Tag Archives: Target

Feeling Important at Target

As I walked through the frozen food section of my local Target store last week, I felt very important.  In order to save energy, the freezer lights are off when no one is around.  When someone walks up to or by a freezer, the lights come on.


I had no business in the freezer section.  I was merely walking from one end of the store to another by way of the row of freezers.  However, the freezer lights do not discriminate, and each light turned on as I walked by.  I noticed this, and – though I know it seems odd – I felt important.

Sometimes I feel a bit ignored.

I do not think that I suffer from feeling ignored, but I feel it nonetheless. I have noticed that life’s patterns put us into a course of rhythm, and sometimes those patterns change and we do not like the new rhythms.  For example, when my children were young, I was the center of their universe.  Now they (rightfully so) feel as though others their age or even (the horror!) other adults should have some of their time.

Sometimes I feel unseen.

We have all been there (I think anyway).  The crowded room with people we hardly know or even people we do know.  We look around and see everyone talking to everyone else.  And we wonder, “Where do I fit in?”  Breaking into an already existing conversation can be hard.  I would rather run away.  Sometimes someone pulls us into the conversation, but often we have to be the ones to reach out.  This is hard.

Sometimes I just feel unimportant.

All of these are feelings. They might not even be reality.  In fact, what I feel as others ignoring me could just as easily be seen by them as me ignoring them.

At times like this, I need to remember truth.

I am not the center of everyone else’s universe, and rightly so.  But – God sees me and care about me as an individual.

I may not have something to say that others want to hear, but God is willing to hear anything I have to say and hopes that I would listen in return.

I am not all that important.  But I am.

In other words, God could do anything He desires without me. At the same time, I am part of His plan to impact the lives of others.  When I do not feel important, I need to look to Him to find my importance.

And that is where the rubber hits the road for me.  When I think I need to feel important usually is exactly when I should be remembering that I am not but that God is.  I need to see my importance as coming from what He desires to do through me rather than what I can do because I’m just that great.

What do you think about this?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.


Filed under faith, Travel

Hot Dogs at the Pharmacy?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was recently in a Target store to pick up some medication from the pharmacy.  While there I saw some things that caught my eye.

It seems that I am pretty much always an observer of the world around me and that I see things that make me look twice.


This scene did not make me look twice.


In fact, I just stood there – most likely with my mouth dropped in complete shock that a huge hot dog would be hung from the ceiling within feet of the pharmacy sign.

For so many reasons this is wrong.

  1. The food court is on the other side of the store.  It is not easy to miss because it is the first thing that one encounters when entering the store.  If the store peeps want me to go to the food court, this sign does not show me where to go.
  2. What do hot dogs and a pharmacy have in common?  Nothing!!!  They could be related, I supposed, as too much of one (the hot dog) makes us need the other (the pharmacy) more.  Other than that, though, I am at a loss.
  3. The hot dog sign is ugly and completely blocks the view of the pharmacy.  If I am supposed to be able to find the pharmacy, a huge hot dog sign makes it a bit hard.

I know that I try to pull deep thoughts from pictures that I see (see Out of Place from a few days ago), but I have nothing, zip, zilch for this one.  There is nothing deep, let alone appropriate, that I can share from this.

However, it was simply too good of a photo not to share with readers.  I hope that it brings you a bit of joy, a smile, or a giggle.  Sometimes that is what we need, right?

Happy Sunday!


Filed under Uncategorized

Decorative Duct Tape?

I used to be a staunch Wal-Mart patron.  I have no idea when this changed, and it may change again now that a new store is going up close to my house.  But recently I have found that I am in Target stores much more than Wal-Mart stores.  I know that this will cause great joy in some of my friends while great despair in others.  It is kind of like the Starbucks vs Caribou debate.

Regardless, the other day I had enough time to stop at Target to pick up my anti-crazy drugs (click hereto read why I take them if you do not already know)

.  Tangent moment has to cut in here.  I know that there will be some who are offended by my statement in this paragraph about “anti-crazy drugs.”  I am sorry that you are offended; however, because I am on the medication and have a diagnosis that gives cause for the medications, I feel that I can call them what I want (it’s a coping mechanism…).

Return from Tangent: While at Target, I found a couple of items that caught my eye…it is much like the “squirrel” moments in the movie Up (which, by the way, I do recommend for adults as well as children – but bring the tissues!).

Item #1


Several years ago, I taught English at PACT Charter School in Ramsey, MN.  During my time there, I had a few students who were quite creative with their uses of duct tape – purses, wallets, vests, and more…I think there was talk of a prom outfit even (if someone has a picture of one of my students wearing those items, I would love for you to email me!).  The point is that they did not have “decorative” duct tape with instructions; they used various colors, but purists stuck to the silver duct tape.  And they made lovely items by applying what they knew or by finding out information.

I have to admit that I am a little shocked that there is now decorative duct tape available with instruction booklets.  In fact, I am a bit sad about it. To be honest, I think that any time there is a craft kit in a store with instructions, it is a sad moment.  Where is the creativity in that?  I know that I would be much better off with instructions, but sometimes even with instructions a project is not successful (evidenced by my 9th grade home economics sewing project – a shirt with three arm sleeves and nowhere for my head…).

What do you think this?  What are the pros and the cons?  Is it better to follow instructions and create something just like someone else? Or should kids be left to their own devices to create?

For item #2, you will need to stop by tomorrow or Monday (depending on when I get the energy to write the blog).

Happy Saturday!


Filed under Education, Parenting, Thoughts

More Good Customer Service

As I mentioned yesterday, customer service is a really big deal to me. I seriously should have gone into quality and assurance for some big company. If I am satisfied, I am quite sure that the majority of customers would be as well. One of my most frustrating moments EVER occurred checking out at the Target in Aberdeen, SD, on Black Friday a few years ago. The system clearly showed that whatever planning that occurred was not being followed. I would assert that the thought behind the process had several flaws. Incidentally, this was not the experience during which a security guard escorted me out of the store that I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

This past week, I have traveled 1600 miles in order to present at and attend an online learning conference. I have had a lot of time to experience customer service at its worst and at its finest. On Wednesday night, after discovering that Marriott has a contract with the devil (Pepsi), I went on a hunt for a can of the elixir of joy (Coca-Cola). The concierge at the JW Marriott made phone calls to three nearby businesses in order to save me extensive search time.

Presenting at this conference has been a dream of mine for the past six years of working in online education. I submitted the proposal early this summer and found out at the end of June that I had been accepted. I am humbled as I look through the qualifications of other presenters. Over half of them have PhDs in education, statistical analysis, psychology, and things I did not know even existed. I am honored to have been chosen, but I am also beyond intimidated. Anyone who knows me well knows that I can talk; however, as the size of the group increases, my confidence level decreases.

Preparing for presentations is not a strong point of mine. I tend to submit proposals for which I then regret having done so, but I always submit proposals of concepts that I know very well. An example of this is the presentations I have done annually about Facebook at the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programming in February. I put off preparation because I know the content really well, and a PowerPoint is not necessary. Give me the Facebook website and a scribbled outline on a napkin, and I am good to go. This week’s presentation was different. Although this presentation’s content (attendance and truancy in online schools) is what I live and breath every day, the level of quality for the presentation was expected to be much higher. For example, more professional PowerPoints, filled with engaging graphics, are the norm at this conference rather than the exception.

I arrived, thanks to the help of friends, colleagues, and my huz (he was a great resource!), well prepared; however, printing out a physical copy of my notes had slipped my mind. I am staying at the Courtyard by Marriott, and they have a great business center with a printer. They have Internet free of charge in the entire hotel (not true at the JW Marriott where it costs $7.95 per day – lame!).  I emailed my presentation to myself, headed down to the business center, and opened the PowerPoint. Fail.

The software on the business center’s set up would not allow me to change the format to a slide with notes format for printing. My heart dropped. It was after 11 p.m., and bed needed to be a priority, but I had to get this done before I would sleep.

Wenjing saved the day! Wenjing had quickly become my pal as we commiserated about Marriott’s unfortunate marriage to Pepsi. He scanned a document to me because it required a physical signature rather than an electronic response. He also had helped me figure out transportation to the airport. And he was aware of my distress over my PowerPoint problem. He gave me his personal gmail address (which I returned to him), I emailed the presentation to him, he formatted it correctly, and he printed it out for me.

This is good – great – customer service. I realize that “guest services” is his job, but it was the way that Wenjing provided the customer device that made a difference. He saw my need, he problem solved to be proactive, and he did it cheerfully. I was not a bother or a second thought. My needs were of top priority until solutions were found. He saw each issue through until the very end. For the record, Wenjing did give me permission to post his picture and use his real name.

In yesterday’s post, I had said, “Good customer service needs to be celebrated; poor customer service needs to be reported.” I think I need to amend that. Good customer service needs to be reported in the same way negative experiences need to be reported. While this takes time, it is so important! I have heard that a bad experience is much more likely to be reported than a positive experience. In addition, public perception requires 10 positive comments and experiences to change just one negative comment or experience. Good companies need to know what they are doing well so that they keep doing those good things!

I would love to hear about other companies that are providing good customer service. Share them with me…and with them…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Customer Service Matters

I expect good customer service.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have high expectations on the customer service industry. When I pay for a product – of any kind – I expect to be treated well. It honestly does not matter how much I spend on something….I expect good customer service.  I have been escorted out of a Target store because of my insistence that they provide me with the best customer service experience.  When they could not do that, and I told them why their practices were ridiculous, a security guard showed me the door.

Yesterday morning, I ran into customer service at one of its poorest moments at the United Airlines ticket kiosk in Milwaukee.  The 5 a.m. puddle jumper flight from Milwaukee to Chicago (seriously, why did I do that??) was a full flight.  At 3:45 a.m, everyone who wanted to be on the flight had arrived (they say 90-120 minutes before your flight…right, TSA?) and stood in line.  People standing in line breeds frustration.  When the one ticket agent arrived at 4:15 a.m. to turn on the electronic kiosks, the moans could be heard throughout the terminal.  Many of the passengers had no idea how to use them, and they actually were malfunctioning!  But the agent did not believe people!  She kept saying, “You have to follow the directions.”  Helpful.  Maybe if you say it louder, they will understand?  Repeating the same phrase over and over again when the machine is not working does not usually end in positive results.  Just sayin’….

In addition to this, there was not clear marking for lines and who should be in which ones.  It did not really matter, though, because nothing was working.  I honestly do not know how the flight left on time given that security is always a fiasco.  Seriously – I wondered why do I even get dressed for a flight.  I should walk around the airport barefoot with my shoes, coat, belt, etc. in my carry-on while holding my laptop and quart-size bag of toiletries (by the way, don’t ever take your favorite toothpaste in a larger than 3 oz tube – it is a liquid) in my hands.  Airports now have “recombobulation areas.”  This should say something about how upsetting air travel is.  But that is another blog…

What is good customer service? Bad customer service stories are really fun to tell, and I could write an entire blog about some of my doosies (sp?!?!?!)….but really – what is good customer service?  I think that I will try to focus on something positive and share with you some good stuff rather than some frustrating stuff.

At the foundation of every interaction, I expect the following:
1. I expect to be heard.
2. I expect to be dealt with honestly.
3. I expect competence from the customer service representative.
4. I expect good common sense from the customer service representative.

I have had two excellent customer service experiences in the past week. Oddly enough, both occurred with online purchases. The first occurred when I uploaded some photos to the CVS photo site so that Beth could have them printed for a project. They are awesome photos, by the way, but that has nothing to do with the story. I uploaded the photos and received an email confirmation (with an online order number for tracking purposes) that my order had been completed. Later, I received an email (with the same order number) saying that the photos were ready for pick up. I was at camp, so I forwarded that email to Beth. She and Kerry went to the CVS location, but they were told that the photos were not there and that no order had been placed. Beth let me know this so that I could follow up. I forwarded the confirmation email to the CVS customer service email and explained the situation.

Within a few hours, I received an email from a real person who had placed an actual phone call to the store who claimed that the order did not exist.  Not only that, but she had found the online order and had resubmitted it.  The order would be available for pick up – free of charge – within the hour.  There was no real explanation as to whether the store had lost the order or if the computer system had misplaced it, but she solved the problem.  The real manager of the store placed a real phone call to me and apologized for the inconvenience.  She reiterated that the photos were available. When Kerry and Beth picked up the photos later in the day, the manager had placed a $5 CVS gift card into the photo envelop.

This was good customer service!  My problem was heard by a competent individual who acknowledged that her company had made a mistake.  She solved the problem, and she compensated us for time lost due to their mistake.  I will go back to CVS photo just because of this experience!

The second positive customer service experience that I had this week was with iTunes.  On the day that Steve Jobs passed away, I purchased an iPad2.  There are so many reasons for the purchase, and I am so glad that I made the leap (although I am not overly impressed with the WordPress app…I can’t see the words that I type into the body of a blog post…this makes it hard to edit!).  The one thing that has held me back from an iPad purchase is the fact that I function in a Microsoft Office world.  Well, you say, isn’t there an app for that?  There is! 

Docs to Go is an awesome app that allows users to function in the Office world from the iPad. What I did not know (or pay attention to well) was the fact that there are two products: Docs to Go and Docs to Go Premiere.  The second is the one that I need because it links to Dropbox…where all of my work documents live.  The first does not have that function.  For $8 less, that makes sense.  I purchased the first and then realized that I wanted the second.  I purchased that as well.  And … before iTunes had even processed the orders, the iTunes customer service representative had approved my refund of the first.  She was very reasonable and – although their “terms of use” are very clear that mistakenly purchasing an app is not good cause for a refund – issued me a refund.  This is good customer service!

Good customer service keeps me as a customer.  Unless I am completely sold out on a product (Chipotle), it only takes one really bad customer experience for me to say, “See ya!”  There have been times when I have taken a break from a particular store due to an issue rather than leaving the entire organization; however, for the most part, these people need to get a clue. The economy is not good enough for customer service to become an issue.  Most services are duplicated by other companies, and the most competent will rise to the top.  The Apple company has shown that to me.  Not only do they have a great product but their customer service is also head and shoulders above any of the PC world companies.

Good customer service needs to be celebrated; poor customer service needs to be reported.  Unfortunately, I fear that the airlines really do not care anymore.  They provide a service that we now depend upon to get us from home to visit grandma.  How long they make us wait and how they treat us along the way will not matter unless we let them know that we will not tolerate their behavior.

I, for one, have already started to reconsider how my next trip will look.  The megabus is looking pretty good.

Stay tuned for tomorrow…more good customer service…


Filed under Uncategorized