by Marc Cullison [mcullison.com]
We had finished our Christmas shopping for the year! Well, I say we, but actually, my wife did most of it. She seems to have a knack for selecting the right gift for people, including people she doesn’t even know that well. She is a natural at shopping, creative gift giving and gift wrapping. The wonderful spouse of mine has an acute disposition toward making people happy. I should be so well prepared. But I’m not.
This is why I have a problem with other people during my obligatory tour of duty as a
Christmas shopper. I don’t usually have difficulty with finding what someone wants. The problem arises when none of the stores in the local area have it. What do I do? If time permits, I’ll shop online. I know, I know. That’s a slam to the local merchants. But, hey, if they don’t have what I want, what else can I do?
The people who work in these stores are sincere, I think, when they tell me they don’t carry what I ask for. That has become the norm, of late. The small town of Sallisaw has a limited variety of stores, and those that have withstood the incursion of Walmart carry mostly the essential staple items that most folks in a town this size use. So when I ask for something that is outside the normal stock of merchandise the salesperson tells me that, no, they don’t carry that. Of course, I’m disappointed, but I try to remain civil toward them. I realize it’s not their fault that whoever is in charge of making decision about what to stock has essentially cut me out of the loop. That hardly comes as a surprise, since this phenomenon has been happening year after year. An alternative shopping venue is Fort Smith, Arkansas. If is possible to find more variety of goods. Sometimes I’m lucky, and sometimes not.
Knowing that I have an option to shop online for what I can’t find locally is a pleasant departure from what I used to experience before the Internet. But I still make the trek to the stores in search of something that I have every reason to believe I won’t find. You know as well as I do that folks don’t ask for things that they use every day. What’s the point? It’s Christmas. Live it up. Ask for something you wouldn’t buy for yourself. So, I’m left to search outside the local area.
During my shopping excursions, I have found that there are good places and bad places. The bad places are staffed with employees who have little interest in solving the customer’s problem. They merely idle away time before breaks or the end of their shifts. Training has a lot to do with their effectiveness. Or the lack of it. Pretty useless as far as employees go. That is, if you can find anyone to help you at all.
Then there are the good places. The employees in these stores seem to actually want to help you. I’m always blown away by the sincere efforts they make to find what you’re looking for. I’m sure they don’t make a lot in the way of wages. I can remember working for my father in his Western Auto store during the summer months between school years. I didn’t make a lot, either. You know how it is in a family business. And the work was horrid. That’s why I have a soft spot for folks who actually try to work with the customer. It’s hard work, especially when the customer doesn’t really know what he or she wants.
Most of the gifts I purchased were obtained from Amazon.com. A pretty remarkable website. There is virtually anything you could want. Well, for most of us, anyway. I did have to resort to a couple of other sites for some specialty items, but it was easy and saved me a hell of a lot of stress, other than watching the drive for the UPS truck or Fed Ex truck. That’s the hard part of it all.
Anyway, Christmas was a success and everyone was happy with their gifts. What more can I ask?
It’s too late to wish you a merry Christmas, so HAPPY NEW YEAR!