The Irish don't know how make a formal complaint.

I went up to a discount supermarket here in Cork, and the entry-gate alarm was — still — going off erratically, a high-pitched and loud warble every minute or so for about fifteen seconds.

When I'd picked up a few items and made it to the checkout stand, I had to ask the young Polish woman cashier "doesn't that sound make you crazy?"

She said yes, that it drove her absolutely nuts.

"Have you said anything?"

"No."

I asked "Why not?" But I knew why not — she doesn't have much freedom to say anything.

"Do you want to speak with the manager?" she asked me.

"Yes, please." She was up off that stool and gone in a zip.

The elderly Irish woman standing next to me mentioned it: "She wasn't long about agreeing to that, was she?" We talked a bit. She told me that she appreciated what I was doing. "I would never have thought of it," she said. And I believed her — I know the Irish pretty well, in some ways. When I apologized to the people on queue for making them wait a bit, she said "it's good for us."

I knew what she meant. The Irish don't know how to complain. Big generalization, yes — but it's generally true, in a big way.

The cashier and I finished our transaction. I stood aside. The manager came. I told her that I'd noticed that the alarm had been going off like that for a long time. It had been at least two weeks, I think. After telling me that it was driving her crazy, as well, she wondered why this was important to me. I told her I felt it was a labo(u)r issue, and that "as a customer I'm free to speak and you can't fire me or stop me from coming here." She agreed with that.

"Yeah but sure..." (what can you do?) ...

She told me that they'd scheduled a tech visit for Monday (two days hence.)

I asked her if they couldn't just turn the thing off. (An alarm that sounds constantly is no alarm, anyhow — so it's useless, first of all. It's torturous, too, and abusive by neglect. [The cashier who'd served me was at register #1, closest to the front door, working cheerfully in that miserable condition.]) The manager said that it would be impossible to simply shut off the noise.

On that Tuesday, I happened to go in when there was a technician fixing the gate/alarm device. He said that they could have turned it off at any time.

I didn't want to hang the technician (at least not while he was on-site [even though he'd spoken freely,]) so I waited until the next visit before I told the manager what he'd said.

She was not impressed.

She invited me to call the corporate customer service number. I didn't. I probably never will.

I just wanted to say something — to make a formal complaint on behalf of those who cannot or will not — or just wouldn't think of it.

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