Friday, January 23, 2015

An Angry Walmart Employee and The Difficult Transaction

Y'know life is good when your girlfriend gets you a GoPro for Christmas. In light of this magnanimous (I took the SAT's five years ago!) gift-giving, my mom got me some GoPro accessories to complement her gift. Well, it turns out that I needed some other accessories for it, so I decided to return them (a 64GB microSD card and a GoPro mount package) so that I could get some other stuff for my new camera.

The problem is, I could not obtain a receipt to give these back, but I was under the impression that they would be taken back regardless. I go to the customer service desk, and when I ask the nice *cough* lady at the desk if I could return my items without a receipt, she curtly tells me I cannot. I walk away, go online to Walmart's Corporate website to see what the policy is and find that I can, in fact, return products without a receipt. I walk back to the counter, and say, "Can I return these for store credit possibly?"

To which she responds, "Sir, you can't do anything without a receipt."

At this moment, I ask her, "Ma'am, do you not follow Walmart's Corporate policy on No-Receipt-Returns?"

As her frustration builds, she replies, "Sir, every Walmart has their own policies with this stuff. We don't take anything without a receipt. I'll get somebody for you."

Nathan's mind: *Every story has their own policy differing from national Walmart standards? Baloney.* Nathan's words: "Thank you so much ma'am."

I then waited for a few minutes until her supervisor came. "Hello," I said, "do you follow the No-Receipt-Returns Policy?" 

She quickly pokes at my stuff and says, "Yes."

I am relieved. I look back at the cashier and after a few minutes she responds, "Can I help you with something else?" I guess there was some kind of mis-communication and neither of them were truly listening to me. I get her to call the supervisor back, and wait another few minutes for her return. Upon her arrival I ask, in plain English, "Can I return these products?"

"No sir," she says, "you can't return these without a receipt."

Enjoying my own propensity to sound like a broken record, I once again ask, "Do you not follow Walmart's Corporate policy on No-Receipt-Returns?"

She then adds, "This is an electronic and I can't return electronics without a receipt."

Oh joy. I was hoping she would say that. I then proceeded to be an educated consumer and whip out my phone to read off to her the specific list of electronics that do not fall under the policy in question - a list of about twenty items which I read in rapid succession to show that microSD cards did not fall under the policy.

"SIR, I'm not doing ANYTHING for you without a receipt. NOTHING."


At this point, things are somewhat comical. I guess it's hard to be confronted with information that you're supposed to already know. Anywho, this whole time, I have set my mind on killing them with kindness, so, at this point, I'm trying to hold back some choice words in the noodle. She proceeded to call the next person in the chain of command. This is now the third tier of administration in my local Walmart. I'm making friends!

After waiting for about twelve minutes (the matter had become quite important to me at this point), no one showed up. The supervisor eventually just got really frustrated (as if she wasn't already) and told the cashier, "Just RING'IMUP."

Thank you, Walmart supervisor. They gave me my store credit and I responded, "Thank you for your understanding."
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us..." (Ephesians 1)
Do you know what redemption is? It comes from two words in Latin: re(d), which means‘back,’and emere, which means ‘buy.’In other words, to redeem something is to buy it back - exactly what I was trying to get the Walmart employees to do with items that we're in perfect condition. It was a transaction that would have cost them nothing but their own pride.

I think you know where I'm going with this.

Not only did Satan not want to return us, Jesus, the highest in chain-of-command sought us out in order to buy us back. Not only were we defective products, but Jesus had to sacrifice everything He knew to be precious in order to make the transaction. But, friends, we have been brought back. 

What does that mean for your life today?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Does That Compliment Sandwich Come on Pumpernickel?

So I have a confession. If you've been any type of long-time reader of this blog, you'll know that I like to write more about conviction than about edification. If I could choose between rebuke and encouragement... well, let's just say that my favorite part of action movies is when the good guy is about to kill the bad guy and he gives this great speech making the bad guy feel like crumbag. That speech of justice will make me cry way faster than any kissing-in-the-rain, Nicholas-Sparks deal.

However, maybe I'm realizing that it's also necessary to lift people up by letting them know what they're doing well. You ever heard of a compliment sandwich? Essentially, when you tell someone something that's difficult to hear, you're supposed to surround the difficult part with compliments, like so: "Hey man, I just wanted to tell you that you have a truly unique sense of style, but there is never a time when it's ok to wear those shorts. But I guess that's what it's like to be trailblazer - you gotta try new things!"

See? Compliment sandwich. The rebuke is the meat and the compliments are the bread!

Well, I think it's been a while since I've given any compliments, which must mean I'm missing a ton of bread. So, without further ado, let's dive into some compliments, or rather, some cool things I'm beginning to see. Here's thy loaf, dear reader:

Encouraging Trends in the Church

#1: People are getting serious about Gospel-centered community.

I think that a lot of my generation got sick of the seeker-friendly, big-show production that dominated a lot of churches we saw growing up. Mega-churches sprang up all over the place, and any initial thoughts about the coolness of the concept was overshadowed by seeing tons of people get lost in the flood of superficial relationships that being a part of a crowd generated. So, as a response to this, I've seen much of our generation get serious about not just growing wide, but deep. We've become intentional about knitting ourselves close together as the body of Christ, and for that, I'm proud.

#2: Christians are rediscovering age-old wisdom.

I'll be the first to say that I think every era is marked by its own unique brand of characteristic sin. However, every era also has its own particular, special things to share. A lot of the people growing up in my generation are getting back to literature by some great men like Martin Luther, St. Augustine, A.W. Tozer, etc. Once again, this may be a response to the self-esteem, self-help, Joel-Osteen, substanceless putrefaction that we grew up with, but either way, I'm really stoked that people are starting to learn from the ancient words of some men greatly used by God.

#3: We're learning to drop the theatrics.

I think the church is beginning to learn the greatness of transparent, drop-the-nonsense honesty. We're learning that it's ok to be straight up with God by telling Him that you're frustrated with Him (as long as you seek an answer to your frustration). We're figuring out that it's pointless to put up a white-picket, All-American-Dream, 2 1/2 children facade of idealism when our souls are burning alive. I think we're starting to show that, as Matt Chandler said, "If you're dying on the inside, die on the outside." The world that looks in at us wants to know that we'll be as honest about the truth of unvarnished, painful reality as they are, and I think we're catching on to that.

I could go on and list more things that I'm stoked to see in the church nowadays, but I think that's enough loaf for one day. That being said, be patient with me - I'm still figuring out how to dish out the dough.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Wish I Could Tell You. I Wish I Knew.

I wish I could tell you.

I'm a big fan of using the right words, and I find immense joy when something is described accurately. I even feel that I'm growing in the ability to use the right words to depict ideas and phenomena. However, sometimes language fails you. Whether it be the hodge-podge that is the English tongue or the philosophically-minded Greek language, the exact words you need to describe something just don't exist. And so I wish I could tell you about God, friend, but sometimes the realization of something is more adequate than the words used to depict that realization.

I wish I could tell you how precious He is - of more value than the wealth King's Solomon's mines and more valuable still than all that this kind of wealth could buy you. I wish I could tell you what it's like to want Him so bad that you'd sacrifice sleeping through the dark, early-morning hours so that you could get up, drink some coffee, and get after Jesus in the still of those early hours. I wish I could tell you of the wonders of His character that makes you continue to chase after Him when everything around you, even your own mind, is telling you that you're wrong for doing it. I wish I could tell you what it's like to have a mind so transformed by the power of Christ that you begin to see His glory in every blade of grass, for you know that every blade of grass contains billions of atoms that all orchestrate themselves perfectly to his sovereign command.

But friend, I also wish I knew.

For as much as I've been drawn near to this Jesus, I realize that words like "fraction" or "decimal" don't even begin to describe how little I've discovered about Him. I wish I knew Him well enough to desire His presence over trivialities like prosperity or being comfortable. I wish I knew His character in such a way that it pushed me to stop thinking that things as earthly as sex could satisfy what only the Divine could. I wish I knew Jesus well enough to make me talk about Him as if He was the only thing really worth talking about. I wish I knew Him more than I know my own family, so that even things like blood relation take a back seat to blood shed on a tree.

In the words of Propaganda, "How come you're not smart enough to know that you don't know what you don't know?" Because, friend, as much as I'm figuring out what I know, I'm also figuring out what I don't.

And so, I wish I could tell you. I wish I knew.