Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Musical Etiquette: Be Kind To Retail Drones

Dear Musical Etiquette:
I work at a local music store and I've got some problems with my customers. They come in and treat me like I have no idea what I'm talking about. I've been working here for ten years and I play in three different local bands. Please help me with these people. I can't take it any more.


I am a founding member of the Society For The Ethical Treatment of Retail Drones so I'm considered an expert in the field and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to share some of my experiences with you. The SETRD was founded by a like minded group of ex-Retail Drones in the summer of 2004 and acts as an advocacy organization to promote the proper understanding and appreciation of the foundation of this capitalist nightmare. Though they are the lowest rank of Drone, they serve a vital purpose in the acquisition of Shiny New Things and the onus is upon us to treat them kindly.

Alright people it's time to learn how to treat your Retail Drones. Despite their appearances, they're people too. There's a whole lot you don't know about them and if you take to time to find out, it'll make you appreciate them a whole lot more. So let's start with that basic fact, and we'll work out from there.

They're People.
Sometimes we forget this, we pass our whole day treating people like ATMs and never really stop to see who they are. In general, this is a harmful and dissociative practice that can do a lot of harm to your world view. In particular treating your Music Retail Drone like this makes you miss out on one of the best resources there is. I don't know about you but I don't spend all day reading up on the latest pickups and amp heads out there. Even when I'm getting ready to buy new gear, I haven't hit every resource there is and it's nice to hear an informed opinion on what I'm buying.

On the balance, these folks are informed. You might find one or two slack jawed yokels drooling behind the counter of your local guitar shop but I can guarantee you, they wont last long. Managers and owners of music shops know that they have picky, self important customers who demand only the best of service. They will cater to you and these idiots won't last more than a week in a good shop. If they're still around after a couple weeks you're either dealing with a really dumb owner or flat out nepotism. I'd say avoid these shops, it'll just piss you off in the end. You can judge a music shop wholly by the quality of the counter staff.

Information Available Here.
Now that we've eliminated the true dross of the retail world, what we're left with are some incredibly well informed people and for the most part they're willing to share that information. The real key is respect. If you respect their knowledge, then they're more likely to help you out. Don't be condescending to them and don't act like you know more than they do unless you really do. On a similar note, don't be shy. If you hand built your own distortion pedal and you can keep up with that conversation, geek on my friend, geek on. Even if you're not deeply knowledgeable in the area of their expertise, it does you well to have some familiarity with the topic. Do some background research first, familiarize yourself with the topic and you'll get past the first layer of Retail Drone defenses.

Let's Be Friends.
There is nothing better than a friend at the music shop. They'll clue you in on choice used gear, tell you about sales and clearance items and occasionally sleep on your couch. The vast majority of people who sell instruments are musicians and they've often been doing it for a long time. You can pick up a lot of really valuable information from these folks. If you're just getting to town it's one of the best places to meet other musicians and get a feel for the place. Even if they're not going to be your best man at your fifth wedding, or help you bury a body, keeping a good relationship up with the people at the shop is key. Especially when you're in need of repairs.

Retail Drones are easy to understand if you think about how their day goes. The vast majority of retail life is spent in a mindless haze answering boring questions about prices so striking up a conversation about the relative merits of hum-bucking pickups really will brighten their day. If you can wake up a Retail Drone from their slumber you'll find that there's a human being under all that boredom and they are honestly willing to talk to you. So be kind to your Retail Drone and they'll be kind to you. Remember though, sometimes people are just having a shitty day and there is honestly nothing you can do to make them interested. Also, some people are just dicks. There's not much you can do about that one.

Eriq Nelson.

Keep 'em coming folks! musicaletiquette@gmail.com

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