I’d tell you the name of the store, but the company’s social media policy is quite strict, and since this column will be posted in the social media, I am prohibited from naming it. It is a store that sells products related to the home is all I can ethically reveal.
(DISCLAIMER: I must here and now tell you that I do not represent myself as any kind of expert related to home improvement or repairs. I do not speak as an agent of the company that owns the store in which I work, and any opinions I offer today or any day here or anywhere, including church, are strictly my own, not those of the company for which I work.)
Who among us doesn’t like to be helpful to other people and to be appreciated? That’s why I like to help customers. They’re grateful when I help them find what they want or need, and they express appreciation. As a daily newspaper reporter by night, generally I get griped at and about, so I appreciate my daytime retail job immensely.
Here’s a poem I wrote about recently helping one of my customers:
WHEN THE LIGHT BULB GOES OUT, WE’LL HELP
It was right after lunch at the big-box store where I work,
and because helping customers is something I never shirk,
I walked up to the woman who looked like a lost little lamb,
and I said to her, politely. “What can I help you find today, ma’am?”
She was in the lighting department and she held broken bulbs in a bag,
She appeared confused, her tired shoulders seemed to sag,
I didn’t know if she was from the North or from Dixie,
but her hair was cut in a style you could call pixie.
I spoke to her quietly, gently, because she was older than me,
while she replied in a voice that was soft and lilting as could be,
“I need some ceiling fan lightbulbs, to be exact, two,
“One that is a teardrop shape, and another that is blue.”
“Well, let’s go see if we can find what you need,” I encouragingly said,
and she pushed her cart behind me, as to the bulb aisle I led,
where I quickly found the bulbs with the shape of a tear.
“But, ma’am,” I said. “Bulbs that are blue, we don’t have, I fear.”
Then I saw Charles, the associate in lighting and electrical sales,
who knows a whole lot; with information and help he never fails.
“Charles,” I said, “this lady needs these two broken bulbs to replace.”
Then I said thanks and good-bye to her and left with a smile on my face.
While disposing of trash in the back of the store, later in the day,
I saw Charles walk past, “Hey, ole buddy, what do you say?”
“Were you able to help that woman who I referred to you?
“Did you find her a ceiling fan bulb that was the color blue?”
“No, R.D.,” said Charles. “We don’t have blue bulbs for lights on a ceiling fan.
“By the way, that customer you kept calling a woman was really a man.”
I was dumb-founded, slack-jawed and could not think of what to say.
“Are you sure, Charles,” I said. “Absolutely,” he said, and then walked away.
So, men, whenever to a home improvement store you go,
I want you to know I mean to help you as you spend your hard-earned dough.
But, please, roughen up your voice and don’t cut your hair like a dame.
So I won’t call you ma’am. That will save me from much shame.
I really feel badly about confusing that gentleman for a lady. I’ll be honest with you: With the number of people we see in that store every day and with the way styles of clothing and hair are today, I have seen a number of people who I wasn’t quite sure what gender they represented. In those cases, I was careful not to call them either “Sir” or “Ma’am.” I just acted respectfully and used generic terms.
But in this case, I was fooled. And I feel right foolish.
I am sorry, sir.