Monday, December 21, 2015

Blessings Big and Small

     Other than when it's my turn to say grace before dinner and bed time prayers with Deanne, I seldom pray aloud. But I did during a recent trip to KMart to return a TV purchased the day before that lacked a remote control and owner's manual (and batteries and packing material, I later discovered). I was not looking forward to waiting in line at Customer Service. Or getting another faulty TV upon exchange. Of being told even then I couldn't get a cash refund since I paid by check. Or having other such unpleasantness arise.
     In truth, I didn't even especially want a TV. Ours—an old 20” Sony Trinitron picture tube type—broke from a power surge that also broke our stereo receiver and our rental unit's refrigerator and washing machine. The latter two the landlord replaced; the reason for the TV purchase was the kids' upcoming winter break when they'll be home alone for over a week—it'll give them an hour or two each day to watch DVDs. (We don't have cable and have no TV reception.)
     Already stressed by the holiday rush, I told Braden I hope and pray it will all go smoothly and we won't have to wait too long at Customer Service or find out no one is there.
     Braden held the TV while we waited two-deep in line at Customer Service. The first in line was returning a twelve pack of Diet Sprites. The cashier kept scanning a coupon and fiddling with the register's keypad, and asked to see the receipt. Then she requested help from a clerk standing nearby who said they had to ask Sally. Five, ten, perhaps fifteen minutes passed. Sally came and told them what to do—the coupon was two-for-one, so they had to refund the twelve pack Pepsi's too, which they did. I was praying silently the while as my ire rose and receded as I battled my all-too-common impatience.
     The next customer wanted a refund to take advantage of a dollar off coupon on a decorative holiday item. Again more coupon scanning, then punching away at a keypad, receipt tie-in, and consultation with the clerk (who stood by observing). The customer said she wanted the item but wanted the refund so she could repurchase it plus four more at the sale price. Aha! A bargain shopper refunding at full price to repurchase at sale price to save an entire dollar! I thought. For ten minutes plus of waiting, she must really need the money...
     Finally, it was our turn and the clerk told us to go straight to Electronics.
     “But my wife called and they said to come here,” I said.
     The cashier said, “Only if you want a refund. Exchanges go straight back there” (with a point toward the back of the store).
     Electronics had one customer ahead of us that took a few minutes. The cashier asked when it was our turn how she could help and upon being told of the missing items asked what we wanted to do.
     I said exchange...unless there's a sale on it from today.
     She said let me check and walked to the bank of TVs displayed. Yes, she said, and reported a price fifteen dollars less than what we'd paid. To get the refund, go back to Customer Service she said, and she initialed our receipt.
     Back we went with TV in hand to wait in a now three-deep line that moved like opihi. Finally a free cashier opened a second register and processed our refund, taking the TV and giving me cash.
     Back at Electronics, I chose a boxed TV from below the display stands and we waited in a one-deep line. The cashier was pleasant and apologized and offered to open the box to ensure its contents were complete, which it was.
     Fifteen dollars for the trip down and time spent waiting? Yeah, it was worth it—I count it a blessing.
     Getting spared from undue stress? I count a huge blessing.
     I told Braden had we not waited in line at Customer Service, I would never have thought to request a refund. Perhaps I wouldn't even have bothered to recheck the price. (The price on the box hadn't changed.)
     I also got to spend time with Braden doing something he does well—keep me calm and grounded in situations I find stressful: anything to do with stores or shopping. We shared a nice enough drive and conversations, me doing most of the talking (since he tends to keep quiet). Not a bad way to spend an afternoon after all. And the TV ended up working fine.

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