Customer Service

That Dam Lopez Lake or: (How I Learned to Drive a Boat)

I’ve been boogie boarding quite a bit lately. Getting back into the water has been an enthralling adventure—even despite the Pacific Ocean’s three constants: it’s always cold, it’s always windy, and it’s always cold.

Sometimes, a feller just needs a warm lake and a boat.

Megan and I moved from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to San Luis Obispo, California this year. North Idaho has no ocean (which I hope you know), but does have close to three-billion lakes in it’s vicinity (mildly exaggerating). Needless to say, visiting lakes was not a priority for us.

A friend of mine recently purchased the Lopez Lake Marina, and I’ve been desperate to see what he’s done with the place. So we went to a lake.

Orcutt Road

Our day started with a beautiful drive on the backroads of San Luis Obispo. There’s a great little curvy road which takes you straight (well, curvy) towards the lake. We call it old Orcutt road.

Wineries have blossomed on just about every hillside. My friend Aaron put it this way, “at least they’re covering hills with grapes and not with houses and Costcos.” It’s true. Despite my reservations regarding these fast-expanding wineries, the beauty of these old SLO roads are protected. (more…)


Retail Christmas Music: 3 Survival Tips

Photo by tmorkemo via Flickr 'Creative Commons'

Photo by tmorkemo via Flickr ‘Creative Commons’

Retail has been my life for many years. Currently, I work at a small Natural Foods store in Coeur d’Alene. Before that, it was mostly gas stations. You would think that retail Christmas music is exclusive to clothing stores, but no, it’s everywhere. Like Adele, you can’t escape it.

Ever since that report came out, you know, the one that says people will buy more if there is Christmas music playing, shop owners have been taking advantage and employees have been going mad. I sometimes wonder if the two cancel each other out: more sales from christmas music, less sales from annoyed employees who are rude to customers.

Anyways, yesterday I came to work and there it was. Christmas music. Loud. Obnoxious. Repetitive. Sorcerous.

It’s not that I hate Christmas music. I don’t. I just hate any form of music that is unnecessarily repetitive and forced on to my ears. Yesterday “White Christmas” played three times in a row. Thank you Pandora Radio. Thank you.

Eventually, you’ll block it out. At least I do. The first week is the worst. After years in retail, here are 3 quick tips on surviving retail Christmas music for the worker.

Stay busy. If I stand around and think about the music, it tends to get worse. Rather, if I find things to do, my mind gets off of the music and on to the task. This isn’t always easy and results can vary depending on the store and situation. My mind tends to focus on whatever I’m doing. Yesterday, I started cleaning anything I could find. Before I knew it, I was on a quest to genocide dust from my department. Christmas music was the least of my worries.

Talk to customers. Some jobs may require you to converse with customers. Others don’t. My job is optional since I am not always on the floor. Yesterday, I realized that when I talked to customers, I wasn’t thinking about the music, but them. Instead of leaving customer conversations on the surface level, I probed further. It ended up increasing customer service (and sales) on quite a few occasions.

Parody. In any retail job, customers come in waves. Sometimes they just disappear. If you’ve cleaned, rearranged, and stocked just about everything, then there is nothing left to do but endure the pain. What now? I once worked with a guy who would change the lyrics to about every song and sing with it. It was incredibly fun and quite hilarious. My favorite of his was “Feliz Navidad,” or rather “Police got mi Dad.

Am I alone on this view of working retail during the Holidays? Any tips you might give?