Sunday, January 25, 2015

My week: January 25 ed.

-I returned from Munich on Monday. Since it was a work holiday, I moseyed back from the train station and stopped at Dyan and Ethnico. I was pleased to find a super comfy, hippie-influenced shirt that still looks fine for work and bought it for a reasonable 15 euros (on sale) at Ethnico.

-I then bought a new back pack for traveling. I already have an old Eddie Bauer small daypack that folds into itself, as well as a back pack with a logo from one of my schools. However, both backpacks are a bit small for my three-day weekend trips. The Eddie Bauer one is getting a bit "long in the tooth" (old, in other words). Although a wonderful friend has repaired it for me (and made it look even cooler than it did in the beginning; she's a wizard of awesomeness!), it was never meant to really be used for anything of substance as it's made of thin material. I took my chances and stuffed it with three days' worth of clothes (and my textbook) this past weekend but I was really pushing it.

On a whim, I stopped by the sporting goods store and was delighted to see that most items were 30% off. Since I can avoid paying VAT (tax) with a special form, I could save almost 50% off the backpacks. Well, I've been searching for a backpack for a while now and the best price for a used one that I thought was rather decent was about 40 euros. I'm frugal but not (usually) to the point of being stupid; if I could buy a brand new backpack for a bit more, I certainly would. I picked out a 30 liter backpack and took it to the counter to ask if the employee would hold it for me so I could run home and grab the VAT form.

She was flipping through some paperwork and didn't acknowledge me. I waited. I waited some more. She pointedly ignored me, not even saying something like "one moment, please." I was getting pretty disgusted by then and was about ready to put the bag down on the counter and walk out. However, I had been working on buying one for a while and was determined to get a new bag that day. I rearranged myself mentally to project a good attitude, smiled, and said politely: "I would like to buy this bag, please." The store clerk harrumphed and scowled at me. I decided to kill her with kindness. I asked if she could be so kind as to hold the bag for me while I quickly ran home to get the form. She was still grumpy about it but acquiesced. When I came back with the form, I told her that it was very nice of her to hold the backpack for me. She softened a little and rang it up. I told her thanks again and left.

I told my German colleague about the experience and she said she would've walked out of the store. I had gone into my super stubborn mode and was not to be dissuaded. This is not the only time that I've experienced or heard of such an interaction here. More often than should be, I've found myself waiting and waiting for the store clerk to acknowledge either myself or a customer in front of me. They'll get to helping the customers when they're dang good and ready, it seems. I understand that it can be difficult to stop in the middle of some tasks, but one could at least have the courtesy to acknowledge the customer and ask for a moment to finish the previous task. Plus, if one is working at a register or as a store clerk, the primary responsibility is to sell the store's goods; other tasks are secondary. I'm approaching this as someone who's worked in one form of customer service or another since the time I was 14, whether it was working in the front lines of a pizza shop or providing in-house support to other employees who provide service to the public. So, this write-up was more about the customer service than the dang backpack. Sheesh.

-German lessons were followed by two nights of much-needed time at home.

-On Saturday, a group of us went to the red wine hike in Freinsheim. It was lovely! Fat flakes of snow tumbled out of the sky as we enjoyed some wine and tasty regional dishes, such as Flammkuchen, potato and pumpkin soups, etc.

-I took a trip to Miramar, a water park and sauna complex near Mannheim, with some friends. It was very relaxing (and waterlogging!).

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