Maggie Rants [and Raves]

Mood Swing

by Maggie Franklin | May 10, 2010

My day started off fair enough. I'm writing this on Wednesday, which is my day off. Well, "off" is subjective. Generally speaking I don't take appointments on Wednesdays. I spend the day trying to catch up with banking, ordering, cleaning, and bookkeeping. It's anything but a day off, but try to explain that to my clients who all seem to think that working three 12-hour days and one eight-hour day each week with one day dedicated entirely to keeping up with the business end of running a business is sheer luxury. Well. I'm glad I'm managing to pull it off smoothly enough to perpetuate the illusion that self-employment is a "dream," American or otherwise.

Nevertheless, today looks to require much time in the salon. I have to figure out how QuickBooks works, starting with installing it on the computer. And I want to see if FedEx and UPS actually followed my instructions to leave my deliveries with the neighbor.

Thankfully, they did. And that means that I am now the proud owner of several pieces of jewelry for retail purposes. It took me two hours just to unpack it all. Now I have to figure out what I paid for each piece and how much to mark up each piece and, oh yeah, I'll need some tags. OK, guess I'll head out to the nearest office supply store to see if I can find some.

There used to be a local independent stationery store located just downstairs and next door to my salon. Togni Branch Stationers existed at that location for 86 years when the building was sold and the owner decided to retire. Their liquidation sale was a solemn occasion for the entire town.

I wish they were there now. Not only were they just next door, but they always had all those little doodads and watchamacallits that small businesses need in a pinch. But I had to make the trip across town to Office Depot. Hurray for Progress.

Somewhere along the way I discovered that my mood had changed considerably. I'd gone from a smile and a bounce in my step to an impatient scowl. Which was not helped by not being able to find what I was looking for when I reached my destination, and really became an issue when I passed the digital camera display. First, one of the anti-theft/power supply units was making the most obnoxious high-pitched beeping noise. As I was attempting to discover which one was the culprit, I noticed the little Nikon that was on sale. Which also happened to be the source of the offending beeping. All at the same time that the oh-so-not-helpful sales associate approached to ask if he could help.

I asked why the unit was making such an annoying noise. He replied that someone had pulled too hard on the cord and damaged the unit. Ummm, so are you planning on disabling that? Are you seriously going to let it continue to make that noise?

Apparently that was, indeed, his plan. He seemed utterly dumbfounded that I found it annoying and was completely apathetic toward my suggestion that the noise might keep people from wanting to buy a camera.

Then he explained that the damaged power supply unit on that particular camera meant that I could not power up the camera. So I asked how I was supposed to test it out if I couldn't power it up.

Again, cluelessness.

Then he actually uttered the words, "Well, what do you need to test?"

This is the point where I had to bite my lip, breathe deeply, and seriously consider just how grumpy my mood had turned. Turns out — enough. So I — and I stress the point that I was calm and actually quite sweet about this — stated that this attitude seemed to be a prevalent one in the digital camera sales genre that I have personally encountered on several occasions that always leaves me irritated and utterly astounded at the lack of understanding of customer needs. Do these stores that sell digital cameras not understand why they have these displays? If I can't actually turn on the cameras and test the controls and settings, what am I supposed to do with the displays? Decide which one is prettiest?

He just could not grasp why I would need to test a camera before I purchased it. He offered that the Kodak was working fine and said that it was "almost exactly the same" as the Nikon that wasn't.

I think I may have contorted my face into a shape previously considered unattainable by the human musculoskeletal system. Then, with every ounce of patience I could scrape together from my increasing grumpiness, I smiled sweetly at him and told him, "Thank you. I have better things to do with my day than educate you about business." And walked away.

I did manage to find the tags I was looking for, so I purchased them and drove back to the salon.

It's a warm, breezy day. Just the sort of day that makes me wonder why I don't own a convertible, so the windows were wide open on my way back downtown as I wondered how it was that the City managed to just open the new bridge over the freeway in time for that street to be closed for two blocks while demolition finally begins on a building that has been on the chopping block for months. Who's responsible for that timing? Wouldn't it have made so much more sense to demolish the building before that bridge opened and made that a through street?

And that's when the paper went out the window. Just — *flutter*flutter*poof!* — there went the receipt for my price tags. I swear! I had the bag all rolled up and stuffed halfway under my purse on the seat next to me in order to prevent just this from happening. Yet there it went, away on an air current, far far away from any chance of ever being able to be deducted from my taxes.

And it was just such a metaphor for how my day was going — how could I do anything but break down in hysterical laughter?

So the moral of my story is — ummm — stories don't always have morals. But in this case, don't run your business like you're selling digital cameras. And don't unpack your retail items until you've figured out which piece is which so you know what to put on the price tag. And be glad price tags only cost four bucks.

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