Purchasing power petering out
Big or small, I’m having difficulty buying things these days. A few years ago I stopped at a Subaru dealership up north to look at a used Forester with a stick shift because Canada didn’t have a new one with that feature.
The kid in sales was cool, well-dressed and having a fight with his girlfriend on the phone. We had to drive to a nearby muddy, temporary parking lot. The old Forester was navy blue and very dirty. As I opened the passenger door, it caught on the front fender.
“Not a problem,” said the kid. He assured me that it was just a minor accident and the new door hadn’t been lubricated or adjusted yet. He’d take care of it right away.
So I get into the car which has mud on the floor mats and smells of cigarette smoke. I turn the ignition and nothing happens. Thinking I must be doing it wrong, I get out, he gets in and ... the battery is dead. The kid phones back to the shop to have somebody come over with a battery charger and he looks as me and says: “So you wanna buy it?”
Normally I’d have been shocked but in my previous life I was a marketing rep for 3M Company. I know the Cardinal Rule of sales – never be afraid to ask for the order. Rule #2 – never look away once you’ve asked for the order, it’s a sign of weakness.
“I can drop the price a bit. You wanna buy it?” he says. I’m trying very hard not to laugh because I know what it’s like to live on sales commissions so I said to him, I really did: “Well, if the brakes fail and the steering wheel comes off in my hands, then yeah, you got yourself a deal.”
Yesterday I drove into Canadian Tire to buy one of those big square flashlight batteries. The sales guy tells me that Eveready has a special – flashlight and battery for the same price as the battery I need. I despise disposable materialism, I buy just the battery. I get it home and it doesn’t work. I return to Canadian Tire to switch the newly purchased battery for the Eveready special.
Back home the new flashlight and battery doesn’t work either. After unscrewing the lid, I see there’s no damn bulb in the flashlight. I call the store. “Don’t tell me the Eveready Special includes the battery but not the bulb!”
The clerk goes to the display and reports back to me that none of them has bulbs! Now we got a storewide recall on our hands. She puts me on hold, for her manager. As I explain my predicament for the second time, I am trying to force the old bulb from my original flashlight into the new one. But there’s no hole in the new flashlight for the old bulb which, may or may not be dead. The manager is also puzzled by flashlights without bulbs and he puts me on to a woman who has no time for this nonsense.
“Did you press the ‘on’ button on your flashlight when you got it home?” Of course not. No bulb, why would I?
“Of course, I turned it on! What kind of idiot do you ...?”
“Turn it on. Right now.”
Parts, old and new are flying all over my desk as I reassemble the new flashlight, press the button and ... yeah, that’s a pretty strong beam Eveready’s got going there.
“Okay, it’s on, but there must have been something wrong with the ...”
“L-E-D,” she says. “It’s an LED flashlight. No bulb necessary.”
No matter how foolish I feel, I always have the ability to come back with a very witty retort.
“Oh,” I said. “LED, huh?”
“No problem, Hon. Have a nice day.”
Hon? She probably thinks I’m 83-years-old, incapable of operating a flashlight but cute for my age. And I don’t care what she says, Eveready should damn well put an LED “No Battery Required” warning on their flashlights ... so as not to confuse children.
For comments and ideas, or a copy of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to www.williamthomas.ca