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 – 4/17/2014 – Omelets (O)

I’m thinking about making a special breakfast for Easter morning.

Bacon (of course).  Toast, or maybe English muffins.  And the star of the show:  omelets, albeit with a special Easter twist…

Instead of regular store-bought eggs I’m going to use Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Cadbury Creme Egg

Breakfast of champions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sure, the kids will probably be in diabetic comas for most of the morning, but think of the deliciousness.

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(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

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Happy Birthday to Everyone!

Those of you who have befriended me on Facebook might have noticed something – I don’t post birthday greetings on your Wall.

It’s nothing personal.  I truly like birthdays* and if I haven’t unfriended you yet, you can safely assume that I like you.

*I’m on record saying that your birthday should be a paid holiday.

But I’m probably not going to wish you a happy birthday on Facebook.

Why?  Four key reasons:

1.  I’m lazy.
I have a healthy amount of friends on Facebook (around 300, give or take).  On average, that means five days a week a Facebook friend is having a birthday.  Even if I felt like taking the 30 seconds to go to their wall, type “Happy Birthday ______!!!!” and hit enter, I’m wasting 2.5 hours of my life each year.

And for what?  To become the 43rd random person to wish you a happy birthday?  Pass.

I’d rather use those 2.5 hours for sleep, playing with my kids, or concocting some silly list.

2.  My generic wishes won’t make your day any brighter.
Answer me this:  will my birthday wishes (or lack thereof) have any notable impact upon your day?  The day after your birthday, when you’re sorting through the avalanche of notifications and wall posts, will you think “Huh, Dave didn’t wish me a happy birthday”?  Probably not.

Nor do I think you’ll say “Wow, look at all the people who remembered my birthday!  There’s Dave, that creepy guy from Econ 212, Brenda that I used to work with back in the 90s…”

3.  Facebook birthday greetings are more political than personal.

Let’s face it:  saying nothing more than “Happy Birthday” or “Have a great day!” represents the least required effort to show that you care.  Or more cynically – that you noticed the list of birthdays in the upper right hand corner.

And let’s not forget the politics of birthday greetings.  I’ve often wondered if the people who post “Happy Birthday!” truly care about that person’s birthday, or if they feel socially obligated to post something.  Will be ramifications if you don’t post birthday wishes to your boss or Rhonda the receptionist?  Are there people who judge me for not posting “Happy Birthday” on my wife’s wall, (even though Mrs. Feit Can Write usually receives two birthday cards from me, each with a handwritten note)?

My rule used to be:  If I don’t have anything more interesting/original to say than “Happy Birthday!” then I’m not going to bother.  And for the most part, that worked out nicely.  I like to believe that my buddy Jeff enjoyed it when I posted a picture of a car that looked a lot like his old Pontiac Parisienne on his wall.  But since I don’t want to offend anybody by ignoring them (or trying to draw an imaginary line on whose birthdays to recognize and whose to ignore), nobody gets a cold, impersonal message from me.

Call me old-fashioned, but immediate family and close friends are going to receive a birthday card in lieu of a generic FB post.

Happy Birthday

4.  We’re really not that close.
There.  I said it.

My list of Facebook friends is probably very similar to yours in that it is broken down into the following categories:

  • Acquaintances from high school / college
  • Current and former co-workers
  • Immediate family, cousins, aunts, and other assorted relatives
  • Friends of friends and that person you met at that thing a few years ago
  • Your real-life friends

And within those groups, do you really, truly care about wishing them a happy birthday?  No disrespect to many of my fellow Gretna High Dragons, but the odds are good that we haven’t seen each other since the last reunion (or graduation day), so don’t be sad when my greetings don’t come in.  I like to believe that guy I worked retail with 15 years ago is able to have an enjoyable and fulfilling celebration of his birth without a copy and paste Wall post from me.  (And if not, I sincerely apologize).

Of my 300 some Facebook friends, I’d guess that I have not have a face-to-face conversation with over 50% of them* in the last year.  With some notable exceptions, if it’s been a year since we’ve seen each other, I’m guessing that a “Happy Birthday!” from me isn’t going to make or break your day.  If it is, then we really should get together more often.  Call me.  Let’s do lunch or grab a beer.

*I had to do the math – After doing a quick count through my Friends list, it appears as if I’ve only conversed with 29% of my friends in the last year – and that was being pretty generous in defining a year and counting emails/texts as “conversation”).

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I get that some of you still want to leave birthday messages for your Facebook friends.  That’s fine by me.  I’m not judging you, or mocking your decision* – you get to use Facebook how you want to use it (even if it hits every single one of my pet peeves).

*I’m not mocking you, but this brilliant post from College Humor probably is.  Worth the click.

Maybe you’re now rethinking your whole Facebook birthday strategy.  Should you bother posting birthday wishes for that long-lost friend, classmate, or former co-worker?   I can help with a simple two-step test.  If the person in question passes, then post away:

  1. Without using Facebook, would you know when their birthday is?*
  2. If that person posted birthday greetings on your wall, would your spouse/partner/whatever ask “Who is this person”?  If so, then don’t bother posting on their birthday.

*A former co-worker (whose birthday is in the fall) changed his Facebook birthday to December 25.  He said that he planned to de-friend anybody who wished him a happy birthday on Christmas, because they clearly didn’t know him that well – or remember that he had a birthday two months earlier.

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So in conclusion, my dear and beloved Friends, please consider this post your birthday/anniversary/bar mitzvah/kid’s birthday/Groundhog’s Day greetings from me.  If it makes you feel better, you may post this on your wall and tag me in it.

Happy [Event_Name]!!!  I hope you have a great day!!!1!

And just we’re all on the same page (and I don’t get accused of being a hypocrite), I’ll be clear:  I’m not going to lose sleep, be upset, de-friend you, or anything else if you don’t post birthday greetings to me on my birthday.

Thought of the Day – 6/8/2013 – National Doughnut Day

I missed it.

I missed National Doughnut Day.

It’s not like I need an excuse to enjoy a good cake doughnut (with chocolate icing and sprinkles), a cream filled long john, or even a good apple fritter (it’s like pie….for breakfast!), but I feel like I missed out on a patriotic duty* or something.

*Because really, what’s more American than a day celebrating fried dough covered in a sugar concoction?  Nothing – at least until McDonald’s starts including fireworks and beer with their Extra Value Meals.

Here’s the problem with National Doughnut Day…nobody really knows when it is.  Wikipedia says it is celebrated on the first Friday in June, but who is going to remember that*

*And when are calendar makers going to give this holiday the recognition it deserves.  If Groundhog’s Day and Arbor Day make the calendar, then Doughnut Day should too.

The Patron Saint of Donuts


My solution:  change the date.  Find a date that people associate with doughnuts.

What date is that you ask?  I’ve got two suggestions:

  • August 8:  8/8 just looks like four delicious doughnuts sitting on a plate.


  • October 10:  10/10 gives you two doughnuts and two long johns.

I’m partial to the August date (mainly because a free doughnut the day before my birthday would be pretty sweet), but I’ll gladly listen to the Long John lobby and hear what they have to say.  Heck, you could even replace the / with a period and get those little donut holes in on it too.

National Doughnut Day should be a day of coming together from all sides of the fryer to celebrate the sweeter things in life.



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.

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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