There are times in an old woman’s life where you can “roll with the punches” or “not sweat the small stuff.” I try to do that whenever I can.
Until I couldn’t.
It was IKEA that set me off.
A few weeks ago I went to my local store to get UNICEF Christmas cards. When I got to the display of cards, I found there were six choices so I took pictures and texted them to Michael for his input since he would also be using the cards personally. He called back and had me read the message on each card.
Did I mention he can get picky?
I promoted a Flying Angel, but he liked the Joy to Your World card that we eventually selected. I put the boxes in my shopping bag and then headed on into the store to look for stocking stuffers and candles.
All was joyful and light at this point in the foray for goodwill to mail.
When I finally got to the checkout, it was lunch hour, and there were many customers in each line. I picked one with three people ahead of me. As I waited for my turn, I was happy to be getting on my way with my purchases.
Then happiness began to dwindle as my cashier scanned my items. More specifically, when he picked up the Joy cards.
Scan. Nothing. Scan another box. Nothing. Another try. Nothing
Apparently, there were no scan codes for Joy cards.
I was happy to tell him that they cost $12 a box just like all the other UNICEF cards. I offered to run back and get another box of cards. He didn’t have much choice but nodded to me as I took off.
The people behind me in line had no choice in the matter either as I tested their holiday spirit.
I returned with boxes of Flying Angel cards since I thought they might have a scan code and if not, I liked them.
“Here, you can scan these—they are the same price.”
Then I got a little condescending discussion about all the scan numbers being unique for every variation of an item. (I wondered if he would talk in that tone of voice to an old man.) I reiterated that one way or another I wanted the Joy cards. Maybe he could just punch in the price.
He called for reinforcements.
The line of impatient customers was going nowhere as we waited for a supervisor with headphones to emerge from behind a wall.
When the cashier explained the problem to the supervisor, she took a box of cards. Punched in her special number, and then with authority, she scanned the boxes.
Nothing. Another box. Nothing.
Then she pronounced, “We can’t sell these cards,” as she put them in the bin to be sent someplace where I couldn’t buy them.
So I bought the Flying Angels while everyone around me breathed, “FINALLY.”
As I began to leave the store, I remembered that Michael and I had discussed the Flying Angel on the phone and that for some reason he wasn’t her fan. I realized it was crazy to his get input on the cards and then take home those that he had said he didn’t like.
I looked at the “customer service” area and saw that it wasn’t packed with disgruntled customers. Those of you familiar with IKEA will know that this can be a rare event, so I went and took a number. There were only four people ahead of me being helped by two customer service representatives, so I liked my odds of getting this taken care of quickly. But three of the people ahead of me seemed to have complicated issues like missing parts. As the time dragged on, I thought of the reason I was there and tried to remain in a holiday spirit.
And I waited some more.
When it became my turn, I explained the situation and said that I wanted to exchange the Flying Angels for other cads. If they would watch my packages, I’d run to the other side of the check stands and pick out different ones.
That’s when I found out found out that if you want to return anything or make any exchanges to a purchase at IKEA on the same day of the purchase, you must go back to the register where you bought the item for the exchange.
“That makes no sense. I don’t want to go back through that line for something that is your problem. I just want to run right over there (pointing to the display) and get my cards to exchange.” I continued, ” May I talk to a manager?”
This time the explanation about same-day returns was delivered in a manner designed to make the situation clear to a confused old lady. If I wanted to pick out other cards to exchange I just needed to go back to my original register because it would have to be reconciled at the end of the day.
I asked, “Even if the problem resulted from cards they should not have tried to sell.”
I live about 20 miles from IKEA, and I did not plan come back anytime soon. One way or another I was not going to leave without some UNICEF cards other than those that I already knew that Michael didn’t like.
I took a breath, remembered the reason for the cards, and went back to the pick out others.
Then I realized I couldn’t go back into the store with my purchases. Now I was facing taking my packages to the car. Coming back to pick out other cards and waiting in a long line to exchange them.
I looked to find the supervisor with the headphones thinking that maybe she could make this easier. I found some headphones, but they were on a different supervisor.
The fresh supervisor heard my story about the joy cards being tossed in the restock bin, and she went to look. “There aren’t any cards here,” she observed as if to indicate I must be a little daft about the cards I couldn’t purchase.
I replied, “Believe me, there were cards in that bin that I couldn’t buy earlier. Maybe they have already been given a scan code and restocked.”
The supervisor was moving to another checking position as I talked and I followed. When she arrived, she said to the cashier, “I’m here to relieve you,” as she tried to ignore me.
But I was not finished.
Maybe I would have been finished when I was younger and had less discretionary time, or was a person who would worry about all the people the line staring at me. But I had time, and I was becoming a steamed old lady with pressure building up. So, I took a different approach.
“Since I have these purchases (pointing to my shopping bags) I can’t go back into the store to check to see if my cards have been restocked. May I put my purchases here and just run right over there (pointing in the direction of the display) to see?”
She looked doubtful but nodded to where I could put my bags. Then she helped the first person in line.
When I got to the display of cards, I found the boxes of Joy cards just staring at me. I grabbed them and hustled back to the supervisor. I waited as she finished checking someone out.
Then she scanned Joy and pronounced them unsellable. Again.
She asked (with impatient people in line overhearing her) “Why can’t you just take these (Angel) cards?”
“My husband doesn’t like them. I just got them to exchange or provide a scan code so that I could get these cards that we like.”
The supervisor looked at me as if to say, “You are letting him guide your decisions?”
Then things got a little testy.
I looked back at her and said, “IKEA has restocked cards that you can’t sell. Twice I’ve picked out cards on your display in the store. Now I have now been here a very long time, and I want to buy them.”
There were eye rolls in the line as she grabbed the boxes of Angels. “Were these the same price?”
“Yes—I’ve been saying that all along.”
She typed some supervisor code to indicate “Customer going postal if I don’t do something” into the cash register and then she grabbed the Flying Angels as I held onto the boxes of Joy.
“You can leave.”
Amen to that!
As I walked out, I figured that at the end of the day she would have to explain the code she entered to some manager, and I thought that I’d earned whatever she would be saying about me.
Then I smiled at doing something that I wouldn’t have done in earlier years. I ticked a lot of people off and held my ground until I got what was reasonable.
When I got home, I told Michael the story of the reject angels, and I had a chuckle with a friend during a walk. And then the memory of how I obtained our cards faded as I wrote notes and mailed out a little Joy.
Until yesterday when an angel and her memories flew back into my life.
Our mail included a card from a sister-in-law, and when I opened it, I smiled at the Flying Angel. Apparently, Michael’s sister has better taste in cards than her brother.
Then I remembered my earlier experience with that little card, and I celebrated the old woman I’d become.
And that gave me lots of joy!