Today at lunch time I figured I’d venture on down to grab my copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 – it’s being touted as one of the greatest video games of all time and I, being a huge nerd, need to own it (and pwn it!).
As I got to the Game Stop at Herald Square I knew there’d be a huge line. I am okay with that for two reasons: 1 – I wait in lines a lot in New York for pretty much everything, and 2 – I no longer live in Miami so even the longest of lines generally moves quickly and efficiently.
The first thing I saw when I walked in was that the top floor had been the area designated for people who own Wii’s and PS3’s to buy GTA, while the downstairs was for Xbox 360 purchases. Already the line is cut in half. Then, in what can only be described as genius, there were not one, but TWO cashiers for each line.
“Terrific!” I thought. “I’ll be out of here in no time!”
I got downstairs and went to the back of the store to get in line only to find 3 older hispanic women pouring over about 4 pages worth of emails that had been stapled together. They were jibba-jabbering in Spanish and had another piece of paper that had been scribbled on in English, though, I didn’t really recognize any of the words on the paper as having anything to do with video games other than vagueries like “ACE” and “BONUS!”
My heart immediately plunged. This scene was all too familiar to me. People who don’t speak a word of English hurriedly getting involved in situations they simply aren’t qualified to comprehend and navigate. At this point I told myself I might as well just leave, because the chances of them figuring out what they were even doing in the store by the time they got to the register would be directly proportional to ruining my chance of getting a copy of GTA 4 all in one, fell, idiotic swoop.
Then I remembered I live in New York City now.
I decided to be patient and play it cool. The line was probably a good 15-20 minutes long but there was no scare of running out of the game and it was moving along relatively quickly.
As I continued to wait in line, the hispanic women did quite possibly THE BEST imitation of Miami residents I have ever seen since leaving that Godless shanty-town. They left the line and came back, they pronounced “Xbox” as “Cheesebox,” and they sifted through those same 4 pages of emails probably 15 times trying to figure out what game they were buying (Call of Duty 4).
Five minutes left to go to get to the register and, after two previous failed attempts, managed to bring two copies of Call of Duty 4 to the line (of course, they had to leave and come back to do this). One of them was a special edition, one was the regular version. The special edition was $10 more. This baffled them to no ends. 4 minutes to go ladies, figure it out quick.
To my shock and surprise, they chose the one that was $10 cheaper, and the title of the game and console it was for matched not only what was on their email, but they were also in the correct line in the correct place in the store for it! I simply couldn’t believe it. If these women moved to Miami, my guess is they would be the most esteemed professors or the most successful entrepeneurs the city has ever seen. And all this with 2 minutes to spa—wait…wait a minute…what are you doing?! No! Put that cell phone down!
She didn’t. One of them women picked up her cell phone and decided to make a call. On the phone I could tell she was checking with whoever sent the email to make sure the game was correct. Not good. She got through explaining the title to the person on the other line and then…”allo? allo?”
One of the women in the group asked her compatriots if they shouldn’t just let me pass in line (thanks, fluency in Italian for allowing me to get the gist of pretty much all latin-based languages) – this suggestion was largely ignored. The other women didn’t even seem to notice the suggestion (as it had nothing to do with them, getting what they want faster, or getting something better or cheaper for themselves). The phone was dead. The signal was gone, they took the next spot at the register.
As you’ve read this, if you’ve lived in Miami, you probably already noticed a number of things that went FAR better than the typical Miami scenario – the fact that the whole line wasn’t comprised of people like the ones in front of me, the fact that it was actually a line in the first place, the fact that there was more than one person working incredibly slowly at his/her job at the register, the fact that there was any organization of the lines/areas at all, and so on. But here’s where it gets good.
The group of ladies steps up to one of the cashiers and the second cashier finished with the guy before them so I step up at the same time. In Miami, these women would’ve occupied both cashiers, not understanding anything, not moving out of the way, not getting what they want, and would’ve been misinformed by both of the cashiers. It would’ve taken 25-45 minutes to resolve their “problem,” they would’ve left with the wrong thing anyway, and…well God knows what else.
But I live in New York City now.
The cashier with the women spoke slowly in very deliberate English and pointed to things on the email and game to assure it was the same. Then the women put down two PS3 games (remember, you are supposed to buy those upstairs). This is the best part. This is the part of the story that would NEVER happen in Miami.
The second cashier (my cashier) spoke Spanish. Not only was she able to ring me up, give me the right game, with the right freebie-stuff in a bag, and process my payment, but at THE SAME TIME she explained IN SPANISH to the women what they had to do, where they had to go, and what they were able to do at this particular register.
No extra time of mine was wasted. I wasn’t frustrated or angry. The line continued to move along fairly smoothly (though the 1st cashier was still occupied with the ladies when I left, no doubt they were trying to pay with a driver’s license or a CVS discount card), and I went on my way, happily, video game in hand.
And that my friends, is the difference between America, and Miami.