Friday, June 12, 2009

What Not To Do

So I was wicked booked yesterday, had tasting appointments up the wazoo, I tend to push all my appointment back and open the flood gate one or two afternoons a month, just works better for me than having one or two tasting appointments a day. This way I can just sit in the tasting room and knock them all out at once. Yesterday was an all day tasting event. As a buyer, people want to see me all the time, especially small importers, and while I do support the little guys, (I get virtually nothing from SW&S or Youngs Market) there are some pretty wretched “little” wines out there, just because you import a French wine it does not make it good….cannot tell you how much crappy French wine there is out there. I once had a customer tell me, “I really love French wine, never gotten a bad one here” well, that’s because we have tasted through the merde and rejected them.

Cannot tell you how many times I’ve taken appointments with these Frenchmen, had them pour for me and act shocked that I was not wowed by their open for 4 days, bottle of French wine, that they want $19.00 wholesale for…dude, c’mon. My favorite is when they tell me that the chef at, _________, tasted it and loved it, so?! He also tastes corked wines, (been a number of times I have been tasted after him, tell the supplier the wine is corked and they say, “_____tasted it and bought some) and loves them, just because he is French does not mean he knows wine or has a good palate. “Well good, he can buy lots of then” is all I can say.

Needless to say, I try and avoid tasting with guys like that, or people importing some “new to the US” wines….just historically means putting yucky stuff in my mouth…ewe. So a new-to-importing-French-wine guy had been calling me every few days for over two weeks, he had a line of Alsace wines he wanted to taste me on. I told him, a few times, that I was not in the market for new Alsace wines, I was happy with the ones I was carrying, he finally just told me he wanted me to at least taste them so I would know the brand. I had to admire his tenacity and agreed to meet with him.

He needed to come early because he had a long day, I was fine with that and penciled him in as my first appointment, so I waited….and waited and the dude was late, not horribly late, but late still and he didn’t call. This would not be a big deal normally, I know we have traffic and things happen but I think you should call…just a courtesy and had we met before I would have been even less peeved, but this dude was breakin’ my bawls for weeks and now he glides in late, on a day that is booked solid, with little more than a “sorry where should I set up?”…grumble, bad start, but not the worst.

I grab my notebook, glasses, dump buckets and sit down in the tasting room with Amy, trying to get over my irritation. So first of all the guy didn’t sit with us, he stood….I just find that odd and a little uncomfortable, as I have to keep craning my neck to make eye contact while he is speaking, kind of a strike two. He pours the first wine and my glass damn near froze…went frosty in a matter of seconds, the wines were ICE COLD….dude. I tried to warm them in the palm of my had which was taking forever and the wines were so freaking cold, I just could not warm them enough to actually smell anything…seriously, got nothing on the nose from any of them other than the Gewurztraminer, and even that was muted. Swishing in my mouth was less than fun because they were so cold it started to hurt my teeth…annoying as hell, that AND he kind of talked down to us, like we knew nothing, which I can overlook a bit and most people can tell after a few comments that I do in fact know a thing or two…hell, I’ve even been to Alsace a couple times, and they end the “lesson” this guy did not. He just stood there lecturing and “teaching” us about Alsace….done. The wines tasted fine, they were clean enough and they could have been interesting but any character was crushed by the freezing cold chill. Pushy, late, frozen wines and condescension…this is what NOT to do.

The rest of the day was fantastic, I was tasting wines from Kermit Lynch, Martine’s and Beaune Imports, a really thrilling tasting afternoon full of remarkable wines that wiped that other dudes yuck right off me, yay! So when my tasting day was done, it was time to get ready for our Thursday afternoon tasting, we were doing, California’s Other Whites, so the tasting was Bennett’s to set up and pour for and Amy and I could just sit back and sip the leftover Agrapart that Chuck, (our Beaune rep) left for us…we were so happy, so happy in fact that we opened a bottle of Roland Champion Blanc de Blancs to keep that happy going while we rang people up for the tasting. This is where the day begins to take a turn….she came in, the she that thought it was cool or funny to ruin my night by telling me the score of the Lakers game that I was taping, the one where the Lakers clinched the Western Conference Finals…yeah, her.

She has been in a few times since that evening and I have gone out of my way to keep my distance, not rude just distant and my fellow Wine Country staff has been very helpful in keeping us apart, I’m just not that into people that behave like that, not to mention she is seriously the biggest dork I have ever met, so it’s not like I would really spend much time talking to her anyway. She comes in tastes and leaves and I’m fine with that, it’s a perfect relationship that way….she should have just left well enough alone….she didn’t.

I went to the tasting table to run through Bennett’s wines, I make it a point to do so because I am so out of touch with California wines anymore, I’m working on correcting that. So I run through the wines and Bennett has to step away from the table to assist another customer, I was there anyway, so sure I could pour. Things were going fine, then I saw her, her talking to a group of other regular tasters, they kept looking over at me and whispering to each other, great. “Oh well” I thought, “maybe they will agree that she was wrong” and here she comes. I thought she was just ready for her next pour, yeah…she wanted to discuss the situation, which I might have been okay with, but this idiot wants to tell me how I overreacted, blew it out of proportion and was being ridiculous, so NOT the way to dissolve an argument.

I tried to keep my cool, I did but this twit was getting kind of in my face with her dorky clothes and middle school hairdo, little bits of spit gathering in the corners of her goofy little mouth, while she stood there, raising her voice telling me that no one is that into sports, she had never met anyone like me that cared that much, and the couple that was sitting next to her that night, (the couple that come to my bubbly tastings, ask for bigger pours and tell everyone within earshot that our little J. Laurens ($12.99) is just as good as the $60 Champagnes we are pouring…which is of course what they end up buying at the end of the night, that couple. The ones I purposely seat next to her so they can piss and moan together..but I should add, I do think they are nice people and they always add valuable conversation to my classes, just sure that their personal "feelings" about me really make or break my day) they too thought I was being silly by being mad about it.

I’m standing there, pouring for a tasting that wasn’t even mine, with the female equivalent of Napoleon Dynamite up in my face, the whole time telling me how I was wrong….I lost it and was seconds away from asking her to leave. We started kind of yelling back and forth, me yelling that just because you didn’t know how much it meant to me doesn’t make it right and her telling me I was being foolish. Had it been a store issue, I could have handled it better but this was personal and she was the one coming after me, she is seriously lucky the staff and a few other customers (that saw the whole thing and thinks she is a douche) were there to calm me down, one customer even wrapped his arms around me tightly and gave me little kisses on my neck while he told me what an asshole she is….it helped, I was seconds away from punching her in her spittle filled face. It was ugly and it is nowhere near being resolved.

The thing is, she did something to me, the person me, not the me that pours wine for her at The Wine Country, it was personal. Had she bitched about something work related I could handle it in work mode, had she just said, “well I’m sorry you took it that way” it would have been done, but to come after me and make this whole thing my fault and then act as if I should just suck it up because I work for the store…wrong, really wrong, she crossed a line.

I got out of there before I also crossed a line, yes I yelled and yes I argued with her but I could feel myself being pushed to the point of snapping, not about the Lakers game…it went way beyond that the second she got in my grill. It’s not for her to tell me what kind of person I am or how I should react to something, matter of fact, my life is none of her business…store person yes, Samantha Dugan as a person, a person that has never invited you to even talk to her about anything that was not Wine Country related, no and the second she went personal was the second she went too far…not taking that shit from anyone, let alone a dorky twit.

I got home in a complete rage, I have not wanted to punch someone so badly in years…I just hate that shit, people thinking they can treat retail workers or servers anyway they want and they just have to take it, well I’m not taking it and you can bet that I will be talking to the boss about it, as will the other customers that saw it…it’s not over, by a long shot.

I knew it was best to not sit home and stew, it would have just made me more angry so the hubby and I jumped in the car and met Amy and Sexy Bitch at Tracy’s to watch….yeah, the Lakers game. It was freaking AWESOME, there I was, with my friends, Martinis flowing, surrounded by a roomful of people screaming and cheering…seems like I’m not the only one after all. One rollercoaster of a day, crappy, amazing, more crappy then awesome, I’ll take a roomful of boozers screaming about a team they love over a dork wine drinker thinking she can treat people however she wishes, any day, and lady….you dodged a bullet, I suggest you just keep it to Wine Country business and stay the hell away from me…that is What To Do.


Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gorgeous,

I've been in all of those situations, and more than once. I wouldn't dream of criticizing your reactions. I wasn't there. As an employee of the store you're sort of trapped. But not really.

When you lose your temper you lose the high ground, and suddenly you're in the muck with this woman, a position you won't ever recover from. You had the crowd on your side. Use it. Look her right in the eye and say quietly and firmly, "You are making a fool of yourself, embarrassing your friends, spoiling the good time of everyone else at the tasting, and I strongly suggest you stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and then apologize." Say something like that, then turn your back on her and do not speak to her for at least twenty minutes, no matter what she says.

If that doesn't work, shoot her.

Your Lakers were lucky. They didn't win that game, Orlando gave it to them. But that's sports. It's all over now but for the victory parade in downtown LA. The good news? Basketball season is almost over!

More Good News? I adore you.

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

I absolutely agree and have been in situations with angry, grumpy, or plain pissy customers and have handled it much as you suggested...i can roll with the best of them but this was different and I do stand behind defending myself. I even kept saying, "Well we just disagree" but she would not let up until I like admitted that I was wrong to be upset, I was not going to do it and she honestly had no business trying to make me. Like I said, work shit...I can deal with but you get up in my personal and we are going to have problems. So on this one, I'm gonna go with the "just shoot her approach"

The Magic gave it to them?! Pah-lease!! Tell that to D. Fish partner! I thought it was a great game, nerve wracking but still great, cannot wait for sunday, SUnday, SUNDAY. It is because I too adore you that I tolerate these horribly nasty Lakers comments...feels more like love bites.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I know. We'll do a "Strangers on a Train." I'll shoot her for you and then you can shoot Gary Vaynerchuk for me. We'll never get caught.

They are, in fact, love bites, my dear. (And how I wanted to be that guy who comforted you at the wine shop!) But sixteen missed free throws, umpteen turnovers, and failure to commit a two-shot foul on the play that led to Fisher's tying three, that's not giving the game away? I can't recall a much bigger choke, unless you count Parker's rant about bloggers. Or Linda Lovelace.

I very much want the Lakers to win just for YOU on Sunday. Drink something fantastic, wear something sexy, party all night!

Your HoseMaster

Troy said...

you go Sam, I trust your judgment...just because you pour wine does not mean you are a service employee, as if that would even matter.

vent all you want.


Tessa said...

Crazy hoe bag. What a loser, seriously, trying to pick a fight? How old is she? You know she has never been in a fight before lol, nerd.

Benito said...

it went way beyond that the second she got in my grill

Heard this one the other day, couldn't stop laughing:

"Is your name George Foreman? Then why are you all up in my grill?"

I've never worked wine retail, but have plenty of experience in other retail categories. I've been yelled at, threatened with lawsuits, threatened with arrest, nearly run over in the parking lot... And for a while, a big chunk of my job involved designing wedding invitations and programs, which opened up a level of abuse that would be considered war crimes by most civilized nations.

I hear ya, I feel your pain, and hope that the cocktails or wines of choice tonight let you go to sleep without heartburn.


vickibarkley said...

unbelievable. Utterly, completely, crazy. That woman is a piece of work. I love your picture of "her."

Samantha Dugan said...

Thank you all!! I will keep these comments in my mind when I am pouring this afternoon....chances are that she will be there. I already have my chill working and I'm going to, (if it comes up) refuse to talk about it any further. Question about wine or cheese, no problemo but any discussions about me and they way I feel about something, are off the table, not what I'm being paid to do and none of her business. That chick is so not worth getting upset about...if that plan fails, Ron I'll meet you on a train!

Thanks again for all the support everyone....who says blogging is lonley?!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gorgeous,

I'll be right there sitting on your lovely left shoulder if you need me. Nothin' I wouldn't do for my new best blog buddy.

I Adore You,
Your HoseMaster

Nancy Deprez said...

Okay, so you like sales reps who call when they are late, and sit when you are sitting, and bring wines not too cold, got it, taking notes..... thanks for the tips!

Okay, onto the bigger issues - sorry about the angry aggressive customers - that seriously sucks!! Ugh. How horrible. I hope she backs off. I think there is projection going on - her projecting her crap on you. Don't take it!

Nancy Deprez said...

What is a hosemaster?

David McDuff said...

I feel for you, Sam. I've dealt with many an obnoxious customer over the years but never one who has come back and intentionally tried to fuck with me. There comes a time when no amount of business is worth the hassle, angst and/or pride swallowing. Sounds like she needs to be banned from the store.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks David, it's been almost a week and now I'm pretty over it, that and the Lakers won!! I've dealt with many worse situations, the thing that bugged me about her was this was personal and trying to make me feel as if I had done something wrong...just pissed me off like no other! Nah, no need to ban her, it did not go that far but I know I will never let someone like that get under my skin again, so not worth it.