Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
Filed under: 11222, Advanced Life Forms, Asshole, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic
(Or: Stupid Customer Tricks, Part I)
Some of the people reading this site are aware that as of January 6, yours truly joined the ranks of the unemployed. Can I honestly say I am surprised by this turn of events? No. The junk shop has been running pretty “tight” lately and the owner did what he had to do: he let someone go. It is the purpose of this post to embark upon on my brave new life, get a little closure and illustrate what “skills” the junk shop has taught me. Are you listening potential employers? Here we go!
A few weeks ago someone I had not seen in a long time entered the store: Martin. He waited patiently as I was dealing with a particularly vexatious individual. Once this woman exited the store he asked me how I was doing. I replied:
Much better now. I wanted to punch that woman in the face.
To wit, my coworker commented:
That’s not very nice.
If I didn’t say it, I’d probably do it.
While definitely hyperbole (I am not a violent person) my fit of Freud stands: it is better to blow off steam with one’s mouth instead of letting it find its way to your fists. Martin understood this and suggested I create a list of ruses that junk shop customers use. I have borne witness to a number of tactics people have employed in an attempt to get merchandise for a lower price (or free). Some of them are downright hilarious. Now that I am unencumbered with employment I will attempt to share the “top ten” with commentary and some hope of catharsis.
1. The merchandise is in some way damaged/broken/defective.
This is without argument the most common. When confronted with this ruse I point out “condition” has been taken into account when I stated the price. Occasionally the exchange would end at that. Usually it didn’t. More often than not the client in question will persist. In these cases I would point out the obvious:
If it is broken, why do you want to buy it?
I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to this question. But occasionally they’d say:
I can get this at the 99 Cent Store.
And I encouraged them to do just that. Sometimes they followed my advice but more often than not they paid up and shut up.
2. (related to point #1) The article of clothing in question does not fit properly.
Only women employ this argument. And I have learned the best rebuttal is as follows:
If it doesn’t fit, why do you want to buy it?
This is quite effective, which is a shame because I always wanted to try the following out:
Yes, you do look like you need to lose some weight.
Yeah, I’m an asshole. But I do not blame some anonymous saleswoman for the the fact my waist is 25-26 inches versus 22-23.
3. Stating that the item in question is a gift for a friend.
I realize this one sounds totally crazy— but it is a lot more common than you think. Staring at the person incredulously usually works. In more persistent cases openly questioning how good the friend in question is if he/she is haggling over a gift at a second hand store works like a charm. No disrespect to the junk shop— it has some really neat stuff— but that is not really the point. Lesson learned: shaming works.
4. I do not have any money.
I am not pulling your leg. I have heard this corker more times than I care to admit. Usually from the 20-something “hipster” demographic. Here’s a real life example:
(man brings a solitary photograph up to the counter)
Me: Twenty five cents.
Man: I only have fifteen cents, will you take that?
Me: (puts face in hands, laughing)
Man: You do not like this?
Me: No, I don’t. Twenty five cents.
Result: Man’s friend ponies up a dime and he buys his photo. I heave a sigh of relief and ponder what I am going to purchase from the local liquor store after I get off work.
Another retort from yours truly:
But of course, this is the Free Store! We get stuff in and give it away to people.
Seriously folks, if you do not have money why are you shopping in the first place? I do not think this is an unreasonable question.
I cannot think of a better way of categorizing these people. They can best be illustrated by example:
A fifty-something man in a leather jacket with Carl Perkins haircut enters the store, plops down an old hardback book and a solitary dollar bill on the counter. I turn to my coworker and ask:
How much is this book, (excised)?
My coworker replies.
“Carl” then proceeds to raise a holy stink, pointing out that, among other things the spine of the book is loose.
My reply: Two dollars.
Carl continues to throw a tantrum. I am unfazed. He starts to storm out the door in a fuss.
You can put that book back where you found it like a big boy.
Carl: You can put it back!
That’s when I proceeded to toss said book into the dumpster (and so in doing breaking the spine altogether) in front of “Carl”. Problem solved.
I also realized that despite all my attempts at deprogramming the Bible has, in fact, touched my life. Solomon was really onto something with that whole baby thing. If Carl wanted that book bad enough he would have paid two dollars. Or written it himself.
Shouting: don’t do it.
Not only do I dislike shouting, but I had the misfortune of being issued a phone number at my first apartment in this fair city that was one digit off from the Bronx County Medicaid office. I have also been assigned a cell phone number which clearly belonged to someone incarcerated at Rikers Island. I cannot honestly say the calls I received from either were particularly pleasant (the callers usually accused me of “covering up” for whomever they were attempting to reach) but I have to say the latter most were by and far the most interesting! I have also been a civil servant. Which brings me to…
I do not consider myself to be “political”. I harbor a very strong interest in community affairs to be certain. Whether one is a Democrat, Republican and so forth? Absolutely not. This is probably in large part due to the fact I cannot honestly tell the difference anymore. But there is one thing that living in Greenpoint has taught me: I am most certainly not a Communist.
There is no nice (READ: “P.C.”) way to explain what I am about to tell you so I am going to grab the Bolshevik by the balls. I am not a political scientist. I am an artist, history minor, Greenpointer, malcontent and failure. And in the previous capacities (working at the junk shop) I know all too well that while the Soviet Union (and the Warsaw Pact, for that matter) might be gone, standing in line will be its enduring legacy.
I cannot tell you how many times I have quoted a price only to have the person in question (usually an elderly Polish woman) simply stand there. It’s rather creepy— but having been a civil servant (and observed how the local Post Office handles such folks) I know what to do: ignore them. The last time I did this a woman fussed with her wallet for a good two minutes. But she finally relented to pay the outrageous capitalist price of six whole U.S. dollars for the merchandise in question. She wanted to pay five. Naturally she paid with a fifty dollar bill.
And for this Vladmir Ilyich Lenin— and Joey Stalin— I take a virtual shit on your grave.
(to be continued?)