I run into some of the goofiest customer service snafus anymore. Take, for example, my recent attempt to purchase a new desk calendar.
I completed a project recently that took longer than I expected. To make a long story short, I was able to clear some things off my desk at home and realized the desk calendar underneath a few stacks of papers was for 2022. Clearly, I needed a new one.
They used to call this type of desk calendar a “blotter,” a name that dates back to the days of fountain pens. I wanted the type of calendar that lies on the surface of a desk so that you can write on it or that you can use as a surface to write on other pages.
In any case, it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be impossible to find one in April. It’s not that far into the new year, is it? Well, I guess it must be.
I went to my nearest Office Depot store and walked to the calendar aisle. I immediately saw a problem: Of all of the desk-style calendars they had, all of them had one thing in common: the calendars began in July and continued through the following June. They were all labeled as “Academic Calendars.”
Well, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with an academic calendar if you want to track that timeframe.
But it’s April. A calendar that doesn’t begin until July won’t do me any good at all for three months.
So I called an employee for help
Yes, that was a mistake. I explained that I needed a calendar that started in January: I wanted a full-year 2023 calendar. Some of us note a few things that might have happened in the past month or two. Some of us even keep calendar pages after we’ve pulled them off of the calendar for record-keeping. We might track doctor’s appointments or big meetings.
But it’s nice to be able to go back and look up a previous meeting when we look to schedule a follow-up.
She looked at the calendars I’d already looked at. Shockingly, she didn’t find anything that I missed. So she picked up her trusty walkie-talkie and talked to some unseen man behind the scenes. She wore an earpiece connected to the device, so I could only hear her side of the conversation. But after her quick chat, she came back with this:
“I’m sorry, I don’t think we have any calendars that start with April.”
“I don’t want a calendar that starts with April,” I answered. “I want a calendar that starts with January.”
It was at that moment that I heard my dad’s angry sarcasm just start pouring out. It happened before I even could stop it.
“You know, most people wish others a ‘Happy New Year’ at a certain time each year,” I said. “Do you know what time of the year that is?”
“Oh, yeah, I know the new year starts in January,” she said.
“Right, and I want a calendar that starts in January,” I said. “Honestly, I’ve never seen a store only sell academic calendars and none that cover an entire calendar year. You must have 2023 calendars somewhere.”
She tried to sell me on the academic calendar anyway.
“Well, these would carry you on through the middle of 2024.”
A valiant attempt, I’ll admit.
“But see, this is April,” I answered. “If I buy this calendar right now, what am I going to do with it for the next three months? It doesn’t begin until July.”
So I guess I’m going to have to order a desk calendar from Amazon, which seems utterly ridiculous to me. Since when did 2023 calendars stop being sold this early into a new year? And since when did “academic calendars” become the only calendar available?
From now on, I’ll have to make sure I get all of my calendar purchases taken care of by the end of December. I’ll be sure to put it on my calendar…once I find one.