Common Retail Quotes, Translated

We are in the final days of the Christmas shopping season.  The last-minute shoppers are heading out and mixing in with those finding the final few items on their gift lists.  Stores are staying open crazy hours.  And the employees – oh, those poor employees – are tired of dealing with impatient and rude shoppers who have no respect for them.

Back in my college days, I worked retail and the holiday season was nuts – and that was before stores felt the need to stay open until midnight.  During that time, I learned that the polite things retail workers say with a smile on their face often have hidden meanings.

Here are some common retail expressions, translated to English:

“Are you finding everything alright?”

The meaning depends a lot upon the store you’re in, as well as the time of day.  For example, if you’re at Target 10 minutes to closing time it means: “Get the hell out”.

At a nicer clothing store, it means “I work on commission and am staking my claim on you.”

If you’re at Wal-Mart, it means “I’ve only worked here for two weeks, and I don’t know any better.”

“Can I help you find a size?”

I guarantee that if somebody is asking you this question you’re standing at a table of folded merchandise, because that sales associate is thinking “Quit rooting through that shelf of nicely folded sweaters looking for a size we don’t carry.  I have to re-fold those before I can go home.”

Seriously, nobody is ever asked this question standing next to a rack of items on hangers, because you can find it your damn self without making a mess.

“Let me check in the back.”

The true meaning of this one ultimately comes down to the personality of your sales clerk.  If they’re lazy, it means: “I’d really like to check my phone / get a quick drink / talk about you behind your back for a few minutes.”

But if they are passive aggressive, this one means “We don’t have it, but I want to make you wait with your hopes up, before I shoot you down.” 

“Everything we have is out.”

“There might be some more in the back, but I don’t feel like checking.”

“Would you like to open a store credit card to save an extra 10%?”

“I could give a crap about saving you money, but I get $4 for every credit card application I submit.  Besides, with the 23.9% APR on that card, you’re going to lose money anyway.”

“Go call the 800 number on your receipt to complete a short survey about your experience today.”

“Please take 15 minutes out of your day to suffer through an automated voice survey about a generic retail transaction.  If you say nice things about me, I can get $4.”

“Can I start a dressing room for you?”

“I am paid based on how much I sell, so I want credit for that giant stack of clothes you’re carrying around.”

“Did you find everything you were looking for?”

“Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes.  Because I don’t want to go exploring through the store for something we don’t carry.”

Thought of the Day – 12/15/2014 – Pick up the Pieces

A marketing tip to help you from wasting your money this holiday season:

Almost without fail, if a product’s packaging touts the number of pieces you’re getting (“24 piece set!”  “72 pieces!”  “101 pieces!”), at least a quarter of those pieces are complete garbage or things that you will never, ever, ever use.

Even the world’s greatest mechanic or craftsman is probably not going to use all of the sockets and screwdrivers and whatnot in that big tool set.

Do you even know what all of those tiny spoons and forks are for in your set of formal tableware?

Unless you want your preteen niece to look like a rodeo clown, do not get her a big kit with 83 different colors of eye shadow.

Seriously, go for quality over quantity.


Thought of the Day – 12/18/2012

Tonight, the traditional holiday program A Charlie Brown Christmas will be shown on ABC.  I’m planning to watch this wholesome family favorite with my four-year old daughter – who will likely be holding the stuffed Santa Snoopy toy that is currently one of her favorites.

But once Charlie Brown is done providing his simple outlook on American life in the 1960s, as well as the true meaning of Christmas, I don’t think we’re going to stick around for ABC’s next two programs:  Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23.  Those seem like odd choices to follow one of the most beloved family specials of the Christmas season – even if both episodes are Christmas themed.

In fairness, I haven’t watch either Happy Endings or Don’t Trust the B____, but I’m guessing that neither are all that appropriate for young children who like to repeat things they hear on TV.

On second thought, maybe I’ll record Charlie Brown, and we’ll watch it tomorrow when we can fast forward through the commercials and promos for ABC’s other shows.

Thought of the Day – 8/28/2012

On my way to work this morning, I noticed a house that had their Christmas lights up, which made me wonder:

If you have your lights up before Labor Day, are you really ahead of the game – or way behind?

All I Want For Christmas is New Christmas Music

Think of your favorite Christmas music.  Those songs that you love to hear, each and every year.

How many of those songs were written after, say 1986?

Seriously – name a “classic” or widely-known Christmas song released* in the last 25 years.

*And let’s be clear:  I’m talking about NEW songs – not covers, remakes, parodies, medlies, or anything else borrowing from a previously released song (such as. James Brown taking “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and making it into “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag”). 

Can you do it?

I found a list of Christmas/holiday hit singles in the United States on Wikipedia.  Here are some of the ones that could, potentially, be in the argument for “classic”:

  • “Believe”, Josh Groban, 2004
  • “Where Are You Christmas?”, Faith Hill, 2000
  • “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, Mariah Carey, 1994
  • “Christmas All Over Again”, Tom Petty, 1992
  • “Grown Up Christmas Wish”, David Foster & Natalie Cole, 1990
  • “Christmas in Hollis”, Run DMC, 1987

And let’s face it, some of those are a serious stretch and should probably not be considered “classic” in any sense of the word.  Other than that?  Christmas music for a big chunk of my lifetime has been little more than a re-hash of the same songs that my parents and grandparents enjoyed.

Each year, a dozen different bands and artists release a Christmas album.  There are usually 90% covers and a few forgettable (or downright painful) original songs.  Very rarely do any of those new songs stand the test of time. 

There is definitely room for good remakes of the classics and standards.  I love the Mannheim Steamroller & Trans-Siberan Orchestra arrangements of traditional Christmas songs.  I’ve rocked out with Gary Hoey’s electric guitar tracks.  The Barenaked Ladies’ Christmas album is one of the better ones I’ve heard in a while.  Michael Buble does a good job of capturing the sound of the standards.

But I still want something new, and something worthy of being played several times a day by those radio stations who play nothing by Christmas music from mid-November through early January.

Failure, via Facebook

We were matched for our second domestic adoption in early September of 2011.  The situation was a little strange from the get-go:  The birth mom had three other children, one had been placed, and the baby is a full biological sibling of the two kids she is parenting.  One of the siblings, a little girl, turned 1 just two weeks before the due date.  The birth mom is single and the birth father is not in the picture – or at least financially.  She works, but was concerned that her job would not be enough to support her family.  She felt adoption was the right choice for her, her family, and her baby.

The birth mom picked us without meeting us, talking to us, or even viewing our profile.  Our agency told us that she wanted a closed adoption (not our preference), and did not want to get attached.  I think that is one of the reasons we were picked.  We live in Nebraska.  The birth mom (and our agency) is in Florida.

As part of the adoption, we agreed to pay living expenses until the baby was born (Florida law allows this).  While we weren’t super excited about paying somebody’s rent and phone bill, we knew that keeping baby (and birth mom) safe and properly nourished was a good thing.  My wife (the financial planner) completely revised our family budget to make the numbers work, so we could mail a check to the agency.

During the first few months of the match, not much changed.  We updated our homestudy, tackled another stack of papers, and kept in contact with our agency.  Unfortunately, we were not all that impressed with the case worker we were paired with.  She wasn’t very good about getting us complete information, or following up with our questions.  Often she was be short and somewhat snippy in her responses to us.  We often felt in the dark and wondered what information was out there that we didn’t know.

We knew the birth mom had “no desire” to meet or even see us in the hospital, but we wanted to be present and ready for placement as soon as possible.  Plus, our daughter has birth family in Florida that we wanted to visit.  We purchased some “cheap” flights (as cheap as it can be to fly out of Nebraska) to arrive in Florida between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  We would spend a few days with our daughter’s birth family and then meet our new little girl before waiting for the necessary paperwork to leave Florida and reenter Nebraska.

Around the end of November / early December, there started to be some mixed messages about the birth mom’s due date and the date of the planned C-section.  Originally, we were told she was due between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Later, we were told that a C-section was scheduled for January 6.  We asked our new case worker to contact the birth mom and her doctor to get the correct information so we could potentially adjust our travel arrangements.

In early December, we asked to work with a different case worker, which was a wise decision – if only for the sake of my wife’s sanity.  My wife and I called our new case worker two weeks ago and reviewed all of the information.  The case worker had talked to the birth mom and yes, she was “very firm” in her decision to place, and had said she “knows this is the right thing to do”.  The birth mom still did not want to meet or see us.  We told our case worker that we understood that, but we hoped to give the birth mom a small gift (a necklace).  A week later (last Friday), our case worker called with an update:  the C-section was scheduled for January 6, and the birth mom was now open to meeting us in the hospital at or before placement.

The last few weeks have been crazy and stressful for us.  Aside from the normal stresses of the holidays, jobs, and raising a very assertive 3-year-old, we were also preparing to be parents of a newborn for the first time (our daughter came to us at almost 7 months), and trying to get ready to travel to Florida.  I’m sure other adoptive parents can relate.

As a result of the stress my wife has not been sleeping very well.  She’ll wake up in the night (because of our daughter, me snoring, or something else) and will not be able to get back to sleep due to all of the thoughts swirling in her head.  Last night was one of those nights for her.

So she grabbed the laptop.  One of the things she did was a Facebook search for name of our birth mom.  I’m not really sure why she did that – I had done the same thing in November and she had everything blocked.  But this time, she had opened up her Wall.  So my wife started reading.  And reading.  And reading.

This morning, I woke up to my wife saying “We’re not going to get our baby.”  Trust me, that is not a good way to start your day.

My wife handed me the laptop and told me to scroll up.  I started reading the Facebook statuses posted by our birth mom.  She was getting excited for the baby to come.  She posted that she had picked out a name for the baby – (one that was not nearly as cute as the name we had chosen).  She was organizing a closet for the baby and said “walmart here I come”.  Visions of the living expenses we had been paying for months flashed in my head.

She was counting down to her due date – December 23, NOT January 6.  Yesterday she was sending her kids to her mom’s while she’s in the hospital.  Another update from last night:  “due date tomorrow”.

Shock.  Disbelief.  Sadness.  Anger.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

We called our agency and our case worker and fired off an SOS email.  When our case worker called back, she said she was sincerely blown away and “never saw it coming”.  She had been sure the birth mom was a good person and had no indication was so ever that she had decided to parent.  We talked more, but frankly, I don’t remember too much of the call.  I think we’re going into a pool for “stork calls”, and we may be placed soon with a different birth mom, but she wasn’t sure.

The day has pretty much been a fog.  We’ve started the unpleasant process of telling family, friends, and co-workers about our failed match.  My mother-in-law bawled, one of our good friends is pissed.  We have two Christmases with family this weekend and we’re afraid that both are going to be dominated with adoption talk.  It feels like we’re starting over.  Again.

I don’t know what to think.  Even though I never saw anything more than an ultrasound picture sent over a fax – which looked like a black rectangle – that rectangle was my baby girl, my [special_name_we_had_picked_out_that_I’m_not_ready_to_share_yet].  I had seriously thought about posting that black rectangle on Facebook as the first picture of my new daughter.  I’m not sure if I can give her name to another child.

I’m mad and I’m disappointed.  I wonder when (and how) we would have found out if my wife had slept soundly through the night.  Would we have gotten a heartbreaking call from our agency tonight?  Tomorrow?  On Christmas?  Or would we have flown down to Florida in two weeks expecting to introduce our daughter to her “baby stister” only to find an empty hospital bed?

I worry about the little baby girl.  If her mommy felt that she could not properly care for her and her siblings before, how are things going to be now – especially without the living expenses we’ve been paying?  Is the birth father back in the picture?  I got the impression that he’s not going to win any Father of the Year competitions.

I completely and totally respect the birth mom’s right to parent – and I will defend her ability to make that choice to the death – but I cannot shake the lone thought I focus on every time I’m filling out some 12 page form, providing some obscure piece of personal data for the homestudy, or getting my fingerprints taken to see if I am a sex offender – they do all of this because they want to make sure the baby is safe and taken care of.  But will she be?

I hate that people who know very little about adoption now have a crazy story like ours that they can tell (“Well, some people I know…”) which only taints that marvelous and magical thing that is adoption.  I love adoption.  My daughter is a miracle in every possible sense of the word, and without adoption (and a loving birth mom who for some unknown reason picked us) I would have never heard the beautiful noise that is her laughter.  Yeah, this situation is seriously f’d up.  But don’t judge adoption because….

I hate that I want to finish that last sentence with horrible, mean, and ugly words meant solely to hurt and demean a person who has hurt me.

I am trying to find the good in this ugly situation.

I am thankful that we found out the way we did – in the safety of our house.  I would be so angry if my wife would have had to take this phone call at work or while she was driving somewhere.

I am thankful we are not getting involved with this particular birth mom.  I love adoption, and I fully believe in open adoption whenever it is healthy and positive for the child.  From what we have learned, I’m not sure that would have been possible – even if she was interested in having an open relationship.  I truly believe that we will look back someday and think that we dodged a drama bullet – but that day is a ways off.

I am so amazingly thankful for our daughter.  I could go on for hours about all of the wonderful, amazing, cute, silly, and frustrating things she does.  I know that we are far from alone in having a failed match.  I also know that we are incredibly fortunate to have successfully adopted, and to have a true miracle for our daughter.  If she is all of the blessing we are meant to have, then we have been spoiled like none other.

I am thankful that my wife and I both truly believe that our first daughter was chosen especially for us, and we sincerely believe that we will be matched with the right child again.  I know that is cliché, hokey, and whatever else you want to call it, but I believe it.  And I know it can – and will – happen again.  But again, that day feels a long ways away right now.

I am thankful that we found out when we did.  My wife and I agreed that we’re going to focus our energies on our daughter to help make sure she enjoys Christmas.  There is so much joy and wonder in her little three-year-old body that it cannot help but lift us up.

Finally, I am thankful for our family and friends and especially the love, support, and prayer we are receiving from them.  I guarantee there will be times when this is the absolute last thing I want to think or talk about, but I appreciate that you care enough to ask.

*   *   *

Postscript:  As I was typing this, the birth mom posted a new status on Facebook:

“Im so happy and tired at the same time, in the recovery room watin to see baby again”

Welcome to the world, little girl.  I hope you have a good life.

Thought of the Day – 11/21/11

Most of the nation’s companies are 95% focused on Christmas – even though it is still the middle of November.

That is why I love the Food Network.  Right now, they could give a crap about Christmas.  For them it is all Thanksgiving, all the time.  From dawn til dusk one of their culinary celebrities is brining, roasting, smoking, deep-frying, eating, or talking about turkey.  If not, then it is the secret ingredient for a cooking challenge or the inspiration for cupcakes, ginormous cakes, or some other crazy concoction.

And sure, Food Network’s focus is pretty elementary (Thanksgiving being the biggest food holiday of the year and all), but I am thankful that there is one place in the world that has not already moved on to Christmas – even if all of their ads are for Black Friday sales.

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