Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gracias, Paraguay!

Now Arriving... Paraguay

From the coasts of Turkey to one of only two land locked countries in South America - Paraguay (the other is Bolivia).  

Today we wrap up our World Kindness Week tour of countries.  We've had an eventful week celebrating the romance of Italy; the wonder of South Africa's Zulu Beading; the impressive lists of musicians, artists, doctors, and other notable figures living in Austria; and the generosity of Turkey's St. Nicholas.

How can I say this?  After much researching on the internet, I could find very little published about the uniqueness of Paraguay.  If we were doing a survey of great musicians, it would be the equivalent of visiting Beethoven, Mozart, Joplin, maybe even the Beetles and Rolling Stones, and then ending with Britney Spears.  An artist in her own right, but not quite of the same caliber of some of the other musical artists.

The only fact I could find resonating at all, as something you might be interested to know, is that Dueling is still legal in Paraguay.  Dueling...  as in, facing back to back, take 10 paces, turn around and shooting  (or stabbing, depending upon whether you are using guns or swords) your opponent!  It's true.   

This fun fact is a little interesting (and timely) since I have been mentally dueling someone for the past week.  Last weekend I briefly referenced an encounter at Babies-R-Us and told you I would share more later.  Maybe today is the perfect opportunity.  I maintain the wide spread use of the internet is a far more effective and painful tool for dueling than any gun or sword.

So, today I'll duel with Liz at Babies -R- Us, store #6389 in College Point New York.  It will be a duel because I intend to forward my little rant onto the Babies -R- Us headquarters, so that they may respond. 

This duel on the heals of an earlier entry titled, Just Say Yes, posted on October 4 .  Like, Just Say Yes, this is a duel with all the lazy people out there who expend more energy telling you why something is not possible than they do figuring out a solution.

Enter Babies -R Us.  One of the reasons we picked last weekend to visit New York is because friends of ours were having a baby shower for their baby, due in January.  The invitation, received weeks ago, indicated the couple was registered at Babies -R Us.  Being smart and practical shoppers, we decided to wait until we get to N.Y. to purchase their gift (a smart thing to do when you have three kids in tow).  Saturday, November 8 the family heads into New York four hours early , so we can swing by Babies -R -Us on our way into the city and do some sight seeing before the 3:00 shower.

Get to Babies -R-Us and head right to the registry.  This whole thing should take no more than 20 minutes, max.  As it turns out, the couple was registered at the store, but they never put anything on their list.  No problem.  They know it's a girl, so I'll get her a pink receiving blanket and a $100.00 gift card.  Run through the store, pick up a blanket, see a cute dress (can't resist, since I only have boys and my chances to buy girl clothes is limited).

Now to the register where I will get the gift card and then head straight to the complimentary gift wrap where I'll quickly package it up and be out the door.  Richard will be proud, so far only 9 minutes into it.  While standing in line, look over at gift wrap station and notice it is empty.

My turn at the register.  Casually ask the woman if they can replenish the gift wrap so I can wrap my items.  She informs me they are out of all gift wrapping for the week.  Ugh.  An inconvenience, but I chalk it up to Murphy's Law.  Back out of line to gather boxes (forced to buy 3 when I only needed 1), tissue paper, wrapping paper, and ribbon.  Finally at the register, I jokingly say to the woman, "So, do we get a discount on wrapping since you are out of complimentary wrapping?"  I say it jokingly, but the more I'm thinking about it, the more sure I am that this would be the A+ service thing to do.  She laughs and shrugs off my request.  I let it go, but make a mental note to self that I am not impressed with my overall Babies -R- Us experience.  Have I mentioned, by the way, that I am of child rearing years and that so are MOST of my friends?  And, that I attend my fair share of baby showers and that I purchase my fair share of baby gifts and baby items?  I am NOT the smartest demographic on which to leave a poor impression!

Head to the wrapping station with all my personally purchased wrapping materials.  No scissor.  I turn to the woman at the register and ask if I can borrow the scissor I am sure she has in the supply drawer beneath her register.  As it turns out she doesn't have one and points to the manager's office.  I knock on the door, per her suggestion.  No one inside. I turn back to the woman and ask if she can find the manager.  She heads across the store and returns to relay the manager's message that. "We don't have a scissor."  The employee then suggests that I somehow use the blade from the wrapping paper roller (beneath the counter) or that I crease the paper, wet it with my spit, and tear it.  Agitated, but for some reason still composed, I explain neither option will work, and ask to talk to the manager.  She points across the store and tells me where I can find her.  Pick up ALL my stuff, plus Matthew, and head across the store.  I'm now 28 minutes into this experience and getting more annoyed.

Wait 5 more minutes to finally get Liz's attention.  She immediately tells me she doesn't have a scissor and then turns away.  Regain her attention and explain my dilemma.  I am here from out of town and on my way to a baby shower.  If I can't wrap it, I will be forced to return the items and go to a store where my item can be wrapped.  By the way, the total bill (presents plus wrapping was $173.20).  She then explains that not having a scissor in the store is company policy, because there are kids around.  She then points to an exacto blade and say, it is the only thing in the store that can cut (because an exacto blade is so much safer).

Willing to use the blade  - or let her use the blade - I explain that I don't want to leave the store without the items (and I really don't because I've been in the store for almost an hour) and that I want to give her one more chance to "right" the situation.  Surely, I explain it wouldn't be smart to let my $175.00 purchase walk out the door, because she can't help me figure out how to make a simple cut.  I guess Liz's t.v. isn't reporting on the worst economy since the Great Depression.  With no recognition of my suggestion as a solution, Liz shrugs me off and tells me there is nothing she can do for me.

Sent to the back of the "Customer Service" (and I use that term loosely) line, I wait to return my items.  ONE HOUR and two minutes later I leave the store with NOTHING in hand and with a new found conviction that (1) I will NEVER step foot in a Babies -R- Us again, and (2) I will report my experience to my blog readers and know that my story is in cyber space for all to read!

End of story.

Incidentally.  We ended up getting the couple a lovely gift at Baby Gap where the staff person was happy to help me not only select my items, but also to supply the tools necessary to wrap the gift!

Maybe you will join me in rewarding the merchants who care enough to create a culture of care in their establishments and avoiding those stores so unimaginative that they cannot figure out how to cut paper. 

Signing off until Monday...

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