Nick and I are headed to Montreal on Wednesday, and I wanted to buy some audio books for the ride. When we drove to Buffalo in January, we listened to David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty Someday. Sedaris' hilarious narrations made the usually monotonous 7.5 hour trek down the 90 a lot more pleasant. After picking up a Chacarero to take back to the office today, I popped into the Borders on School Street and headed over to the audio book section. Romance novels lined the shelves where the audio books had been in December, so I looked around for a Borders associate.
After a quick scan, I saw a man standing by himself behind the information desk. His head was buried in a thick 3 ring binder and when I first said, "Excuse me..." to get his attention, he didn't flinch. I get lost in my own thoughts a lot and just figured that this man was as well. It didn't occur to me that he was purposely not responding. So I spoke up, but didn't want to startle him, "Oh, hello. Excuse me..." After a pause, he looked up, met my gaze and coolly stated: "I know it doesn't look like I'm busy, but I am."
I'm often surprised by how people in customer service roles aren't especially skilled at working with the public. Here was a man standing behind a brightly lit and cheerfully labeled information desk, yet completely unwilling to indulge my request for information. He reminded me of a librarian from my town that used to run the youth summer reading programs, and as far as us kids could tell, hated children.
When met with unnecessary rudeness, my reaction is usually to become overwhelmingly polite. I smiled and said, "I'm sorry, but I just wanted to know where the audio books are?" He begrudgingly told me that they were upstairs near the DVDs, and I became lost in thought replaying the conversation in my head while I rode the escalator to the 2nd floor. I realized too late that I was actually mouthing the words "Go f- yourself" and smiling all the while imagining the associate's reaction, when I caught 2 teenage boys laughing and pointing at me. Taking a cue from the Borders associate, I choose not to respond.