Irficionado | Books | Pat

Pat. Pat. Pat. Pat. Pat.

Pat. I found the book in Search.

Pat. I placed the order.

Pat. I got an SMS saying the order has been placed.

Pat. A notification popped up saying I could read the first chapter of the book online for free. (Pat. I ignored it. Why would I when I had just placed the order?)

Pat. I got an SMS saying the book had been dispatched.

Pat. The delivery guy popped up at my door within two days with the package. (If this had been the US or UK, his name would also have been Pat.)

Pat. I tore up the package.

Pat. I signed the receipt.

Everything went pat on my first online order of a book. (Yes, I’ve been that resistant.) It was like pat was on tap. It didn’t even feel like I’d bought a book. I felt like I was watching an episode of Mega Factories, like how Coke is made or something. And it felt as cold as a can of that. The only thing I noticed about this transaction was the delivery guy. He was unlike other delivery guys – postman or the courier guy. He seemed older and more well-to-do, like he had either fallen upon tough times or taken up a job post-retirement to fill his time. More the latter, or both, going by my instinct. (And I have a good one, although I say so myself.) In fact, if knew the language better, I would have struck up a conversation with him, also seeking to confirm my theory. I felt that deprived of human interaction in this entire transaction.

But that is a common refrain by now. So, here’s a story from the other side…

Store assistant at the counter of a bookstore

First, the flunky went about it. Not in Indian Writing. Not in Fiction. Not in Romance. Flunky gave up soon enough, like flunkies do. Time for Manager to prove why he was manager. He was certain the book was there. The system showed it, and apparently the system doesn’t lie. He retraced Flunky’s path. Nought. Nought. Nought. Then, he decided to look in the vicinity – any of the racks nearby. He was thinking like Holmes: a delinquent reader would have picked it up, browsed through it, and accidentally or lazily placed it at the first handy location. Nought. Nought. This side and that side of the close-by rack. By now, he, portly he, was puffing and sweating. I felt sorry for him, and was fairly certain (that gut instinct again) it wasn’t in store. As my feet began withdrawing away from the racks, he looked at me beseechingly, “It’s there. I’ve seen it.” I was getting less and less convinced, but was scoring him full marks for effort. Tuning off slowly, I clutched the other book I did find, and turned in the direction of the counter. Just then, he squeaked, “Found it!” Irfan’s Gut Instinct 0, Store Manager’s Memory 1.

Why did he put in so much effort? Pat. It’s the days of online ordering. If the customer (or the manager or flunky) doesn’t find the book in one minute in-store, they are going to turn on the smartphone. And also save some money.

I half felt like going up to the manager and giving him a… pat.

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