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Jewish World Review Feb. 5, 2001 / 12 Shevat, 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

Let 'em know -- IN A Hallmark greetng card store last week, shopping for anniversary cards to give my wife, I found it impossible to read the sentiments in the cards because of the piped in audio throughout the store. Had it been innocuous instrumental music, there would have been no problem. Unfortunately what was coming over the speakers was a soft-rock radio station featuring pop/rock vocals in-between a fast talking DJ, public service announcements and numerous commercials.

For me, reading and comprehending sentimental poetry which conveys intimate expressions of undying love and devotion, deep understanding, and a lifetime of togetherness while listening to supermarket jingles and air traffic reports simply cannot be done. After a few minutes of trying, I put the cards back and was just standing there when a saleswoman approached.

"Can I help you with anything?" she asked expressionless.

I hesitated, deciding whether to tell her the truth (which I figured wouldn’t make any difference), or give her my stock "no thank you" answer and just leave the store. I took a deep breath and decided to be honest.

"Well, I’d like to make a minor complaint," I said.

Anticipating a confrontation with a trouble-maker, the saleswoman’s expressionless face turned instantly into a frown. Stepping back away from me, she said, "what?"

I explained that the radio was causing a distraction in my attempt to read and choose greeting cards. She told me that I was the first and only person to ever complain about the radio. The inference is, of course, that in addition to being a trouble-maker, I am also an oddball and clearly in the wrong. I said nothing, but stood looking at her.

"I’ll tell my assistant manager," she said walking off.

Less then a minute later, a youngish woman with an air of authority appeared and asked if she could be of assistance. Once again, I explained my difficulty concerning the radio.

"Oh, I’ll turn it down," she said quickly and disappeared into the back room.

Soon the volume was lowered. It was better, I thought, but still intrusive. She then came out from the back, listened for a moment and as it turned out, came to the same conclusion as I had. She returned to the back room but this time changed the audio completely to non-obtrusive soothing background music. It was a pleasure.

I thanked her and went about my card selection. Ultimately I decided on three cards and brought them up front to the cash register. The first saleswoman was there and took my money without mentioning the earlier incident.

Before leaving the store I made it my business to locate the assistant manager and thank her again for being so accommodating. She smiled and said I was welcome. I left the store feeling pretty good.

So the moral of the story is: if you are in a restaurant or a store and something bothers you, don’t just leave, make sure the people in charge know that there is a problem. It may make a difference. It did for me -- this time.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby