A while ago I said that one of the things I was looking forward to with the coming recession was the return of customer service.  Having worked in customer service of one form or another since I was fifteen, I may be more sensitive to shabby treatment than most, but also, I try to be polite and courteous to everyone always, and really take it personally when people don’t treat me that way as well.

In that regard, this recession is working out quite nicely.

For example, Jewish Friend and I went to the mall, and while we were in Banana Republic, Terrance the sales associate was falling all over himself to help us out.  He managed to pull this off in a sincere and non-overbearing way that made us both feel like he meant it when he said “I’m Terrance, if there’s anything you need, just ask.”  When Jewish Friend tried on a dress and wanted to ask me what I thought of it, Terrance came looking for me.  When she thought that maybe the dress would look better with a belt, Terrance brought her two of them, ascertained her size, then went to get the correct one.  Jewish Friend didn’t buy a belt, and the dress she found only cost $11 (what a coup!), but Terrance treated us like we were shopping with Richard Gere.

Prior to that, we went to Dunkin’ Donuts so I could fortify myself with an iced coffee.  I have never had a bad experience at a Dunkin’ Donuts, I can honestly say that.  Sometimes the person who helps me is all business, but he or she is always courteous and says thank you.  Most of the time, the service is downright delightful with people calling me sweetie, telling me to have a good day, or complimenting my purse.  On this day, I got my medium iced coffee regular, which normally retails for $2.43.  Stephanie, the shift supervisor told me $1.07, and it wasn’t until I had given her my credit card that I realized what she said.

“Did you say $1.07?” I asked.

“Yeah, you didn’t have a coupon, but I gave you the deal anyway.”  Then she looked around to see if they had anymore coupons that she could give me.

Sadly, they did not, but I totally wanted to hug her for looking.

I’ve also noticed the downside to increased customer service, and that is the hyper-vigilance of some.  I had to go to Staples a few weeks ago to make color copies for Sassy Redhead.  I don’t normally run errands for Sassy, but this was in an “I’m her intern” capacity, so I did it uncomplainingly.  At the copy counter were a youngish dude, and a woman wearing a slightly more dignified polo shirt– clearly the store manager.  They were both polite, but when she started ringing up my sale, she asked if I had one of their store cards.  I admitted that I didn’t.

“Well, have you ever been here before?”

After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that I had never been to Staples in my life.  I’d been to Office Depot (?) maybe Office Max– seriously, they all look the same, but never Staples.

“Well, we have a full copy center, and a full range of office supplies including furniture.” she told me and seemed a bit offended that I didn’t know all of this.

I just shrugged.  I felt like I should apologize, or give her some explanation, but the truth is, I don’t have a tremendous need for office supplies.  I really love Sharpies and Post-its, but I can grab those when I’m at Target.  The one time I sought out an office supply store prior to this, was because I was taking a practical writing course, and the professor assured us that our grades would be much improved if the resume assignment was actually on resume paper– I believe his exact words were “I like a nice off-white/cream, not too dark”.  So I bought some of that.

That was eight years ago– so my need to go to office supply stores is pretty much a non-need.

Of course I didn’t want to tell her all this because A) It’s none of her damn business and B) it’s a bit rude to roll into someone’s place of livelihood and shit all over it.

She pretty much forced me to get a card–“it’s free, all you have to do is print your name,” and I’ve actually been back to Staples twice more since then, which is both weird and a little alarming.  I haven’t gotten any money back though, but I’m sure when I do, I’ll be forever grateful to that woman.