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There's only one existential retail question that's tougher than "debit or credit?", and that would be...


"Did you find everything that you're looking for?"
I was at Staples recently, late afternoon, and I was tired. A guy rushed into the store and asked the employee at the cash register, "Can you tell me where I can find Staples?" And I thought to myself, dude, you are more than clueless. There was a long pause and it was all I could do to not say anything–.until the cash register guy said, without even looking over, "Aisle Seven."
Oh. He meant, "Can you tell me where I can find staples?" not "Can you tell me where I can find Staples." Oops.
Still and all, is there any question more meaningless than "Did you find everything that you looking for?" Especially when you consider that the person asks you this question AFTER YOU'VE DONE YOUR SHOPPING and have made it to the cash register. Wouldn't it make more sense if someone had asked that question, say, in aisle seven, when you're looking for staples? Or Staples?
What do they expect you to say at that point? "Well, I was looking for world peace in the refurbished toner section but couldn't find it." Or, "Yes, I just need a bit more help locating a virtually new Treo 650–the one I lost a couple weeks ago downtown."
Sometimes, just to play with the programmed cashiers a bit, the moment they start to ask the question they've been trained to ask spontaneously, I'll interrupt and say, "I found everything I'm looking for." That often leaves them speechless, doing the gaping fish-mouth thing of opening and shutting wordlessly. "But did you REALLY find EVERYTHING you're looking for?" is about the only reply they come up with to that. At which point we're back on the trek for total consciousness.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ehrenfeld is a former writer and editor with business publications such as Inc. Magazine and the Harvard Business Review. He has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and general business-writing factotum for the past nine years, and continues to do so from his home base of Cambridge, Mass. His first book is titled The Startup Garden: How Growing A Business Grows You.