Sunday, February 20, 2005

I've been saying this since I worked at Super S Foods here in Fredericksburg. Every single frickin' day someone would come to my checkstand with an item and tell me that there was a sign that had a cheaper price. This was back in the days before scanners. So I'd lead 'em to the shelf and have them point out the sign. Every time, every frickin' time, they pointed out the sign, and I would show them that the arrows on the sign covering the item pointed up not down!

Each major holiday, the store would close early. We would put signs on the doors, at eye level, weeks in advance. One Thanksgiving, after we'd closed and I had gone to my car, someone pulled up, ran to the door and tried to come in. Since the door was locked, the lights were out, he looked over, under and on either side of the sign trying to get in!

A few years later, I was working at a Diamond Shamrock convenience store. Whenever we were going to be closed, I would tape the sign upside down on the front doors. Every frickin' customer who came through the door would say, "Hey! Did you know your sign was upside down?"

"Which sign?" I would ask.

"The one that says you're closed on Christmas Day," they would snicker.

"Good!" I would reply. "You read the sign."

When I was living in Austin, I dated a gal who worked at a convenience store, even today she is known as "The Bitch in Austin, Do I Sound Bitter?". I would visit her each morning before going to work and every frickin' morning some yahoo would come in and buy $5 of gas and try to pay with a $100 bill. She'd tell 'em they don't accept big bills. The guy (most of the time) would ask how he was supposed to know that. She would lead them outside, point to the front door where there was a sign that read, "No bills large than $20 will be accepted."

As a result of this, I formulated the "Customers are Stupid" theory.

Hey! I count myself in this theory.

Once I went shopping at my local HEB. I filled my cart, found a short line, and emptied the cart onto the conveyer belt. The clerk said, "Sir?" and pointed to the sign above his register that said "Express Lane." Whoops.

I thought of this as my personal theory until I read Scott Adams' book The Dilbert Principle which described the same theory. He called these folks in-"duh"-viduals. I love that description.

This point was brought home to me yesterday after the Iwo Jima Reenactment out at Doss.

I had volunteered to help at the reenactment so I could get in free. I wound up parking cars. The customers would drive from Fredericksburg on a two lane US highway, turn onto a two lane state Farm to Market road, then turn onto a one lane county road, and then turn onto a dirt road to the reenactment site. At one point, the line of cars was six miles long! I spent four hours getting all those cars into two parking areas.

In the main lot, we had the cars back up bumper to bumper on the anti-erosion berms in the field. There was a lane between each row about 50 feet wide. In the second lot, we had the cars park front bumper to back bumper with about the same distance between.

After the reenactment, everyone raced to their cars.

We had brought those cars in single file, mind you. Once the show was over, each lane between parked cars filled up with three lanes of cars trying to get into the line leaving the place.

Naturally, this created a serious logjam, and it took a while to clear the lots. I tried to help, allowing one car to enter from a row onto the road leading out. A Texas Parks and Wildlife officer, however, had other plans. He was going to empty the parking lot a row at a time, starting with the last row to be filled.

I spent an hour standing at the side of the road, explaing to people that I was just a volunteer, not the guy directing traffic. I had a woman in her late 30s complain that she'd had an easier time getting out of rock concerts. A woman in her 60s rolled down her window and tell me we should have radios to make traffic direction easier. One old fuck in a van kept trying to nose into the line, yelling, "I've been waiting 45 minutes!" I yelled back, pointing at a van up the raod, "he's been waiting an hour!"

Finally, I gave up. I went back to my car, opened the cooler with the beer and summer sausage in it, and let the traffic work itself out.

On a more humorous note, one of the volunteers saw me sitting there eating the sausage, laughed, and asked, "You got beer?"

When I handed him a can of beer, he shook his head and said, "Damn! I was just joking."

My cousin, who had volunteered with me, replied, "This ain't our first rodeo!"

The drizzling rain that had broken for the reenactment resumed and we sat there and drank beer and talked. At about 6 pm, the lots had cleared, and we hightailed it out of there.

But, I'm still left wondering why people who had spent two hours waiting to get into the event expected to get out in less time. Even the old fuck, who someone had let into the line, had to wait another hour to get out of the lot.


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