Shopping 101

It’s time for a lesson in shopping etiquette.  And so, without further ado, I am hereby launching the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers.  Welcome.  Not that I suspect you are a problem customer but you might know someone who is, and if you do, I would be much obliged if you could refer them to this blog.

Not wanting to overwhelm the Stupid Sally’s out there, we’re going begin Lesson #1 with a simple question.  When you haul your cart of ghettofabulous baby shower décor up to Reggie #1, and the nice cashier says, “May I have your zip code, please?” how many digits should your response contain?

A)     Two

B)      Ten

C)      “ANTHONY, I swear to God, if you don’t put back that candy RIGHT NOW…”

D)     Five

Hint: notice I said “how many digits?”  This means your answer should comprise numbers and numbers only.  We’ll talk about alternative responses later but for now, just try to answer the question as best you can.

Ready?  (Eyes on your own paper, Sally!)

The correct answer is D.  When asked “May I have your zip code, please?” your response should comprise five digits.

Although many customers find it taxing to recite five whole numbers, I would discourage Institute students from slipping into the So’ Philly habit of dropping the first three digits.  Now we all know that zip codes beginning with “191…” are the envy of east coast.  They imply cheese stakes and brotherly love, not to mention pride in not living across the river in Camden, New Jersey.  If, however, you come up to Reggie #1 and spit back a two-digit response (thereby falling into the trap of Answer A), you’re going to run into trouble. 

You might assume that the Sales Associate knows you’re a “191” kind of girl but here’s the thing: the cashier at Reggie #1 isn’t from Philadelphia originally.  If you say “07” she thinks those two digits are the beginning of a central Jersey zip code, not the end of a rather enviable Center City address.  Similarly, if you say “21” she thinks you’re going to complete the numeric series with a Baltimore zip.  It’s not her fault that the transaction takes twice as long because she’s waiting for you to supply the remaining mystery numbers. 

“No!” you interrupt, shaking your head at the evident stupidity of the Sales Associate.  “It’s One-nine-one-o-seven.”   

Meanwhile, our Sales Associate is shaking her head at you.  She is not a mind reader, after all.  If she had psychic abilities, she would not be working at The Shop.  She would have her own TV show.  There would be no such thing as the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers, so please, verbalize the “191…” portion of your zip code. 

And just in case you’re still wondering, Answer B is incorrect as well.  Ten digits would be your phone number, not your zip.  (If you confuse the two on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon, however, I will laugh with and not at you.  Judging by a fellow Front End Specialist’s tendency to lock the keys in the cash drawer on Friday afternoons, I know that brain cells are in short supply during these times.  Tuesdays through Thursdays though—and especially Saturday afternoons— you’re on your own.  Prepare for scornful eye rolling the moment you’ve turned your back). 

And so, to conclude today’s lesson— shopping can be exhausting, especially when little Anthony is palming Pez dispensers by the dozen, but please remember: when asked for your zip code, the correct response should be a number.  Five numbers, to be exact.  No more, no less.

(To make sure you don’t fall behind in the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers, subscribe to “Before I Quit My Day Job” for email alerts.  You don’t want to get stuck in the back of the class with Stupid Sally!)

2 Responses to “Shopping 101”

  1. Richard Evens

    Over four years in a reference library, my comment to my colleague was that if I was psychic I would have a column in the Daily Mirrror called “Psychic Dick”. Best question in the library. “Do you have any maps of Leeds from the time of the dinosaurs.” Response from a friend of mine “Is that from the Mezozoic or Palezoic era”.

    Glad that all is going well in retail land.


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