Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The Puppet

A while back, my partner and I were in the market for a new printer for our computer. We went to one of the area Future Shops to compare models and see what we could get. As we stood admidst the display of printers, we were approached by a tall young man and a short, humourless, slightly older woman, both wearing their required name tags. I don't exactly recall if he had an "In Training" button on, but his position on the technical food chain was painfully obvious.

He asked if we needed help, and we explained that we were looking for a new printer. Now I'm no technie, and I don't pretend to be, but my partner, on the other hand, is quite informed in the realm of bits and bytes. He asked the associates some question or other about the difference between two models, and what happened next left me standing with my jaw agape. The young man turned his head slightly and leaned toward the short woman and she whispered his response to repeat in his ear. He straightened up, looked at my partner and repeated whatever drivel the short woman whispered in his ear.

For ease of reading and writing, I will simply refer to him as the Puppet, and to her as the Puppet Master.

It was as if the Puppet Master didn't have her own voice. Everything had to be filtered through the Puppet to us. Every question we asked was handled this way. My partner, wanting to see how long this could go on, continued to ask questions, and without fail, every answer came about the same way. Puppet turns, leans, bends, listens, stands, repeats. I continued to stand there with my mouth open, thinking "are we on candid camera?". It was as if we were placed into a Seinfeld episode. Not once did the Puppet Master allow us to hear an answer directly from her. It all came from the Puppet. Even the comment that finally broke the deal. She whipered to the Puppet, and he repeated to us that we should use gold plated printer cables to improve the resolution. Well, my partner informed both the Puppet and the Puppet Master that gold plated cables would make no difference to what is being printed as it is only data being transmitted. (Don't ask me, it's all white noise to me. What I don't know about computers could fill a warehouse.)

It did, however, set me up in a very fun position. I turned to my partner and whispered in his ear, "I think we'll keep looking around."
My partner said, "I think we'll keep looking around."
I turned to him again and whispered, "Thank you for your help."
He repeated to them, "Thank you for your help."
I don't think they got it.

I'm not sure if that is how the Future Shop normally trains their new staff members, but I would offer that customers would probably feel more comfortable if the Puppet Master simply answered the questions and allowed the Puppet to learn from her interaction with the customers rather than treat the Puppet like an unprepared actor alone on a stage, calling out "Line?" after every cue.

I giggled out loud at the picture of you copying their little act. Hilarious!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?