Tuesday, August 05, 2008

picture-perfect stupidity and I'm not done being silent

no promises, but if you should fall...   A couple split days this week, a friend from college and her two foster kids are visiting town and staying at my house. I say "split" because they were here yesterday and they'll be back tomorrow, so tonight there will be silence. Once they're gone for good, my mother-in-law will be with us for three or four nights due to my oldest nephew getting married this weekend. I took a flock of pictures of the kids and, as a surprise, my bride and I wanted to surprise the family with prints of some of the best photos. (Which will be welcome since the matriarch left her camera here when she took them to the beach early this morning. D'oh!!) Things are not as simple as they seem sometimes... I tried to print my pictures on my printer, which I'd purchased months ago for the purpose of printing photos. Hmm, they're not looking right... Yellow is absent. I clean the cartridge with alcohol and add ink. Now we have yellow. In fact, we have too much yellow. Everyone is jaundiced. A few full-page prints later and it's tamed down. Halfway through the first picture of seven I started as a batch then walked away from, we're back to almost no yellow so they look washed out -- except in random bands, where it's suddenly yellow streaks. So my wife suggests I go have them printed by the machine in the photo/sound department of the grocery store. I've had good luck with that store's machine before and the people pay no attention to the content of your photos, which is important to me. Plus they're terrible at math so they charge you the 4"x6" price when you get 5"x7" prints, and don't mind much when you look over their shoulder at the machine's activation code they have to punch in, thus letting you start the process on your own later that day if you must return to reprint anything. Their machine spits the prints out the front of the machine right then, which is also important to me, and their pictures' color balance is very good.
   I drive up the street to the grocery store, and my expected concern is getting someone to come to photo/sound at 9:30 p.m. to punch in the code for the machine. No, actually, the concern I have once I get there is that there's no machine here. Well, crumbs. So I decide to do the next best thing and go to Walgreen's next door. Which stopped being my first choice a long time ago because half the time their machines were out of order, and half of the time when they do work their color scheme is totally off. But this is a different store than the one I won't go into (blame a clerk named Hagitha), and I want to get this done before the family returns tomorrow, so what the hell. I go to the machine, go through the gyrations to get the number of prints I want from each and crop each photo correctly (by default, the machine will cut your face in half; this is a vast improvement over the system at Target which doesn't let you tweak your photos, takes a week to process as though they were being sent somewhere, costs more than anywhere else, and will print your vertical pictures as though they were horizontal for some serious head-lopping cropping issues), and start the order. Being a tidy bureaucrasy, the slip you get says they'll be ready in half an hour, as though humans had any part in this process other than looking at the screen to see if your images are copyrighted (since they care and won't let you have your pics if they think you're a pirate); you really don't want to contemplate getting anything naughty printed there for that reason. So, sigh, okay, I'm going to wander around this 15,000 square foot store for the next thirty minutes and see if the subliminal messages in the Muzak™ make me shop more. Dum de dum, look! a laser level for $2.99!, la la la, I think I'll have some Brach Nut Goodies in rememberance of my grandmother, doot de doo, who picks the programming on this music loop anyhow? I'm in the car doodads aisle when this woman who looks like she gets her clothes out of the dumpster behind Fashion Bug comes down the candy aisle facing me and she's on her cell phone. I'm trying to stay occupied and she's blabbing away to her friend about a chick they know giving a guy they know herpes (but none of them knew that's what it was), and he gave this pregnant chick they know some oral action, and now that pregnant chick is concerned for her stuff [oh, now...] and her baby. Then she says the magic words, "Hey, I'm going to take you off speakerphone now..." Not that this made any difference since she went to the next aisle, yard doodads, and continues having this way-too-much-info conversation four feet away from me through the pegboard wall. The guy who keeps coming up to ask if she's seen the guy who is supposed to come pick him up sounds dumber than a bag of hammers, but one could speculate that since he's with her it's a good bet he is.
   I went up to the counter in photo/sound at 20 minutes after my order, figuring "I'm the only customer, surely this wait is just so they have plenty of time to examine my photos." The cute woman stocking the dairy case comes over to the register, comments that there's still ten minutes left to go, so I wander off again. I waited 15 more minutes, just to be on the safe side, and come back. This time after putting up a couple bottles of fruit juice she goes to the machine and... oh, it had never started printing in the first place. A detail she didn't bother checking earlier, she was going by the clock. But no problem, they can get this printed now (after changing the drum) in three minutes. Hmm, so if it only takes three minutes to print my pictures, what is the purpose of the thirty minute put-off? Oh yeah, getting me to buy some more candy and a 2 gigabyte SD card for my camera for half the usual price (my old one fell apart; honestly, it disintergrated a couple days ago). This counter guy who seems twitchier than myself rings up my purchases, gets the display unlocked to retrieve that SD card, takes my payment, and out the door I go. Bag of hammers is still standing outside the door, waiting. I've now been in the store for an hour or so, a fact that did not escape my ever-observant bride. And neither did the fact that I got one print of a photo she wanted a copy of, despite her not answering the question "do you want me to get two of this?" when I asked her twice (a fact that did somehow escape her).
   So here I am, in the relative quiet for one night, experiencing a sugar shock and fearing that I'll have bad dreams about strangers sharing the gift that keeps on giving, VD. The prints actually came out very good, better than my printer would be capable of even if it weren't alternating between hepatitis and dehydration, and almost worth the unnecessary 35 minutes of my 38 minute wait. And the whole experience gave me the missing impetus to blog for the first time in twenty-five days.

I work in customer service, and I don't know if this gives me more understanding and tolerance of the requirements of the job, but it has really cheezed me off recently when I get ignored.

Go on, have your conversation.. I'm just a paying !@#$ing customer.

I could simply walk away, not give them my business, but I've got stuff to buy, damn it. They're hourly, there's no real connection between how much money they make, and how much actual work is done.

How do you know it wasn't really reality that had yellow streaks, and the printer simply didn't have the filters that the corporate store did? Hrm??
I haven't blogged much lately either. I was missing in action most of last August too, also, as well.
Oh well, life brings busy times to us all, but it is good to be back in Blogdom and visiting blog buddies.
I made a bunch of prints of Courtney's photos at Walmart to frame and put around the house. The quality is okay, and the prints were cheap. I love the whole "jaundiced" scenario.
Illiterate: I hear ya, brother. The one point that got under my skin about standing around the store for so long (since I do find a little zen in retail shopping, as hanging around Safeway was the only thing one could do where I grew up) was the woman who looked at the clock, not the printer, before reporting on the print job. No other customers so it should have been done in 20 minutes, or seeing it hadn't started she could have investigated why. But no.
(And I'm positive reality comes in more colors than my printer was pitching.)

Jamie: Yup, I know you were in CA meeting live humans. I hated the whole 'jaundiced' scenario, I bought this printer to print pictures. I know it's the cartridge's fault but still, do not inconvenience me or fail me on those infrequent times I ask the hardware to do the job I bought it for.
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