for me: no soggy bread, no tomatoes on sandwiches, matching leathers, no added-s to places names, jihad against the coffee plant, etc...

It was a pretty long list. However, I guess there is another rule to add. "Do not ask sales personnel for help." This is a universal rule. I have never once met a sales person who trully knew anything about the product they were selling. This is extra doubly true for big-box retail sales clerks. They are minimum-wage clock punchers, not product experts. Their only goal is to get the commission after you lay down your credit card.

I know people who break this rule. You, in fact, may be one of those people. I cringe when I hear folks say, "Well, I asked the sales guy, and..."

Chances are, what the sales guy said was entirely made up on the spot. At the very least, the information was wildly inaccurate, and led you to spend more money than you needed to.


  1. Anonymous12:40 AM

    Which is why I buy online.

    Plus the computer doesn't try to look down my top or check out my ass

  2. other8:20 AM

    Needing a pair of sneakers for a Princess, I went to Lady Footlocker. This kid has a challenging foot to fit and we'd just defeated Nordstrom in our quest. Clerk asked if she could help (first thought: bummer, she's older than I am!). Asked if she was ready for a fitting challenge. Reply? "Um, I don't work here." Took Princess to another place with no luck but VERY good help (Big5). Found shoes in the discount Joes outlet on South Commercial where you get no service, but don't pay for it either.

  3. As a former Target employee, I can tell you that people ask sales associates for help ALL the time, and it's usually for the DUMBEST inquiries. The smart people don't ask a damn thing. I am like you. I do my homework before I go.It's only when I'm feeling snarky that I will sometimes quiz the sales clerk at a place like Best Buy or Circuit City about something in which I consider myself an expert, just to get a gauge on their level of retardedness.

  4. Lucky Red8:13 PM

    Since I am, by nature, not nurture, a rule breaker, I now feel compelled by forces beyond my control to go ask questions, eat soggy bread and drink of the forbidden coffee. And if the sales guy doesn't look down my top and check out my ass...I will either be very hurt, or know he's gay and set him up with my friend...


Be compelling.

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