At Supermercati Deco this morning, the cute young clerk in her blue smock was stopped in her tracks when she picked up my plastic bottle of mustard.
This was something she had not ever seen before. But nevertheless she swiped it on the glass rectangle that with a laser beam records the name and price of the item. Uh-oh! No “beep” followed the pass. She tried again, but nothing happened.
The folks in the long line behind me stood watching with amused tolerance. In America, of course, customers’ eyes would be rolling to the ceiling at what was obviously incompetence on the part of the clerk or management or both, and when in hell will these people ever learn the utility of CUSTOMER SERVICE, huh?
The clerk picked up her phone, tapped out a number on the keypad. She had to wait until someone answered. Finally someone did. She described the item, which very obviously was an import from America. Then she recited the numbers beneath the stripped bar code. Which American bar code did not, of course, register on this particular bar-code reading system, which reads only Italian products.
A long pause. The clerk called out to the clerk on the adjoining aisle. Did she know the price of this item? No, she didn’t. In fact, she didn’t think she’d ever seen such a thing before. At least not as long as she has been working that aisle, which has been, what? Five months now?
My clerk shook her head. Apparently this item does not appear on the computerized inventory. There is no record of this item having been purchased, as a matter of fact. Which means of course that it does not exist. How can there be a price for a non-existent item? What to do? What to do?
"Ah," She smiled. "Yes," she said into the phone, " that’s a great solution."
“It’s free!,” she said. “There will be no charge! You are a good customer!”
“Grazie!” I said. “Mille grazie!”
Only in Italy, eh?