Thursday, December 09, 2004

Stupid questions from stupid people..

Why do people ask such dumb questions in a retail environment? Dumb questions in a retail store are as frequent as meth-lab explosions in Mendocino. I run the wine department in a large wine/beer/liquor/specialty food store. I'm not going to subject you to wine-specific questions as that is not fair, and I may come across as a wine-asshole. I get a lot of stupid wine-specific questions, but it is my duty to educate people about wine. That's understandable. Here are some of my favorite questions, statements and scenarios...

"Do you work here?" - "No. I just like to wear the store uniform and the apron with the company logo on it while I use their computer to play Tetris."

I love it when people walk past the BEER department and walk up to me in the WINE department and ask me for BEER assistance. I'm always polite and lead them to the BEER department and help them as much as I can. I usually turn them over to the BEER manager, who is in the BEER department.

I love getting paged to the BEER DEPARTMENT for WINE ASSISTANCE.

I love getting paged to the DELI for WINE ASSISTANCE.

"Do you drink wine?"

"Do you like wine?"

"Have you tried any of these wines?"

"Do you carry this wine that I bought at the winery? They said it's only sold at the winery. Do you have it? Why not?"

"None of these wines are any good. My grandpa makes the world's best wine in his garage."

Me - "No sir. White zinfandel in a box doesn't age well."
Him- "That's ridiculous! You obviously don't know anything about wine. I'm a wine expert and I KNOW that all wine gets better with age. I have white zin (5L box) at home from four years ago and it's delicious! How do they let you work here if you don't know that?"

"Do you know anything about wine?"
"Yes ma'am. I run the wine department here. I've been doing this for over 5 years plus an additional 7 years in the restaurant business. I own over 40 wine books. I've tasted 1000's of wines and have judged and acted as table-captain at wine competitions. I've taught about wine at the collegiate level to culinary students and I've passed the first of three levels offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers. I've done a little writing on the subject and acted as a wine consultant on numerous occasions. I was also one of eight national winners to win a wine-trip to Australia, sponsored by the Australian Wine Bureau, based on my knowledge of Australian wine. Yes, I know about wine."
"I don't think I'll take your recommendation. I'd rather buy this bottle with the pretty label even though you told me it was rot-gut. I don't believe you. I know for a fact that all the good wines have pretty labels. The ones with boring labels aren't any good. You don't know anything about wine."
"Yes, ma'am."

"Wine's good after it's been opened for three weeks, right?"

"I know that chardonnay pairs with steak!"

"I know that cabernet sauvignon is the best wine with sole!"

"Do you sell Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw)? I heard about it on 20/20 It's supposed to be the best wine in the world."
"No, Ma'am. Charles Shaw is sold only at Trader Joe's. It's their exclusive item. They have sole rights to it. Charles Shaw was a real winemaker, then he sold the name to Bronco (Franzia) Corporation. There is a wine glut in California and a lot of excess juice. Charles Shaw is made from excess juice from the Central Valley (home of crappy box wine). It's really not that good. In fact, it sucks! In fact, I'd rather drink monkey bile. All of the articles and the 20/20 and 60 Minutes pieces mentioned that it's only sold at Trader Joe's. We can't get it. We couldn't order it if we tried. You have to go to Trader Joe's, ma'am."
"Do you sell it?"
"Why not?"
"It's only sold at Trader Joe's."
"Trader Joe's is a large national chain. Charles Shaw is essentially their store brand."
"Can you order some for me?"
"No, ma'am."
"Why not?"
"We're not allowed to order/sell it. I have a much better wine at the same price or a dollar more. Would you like to try that?"
"No! USA Today didn't write about. They said Charles Shaw is the best wine made."
"Okay, you enjoy the pretty pie-charts, small words, and large font. Have a nice day."
She walks away to the next employee and asks, "Do you sell Two Buck Chuck?"

The next person asks, "Do you sell Two Buck Chuck? It's really good."

Some people just flock to me because I must be helpful or have an honest face. I've been helping some people for years and they don't even buy wine. They always come to me for food/beer/liquor assistance. Although I'm pretty well rounded and I can answer lots of questions, each department has a specialist. I always refer them to the appropriate expert, seven times in a row. Essentially, the expert helps them every time, but the customer never seems to remember that. They always come to me because they say I helped them last time. Yes, I referred them to the person that could answer their question. The same person that's helped them the last seven times.

This one is not a gripe...
Why do old ladies love me so much? Is it because I actually offer them help? A lot of people like to ignore older customers. They're so grateful for the help and then proceed to tell me their life stories. Sweet, but one of the reasons people often avoid helping the elderly. Guess I'm just a nice guy. A lot of people underestimate the elderly. I love the elderly customer that actually knows A LOT about wine. I'm always curious about their past. Bon-vivants, like myself, but from another generation.

"Do you sell beer?"
"You just walked past the state's largest beer selection when you walked in."

More later...
Until the next bottle...


Blogger Kathleen said...

Does this mean I can't ask you food, chocolate and beer questions anymore???????

10:26 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

That's different. You're not stupid. You can ask me anything you like.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Mademoiselle L. said...

Haha... well said, you're hilarious! This post made me laugh outloud. I work retail as well, and I know what it's like to get dumb questions. You almost have to lower your IQ on the job. Thanks for the laugh!

11:26 AM  

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