Thursday, February 23, 2012

Home Depot Wannabe

There is something endearing about wannabes. Albeit a smidge patronizing, wannabe-hood is cute, really... until it's laughable or irritating. Living in a house for six months, we'd collected our share of small home improvement projects (mostly broken things needing fixing) and decided to head down to the newly opened, talk-of-the-town, big box hardware store, Bellon.
We're so green, we even walk to the hardware store.
Because we don't have a car or, well, taxi money.
It is adventurous maneuvering on the sidewalks here. Trees, cables and power poles are all placed about dead center.
Look familiar? Notice the colors, the set up. Even the employees wear orange aprons.
And there are about three employees per aisle.
How can a store modeled (down to the color scheme) after Home Depot afford to have three employees per aisle, at the ready? Well, they're saving on bar code stickers, you see. Each employee carries around a small, blank notepad where they write numbers. Yes, just lots of numbers. Whenever you decide to pull something off the shelf--even if its just a couple of screws from a bulk bin--you need to get one of those little slips with lots of numbers written for you. Then, when you go to check out, pull all the little slips out of your pocket and three people will work through them, matching up your items with the slips, sometimes going back into the aisles to check prices a second time and, of course, scanning the one item in 20 that does have a precious bar code. You still with me? If, in fact, this process doesn't sound long enough for you, there is another step that you can add, should you so wish:
Josh tries out the optional extra check out step along with other patient, bargain shoppers.
There are two or three of these rooms full of desks, computers and friendly Home Dep---oh, I mean, Bellon employees. What are they for? What are they doing? Oh! If you want to get a discount on your items, come here first. Sit down, schmooze and bargain with apron-wearing-computer guy. Offer. Counter-offer. Agree. He also has white pieces of paper. And a printer. Then you can take your printed paper with lots of numbers on it to the cashier and go through the process described above.

"But, Rebecca, what if I know what I want, go in, grab my desired product and walk to the cashier?" you may ask. No, no, no, my friend. I made this mistake on my first trip there. I wanted two handles to put on a dresser I'm sprucing up. Two little metal handles, costing 11 pesos each (about US$0.30). One of them actually had a bar code sticker on it, so obviously I still don't entirely understand this complex process, but here goes.
I was second in line behind an older guy buying four cans of paint. OldPaintGuy gave the cashier his little slips with lots of numbers. CashierLady rang him up, then stopped, said something to one of the two other employee-minions standing next to her and FirstMinion walked away. CashierLady asked OldPaintMan to step aside. He waited awkwardly while she motioned for me to put my things on the counter, pushing the paint aside. Curiously, she went through the same process with me. SecondMinion walked away. I then waited with OldPaintMan and my two children as IncompetentCashierLady waved the next customer in line to come forward. She's out of minions, I thought. What will become of this third customer?
Side note: Sometimes I experience things here that are either so maddening or so confusing that I need to distance myself from them with time before I can tell you about them. You still, for example, have no idea the tragic saga of our cell phones. Its still too soon for me. This particular incident I describe above happened a month ago and all the details are slightly blurred.
Miraculously, ThirdCustomer was able to pay and leave. FourthCustomer? IncompetentCashierLady stole someone else's minion! And there we were, becoming a club of the leftovers of incompetence. My children can be patient. Moreso than me, actually. But at minute 28, they were buggin' to go. Finally, FirstMinion returned and OldPaintGuy was on his way, the initial holdup still unclear. CashierLady then sent FirstMinion out to find SecondMinion. At that point, I held up the handles for all to see and said, "I've been waiting for 30 minutes to buy 22 pesos worth of product. Twenty-two pesos."
Somehow, in the minutes following that, CashierLady took a break from her growing line of customers yet to be served and tied up the loose ends (me and FourthCustomer). I paid and was permitted to leave, but only once my receipt and purchases were checked by yet another employee--MinionOverseer. Seriously? If CashierLady requires that many minions to be able to do her job and then be kept in check by a MinionOverseer, why does she still have a job?
I trust this initial experience is not the common experience, though time will tell. Until then, bar code stickers are still in short supply. 


  1. oh goodness.... xD they are soooooooooooooo exagerated here!!!! it so often drives me up the wall :P

  2. You could, theoretically, build a wall for that purpose using all Bellon materials. :)