Friday, July 3 — My nephew and I went to one of those huge franchise home-improvement supply stores and purchased the material we needed to fix my backyard fence which was in danger of complete collapse. We picked a style of picket that looked a lot like the pickets on my existing fence. (At that point, I was still planning on replacing only the worst parts. Once we began working on the fence, I saw how badly the entire thing needed replacing.)
Tuesday, July 7 — We were making good progress on the fence and needed more supplies. There were only a few packs of pickets on the skid at the store, so I tracked down an unenthusiastic employee and asked if there was another skid in storage. He looked on the computer and informed me that I had chosen a style that was being discontinued. No more were on hand or would be coming — ever. He looked at another branch in a nearby town and saw that they had 150 remaining in stock. That wasn’t nearly enough. I explained that I’d already started building the fence and needed more of the same style. He said I could special order them. I did some quick calculations and determined how many I needed. He placed the order and said that they’d send me a postcard when they arrived but it probably wouldn’t be until the end of the following week. I asked if he could give me a call when they came in. He said no. They don’t make phone calls.
Friday, July 17 — It was now Friday of the following week. I drove to the store and showed my order form to a different guy. He looked on the computer and told me the order had never been placed. He said, “Did you pay for these?” I said no, I thought I was supposed to pay on delivery. He said no, they didn’t do special orders unless the customer pays in advance. I expressed a wish that the guy had told me that on the 7th. He was very understanding. He said he could reorder the pickets but as it was 4:30 on Friday, it was too late to call the order in. He promised to do it first thing on Monday, put a rush on it and call me to let me know when the order was in.
Monday, July 20 — No phone call.
Tuesday, July 21 — I called and talked with an uninterested employee. I said, “I was expecting to receive a phone call about a special order for fence pickets. I want to make sure the order was placed and find out when they are expected to arrive.” The guy replied, “We never make phone calls, we just send postcards. The order should be here on Friday.”
Saturday, July 25 — I called and talked with an apathetic employee. I asked if the order was in. He said yes and then made a snide remark about the unusual number of pickets I’d ordered. I drove to the store and went in the special-order-pick-up door. A employee with an accent I couldn’t understand walked slowly over to me. I gave him my order and he slowly wandered around the area. He kept studying the labels on skids that were obviously not fence pickets — counter tops, pre-hung doors, etc. Then he disappeared. Another employee wandered into the area and proceeded to help another customer unload a pickup truck full of metal cabinets. When this job was finally done, he strolled up to me, pulled my order form out of his pocket and asked, “Are you the fence pickets?” I said that I was. He said that evidently my special order hadn’t yet arrived. I explained that I’d called ahead and was told that the order was here. He got on a phone and chatted for another 10 minutes, then wandered back over to say, “I’m not sure who you talked with. It might have been Tom, but he’s not here anymore. I don’t know how he got the idea that your order is here, but it isn’t.”
And then he said, “I’ll make sure to tell them to call you when it arrives.”