Yesterday I tried to buy Porter some razor blades. It may be the biggest shopping season of the year, but some people are making it awfully difficult to spend my money.

It was bad enough last week when it took just short of a passport and my firstborn child to buy a small package of Sudafed. There was no extended paperwork nor photo ID requirement to buy razor blades, but the process was actually much more annoying.

I was at our local Albertsons grocery store and quickly found the brand of blades Porter had requested. But instead of slipping easily off the rack and into may cart, the package was stopped by a rude, red button that said, "See Sales Associate." Right. If there was one thing I couldn't see, it was a sales associate. Anywhere.

After standing in line at the pharmacy, I found a lady willing to page someone to help me. Back at Aisle 14, I waited. And waited. And investigated all the varieties of Curel hand lotion and several other products available in that aisle. Good ploy, perhaps, to get me to browse the shelves, but I was getting annoyed. So back to the pharmacy I went, not patient to stand in line this time, going right up to the counter and asking for a repeat page.

The page was duly repeated, but so was my experience. By this time Janet had returned from doing all the rest of the shopping, so she waited in Aisle 14 while I went to the service desk. No one there could help me, they said cheerfully, as only the store manager is entrusted with a key. (Maybe they should keep the razor blades in the safe.) I asked if I should just tell my husband to grow a beard. They paged the manager, and I retreated once more to what was becoming my least favorite aisle of the store. Janet and I had a nice chat. Alone.

Since it had now been about 20 minutes since I had begun my quest for the Elusive and Apparently Dangerous Razor Blades, I applied the three-strikes-and-you're-out rule. While Janet proceeded to the checkout line, I stopped one more time at the service desk to let them know I was giving up, and to ask for a complaint form. Thus spurred into action, the lady behind the desk rushed out and flagged down another employee. I don't know who he was, but he wasn't the manager, and had just come in from the loading dock. Whatever—he was my hero. With profuse apologies, he walked with me to Aisle 14, reached up to the display, and with a neat flick of his box cutter, liberated the package of razor blades. "They don't trust us with the key," he explained, "so we have to do this frequently."

I love a person who can quickly assess a problem and as quickly solve it, even if—or maybe especially if—the solution is a bit unorthodox. Whoever he was, he should go far, having shown more concern over the potential loss of a customer—and a $20 sale—than anyone else in the store, including the manager.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 at 10:14 am | Edit
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