Buying a cable as a miniature example of life outside Wiscon

Having clerks in electronic stores treat me like I don’t know what I’m talking about is particularly annoying after Wiscon. There are times when it’s amusing to go into a hardware store in a dress and ask for a replacement blade for my bandsaw while the clerk’s head spins with reevaluation.  Today, I just needed a cord and was in a hurry.

I went in and the clerk asked me if I was looking for something in particular.

“Yes, thanks. I need a usb to mini-usb retractable cord. One of the little travel jobbies.”

He looked at me with a perfectly neutral expression, but said, “What are you using it for?”

Now, let’s be clear. That’s a good question when someone comes in and doesn’t know what they want.  It’s also one I get from clerks who think I’ve asked for the wrong thing.  I sighed and said, “It’s to connect my phone to my computer. I had one, it got a short. I need a new one.”

He now looked openly skeptical.  “What kind of phone? Let me see it.”

“It’s a G1.” I refrained from rolling my eyes, because, you know, maybe he was covering for not knowing what a mini-usb plug looked like. By this point we’ve stopped in front of a display of cords so I pulled the phone out and flashed the port at him.

He fingered a retractable cord that was regular USB.  “We don’t have that.”

Fortunately, right next to that is exactly what I wanted, so I picked one up.  “Here. This is it.”

“No, ma’am. That’s the wrong size.”

I looked at the package again, just in case, and showed him the words “USB to mini-USB,”  which is what I’d asked for.

He looked at it and then back at the wrong one.  “Oh.  I thought you wanted something else. This is the wrong size.”

Now see.  I’m glad I didn’t hand him his head for assuming that a woman wouldn’t know what she’s asking.  Clearly the problem was just that his primary qualification is that he’s not a zombie.

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8 thoughts on “Buying a cable as a miniature example of life outside Wiscon”

  1. Like the teenage boy who is stunned that I can operate a cell phone. Um, been working in high tech since before he was born? Sigh.

  2. Hey, you robbed him of the opportunity to demonstrate mastery, and he didn’t expect it from you. I pity the poor fool as well as ridiculing him.

  3. You know, when I read the short version on Facebook, I thought, “Oh, the guy is covering up for the fact that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” But now, I am thinking… which part is that hard to understand? USB, mini USB, or retractable? I can’t believe someone working at an electronic store doesn’t know what those things are.

  4. It’s hard to find non-zombie help nowadays 😉

    In his “defense” I sometimes get similar remarks when I show up at a tech store. They assume that a 40-something guy (or anybody not their age) is tech-challenged.

      1. I’ve always had an aversion to the Palm OS for some reason, though I admit it’s probably irrational.

        I actually walked into an AT&T store and practically dared them to sell me an iPhone, though. I must be just about the only person in America who was not impressed. I played with it in the store for a good hour, trying to do all the things I could see myself doing once I owned it, and I just found it clunky. The best things about the G1, imo, are the keyboard and the little tracball. (I saw that on the next generation Android phone from HTC they’re doing away with the keyboard, which just baffles me.)

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