Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive:
Calling Around. .
There used to be a slogan: "Let Your Fingers Do The Walking". It was to promote the Yellow Pages to find products or services. I am not one to walk with my fingers. I usually do my shopping in person. It embarrasses me to telephone a store. Maybe there is some psychological remnant buried deep in my subconscious that does not like me to admit that I need something. Maybe I feel it is a rude imposition on the store employees. Maybe I feel that listening to someone's disinterested description of a product over the phone is a poor second to actually judging it myself. Anyway, I would rather undergo a root canal without anesthesia than phone a store to ask about their products.
But for my wife, 'calling around' is second nature.
Last week, I was putting on my jacket while searching for the car keys. "Where are you going?", my wife asked.
"I am going to check out a few hardware stores. I need a new tire for the wheelbarrow."
"Don't be ridiculous. Don't waste gasoline driving from store to store. Just call them!"
"It can't be just any tire", I stammered, "It has to be a twelve inch tire that fits a five-eights axle and has a three inch hub."
My wife gave a knowing nod, "Ok, I 'll call around for you."
"Well, just don't tell them who you are."
"Oh for heaven's sake! It's not a crime to call a store!"
As I died a million deaths in the background, she worked her way through store after store. "Yes, can you tell me if you have replacement tires for wheelbarrows? . . . Yes, I'll hold.. . . No, I don't think you would carry that in 'Automotive'. I think the tire I am looking for would be classified as - oh - maybe 'Lawn and Garden'. . . . Thank you, I can hold. . . Yes, can you tell me if you have replacement tires for wheelbarrows? . . ."
I just know they are passing the call around the store. I don't think any sales clerk worth his orange apron wants to help anyone on the phone. They barely want to help you when you are standing directly in front of them. After all, their marketing strategy depends upon customers entering the store. They put the baubles in the front and the loss-leaders in the back so a customer has to walk past temptation after temptation on his way to the check-out aisle - which is littered with more last-minute impulse items for sale. A telephone shopper bypasses all that marketing. From the store's point of view, there is very little profit motive to help someone shopping on the phone.
I listening to my wife call store after store, being put on hold again and again, repeating her query to each new sales clerk who answered. In the end, I think I could have located a wheelbarrow tire faster and easier by driving from store to store. Easier on my nerves, anyway.
There is one exception to this rule. Auto Parts Stores. I WILL telephone an Auto Parts Store before I go there in person. I will even tell them who I am! Why? First, there always seems to be a line. Then, there is always at least one guy who doesn't have a clue what he needs or how to fix his car so he is monopolizing one of the Parts Guys asking stupid question after stupid question. "Hey, Buddy", I think to myself, "Buy the Haynes Manual or hire a mechanic but leave that Parts Guy alone so I can get my brake pads and get out of here!"
After an eternity, I finally get my turn to talk to a Parts Guy. What always happens? The phone rings and MY Parts Guy answers. "Auto Parts Store . . . Yah . . . Howyadoen? . . . OK . . . Make? . . . Model? . . . Year? . . ." My Parts Guy is busy punching a dirty plastic-covered keyboard as he cradles the phone on his shoulder, '"OK . . . waddaya need? . . . yah, we got two of 'm . . . OK . . . I'll put one in Will-Call . . ."
That is why I will telephone an Auto Parts Store before I go there in person. I learned about 'Will-Call'! Now, I am the person on the other end of the telephone line who is interrupting YOUR Parts Guy getting my parts put into Will-Call while YOU wait and wait.
I happened to be shopping near the house-phone in the Hardware Aisle when the PA blared : "Will a Sales Associate from Hardware please pick up the phone? Telephone assistance needed in Hardware".
A Hardware Guy picked up the phone. " . . .Yes, we have inch-and-a-quarter drywall screws. . . We sell them in blister packs, in one pound boxes, five pound boxes and in bulk. . . . I really don't know how many screws are in a pound. If I had to guess, I would say a hundred . . . I don't know why they don't count them. They are sold by weight . . . Sorry, that is just the way they come. . . I am really sorry . . . bye"
As the Hardware Guy hung up the telephone, he shook his head and muttered some words I couldn't hear. Motioning toward the telephone, he looked at me and said, "If that jerk really wants to know how many screws are in a pound, he should get off his butt, come down here, BUY a box and count them!"
I cautiously replied, "By any chance, did you take a call about wheelbarrow tires a few days ago?"
The Hardware Guy thought for a moment, "No. Wheelbarrow tires are over in 'Lawn and Garden'. "
"That's a relief."