Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cramming for Errands

          I like friendly clerks.  I like courtesy.  But suddenly, everywhere I go, clerks are waaay more than friendly; they’ve become interrogators.
          It’s all because of this new Voice of the Customer fixation so many companies have, now.  They all want to do surveys to make sure you were greeted properly, so bosses have told clerks everywhere to be a bit more chatty.  Ask them how their weekend was.  Or what they’ve been doing today.  Or what they have planned for the rest of the day.  Or for the weekend.
          Suddenly I have to account for every minute of my day.  My foray to the supermarket for a pint of cream has turned into a courtroom cross examination where I’m expected to rattle off a morning filled with noble accomplishments.  And a matching afternoon.
          “So what are you doing the rest of the day?” I am asked, as if I owe this teenager a list of my remaining errands.  And we both know the clerk doesn’t give a flying rip what I’m actually going to do—yet to point this out seems petulant, as if I’m refusing the play the game.  

          Now I ask you: Why do I have to cram for an exam, just to go shopping?  I’m one of those people who make lists in a calendar.  But unless I’m looking at the list, I have no idea what I just did or what I’m doing next.  I keep myself on a need-to-know basis, you know?
So I try to recall the items I will shortly be reading from my calendar, once I get in the car.  I feel stress mounting.  I know there are several worthy pursuits penciled in, but I can’t just rattle them off.  If only I’d known there would be a test, and I would have to justify my life!  A person could break out in a sweat—or hives—with this kind of incessant grilling.
Ever have one of those stress dreams where you get to class and there’s an exam on material you didn’t even know about?  Welcome to my supermarket, bank, dry cleaners’, department store and fast-food drive-through.
So I’m flipping this thing on its head (my frequent response to stress, by the way). I’m going to have a ready response, and by the way it’s a true one.  You know how I’m LDS (Mormon)?  Much of my days are given to visiting people, attending baptisms, sitting in on missionary lessons, and reading scriptures.  So, instead of trying not to be pushy, I’m going bold.  I’m going to say, “I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I’m visiting a shut-in today.  Would you like to know more about my church?”  I figure they’ll stop pummeling me with questions or they’ll actually be curious—either way it’s a win-win.  Hey, they brought it up.

Half of my 23 books are for the mainstream, and half are for the LDS market .  Well, not half because you can’t divide 23 evenly.  But roughly half.  And the latest one is LDS Nursery Rhymes, hot off the presses here.  Worth a look-see, then you can tell clerks that’s what you did today.

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