I know that you are waiting for a delivery from us this morning
The Road Not Taken
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Dave Garretson

Uh, sorry, but the dog ate my list of Y2K excuses

By the time you read this, sometime after January 1, 2000, the world will know how big a deal (or how insignificant) the “Y2K” bug actually was. As I write this in the fall of 1999, it’s still a big unknown. I, however, can see into the future. I know how it turned out. And you there, from your lofty perch in the actual future, you’ll agree, I’m sure, that I got right.

Y2K is, and will be, the greatest boon to excuse-making in modern times. Never before, and perhaps never again, will we have such a perfect excuse for everything that goes wrong.

“Oops!” we’ll say, “Our voicemail software had a Y2K bug. That’s why I never got your message and didn’t return your call.”
Or, “Sorry! One of our machines had an old chip in it. Our entire production line was shut down, and that’s why your order is late!”
Or better yet, “You know, we spent a lot of money to become Y2K compliant, but one of our suppliers dropped the ball. That’s why we’re two weeks behind.”

And best of all, “Our accountant and our computer consultant both assured us that our bookkeeping software was okay. But now, darn it all, we can’t seem to make it function properly. As soon as we get it working, I promise your check will be in the mail!”
Ah excuses. How would we function without making excuses? Ever since teachers began assigning homework, we’ve needed dogs to blame for eating it.

For those of you who are new to the futon business, or maybe just haven’t cared enough to develop believable excuses, let me share my own finely honed collection of, uh, explanations. Yeah, that’s it... explanations!

As a futon retailer, I learned to say, “Of course your futon cover fits properly. That’s the way it is supposed to look. You wouldn’t want it too tight (loose?), would you?”

“I’m sorry that your order is late, but there was a delay at the factory.” (Don’t mention the cause of the delay, that the factory was waiting for your payment on an overdue invoice.)

“Yes, I know that you are waiting for a delivery from us this morning. The truck left twenty minutes ago. They should be there any minute.” (Don’t mention that the driver is still eating his breakfast in the back room.)

“I don’t know how your futon frame could have broken like that. What did you do to it?” (Don’t mention that you have a big pile of broken futon frames just like it behind the store.)

“You angry? I no talk to you! Talk to boss! Here later! You talk to boss, okay? Bye bye!” (Don’t mention that you are the boss. You need to go out on some errands now, don’t you?) Eventually I realized that some of my futon manufacturers were using the same excuses on me that I was using on my customers. Hey! Not fair! And then some of my customers got good at it, too. Especially if they owed me money.
Then I became a futon manufacturers’ rep. Right away, I knew that I would need to develop a whole new repertoire of excuses.

To my futon retailers, I say, “I’m so sorry about this problem. Unfortunately I’m just the rep. I don’t have any control over how Manufacturer X runs their business.”

To my futon manufacturers, I say, “I’m so sorry about this problem. Unfortunately I’m just the rep. I don’t have any control over how Retailer Y runs their business.”

The moral of this story? If you’re running out of excuses, it’s time to become a rep.

Bye ‘til next time!



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