Field Reports, The 100-Day Challenge, Writing

Field Report: Retired Ladies Edition

Sergeant K

Private Ryan is gone for the week, off to semi-sunny, almost 60 degrees sometimes Florida while Private First Class and I hold down the 10-30 degree fort and hope our snowplow driver shows up if needed.

PFC and I have found that whenever he is gone for a week, there is always one day that goes absolutely sideways. With any help from the shipping gods, yesterday will prove to be that day. I fear it might not be because a few retired women made it more entertaining than it probably deserved.

Per tradition, when she and I are alone, customers ask for things we typically do once or twice a year. Things like:

  1. International freight: These are shipments that weigh over 150 pounds heading to countries where we may or may not know the correct info for customs and duties/taxes are an absolute crapshoot.
  2. EEI: Do I know what EEI stands for? Dear readers, I do not. All I know is that it is the paperwork required for international shipments valued at higher than $2,500 and it requires faxing, 13-number long secret codes, and hoping that I do it correctly the first time so the shipment doesn’t get caught up somewhere or I am accused of smuggling. No pressure. Also all measurements have to be in kilograms and centimeters. Shout out to U.S. education for me struggling with this!
  3. Domestic freight where they bring the shipment to The Field: Once again, shipments over 150 pounds. One of them wanted a quote without giving dimensions and estimating the weight “between 200-500 pounds.” Private Ryan told PFC to make sure we get an accurate weight so our current plan is to put nine bathroom scales under the package and estimate how many of them crack 100 pounds. That’ll work, right?

None of the above situations existed because of the retired women. Instead, that demographic had other things on their minds.

The first woman came in wearing an intense N95 mask and told me she couldn’t hear very well with it on. I told her this was a common complaint so I believe her. We then embarked on the pattern of me asking a question; she told me she couldn’t hear me; I would repeat it; she would point to her ear and shake her head; and I would finally yell the question.

What she wanted was for me to print random things off different blogs so she could take them to her book club. I thought this would be fairly easy as she had written them down on a sheet of paper so I was hoping not to have to yell much.

Instead, at one point, I had to yell, “I’m at her blog but I don’t see the articles section” and “Oh – you mean you want the whole webpage.” And then I had to print the entire screen all old-school Mapquest-like.

She was extremely grateful, though, and tipped me for my efforts. I didn’t need an extra $2 for clicking CTRL+P but whatever.

Shortly thereafter, a new customer arrived and the following conversation ensued:

“I recently retired and can only clean and organize the house so much. And now I’m bored. So if you need someone to come in and pack things, I’m quite good at packing.”

“Oh, yeah, I can tell by these boxes that you’re quite adept at fitting things into their proper space.” (Her boxes were immaculate.) “What are you a doctor of?” I asked looking at her return address. We live in a town with universities and lots of doctors running around.

She squirmed a bit. “Well, forensics. I just retired and moved here after being a coroner for the past 25 years.”

I don’t know what I expect coroners to look like but this woman was not it. I paused just a beat too long apparently.

“I know it makes most people uncomfortable so I don’t tell many,” she began saying.

“Oh, I have so many questions,” I responded and her face kind of lit up. We chatted for a bit and I told her I’d give her my mom’s number for company but maybe not for coroner chats. I invited her back to talk about it anytime.

And then. Because I’m me. I said, “If we ever need to ship a dead body, we’ll give you a call to come pack it.”

To which this lovely woman said, “Oh, I’m quite good at packing those. But I’d rather do Christmas presents maybe.”

And then I called a customer a “coke fiend”

I try to be a disarming funny person, but I am also totally unafraid of committing to a bit for the duration of an interaction. I like to bring things full circle when I can, provide little comedic comments as allowed, and I trust my instincts to tell me when someone is good with what we’re doing.

With that being said, this interaction was not my fault.

Two women came in to make some returns. The one had been there before and told PFC that I’d helped her. She had followed instructions and not even attempted to set up a return because it is easier for us to just do it versus having to undo something else.

And then, the one who had not been in before said, “If you’re wondering, no I haven’t been doing cocaine.”

She had a red area under her nose where it appeared she had probably blown it multiple times during the driest time of the year. Neither PFC nor I had noticed and I promise “This woman does cocaine” would not have been our first conclusion.

Before we could really respond, her partner in crime said, “That’s not what it would look like if you had a cocaine habit.” She said it in a matter-of-fact way.

Nose Lady responded, “Well, I guess you’d know.” At this, we laughed.

“She does seem to have some understanding on the subject,” I joined in.

“I just watched “Scarface” last night,” she excitedly told us. “I love that final scene.”

“Yes, you seem like quite the “Scarface” type,” I responded.

“She thinks it’s her biopic,” the first woman said. Everyone is laughing at this point. PFC is still setting up the return and asked her a question. Scarface Lady responded with, “I don’t know.”

So I said, “Of course not. And even if you did, could we really trust a coke fiend?”

This was met with laughter, snorting, downright howling at one point. The bit went on and on. They were hilarious. I wanted to meet for wine after work. But only wine.

“You are just so delightful here,” she said to us. “We just love you.”

“That’s awesome,” I responded. “You’re also delightful. And you can leave a review for us on Google if you’d like. Just maybe leave out the part where I called you a coke fiend.”

Reminder: I am available to provide your company with top notch customer service training for the low low price of $20,000.

Colonel C

We’re supposed to be in Mexico today. Sergeant refuses to bring me a mimosa and speak to me in Spanish. Everything is dumb.

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