Monday, August 11, 2008

Customers: Part 04 - Christian Thing

   "Some of these prices don't seem at all reasonable, don't you think?"
   The chain charged the MSRP. Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. Price established by record labels, and yes, it was too high. Nothing anyone could do about that. I'd also complained about the price of music ever since I moved to Cowtown. Prices were expensive because there was no competition in the area. Handful of Mom 'n Pops, couple of punky mall stores. Otherwise, nothing. You wanted tunes, you had to shop the Sound Warehouse chain. We had a lock on music retail.
   When I lived in Los Angeles, I shopped at Tower Records, Licorice Pizza, Wherehouse, Peaches, but I bought at Adam's Apples, a massive music import warehouse in an industrial park. Los Angeles prices were a fraction of other markets. I got spoiled. After I moved around the country a bit, I readjusted. Nothing prepared me for Texas stickers. The stores didn't even attempt to compete.
   Ironic, then, that I ended up working for the big store.
   Customers grumbled now and then. Wasn't a whole lot we could do. The Boss might shave a couple of bucks, generally not. Depended on the customer and their attitude.
   "I mean, I should hope you can do something for me."
   I never approved of whining. Especially from guys.
   This man wore a black fedora. He shopped every other week. I didn't know his name, but I acknowledged him as a Regular. He bought expensive music. Back catalog items, easy listening canaries, opera, art house videos, and blank tapes. In addition to the fedora, his clothes fit nicely and were of quality. Outside, his Mercedes was parked. He also wore the priest's collar. Poverty was not his specialty.
   "Mmm ... Peggy Lee set, Kiri te Kanawa, where did you find this Chris Connor?"
   "She was in Close-Outs, but I find this particular collection overpriced."
   I turned the CD over. ""Two CD set, man."
   "Surely, you can do something -- "
   I hit the register and knocked $3.00 off the price.
   "I mean it's - - Oh, thank you - - it's the Christian thing to do."
   Discount. Christian thing. The words tumbled after Man O God paid and I bagged his items.
   "No problem," I said. "Maybe you can put in a good word with the Big Guy for me."
   "Our Savior? I don't know about that," he demurred.
   "It'd be the Christian thing to do," I commented, with a slight edge.
   The priest tossed me a look, and I tossed it right back.
   Left without a word.
   Think he prayed for me that night?

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