More than ten years ago during my first week in my new position at the university, I was excited and signed up for P-Card (purchasing card) training! The training was a breeze and I was assured using it for the department would be easy. LIES.
My first-time purchases were for the homecoming parade and college celebration that weekend. You know, candy, decorations, duct-tape – fun stuff, right? I was excited and armed with my P-Card, tax ID number and tax-exempt letter, everything the trainers said I would need. I felt confident about my exciting trip to Wal-Mart for our swag.
Two full shopping carts later, I was ready to check out. I said hello to the cashier, let her know I was with the university and the purchase would be tax-exempt, and started loading. She was scanning like lightning, I was gathering and re-carting like a machine – this was so fun! Until it wasn’t.
She told me the total and I handed her the P-Card (armed with the other documents as ordered), only to be told, “You should have told me before I started scanning that this was tax exempt.”
Me: “Oh, I am sure I did. Do you want my le – .”
Cashier, with raised hand: “Uh, no – I can’t help you. You will have to go to Customer Service and get the right number.”
Okay, here was my first chance to chill, but I missed it.
“So, take all of this to Customer Service to get another number? What number do I not have?” I asked, brandishing my documents. The cashier, who clearly could not answer this question, began moving my two cart-fulls of fun out into the wide-open spaces of Walmart. One nearly got away, but I manage to grab it. “Oh no,” I said, not chill at all. “I am not going to Customer Service to start this process all over. I want you to provide customer service and call them to come to us.”
The cashier was not amused by my request and aggressively grabbed the phone to intercom for assistance. While we waited we engaged in a full-fledged stare-down, each us resolved to standing our ground. The poor customer service rep had no idea that she would be expected to side with the “right” person, which was me, of course. After all, I had so many numbers and papers.
The rep was not amused, either, and unfortunately told me that I did, in fact, require another number. Now here was my second chance to chill, and guess what? Yeah, I missed it.
“Really.” I said, punctuated by an intentional awkward long pause and unamused stare. “And what MAG. I. CAL. number would that be?”
She explained that Wal-Mart issues a number, one that must accompany the myriad of numbers I already had and was assured were ALL I need to fulfill my transaction ANYWHERE. But not here. Here, I needed a magical Walmart number.
Did I apologize, you ask? Was I accommodating, pushing my two carts to Customer Service to graciously receive the magic number they were withholding? No. I walked off. Left everything right there in the big white space between aisles and restrooms. Head held high and entitled. Missed another chance to chill.
When I returned to the office without my bags of fun, candy and bedazzlements, I had no shame in explaining the unreasonable expectations thrust upon me by Walmart policies and procedures. I announced to the office that I would only return with a tag-team partner and a defense plan of action.
One of the toughest staff members agreed to go with me, in disbelief that I had this much trouble because that had not ever happened to her. She was confident things would be drastically different this time. So we headed back to Wal-Mart’s Customer Service counter. Again, I displayed all my documents and numbers provided by the good institution and state, and they produced a card with a magical number only they can issue. This was going too great!
After retrieving all the celebratory items, my colleague and I approached the register with two carts. Very clearly, I said, “Hello, this is going to be tax exempt, so tell me when you are ready for me to start unloading.” The cashier was impressed with my know-how, told me we were all set, and off we went unloading and scanning, reaching the finish line in record time.
Then I handed her my P-Card, the letters and the numbers, and I proudly delivered the magical number from Walmart. “Oh, sorry,” she said. “You’re missing something. You’ll have to go to customer service for assistance.”
This was not happening. It couldn’t be – not again. I looked to my feisty co-worker and tapped her in, but after a committed attempt, she too was defeated. “Tap me back in,” I told her. “I’m ready.” There was to be no chillin’. I explained to the cashier that I would like customer service to come to me, since this is not my first mystery number wrestling match.
The very unhappy cashier again intercommed for assistance, again the glare showdown began and again we were standing our ground, each feeling justified in our defenses. The rep, after reviewing all my numbers and documents, then asked when I got my magic number from them, to which I answered just an hour ago. That was the problem, she said – it was not in the system yet. She asked us to bring our goods to Customer Service, so she could ring them up there. Again, I swerved away from option chill and announced that instead, she could fix it from her computer, then come back to this cash-register-slash-computer, and fix it like a customer service champion. She was not impressed, but my tag-team partner and I locked on the ropes with no sign of relenting. She left, came back, bang-bang-banged the register keys and said: “There!”
“Thank you,” I said, shooting a very ha-ha, nana-nana-boo-boo face to the cashier. After some derogatory remarks about my attitude, the cashier slammed the receipt on the ledge: “Just sign it and go!” Uh-uh, I thought. This will not fly, cashier opponent. I suited up for this, and I plan to be victorious. I took her pen, we locked eyes, I fixed my gaze and without looking down, began the signature that I proudly enunciated as I wrote: “Suck. My. Dick.”
With that, my tag-team partner and I pushed our loot to the car, half-scared of the P-Card gods but more impressed at our win over the number-villains.
The moral of this story? Do not ever accept a P-Card in any capacity. It will rob you - and the good employees of Wal-Mart - of your chill. Sometimes, however, chillin' like a villain feels too good to pass up.