"I Had a Really, Really Bad Day"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, December 12, 2014

There are good days — and bad days. One never knows, when they wake up, what kind of day is in store for them.

When I left for my place of hibernation, I had no idea what to expect. The weather prediction was bad, calling for snow and freezing rain. Either could be enough to cause a bad day.

Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any troublesome weather for three good travel days, slugging along among the typical Thanksgiving travelers. Traffic moved quickly, although with so many cars on the roads, I encountered a few back-ups due to accidents. The crash scenes displayed bad days for others, but I was lucky to just be one of the rubber-neckers.

We arrived safely at my daughter’s home and enjoyed a delightful, delicious Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and a restful respite from the traffic. Now that was a very good day!

When I pulled into my winter hideaway a few days later, everything was just as I had left it, so the good days continued. Great weather and greetings from neighbors also escaping the cold, added to the pleasure of good days. Yep, “Life is good,” as the T-shirts proclaim, when everything moves along so smoothly.

As you may be guessing, the bad day finally arrived. It wasn’t just a day with a few bumps along the way, everything proved to be bumpy. It all started with a plan to head to the mainland for some shopping and a stop for my favorite breakfast — cherry pancakes. As we pulled up to the restaurant, we were delighted to discover we could go right in instead of sitting on the porch in one of the rocking chairs.

And then the bad started — when I eagerly ordered my choice, I was told the management of the chain had decided to remove cherry pancakes from its list of breakfast items, but I could have peach, apple or blackberry. I tried the peach, but it was no substitute for cherry. My next stop was the building supply store where things went very well because everyone that works there seems to be happy and helpful.

My next stop was to the store with the big red dot where my sidekick was going to pick up a few things. I elected to wait in the car knowing the few would turn into many. After over an hour of shopping and a $200 tab, she learned her credit card was refused and the other one she offered was also turned down.

I had the phone, so she left her basket of goods and came out to call the card company. She learned that they were not processing sales with the store she was shopping at unless they had direct contact with the cardholder. It seems there was an incident involving hacking and theft of customer cards that was still lingering. Wow, talk about slowing the whole shopping process down, that will do it.

With a hint of anxiety, we headed for our next stop, one of the country’s oldest department stores. Although it has acquired another name to partner with, both seem to be failing. The last time we shopped there, we had to wait 45 minutes to locate someone to wait on us. I was happy to find a salesperson fairly quick, and inquired about the item I wanted to purchase only to be told they no longer had any.

I decided to look around and found a chair which was exactly what I had been looking for. It was on a clearance sale back in a corner of the store. I figured all I had to do was find a sales clerk to ring it up. Little did I know, my 45 minute record was about to be shattered. It took me a half hour to track down someone because not a soul was to be found in the department I was in. After dragging them to the item I wished to purchase, I was told I could not buy it, even though it was on a clearance sale. They said it could only be ordered so I hesitantly agreed, and they left me and went to begin the computer process to place an order.

A half-hour later I was told it was out of stock, but they expected to be able to supply it in six weeks. I asked them to check with other stores in the area and after another half-hour wait learned they too were out of stock on the item. At this point, I asked to see the store manager (another 15-minute wait). I requested to buy the floor model knowing I could get it in my jeep. The manager spent more time calling and finally told me she could not sell a floor item if it could be ordered even though it was on clearance.

So accepting defeat after spending almost two hours, I left without my chair. I sure was not going to order from a company who did not hire enough help to man all its departments and was rapidly closing stores nationwide. By this time, deciding the day was not going to improve and being really hungry, we headed for a near-by, upscale burger restaurant we always enjoyed.

We thought we would relax and begin enjoying our day until our food was delivered. My onion rings were actually burnt (yes, they can do that) and Pat’s burger was raw. At that point, we decided to surrender and head for home, but the bad day would not let up.

When I pulled in for gas, my card was refused by the pump. I made two trips inside, one to authorize the card and a second to ask that the pump be turned on after learning it was not. On my third trip back to the line-up inside, I was told the pump was not working but I suspected the person did not know how to turn it on. Lucky I was not on empty because I left.

So on this really bad day, as I see it, I gathered a few tips I will pass on, especially as you head out for some heavy-duty shopping.

1. Don’t count on chain restaurants having your favorite meal, (I don’t plan on ever going there again).

2. If you visit a store that has had credit card hacking — call your card company before you arrive at the check-out to avoid that embarrassing turn down moment.

3. If you visit a store where no one is at a customer service register, or even in the department anywhere, don’t wait around. You are probably in a store that will be closing soon.

4. If a gas station attendant seems confused, they usually are and you should move on to the next station.

P.S. After two hours on the phone with corporate the next day, I made a trip back to that store and picked up my chair.



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