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12.17.2010

Bye Bye Target

I said goodbye to WalMart many years ago after a continually frustrating relationship, and trasferred my shopping loyalty to Target.

And bless their hearts, Target went and built a new location not too long ago, that is right close to my house.

So a funny thing happened on the way out of Target tonight...

This evening I did a little bit of shopping for the peeps in my house of the Christmas gift variety. With little fits of joy, I hit the Lego aisle, the camera aisle and the game section. I picked up a few art supplies. I browsed thru the clothing. Shopping for presents is 100% enjoyable for me...I had a list and checked off most every item on it. I was a happy camper. Despite being very busy, there was only two people ahead of me in line and I was lucky enough to have a cashier who was obviously in the Christmas spirit.

So I packed my purchases into my cart and headed for the Jeep, feeling cold ( it was 25 degrees) but more than a touch elated about the nearly-conquered list. Only two items remain! Who Hoo!

As I get to the Jeep, I notice that there's a young lady leaned up against her car, which is parked about three slots past mine. As I start to unload my packages, she approaches and asks, in heavily stilted English, "Do you have a keyboard?"

I admit it. I'm a little bit of a parking lot freak. Basically, I hate them. They are dangerous--cars backing up all over the place. And filled with "stranger danger".

But as I looked at this woman, who was probably less than 5 feet tall and definitely no more than a hundred pounds, the fright in her eyes told me she was, as my father used to say, "more afraid of me than I was of her". But why would she need a keyboard? A keyboard?

It was quite clear that her English was broken, at best, and whatever she was fluent in, was unknown to me. She held up her keys, pointed to her car...I racked my brain. Nothing made sense at first. And then, she raised up the hood of her small car and pointed to the battery.

Cables!

Ahh, yes. She needed cables and a jump. Her car wouldn't start. Got it.

I was in the Jeep, which posesses more than 188 thousand miles and not a few qwerks, never leaves the city. I've driven a sum total of less than a hundred miles in the past 9 days. The Jeep contains nothing in the way of tools or cables or emergency supplies...mostly because if something happens to the Jeep, the great likelihood is that, I could, conceivably, walk home. (In hindsight, not the smartest plan, but that was the thinking before tonight.)

Joal's car--the car that racks up about 65,000 miles a year for my road-warrior husband--that car is well-equipped with tools, gear, Cliff bars, waters and blankets, emergency supplies and of course, the jumper cables.

So, I get him on the phone to see where he is. He's at home which is twenty minutes or so away. OK, never mind, let me see what I can do here. I try to tell the young woman "No I have no cables...is there someone I can call for you?" She says no. "OK let me think."

Clearly, I'm not going to leave her sitting on the outskirts of the parking lot as night is falling and the temperatures are falling as well. *I* was freezing and I was wearing a coat. I sat in the Jeep for a moment to think. I looked around for a guy in a big truck, hoping to spot someone who might remind me of my brothers. "Lord, help me figure this out." I prayed.

Maybe I could call the Target. This surely happens on occasion, maybe there would be a nice Target person who would be willing to come outside and help.

Pull out the phone, call up the Target.
A lovely young woman named Sam answers and I explain the situation as humbly and as simply as I can. More flies with honey, and all that, after all.
She listens and says "I think we do have someone who could help, meet me at guest services."

Ah, joy.
Angels singing.

I get out of the Jeep and convince her to walk inside with me. At first she's worried that the store is going to charge her a fee, but I try to reassure her that there will be no cost. We hike quietly towards the store and I feel like an Amazon woman walking next to her. I tell her my name is Sarah and she says something I don't understand.

We get to the Guest Services Desk and I ask the lady there if she's the person I just spoke to on the phone about getting jumper cables. By her demeanor, I had a feeling she was not the same person...with quite a load of annoyance and gruffness, she said "No, but we aren't going to be able to do that. It's a liability for Target."

OK. Not. "Do you want a phone book?" she offers.
Um no.
"Would it be possible for me to speak with the other lady--the one I spoke to on the phone?" I asked, not quite ready to give up hope.

Miss Grinch informed me that Sam could be found at the desk near the ladies fitting room.

So, we traipsed to the back of the store and found Sam. "We spoke..." I started and she leaned in closer towards me. She looked perturbed. "They won't let it happen" she said. "It's a liability issue for Target."

At first, I was a little stunned and didn't quite know what to say. All that came out of my mouth was "Well, that sucks." Not something I ordinarily say, but inside, I was thinking "I just spent a buggy-full of money in this store, and now they are worried about their possible exposure to liability?"

Clearly, Sam was sympathetic to my little cause but was not in a position to do anything to change the decree that had put the axe to her ability to be helpful.

So I thanked her for her graciousness, as opposed to that of Miss Grinch at the Guest Service Desk (misnomer) , and we made our way out of the store.

I called Joal, the man who faithfully and without reservation (or concern for his own possible exposure to liability) rescues me from many a storm, and asked him to bring the keyboard cables and come over.

So he did. My cohort waited in her car. She leaned her head over onto the steering wheel, and I think it's pretty safe to assume, some tears may have been falling, on her steering wheel, just as there were on mine. Mine, however, were angry.

Please tell me what the point of being the big Target is, if people don't matter? The words "potential exposure to liability" rattled through my brain. "I'll give you a liability" I thought. "If only you could be liable for being scrooges and clods." (I may have used somewhat stronger wording.)

When I look at this young woman, who barely speaks English, is all alone, in a broken down car, who just needs a jump, that might take all of five minutes, with the right equipment, "potential exposure to liability" is *not* the phrase that pops into my head. "Standard Operating Procedure" has never been something I am good at...I don't accept policy well. I'm more of a "rules are made to be broken" when the cause is good kinda girl.

So, in an effort to limit my own "potential exposure to liability", I am breaking off the long-term relationship I've held with the shiny, new Target. If people don;t matter to Target, Target doesn't matter to this "people". Target is being permanently removed from the Devendorf family budget (yes, Target was a line in our budget) and I will shop there no more.

Yes, I realize that Target's bottom line will not notice my departure. I understand that. I am but one of their billions of shoppers...the loss of my dollars will not even be a blip on the Target radar.

But I will know.

Because I am the one that a young woman in desperate need of a slight favor smiled at when her car started. I will know that being a person with a heart is far more rewarding than being an entity without. I will know that on a cold night in Middle Tennessee, I called in the cavalry for a helpless stranded woman, who could have easily been my mom or my sister or any number of my friends...and *I* was the one who was blessed to do so.

Merry Christmas.

4 comments:

Lulu said...

Well written. I will join you in your ban of Target. I have seen simular acts there. This little lady probably prayed for God to send someone safe and friendly and He sent you. How amazing is our Lord!! She was helped by a "safe" friend and saw God at work in her life. And YOU get the blessing. "What a country!" What a God!!

Thanks for sharing.

tnscrapper said...

Sarah

You are such a blessing and encouragement. I am sure that lady will never forget your kindness.

Marilyn C.

Sonia in Georgia said...

How upsetting to be in a sitution like that! If more people were like you that this would be a better world. I'm sure the young lady will not forget how much you and your husband helped her.

Thanks for sharing. Bless you!

Larry Burnett said...

Hey you. I'm so proud of you. You and "the Cavalry" inspire me. And Target is totally without my business from this point forward. -Dad