If there are no clients, there is no work!

I recently started my VA business so I went to my local office supply store (one of the big chains) to pick up what I hoped would be about $1,000.00 worth of software, pens, etc. (VA’s business is all about support, so it’s imperative to have exactly what you need when you need it to serve your customer.) True, I could have bought a lot of this stuff online and saved myself some money, but since I was primarily focusing on the software, I wanted to be able to ask questions and make sure I was buying exactly what I needed, and not getting more than I needed, etc. The opportunity to build a relationship with someone locally also appealed to me. You never know when a customer is going to need something they’ve never heard of and will need it yesterday.

I took the kids because, well, they’re my kids, and I’m their mom, and taking care of them is my first job. (By the way, I love my babies.) My daughter is almost 3 and my son is a year and a half, so shopping isn’t something either of them have developed a taste for yet.

After picking up some normal office supplies, I made it to the software section of the store. I look at some of the software I’ve come to buy and look at the empty boxes to get an idea of ​​exactly what I’m buying. I’m really trying to kill time until Software Guru Guy, we’ll call him Lumpy, is done messing with a computer. I waited, and waited some more. During this time, my son gradually breaks down completely. (For those of you without kids, meltdown is when kids scream, cry, kick, drop things, cough, get sick, and do just about anything else they can conjure up in their little minds to get you to start doing something they want to do and stop doing what you have to do.)

About ten minutes into the wait, my son is blood red and screaming at the top of his lungs. I have tried playing with him, talking to him, bouncing him, singing to him (poor boy) and many other things. Unfortunately, nothing works. Since Lumpy apparently doesn’t hear my son, nor does he see me (although we are 5 steps away from each other) I move a little closer. His back is to me, but come on, really, could you at least turn around and growl or something? Nothing. So, I start looking for someone to help me. There are a lot of staff. Some of them are at the front of the store, talking to each other, leaning against things, hands crossed over their chests. (Note that my son is STILL screaming at the top of his lungs. There’s no way these people wouldn’t know I’m there.) I walk past a few employees and ask each of them if they can help me with the software. “No, but he can.” They point to Lumpy. Meanwhile, Lumpy hasn’t budgeted. He’s looking at the computer screen like it’s the most convincing thing he’s ever seen in his life.

Desperate, I go to the soda cooler they kindly put next to the register, and get my kids a bottle of water each. (Not smart, but he was losing his cool fast.) I needed these things, today, I’m getting no help from anyone in the store, although there’s no way they’re not fully aware I’m there, and my son is about to lose his mind. One more thing… When you’re in a store and you hear a child scream and scream and scream, let me tell you something. The parent with that child is not having fun. So before you roll your eyes, wishing they’d take your child home, or at least out of sound range from him, try asking if there’s anything he can do to help you. You’ll probably be surprised to learn that us moms and dads can often use an extra set of hands.

So I hand my little boy an open bottle of his best spring water and he immediately pours it all over the floor. Big. I go over to Lumpy and tell him we spilled some water. I finally make momentary eye contact followed by a groan, and he goes back to working on the computer. Can you believe this? Okay, I’m here, ready and willing to give this place what I consider to be a lot of money, and I get nothing. With my son screaming, you’d think someone, anyone, would have come and tried to do something, but got NOTHING.

I was in a daze for about 3 more minutes. Then I say out loud, “Okay, we’re leaving.” Lumpy’s ears perked up then. When I left the apartment, he came up to me and said, “uh, do you want something?” Thank you, I can finally tell you exactly how I feel! “I’ve been standing here for twenty minutes waiting for you. How can you ignore me and my screaming son for twenty minutes?” He looked at me like I was from Mars, surprised that he hadn’t enjoyed my visit.

I pull myself together, trying to give him a break, and knowing that I have to have these things, I tell him what I need. “I have XP and Basic Office 2003. I need Access and Powerpoint. Should I buy a full suite of Office or just the two parts?” Tell me Lumpy “what’s my best bet on price?” The expression on his face implied that he had just heard what seemed to him the dumbest question in his career of being the Yoda of software. She sat up and looked at the shelves, apparently looking for a way to make me feel worse. After processing the information, she realized that she didn’t know the answer to my stupid question. Then, I had the pleasure of seeing Lumpy puzzled and stupefied. (Not pretty) I had no idea. It’s okay not to know, but help me. Explain to me the value of buying the complete package, there has to be an advantage, right? He had absolutely no input.

Furious, I’m leaving. So livid that I actually have tears in my eyes. The fact that my son is in a state of collusion doesn’t help. I went in with great expectations, “I’m going to buy a bunch of stuff here, be very organized, the best VA in the world in fact, and be a millionaire one day if I spend this money here today” and I walk out with an angry kid, with no stuff, and I’m outraged!

I ran into the manager on my way out. He told him about the experience and he asked me the right questions…”Who did this?” etc I told him how badly I needed these things, and he offered to let me come in and help me get everything I needed. I appreciate his attempt and realize he can’t control his employee’s behavior, but I won’t be going back. I refuse to be treated badly. I will not work hard to earn money and then hand it over to people who treat me badly. Don’t they realize that if there are no clients, there is no work?

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