I sell car seats, mostly to young couples. Car seats are not simple purchases, largely because they are not simple contraptions.

People ask a plethora of questions regarding car seats and purchase policies. I am very good at selling car seats because I can answer such questions correctly. Here is a sampling:

What is the weight limit? The recommended age? Will it fit properly in my back seat? Does it have a warrantee? Is it certified-safe? What is an overhead? What is a locking clip? Can you help me put it in my car? What is a five-point? What is the difference between a five-point and a three-point? What does “two-position growth” mean? What is the difference between that one and this one? Is that a cup holder?!? Forward-facing and rear-facing? What is a tether? Why does this one cost more? Will the car seat box fit in my car? (Duh, it’s a car seat. I would hope so.) What company is the best? Can I throw out my old car seat here? What is your return policy? What is the difference between a booster seat and an infant car seat? What is “recline”? What is a high back? How does everything adjust? Where does the seat belt attach...?..

One day I approached a young couple. They were staring at the row of car seat displays. These customers had the recognizable stare that says: “I have no idea what I am looking for, please help me.” I struck up a conversation with them, and they of course asked numerous questions. I explained why a five-point harness is better than a traditional three-point (because of the five points of cushioned impact as opposed to three). I introduced them to the different companies represented in our line, and handed them a copy of the store return policy. I conversed with them for a good twenty minutes, imparting my knowledge, much to the pleasure of the young couple.

Finally, with all questions answered, the purchase became a matter of the customers’ personal style, i.e. deciding between “the blue colored one” over “the beige colored one”. I told them that if they needed any more assistance, they could just let me know, as I would be nearby. I felt proud that I could again help by imparting my extensive knowledge. (I have been selling car seats since 1996). Yet another job well done for Joe, I thought, as I mentally patted myself on the back...

“Ok, Thanks very much for your help, Dan”, the husband politely remarked.

I did a double take. What did he say? Did he say Dan?

“You’re very welcome”, I replied, and walked away, horrendously confused.

It took me a few moments to realize that in fact I was Dan, according to the work shirt I donned. The nametag displayed: “DAN – Delighting Guests Since 2001”.

Dan received all the credit for a job well done. I, Joe, felt strangely violated, un-individualized, confused, angered. I was Dan for fifteen minutes and I never want to be Dan again.

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