Friday, April 10, 2009

Petco, where the idiots go.


Humans love errands. We always seem to be doing errands. For the most part I don’t mind doing errands. But there is one that I despise.

I am convinced that on any given day there are only 2 people working at Petco: the “cashier” and the “cricket fetcher.” I have no idea if these are the industry terms, but this is how I will refer to “them” in this post. And the reason I’ve put “them” in quotes is because I’m not entirely sure if I’m referring to 1 or 2 people. On more than one occasion, I’ve had reason to believe that the cashier and the cricket fetcher might actually be the same person. Why? Because I can’t ever recall seeing the cashier and the cricket fetcher together in the same room. I’ve heard the cashier page the cricket fetcher to the register and I’ve heard the cashier tell the impatient customers that he is “waiting” for the cricket fetcher, but I have yet to see them together in the same room.

Regardless of whether Petco employs 1 or 2 people and regardless of which Petco store I visit, I am pretty much guaranteed to have an uber-annoying retail experience. I’ve conducted some research and it appears to be a chain-wide problem that spans Petcos from Woburn to Nashua. I seriously believe that the agenda for the first day of employee training at Petco must be titled “How to evoke frustration from customers.” For those of you who do not have pets or buy your pet food elsewhere, I cannot think of a single store that compares to Petco in terms of ineptitude. So consider yourself lucky.

Here is a description of an average trip to Petco. Let the rage begin.

I enter the store and immediately look over at the cash register area to see a) how many people are - or, are NOT, in Petco’s case - working on the register, and b) how many customers are waiting in line. Typically I will see 1 of 3 scenarios: a) there are no customers in line and there are no employees in sight, b) there is a huge line and only one cashier (who may or may not be waiting for the cricket fetcher in which case the line is not moving), or c) there are several customers roaming around the checkout area looking for an employee to ring them up. None of these scenarios is good. Whether it’s a, b or c, I immediately want to exit the store. But, then I remember that walking out would mean Little Jerry wouldn’t have dinner on the table – er, floor – that night. That has 51A written all over it. So, I reluctantly continue my trek to purchase dog food, trying to be optimistic, hoping that today will finally be the day that I get out of this black hole of retail in a timely fashion.

I have a mental blueprint of the 3 different branches I frequent. In each of these 3 stores, I know exactly which aisle I have to go down to locate Jerry’s brand of dog food. I make a beeline for that aisle and grab the food, which, conveniently, is a brand that is NOT available in grocery stores. I then make my way to the register wondering which scenario I will be presented with today. I arrive to find option b) a huge line and only one cashier. Typically, I am a patient customer, but since this is Petco and this is par for the course, I exhale. Loudly. I check my watch, and mentally give my impatience about 5 minutes before it implodes. The cashier is not ringing. He is just standing there. I breathe in again, this time through my nose. The line is 6 people deep at this point.


I take in everything going on around me. I overhear one customer telling another customer that some crickets had escaped somewhere out back. Ah, a cricket crisis. That might explain why the cricket fetcher is tied up, but why is our cashier just standing there?!?! He must be waiting for some crickets for the customer in front of him. I seem to have underestimated the demand for crickets these days. I look around, hoping that if I stare long enough at a register, it will magically open up. Why do they even have more than one register at this store?

My thoughts are distracted. Today I seem to have gotten in line behind Laura the Loud-Talker. I see that she is purchasing a 2-ton bag of ferret food and barking out orders to her 2 “tween”-age daughters. Miley and Demi are both trying to pick out dog treats from the “treat bar” (picture a salad bar for dogs, except it's unhealthy) which is only a few feet away – definitely NOT far enough to warrant the inappropriate decibel level at which Laura is choosing to speak.

I stand there wondering if there really is a cricket crisis going on or whether these people just find pleasure in pushing their customers to the limit. Maybe I’m being Punk’d? No, that show went off the air for good, right? Maybe the employees are out back gathered around a TV, watching us on the tape, eating popcorn and laughing at us. Maybe there will be some fabulous prize for the customer who exhibits the most outlandish reaction. I consider this for a few moments. My thoughts are distracted again by Laura’s booming voice. Then I notice that the cashier is completing the cricket transaction. I realize that, once again, I didn’t see the cricket-fetcher. I was hoping to catch him morphing into his alter-ego, the cashier.

Laura is getting on my last nerve. She is talking SO loudly. At least I don’t have to live with her like Miley and Demi over there. Poor kids. I consider running out the door, dog food in hand. No. I am not a criminal. I consider pushing everyone out of the way and just announcing that I need immediate assistance. You know, like old people do. It always works for them.

Finally, Laura gets to the register. I am on deck. I only have to listen to her for a few more minutes. I watch as she puts her 2-ton bag of ferret food on the counter. She owns a fucking ferret. Who owns a fucking ferret?

Laura, Miley and Demi leave. I put the dog food on the counter. The cashier says “sorry about the wait.” I lie and say “no problem.”

I am out the door and in my car. I sigh and text my brother “Who owns a fucking ferret?” His reply: “John Kimble.” I laugh. Hard. I am lightened up. At least until Jerry runs out of food again.

1 comment:

S said...

I hate Petco ... or is it Petsmart? Whatever -- either case, I'm with you. There's a lady (who says Lady anymore?) at the one I used to go to that has superlong, curled over dark blue fingernails and she has to punch the register keys with these bad boys.