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Jonathan and the 99-cent lightbulb.

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Mar. 4th, 2008 | 03:35 pm
mood: geekygeeky
music: Going to a lecture now!

A consumerist adventure.

Blog housekeeping note: I hope I won't make you all think that I'm completely self-absorbed and not worth reading, but I'm trying a few writing exercises on this blog; my ultimate goal is to more consistently update this space, both in quantity and quality of entries. I don't think it's a problem to have a personal blog and a writing project space in the same place; I'm trying to develop the latter part, mainly through changing my tone slightly; I'm not sure if it's something you'll even notice, but I hope to make entries more interesting for my friends list as well as people who stumble upon this blog. I'm also going to make more public entries; I may split what would previously be one friends-only entry into two, so that at least some of what I post can be read by everyone and then the salacious details of my job, friends, personal life, etc. only accessible to friends.

In that vein, here's the story of my most recent trip to Target (probably not what you were expecting given that heady prologue, eh? :D) ...

On Friday morning, I went shopping for Chris' and my Leap Year Day party, in addition to a few general groceries. Target isn't so great in the grocery department overall, but there are a few highlights, so I went for them. I loaded up on soda, beer, trail mixes, and meat, then went off to get household things. Any guests who visit my house will be happy to know that I have a new blanket and pillows for their sleeping pleasure. And the final item I needed was ... a lightbulb for my kitchen. One of the four in my kitchen track lighting had burned out about two months ago and I was too lazy busy to replace it until Friday.

I eyed all the halogen bulbs closely, and held them up to the burnt one I'd brought for reference, and finally found one that looked right. It had no price, either on the box or on the corresponding length of shelf; I went to a DIY price scanner, which informed me that it was "not found." Um, okay. So I chucked it into my cart and figured the cost was probably similar to the light bulbs around it, $4-6. Fine. Good kitchen lighting is worth that.

I made it to the checkout with the insanely heavy cart, and got everything on to the conveyor belt. The cashier also had trouble with the light bulb, and had to ask a second employee to scan it with a big, fancy pricing gun (I used to wield one at Old Navy, but I can't for the life of me remember what they are called). Also didn't work. With the rest of my items already scanned and bagged, they seemed a little embarrassed about the situation; I really didn't mind much. She initially offered to charge me $1.99, but then they flagged down a manager-type person and asked for help. Manager Lady seemed to recall that this problem had occurred recently, so she in turn fetched Employee #4, who reported that there were lots of light bulbs just sitting on the shelves with no prices. Horror! Well, not so much, as I really wasn't all that troubled.

The four employees then agreed that I should only have to pay 99 cents, reflecting the several minutes that I had to wait to hear of my fate. So I did, for not much reason at all. I wonder how much this OMG The Customer Must Buy So Quickly or Else They Will Think Twice About Their Purchases mentality in big box stores affects employee satisfaction; I have to say that I would be extremely annoyed if I had to find a solution in 45 seconds (why does McDonald's get your food to you so fast? Because there are LOUD ALARMS that don't stop beeping until an outstanding order is fulfilled) but that's because I work in an office environment. Bureaucracy R Us! That, however, means that I will not be able to give you anything for 99 cents, as I would have time to look up the real price.

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