Thought I'd get ahead of the crowds at Target yesterday as the weekends are always packed, and didn't expect to spend the whole day there. Had plans to meet a friend in the late afternoon, and then do some more shopping in San Francisco.
Like a good trooper, I ventured into the Walnut Creek Target store with my list in hand. Among the many items I intended to buy were Rosh Hashonah cards for friends back east, so I went to three aisles of greeting cards, mostly Hallmark, and there was one section that consisted of half a dozen cards mostly for Bar Mitzvahs, but no Rosh Hashonah cards.
I saw an older gentleman wearing the red Target vest, and asked him "Excuse me, do you work here?" In a surly voice, he barked "what do you want?" I asked politely if Target carried holiday greeting cards to which he replied: "I have no idea about that, lady. Target gets cards from a third party supplier. How would I know that?" in a rude, hostile voice. I said sheepishly "okay, sorry, no problem."
Suddenly, a woman from the next aisle walks over to me excitedly, and says "I just overheard your whole encounter with that salesman. I've never heard anybody talk to a customer the way he spoke to you. I'm outraged." I thanked her, and agreed, saying the old me would have gone and gotten the manager, and it would have meant his job, but it wasn't worth my time.
"It's nice to have validation though," I said. "Customers need to understand that economic conditions mean that workers are doing two or three jobs. He's no longer just a salesman, but is probably also merchandising, and may not get out on time unless he finishes stocking all the shelves." "That may be true," she said, "but that doesn't justify the treatment you just got."
So, after her validation, I went on my way, and decided to buy some bottled water which, as luck would have it, was on the top shelf against the wall. There were no Target employees to ask for help, and after my previous encounter with one, you wouldn't blame me for not wanting to approach another employee, so I asked a tall customer to please get a bottle down for me.
He was very polite, reached up, and got the bottle down, and as I was putting it in my cart, it felt like I was struck in the head from behind. "Ouch," I screamed, and turned around to find a young woman, also in Target attire but with no name tag, saying "you banged into my shoulder." She was holding a black cell phone in her hand and talking into it while responding to me. "Are you alright?" she asked. I wasn't alright. She then bid farewell to whomever she was talking with, and listened to me.
I'd had two minor accidents involving my head before, and I knew that there was some kind of injury by the extent, and force of the impact. "Do you work for Target?" "Yes," she said. "I don't know if I'm alright. I was injured. Head injuries are tricky. I might not know for a few hours. We need to fill out an incident report. Take me to the manager," I said calmly, not wanting to make a scene. She was courteous, and promptly sought her supervisor.
An assistant manager came to get me at the pharmacy where I paid for my items, and said ceremoniously to the cashier "Thank you, Jerry" as if he was going out of his way helping a customer, then she directed me to her office where she said it would take 15 minutes to fill out the report. "I'll need a lot of personal information from you," she said. I told her I wanted to be assured that whatever personal information she got wouldn't be sold to direct marketing lists. I was struck by how little empathy or compassion she had.
I was obviously shaken, my pupils were dilated, I was dazed, and she let me walk out of her office carrying four bags with stuff falling out, and seemed irritated when I asked her to get me a shopping cart. At no time did she ask me if I was okay, or express concern for my well-being. At no point did she show humanity. She was going through the motions of being courteous as if she had to hold her nose the whole time.
There was no attempt to see if first aid was required, or to call paramedics. It was clear I was in pain. The assistant manager confessed that she wasn't even sure what procedure was in cases like this one. I sympathized, but wondered--doesn't Target train management what to do when there are accidents in the store, and possible injury? If not for humanitarian or customer service reasons, then to avoid legal liability?
She gave me a copy of the incident report, and the number for "customer relations." I made it home, and went to San Francisco as planned, prayed to whatever higher power there is that I'd be okay as I'd end up with nickels and dimes in a lawsuit, and did a Google search on head injuries.
I can't help but think of what that woman customer said when she came over to me to express her disdain for the treatment I received by the first Target employee. "You notice how there's no customer service anymore?" she said plaintively. What an understatement.
As one who has always been a great proponent of labor, it is difficult for me to say, or do anything that might compromise the position of a working man or woman, so let me be perfectly clear. Whatever blame is to be assigned here belongs squarely in the lap of a corporate giant that devalues its customers by not preparing its staff for how to handle potential emergencies, but instead how to maximize profit.
The treatment I got in that store generally, not just from the first employee, but from the assistant manager, and the young woman employee too busy talking on her cell phone to pay attention to the sudden moves of another person, and get out of their way, is egregious, and must not be tolerated by anyone.
Causes Jayne Stahl Supports
Free Speech, human rights, and abolition of the death penalty.