Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Science and Economics of Snow Cones

I recently hung out with a group of friends and we decided to go get snow cones.  The particular snow cone shack was chosen because it always had a line and lots of people sitting at tables outside of the shack. Little did we know, that that was not a positive thing.

We waited probably 10 minutes in line before we were able to place our orders.  Part of the hold up was that this particular snow cone shack had a rewards program.  Really, it's a snow cone shack. I think that the cheap price and the fact that they are only available 3 months out of the year would be arguments against having a rewards program.  After I placed my order, I was informed that it would be a 15 minute wait (yep, you read that right).

The 15 minute wait (and it was indeed that long of a wait), was inexplicable considering that there were 4 employees in that shack, and of course due to the fact that the product is snow cones.  Admittedly there were options to have more than the typical two ingredients that comprise snow cones (shaved ice and flavored syrup), such as ice cream and sweetened condensed milk.  However, these additions could only have added 15 seconds to the preparation time.

This snow cone shack could not have been running more inefficiently or stupidly, which is ridiculous because they are snow cones NOT rocket science.  That comparison is ineffectual, it's too broad, but I am not going to even try to come up with better comparison because that would be more work than making a snow cone (probably would take less time to think of one though than to make a snow cone though, haha!)  They were making snow cones, there's really no margin for error because there's no possible way to err in making a snow cone (although they for sure tried their hardest by being so slow).  I failed to see the purpose of 4 employees, because they certainly weren't expediting a 30 second process, in fact quite the opposite.  The biggest slow-down was that they only had one shaved ice machine--but I didn't know how to kindly suggest that they get a few more ice machines and get rid of the extra staff.

Not only was it a super long wait for little payoff (I mean snow cones are good, but not a fifteen minute wait good), but I paid a pretty penny for that stupid snow cone.  They definitely have a high profit margin, although I guess they would need a high profit margin to pay for all the extra useless staff.

More Facebook Woes

Did you know that people can just add you into groups on Facebook, without your knowledge and/or permission?  This is something that I recently discovered by being added to two different groups within the past month.  At first I was okay with it, but then I started getting 100 updates from said groups. Per hour.

I feel like it is the real-world equivalent waking up to 1,000 strangers in your living room, having been invited there by one pseudo-friend. You have something in common with each of them, like say you're all going to be sister missionaries, but at the same time these people are still strangers, they are invading your personal space, and every 15 seconds someone says something really long-winded, pointless, and attention-seeking (I know, you'd think that these would definitely be my kind of people, but they are not).

It is, in a word, annoying.

I guess what these so-called friends are saying when they add me to some stupid group is that they don't want to be friends with me on Facebook anymore.  At least that's the message that I am getting loud and clear.

I'm not sure which is sadder, the fact that I am too lazy to figure out how to get out of this new group (I already removed myself from the first group to which I was unwillingly added to) or the fact that being added to these new groups hasn't chased me off of Facebook.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's a Mall World After All (i.e.Awkward and Confusing)

I am going to serve an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and my wardrobe needs to abide by certain standards. For example, the skirts that I will be wearing need to cover the knee while sitting and standing.  Now this is a tall order for anyone in this teeny-bopper style world that we live in, but it is an  even more difficult feat for someone over 6'0" tall, like myself.

Last week I went to the mall to see what I could find in the way of modest clothing. I went into a large department store and scoured the entire women's and junior's departments for suitable clothing for my mission.  I actually found some really cute things which were all on sale. I was pretty excited; so far this one store had proved more fruitful than a lot of other places I had visited.  Despite having thoroughly searched the entire department, I realized that I hadn't seen a dressing room.  Soon after this realization, one of the store employees came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I asked if she would direct me to the nearest fitting room.  I just wanted her to point, but she kindly led me to a fitting room, and I thanked her for her help.

After trying on my purchases, I walked out of the dressing room and there was a check-out counter right outside. I informed the new clerk that I needed to have a few items put back on the rack, and placed other items on the counter for her to ring me up.  She asked if anyone had helped me, and I said, "No."  She looked at me quizzically and asked again, and indicated in the direction of the first clerk who was about 50 feet away at a different register.  I informed the clerk that the first clerk had shown me to the dressing room, but had not helped me with finding clothing. She then proceeded to ring up my purchases.

Here's where the nightmare begins:

The original clerk came storming over to the check-out counter.  Her entire demeanor was viking-like; stern, scary, and in-your-face.  She asked, "Can I help you?" The words were nice, but her face and rigid posture indicated otherwise. The poor clerk who was checking me out, was obviously scared. She started saying again and again that she had asked me if I had already been helped by someone else.  Seeing that I had, (very unintentionally, I might add) caused some problems, I spoke up and said that the second clerk had indeed asked if I had been helped, and I had responded in the negative.

The first clerk/bully then stood right next her co-worker, stared me down, and then asked who I wanted to have ring up my purchases.  Now, it should be stated that I was not in a right state of mind due to lack of sleep and also a reading of this blog will show that I do not do well in awkward situations, which this most definitely was quickly becoming.  I didn't want to cause more problems for the second clerk, so I told the bully she could ring me up.  If I had known what would happen next, I would not have responded that way.  Because I had chosen to have Bully ring me up now, she had to take me halfway across the store to her register! It was beyond ridiculous. I was feeling so awkward that I didn't even think to ask for a manager, but I really regret not talking to the manager because Bully was completely out of line. Her customer service was horrible.

I do not normally shop in higher-end department stores like that ine, and was thus not aware that I couldn't just have anyone (i,e. the closest and most convenient person) ring me up.  On the other hand, I don't feel like Bully really went out of her way to earn commission off of my purchases (I didn't realize they worked off of commission until this unfortunate situation arose). I did appreciate her help in showing me to a dressing room, but if I hadn't need that aid, would she still have been bullying me and another clerk and claiming my sale as her own?  I think she probably would have.  I really hope that the second (and nice) clerk did not suffer any repercussions because I inadvertently made it look like she was stealing Bully's sale (which I really did all I could to clear up the confusion).  Despite my lack of knowledge regarding how higher end department stores function, I, as the customer (and also just as a human being), should not have been placed in that awkward situation of choosing who to check me out (I had thought I had already done that by going to the closest clerk...).  And then to have to walk 50 feet away to be checked out, when that process had already been started by the nice clerk was ridiculous.

So, I decided that I am not going back to that store anytime soon. (Unless by some miracle I am able to remember Bully's name, and then I am heading straight to a manager--it would definitely be worth the drive down to the mall just for that purpose.)

I was so frustrated that I walked out of the store to my car ready to go home.  Deciding that I really don't get to the mall too often and should see if any of the other department stores had modest clothing at decent prices (desperate times call for desperate measures--finding skirts that are long enough has been very difficult). I drove over to another department store and went in.  Amazing, I only encountered great customer service (which I personally account for the fact that these individuals do not work off of commission and thus don't have to have a piranha-like personality with coworkers and customers). I then wandered the mall in search of more great deals.

Other than the snafu at the first store, this shopping trip was wildly successful, that is until I decided to head home.  I completely forgot where I had parked! I had gotten so turned around in the mall (and did I mention I was lacking a lot of sleep?).  I was all alone, my phone was conveniently located in my car (not that I would have known who to call to help me in that particular situation anyways...), and I was exhausted and not thinking straight.  I remembered where my original parking space was (outside of Bully's store) and knew where my car was parked in location to that.  So, I had to navigate my way back to Bully's store and rush through it in an effort to avoid seeing her (because at that point I still wasn't thinking to talk to a manager.  Plus, I still felt so awkward and horrible about the whole situation.) and also because I had spent probably 20 minutes trying to find the correct mall exit to locate my car (I am a genius, what can I say?).  I then had to walk across the Siberean Desert (Ok, most people would call it a "parking lot" but at that point in my day it was just as large and as hot as the Siberean Desert).  Towards the end of my long, arduous journey, a mall security officer drove up in his vehicle (complete with lights), and asked if I needed help.  Mortified that I appeared to be in need of assistance (at which point I most definitely was not, because I could see my car two rows in front of me), and also because I figured he had probably seen me on security cameras in a tired, discombobulated, idiotic-like stupor trying to figure out how to find my car (Let's just say that in my attempts to find my car there was a lot of backtracking and some murmuring to myself, so there was no way that I could have appeared sane.).  Red-faced (from heat and embarrassment) I informed him that I had lost my car but I could now see it and he kindly went on his way.

So now I am really, really not going to the mall anytime soon (because that's the kind of footage that gets shown at mall security Christmas parties.)