Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Pensacola Navy Exchange and Customer Service

One of the things that totally blows us away in the United States is customer service. Every now and then you run into bad customer service and it is so noticeable because most of the customer service is so GOOD. It is so good so often that you take it for granted, if you haven’t lived in countries where sometimes they treat you like you are lucky they notice your existence and maybe you aren’t good enough for their product, LOL!

I have a sweet, very elegant Indian friend in Kuwait. One time she told me she wanted to buy a beautiful pen for her husband, but when she went to the store, the man behind the counter didn’t want to show her the pen she wanted – because she is Indian. She said “here he is, working behind the counter, and he treats me like he doesn’t think I can afford to buy the pen I want to look at!” How insulting is that??

Oops. I digress. Sorry.

We decided to check out the Navy Exchange in Pensacola. Pensacola is a big military retirement area. It is a beautiful place, beautiful white powdery sands, green to turquoise to blue to purple waters, green palms and trees and right now azaleas blooming everywhere – many military people think it is heaven on earth, and come back to retire here. It’s a fun place, the Blue Angels practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; you can hear them thundering through the skies and over the Gulf, practicing their moves.

We get to the exchange (the souks, for my Gulf readers 😉 ) I am disappointed – it’s small. There is another building, but it is also small, and I am looking for big appliances, like a clothes washer and dryer. As we are leaving, a store guy asks us if we found everything OK, and we said ‘no, not really’ and he listened to us and then laughed and told us we were at the wrong place, and he took his time to tell us how to get to the right place, and to make sure we understood.

When we got to the right exchange (and it is HUGE!) there were lots of parking places – I love this place. We parked next to a reserved space. There are lots of reserved spaces – remember, this is a military base. The commander of this, the commander of that, a space for flag officers (generals) and then . . .this space. It gave me a big grin. And there are TWO of them, right in front of the Naval Exchange:

In my seven years in the Gulf, in Qatar and in Kuwait, I saw some amazing changes, including going from total disregard of handicapped spaces to increasing respect for the handicapped spaces. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a couple Expectant Mother spaces reserved in front of the Co-ops, and maybe in front of Toys R Us, and the hospitals?

Once inside, I was looking at washer and dryers, and a lady asked if she could help me. I said no, but then I couldn’t find the ones I was looking for, the ones recommended by Consumer Reports and I saw the lady behind a counter so I asked her. She said if we didn’t see them, we could order them, looked them up and told me the price, which was only minimally lower than I had seen them off base, except that on base we don’t have to pay the sales tax, which would make a difference.

But then, she started telling me more. Right now, we could take off 15% for this sale, and get a $50 mail-in rebate (better!) but if I could wait to order until April 12, the price would be 20% off for three days (woo hoo, even better!) AND if I used my Navy Star card for the first time, I could take an additional 10% off anything I purchased on the first day (WOOO HOOOOO, better and better!)

We are about to set up an entire household in a country where we haven’t lived for 12 years. We need EVERYTHING. We’ve been saving, so this isn’t going to put us in debt, but it’s like God just handed us this huge gift when he sent this woman our way to explain how it all works. So I applied for the credit card and was instantly approved, and I asked if I should put AdventureMan on the card and she laughed and said “no!” because what if we wanted something else BIG down the road, then he could apply for his own card and we would get the 10% all over again.

Now, my friends, THAT is customer service. What a woman!

Vacuum Cleaner
2 Plasma TVs
wireless BlueRay/DVD player channels Netflix
All-in-one fax/scanner/printer

We are going to save a bundle.

First, AdventureMan is coming with me to our Water Aerobics class at the YMCA. He has toured the Y, met the instructor, and no longer thinks this is going to be ‘girly’. From there, we will head for the NEX (Naval Exchange) to make our purchases and place our orders.

Next week, the major start-up grocery shop. Imagine, starting your kitchen once again from scratch. No, I have pots and pans and tools, but the basics, from salt and pepper, through olive oil, flour, sugar, etc . . .everything. oh, AARRGH.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Blogging, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Doha, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Food, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Moving, Pets, Shopping | Leave a comment

Ketchup Entry

“It’s been five days since you blogged,” my friend wrote to me. “Isn’t that some kind of a record?”

Well, no.

Back when I went to Damascus for Christmas, it was also the Eid al Kebir, and I was gone for a week and everyone was so busy with their own celebrations that no one really noticed. 🙂 Well, maybe my Mother. 🙂

This time, it has to do with AdventureMan.

AdventureMan became semi-retired this last week. He and the Qatteri Cat flew to Pensacola, where we met up and now the three of us are staying in a hotel while our heroic contractors are battling to have us in the house by April 15th. Will we make it?

The Qatteri Cat was totally freaked out by his long long trip to the United States. First, for all my annoyances with KLM, we have to tell you that they are totally superb when you are shipping an animal with you. At every stage of the journey, they kept AdventureMan informed on QC’s progress, and he was in great shape when he arrived, except that he was really, really scared. He didn’t understand any of this, the long flight, all the noise, the vibration and then the hotel room full of strange smells of a 1,000 previous guests. (If you are a cat, you can smell things we can’t even dream).

He is OK now. He has a short memory.

Meanwhile, AdventureMan and I have been doing the business of getting ready to get settled, and at the same time, AM is jet lagging. I tell him I think he is catching up on months of sleep deprivation, and he says he thinks it is just jet lag. It makes me happy to see him sleep.

Today, we went by the house so I could pot a cherry tomato, a very special heirloom tomato that I found at the Emerald Coast Garden Show this last weekend. It is a black cherry tomato, and I have never seen one! I have sent for some other heirloom seeds; I love cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes, tiny little tomatoes with intense flavor. I love to mix them all together with some green onion tops and just a little lemon-y vinaigrette dressing, maybe on some lettuce. YUMMM!

Anyway, AdventureMan likes gardening, too. He comes by it honestly, both his grandfathers gardened. One of them had chickens, too, and grew peanuts, and corn as well as a garden full of vegetables. I garden on a much smaller scale. Mostly I plant things that will take care of themselves – lavender, rosemary. Here, in the mild climate of Pensacola, basil becomes a perennial (I saw that in Kuwait, too, at our Kuwait gardening friend’s house) and I have planted some bougainvillea, which I am hoping will be hardy enough to weather an occasional cold winter or two like the last one.

When we got to the house – and this is Sunday, in the heart of the Bible-belt deep South – the ceiling and drywall people were there, working on a ceiling. We were surprised to see them there, but we know they are all trying really hard to get us into the house as soon as they can.

I was thinking AdventureMan was going to kick back and take it easy, but it hasn’t turned out that way – we are up and at-’em every day, and we have accomplished amazing things. More about some of that in future posts.

Just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you – just haven’t had the opportunity to sit for very long to organize my thoughts.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Food, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, Moving, Pensacola, Pets, Qatteri Cat, Renovations, Spiritual | | 5 Comments