Monday, May 8, 2017

In the Twilight Zone

It seems that I have been teleported into another world, because the one I've been in recently is not the world I know.  Things are changing in my community, and I wouldn't say it is for the better.  First off, I wait until May to shop for items I've needed all winter because if I do my shopping before then, I have to contend with excessive traffic, crowds, and competition to grab what I need off shelves.  Sometimes I literally have people take items out of my hands.  I can't deal with all the rudeness, so I just wait for the snowbirds to leave, and then I shop at my leisure.

However, so far the shelves and racks in every store I have visited have been just shy of being empty.  I know these stores are not under-stocked because everything has been bought out.  Most of the snowbirds have flown back home.  That means that the managers of these stores just simply are not bothering to restock their shelves since the population has been cut down to a fraction of what it was before.  That's not fair to those of us who live here year round.  We still need supplies.  It's as if the store managers are saying that we don't count.  They don't want local business.

I recently had to special order Kombucha tea from my local grocery store because I was sick of going there every weekend to find their cooler empty.  My husband even ordered a kit so that we can make our own.  The supermarkets have let us down one too many times.  Everything else I haven't been able to find in local stores I ended up ordering online.  Of course, the stores will offer to order for me, but then I've got to pick it up at their store, and why do that when I can just order it myself and have it delivered to my doorstep?

Then there are the businesses that provide services, as opposed to products.  When I was younger and I needed a haircut, I simply called the salon between Monday and Saturday during business hours and a receptionist picked up and set up my appointment for me.  Well, apparently, in today's world, no one can afford a receptionist, so they just let every call go to voicemail, and then they return customer calls at their convenience to set up appointments.  I, for one, am not willing to play telephone tag.  I call people when I can, and if they don't pick up, I hang up because I don't want them calling at a time that is inconvenient for me like when I'm riding a horse or feeding the animals or giving out medications or driving a car or trying to eat a meal without being interrupted.

This morning I attempted to set up several appointments before going for a trail ride.  First I called the vet and no one picked up.  My call was routed to voicemail, so I hung up.  Then I called my hair stylist and got a recorded message saying that they are only open part-time over the summer, and that they relocated to the city.  Ummmm, the only reason why I was going to that particular salon was because it was nearby.  I don't like to waste a huge chunk of my day driving long distances, so I crossed them off my list of service providers I'm willing to use.

I searched for another local salon I kind of liked, and found that it went out of business.  In its place, however, is a new salon with better reviews.  I called the number repeatedly throughout the day, and got routed to voicemail every time.  Their message claimed that if they don't pick up, it's because they are on another line or helping another customer and will get right back to me.  The fact that no one picked up any of the times that I called made me suspicious that they either do not have a receptionist or she is out sick today.  I do not like going to salons where my stylist has to keep abandoning me to answer the phone.  I'm paying for an hour or more of that stylist's time during my appointment and I don't want to have to listen to her chat with other customers on the phone on my dime.  That's like having a riding instructor who talks on the phone during your hour lesson.

Then I called a nail salon to set up an appointment for a much overdue pedicure, and got a message that they are closed on Mondays.  This is another place that never picks up their phone.  However, there aren't many good choices in my area for that kind of service, so I may have to bite the bullet and leave a message and play telephone tag with them.  I just hate it when it takes longer to set up an appointment because of all the phone calls than it does to actually do the appointment.

Anyway, I am curious how things are in other parts of the world.  Do the rest of you have to leave a message and wait for a call back in order to set up an appointment?  Or can you rely on someone to pick up the line at your convenience?  Also, can you generally find what you need in your local stores or do you have to do all your shopping online?


Stephanie Ford said...

I feel pretty lucky here in southern Indiana. I rarely have to leave a message to set up an appointment. However, I have had to email/text/IM someone my available times to set up an appointment, then they will contact me to confirm an appointment, which was fine by me. The only time stores are out of things, besides specialty items, is right before a snow fall. Here where I live is about 30 minutes from a major college town (go IU!), so it's crazy near the campus but there are multiple stores here and have no need to venture farther. There are 2 shopping centers within a 3 minute drive of each other that include clothing, grocery, restaurants, and farm stores. Best wishes to you to finally get some good luck.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Stephanie - Thanks for the feedback and the best wishes. I wouldn't mind emailing or texting my available times. I just don't want someone to have to speak to me personally at a time that is convenient for them and inconvenient for me. The other day I called the vet's office to have a question answered and was told that the vet would have to call me back. I knew that meant she could call anytime within the next ten hours and I had plans that wouldn't allow me to pick up the phone, so I had to set up an appointment for her to call me the following day. There was a communication breakdown and she called at 7:00 PM that night when I was out doing barn chores. My husband picked up my phone and relayed what she said to me, but I never got to ask some more specific questions. I didn't want to have to go through that again the next day, so I just gave up. Had she called at our prearranged time, I would have kept my phone with me with the volume turned up. I've also learned that when people say they will call me right back, their definition of right back is anytime within the next week. That's why I just refuse to accept call backs. Also, my definition of a decent hour to call differs from other people's definitions. I have to use my Do Not Disturb feature so that I can eat meals and sleep without being interrupted by the phone.