Known Johnson

January 15, 2008

Sharpening the lead

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:58 pm

It’s just this week. It wasn’t a bad day, or a bad couple of days, it’s just this week. I’ve given up.

Here’s one possible downside to daily updates for you readers that you weren’t getting before: I’m not editing my mood. Before, I would post only when I was in a good mood, now I’m just posting, warts ‘n all, as they say. So, here’s a run of crappy, bad mood posts, I’m sorry to say. On the other hand, you get to know me pretty much unlike anyone else but the very closest of acquaintances. For better or for worse.

So here’s my day . . . in lieu of my tablet, I went with plan b(2), which was getting myself a set of true audiophile earphones. I’ve been considering for some time a move up from one of two pairs that I currently own, the Etymotic ER6i (I also have Shure E3C, which I have finally decided that I just don’t like all that much, unfortunately,) to their big brothers, the ER4P, which is the beginning of the real audiophile level of earphones. I thought I’d already started in on that world, but the earphones I’ve been using were kind of like starters, even at their high prices. After consulting a bunch of websites and thinking about how I listen, I realized that I’m at the point where the upgrade would make sense and where I would actually enjoy and really take advantage of it. It may seem insane to many to spend $170 on a pair of headphones, but I get just as much of thrill out of the music as I do the quality of the sound going into my ears, and I spend a lot of time with little things plugged into them. They might as well be extremely high quality.

So that was good, but then it kind of went downhill. The Eels released both a best-of today and an extensive b-sides/outtakes collection today, and because I knew Best Buy would have the latter far cheaper than Amazon (by $7) I decided to pick it up locally. Except only one Best Buy that I could get to (of two that actually had it) was carrying it. So I opted to stop at Zia on the way just to see . . . nope, $27.99 (it’s 3 discs), more than Amazon, so I decided to hit Best Buy anyway. And wouldn’t you know it, it was the same old song and dance at Best Buy that I’ve talked about before. They lure you in with a low price promised on their website, then in store the price is nowhere to be found. Only I found it – because I couldn’t find the disc, I asked one of the blueshirts to look it up and saw the price on the screen – $19.99 – and then we found it. I took it to the register where it rang up a the full price, and I told the cashier that it was supposed to be $19.99. Of course, she has to send me to customer service, which elicited a very annoyed sigh and “Of course” from me. I got to the counter, dropped the set, and told the guy it was supposed to be $19.99. And here’s where that lawsuit I linked to comes into play . . . the guy says there’s no such price coming up, keeps quoting the full price, and I tell him that it’s $19.99 according to the site, etc., and I start getting real frustrated. I’m tired, my week is just not going well, and this is just more annoying than I need. I say, quite sternly, “You know this is what you guys are in a lawsuit over, don’t you? This is $19.99 on your website, the one that I can access from my computer at home or anywhere else. I know you have your little internal website, and then there’s the real world website for regular people. I just saw it back there in the music department on the computer. Do you want to go back there? Let’s go. Come on, let’s go take a look.” And, what do you know, suddenly, he’s able to pull up the mysterious missing price without a problem. Hmmm. He fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the first is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but the other is don’t mess with me when price is on the line!

Yeah, now I feel kind of nasty about it – I snapped, but I was tired and very annoyed. Aren’t there times when you feel like you’re “fighting the good fight” not only for yourself and your wallet but for everybody? That’s how I felt for those few minutes there. Was I in the right or the wrong to push the issue? I think I was in the right. I can’t see how I wasn’t. Was it his fault? I can’t say. We may not know until the lawsuit against Best Buy is over and they’ve hopefully lost and had to spill the beans on this hopefully illegal and certainly immoral practice.

I managed to squeeze in my allergy shots after this, amazingly. I had lost a LOT of time with all of this, far more time than I’d planned, but I had to get them done. Of course, with all of this happening, I forgot to hit the post office to mail off a handful of packages that needed to be sent . . .

Got home, found my copy of the Eels best-of from Amazon waiting – that was an equal deal from Amazon so that worked out just fine – and proceeded to make dinner. Or tried to. I didn’t pay attention to my grill’s gauge, however, and put the chicken on, walked away, then went out to turn it over only to find two completely raw, uncooked pieces sitting on a rapidly cooling grill. The tank was empty.

There are just times when you need to hang it up and say “I give up.” And, so, I give up. Nothing terrible has happened – I fully realize that truly terrible things are happening to people and I’m whining about relatively meaningless crap – but just a bunch of extremely annoying little things have piled up into one big chunk of annoyance. On my way home, before other annoying things had even happened yet, I had resolved that tomorrow is a “me” day. I’m taking the day off. We have a doctor’s appointment for Amanda and so I’d have to leave work early anyway, but now I’m just taking the whole day off. Screw it. I don’t care (see “I give up” above for more.) Some people are chalk – they can just keep writing and never need to stop to sharpen themselves. I’m a pencil. At some time, the point has worn down and I have to stop to sharpen the lead. Regardless of having MLK day off next Monday, tomorrow needs to be off – I’m not going to make it, mentally, until the weekend.

Hey, at least I’m not a pen. With pens, the ink runs out or dries up and that’s it – just an empty tube that has to be disposed of.



  1. You were 100% in the right and you were right to fight and right to flip out. I’ve done it. I’ll do it again. You wanna know what I can’t wait for? I’m getting an iPhone next week, on Thursday. I’m going to go in with that shit bookmarked and dare the little BlueShirts to fuck with me on prices. I swear, I’d buy the iPhone for that reason alone.

    Comment by Josh Hathaway — January 16, 2008 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  2. I thought of that Iphone thing, Josh. They’re not going to be able to pull this kind of thing very long and I’m surprised they’re able to do it at all with all the web-capable phones out there right now.

    The irony . . . I think it’s irony, but I don’t have Alanis to consult on this . . . is that I got an email today from BB Reward Zone telling me that I have $5 to use. I think someone in BB’s headquarters was planning it this way. “Piss ‘im off so he doesn’t ever want to come back and THEN give him the $5.”

    Comment by Tom — January 16, 2008 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  3. One thing to keep in mind when you’re about to blow up on customer service people: it’s not their fault.

    Yeah yeah, sure sure, I know, they chose to work that job, and if they’re uncomfortable with the slimy practices the job entails, they should find another job. I understand that sentiment and agree with it (in fact, my younger brother just left a job with Circuit City that he initially really liked because he came to realize how slimy some of their policies were). But I also understand that, for a number of reasons, just up and changing jobs isn’t always an immediately available option.

    I worked in customer service (register operator at a fast food joint) years ago, and there were plenty of policies that I had to enforce that I thought were moronic. I’d cringe every time I had to enforce one, and I’d be in full agreement when the customer told me the policy was moronic…unless, that is, the customer decided to be a complete ass to me about it. If they did that, they were on their own. I might have been willing to bend the rules a bit for a nice customer, but with the asses, the moronic policies got enforced as strictly as my employer wanted them to be.

    The blue-shirts are people just like you, and they probably recognize the idiocy of some of the things they are told to do. But, they have a limited number of choices: 1. Do the idiotic thing and hope the customer won’t realize they’re getting screwed, which probably works out most of the time. 2. Don’t do the idiotic thing and get reamed by the boss and possibly fired.

    The trick is to get them to be willing to risk a boss-reaming or getting fired. You can do that by being so much of an ass that all they care about at that particular moment is getting you out of their sight as quickly as possible, or you can get them to like you enough that giving into your wishes presents itself as an opportunity for them to get back at their bosses, which you both dislike.

    In practice, the latter option is the more difficult one, but I always enjoy feeling like less of an ass and still being able to get my way. Of course, I’ve lost it before too, so I know how easy it is to revert back to that, especially when you’ve had a particularly craptacular day.

    Comment by UncleMidriff — January 17, 2008 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

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