By Tim Leeds
Happy New Year!
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Tim Leeds, a new reporter for the Daily News. I joined the paper's staff on Jan. 3. It worked out nicely, starting my new job on the first workday of the year 2000.
I am a native of the area, growing up on a ranch out in the Bear Paws, and have lived here most of my adult life. Some readers may know me from my work in retail. I worked at JCPenney's here in Havre for four and a half years, up until its closing in 1998, and I worked at the local Kmart for the last year until coming to the Daily News.
I hope that everyone enjoyed the holiday season. It was a happy time for me and my family, spending time with friends and relatives. My children certainly seemed to enjoy it. Santa was particularly good to them this year. We were lucky in that respect.
Many people were not so lucky in filling wish lists this Christmas. Reports from all over the country showed that popular merchandise was in short supply and it was not a single popular item this time, either. No one could find Furbies last year and a few years before Tickle Me Elmos were the hot item stores couldn't keep in stock. This year a variety of popular items were conspicuous in their absence. Even the Internet was no solution, as ebay and Amazon.com ran out of items.
Personally, I was impressed by the holiday spirit members of our community showed when the merchandise they desired just wasn't there. I have worked retail at Christmas for more than 10 years, and I don't think I have ever seen customers more easy-going about our merchandising problems. I wasn't in the toy department, but we had stock problems in the hardware and furniture section, too.
It was disheartening to receive an inter-company memo telling us that merchandise advertised in an upcoming Dec. 19 ad probably wouldn't be available until after Christmas, especially since we hadn't received enough of the item to fill rainchecks from the Nov. 25 ad yet. But the customers I had to disappoint by telling them we were out-of-stock were really nice about it all. I could tell that a lot of them were unhappy that they couldn't get an item, but no one took it out on me. That was nice, and I appreciate it.
I hope that everyone was able to finally fill their gift lists. I see nightmare images reminiscent of a TV commercial, of a little girl playing with her raincheck for a Millennium Barbie doll, or someone working in the shop with a raincheck for a 3-in-1 rolling workshop. It was painful for me to have to tell people that, no, we still didn't have what they wanted, and no, we couldn't even tell them when it would be available. Fortunately, people seemed to take it in stride. Perhaps most people were taking the attitude that it really isn't the gifts that make the season.
For whatever reason, more people seemed to be a little more considerate, a little friendlier this year. It was refreshing to wait on people who didn't take it personally that we were out of the item they wanted. I don't know if more people considered that it usually isn't the sales clerk's fault that the store is out of something, or if people realized that the store wasn't intentionally losing sales by not having something, or if people just wanted to be a little nicer, a little kinder, despite their irritation. Whatever the reason for this friendly attitude, I thank all of the customers I waited on this year for it, and I hope that my attitude towards helping them was as appropriate for the season as theirs towards me was.
On to the new year. I hope that my work here at my new job meets with our readers' satisfaction. I welcome any questions or comments on my writing. And I hope that I will be able to keep the congenial mood I have seen this Christmas season going for the entire year.