Un-Targeted Thoughts


It is one of those unexplainable phenomena in life that Target stores always seem to carry the notebook paper lined so that it takes the least amount of writing to fill up a page; that is to say, the lines are spaced wide enough, and there’s enough white space at the top and bottom of each page, so that filling a page on Target-bought paper takes less time than filling a page on notebook paper bought from another store. (Mead brand takes the least to fill, but when Target stopped carrying it about a year ago they replaced it with another brand that takes nearly as little to fill.) This was something I first started keeping track of back when I first went back to college, as of course I wanted to be able to complete in-class writing assignments as quickly as possible, and I’ve always passed this little factoid on to my students so they know where to buy the paper that requires the least amount of effort to fill up. (This also results in fewer students tearing sheets out of wire-bound notebooks for their assignments, thus leaving me with fewer of those annoying "jaggies" to deal with.)

Last night I went to Target to purchase more notebook paper, and it was bad enough that I had to wait in a fairly long line while Hockey Night in Canada was starting. As I usually do when I’m waiting in long lines and have a small purchase, I went through the change in my billfold to see if I could pay for the purchase in small coins instead of having to use dollar bills or quarters. (I try to save the latter for when I go to play dance games outside of the house.) However, when I got to the cashier, she triple-counted my coins and still insisted I was five cents short. I didn’t have a nickel or five pennies, so I just gave her a quarter, more interested in that point in getting out of there and finishing my shopping than missing more hockey.

Right after that, though, the woman bent down to give me my Target bag with the paper in it … and the paper wasn’t there. She checked her station and I checked my person, and neither of us had it. The nearest we could figure, the person ahead of us in line must have taken my paper by mistake. The cashier called her manager over and explained the situation and asked if I could just go get another pack of paper, and he said okay. I went to get the paper, but on my way back to the front of the store I realized that the woman had never given me my receipt, so I didn’t have a way of proving that I bought the paper. The manager was no longer up at the front of the store, and when I got back to the cashier she had stepped out of her station to hug someone even though she had a line at her register. I walked out of the store and nothing more happened after that, but it was uncomfortable for me to walk out without getting one last okay from one of the workers there.

It has perhaps been one of the biggest blessings of my life that I have never had to work a job in retail; I can only imagine how boring and unthankful those jobs must be, and whenever possible I try to use self-service checkouts and such so that workers don’t have to deal with me any more than is absolutely necessary. (I don’t want to have to deal with them either, but that’s more due to my lack of sociability than anything else.) My experience at Target last night is one of those rare instances where I felt that the employee I was dealing with did not deal with me in a competent manner, and had I not been in such a rush I might have done something more to try to right each of the tiny things that went wrong there. However, after seeing that cashier go and hug someone, I can’t help but think that perhaps she had something really heavy to deal with, and was understandably distracted while she was serving me. I’m sure that others might think I should have complained about her to the manager, but after watching her hug that one person on the way out, I couldn’t help but think that the small amount of money and time I lost in the transaction, ultimately, really wasn’t that important, and that she probably had far heavier problems to deal with than me trying to save a couple of coins and watch a bit more hockey.

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