Retail therapy, while not an actual form of therapy, has been used as a band-aid solution or stopgap by many people who suffer from the blues or just plain ennui. But it’s a different picture from the other side—it’s the store workers who get the short end of the stick, having to deal with cranky, cumbersome customers. For them, it’s all downhill from there. Read on to find out about some of our readers’ encounters with cranky customers.
1. A Giggling Fit
It was getting near closing time and I was cleaning the self-checkout machines while my manager was topping up the coins and receipt paper. This woman, just shy of 50, came up to the checkout and just stood there with her mostly empty cart. I was waiting to see if she would walk up to the actual register for service, but no; she just stood there.
I finally asked her, “Do you need help?” She replied, “No,” and kept standing there. Then, she started giggling loudly to herself in a way that made other people around her uncomfortable. I just kept cleaning and my manager continued filling the machines, all of which were devoid of customers. Finally, the woman spoke loudly, to no one in particular, saying the rudest thing ever: “Do you want to work or not?”
I let out a long breath, then dropped my cloth and spray bottle down. Suddenly, my manager stepped in and replied loudly, “She does have work! She’s cleaning right now.” Then she motioned for me to keep cleaning. Well, the woman giggled again, really loudly and snottily this time, and said, “I want a checkout.” My manager replied, “You had your chance. She asked you if you wanted help. You said no. And now, you’re going to have to check yourself out.”
The lady started freaking out and demanded to see the manager. My manager destroyed her with one sentence: “You’re looking at her.” The woman sheepishly checked her own items out while we both watched her. And then my manager giggled loudly, just like the woman had done. It was glorious.
2. A Lucky Gamble
This just happened. A guy walked in and asked me, “What’s the $8 lottery package that my wife always gets?” I looked at him, but I couldn’t place him. In fact, he didn’t look remotely familiar to me. He was not wearing his mask, mind you, but so far, I’d been pretty good at recognizing the people I’ve only ever seen with masks on since we bought the store.
However, I had no clue who this is. So I asked, “Sir, did you just ask me, a complete stranger, what your wife’s preferences are?” He reiterated, “Well, she always gets an $8 package.” I told him, “The lottery doesn’t have an $8 package.” Then, he asked, “Well, what are the standard games?” So, I rattled off all the games until we figured it out.
I handed him his purchase and said, “OK, here you go, sir, and may I highly encourage you not to tell your wife that you asked a complete stranger what her preferences were.” I thought that would nip it in the bud, but he just wouldn’t quit. He still seemed to think there was nothing amiss and replied, “Well, she’s in here all the time.” I still said, “But she’s not here now, and I don’t know who she is.”
So, he clarified, “Well, I come in with her sometimes.” To end the situation, I said, “OHHH! Well, I have a pretty bad memory so that must be it.” What was unsaid was, “It couldn’t be that I see a few hundred people a day and you’re all just faceless blobs in my memory if you don’t come in here pretty much every day and actually have meaningful conversations!” Sheesh.
3. Three Strikes
Some years ago, I worked an extra part-time job in the evenings at a small national retail chain in the U.S. that specializes in woodworking tools, supplies and machinery. The vast majority of our customers were great, but every so often we would get one that was a real peach. On the night in question, it was 15 or 20 minutes before closing.
I was at the front counter where the registers are, doing busy work to fill the time before I locked the doors. The sales floor was completely empty, except for me. I heard the doors open and looked up to see a customer walking in. “Hi! Welcome to our store!” I said to him in a genuinely friendly tone. Fish-eyed, he turned his head to glance at me.
He made momentary eye contact before walking past without saying a word. Strike one. A few minutes later, I saw him walking up to the counter, so I asked, “Hey there! Did you find what you were looking for?” Again, without a saying a word, he tossed a few packs of euro hinges on the counter. Strike two. Then, I asked, “OK! Have you shopped with us before?”
I needed to know as it was part of my job to enter our customers’ information in our computer system if they’ll let us, and if they’re in our system, then we ring them up under their account. Rather than answer me, he tossed a postcard-sized piece of paper onto the counter. Strike three. Ding! Ding! Ding!
Now, if someone’s in our system, and they give us the month of their birthday, we send them a birthday coupon every year, good for 10% off of everything in a single purchase. There are a few exclusions and conditions clearly printed on the coupon. I picked up the piece of paper he’d thrown in front of me, and it was indeed his birthday coupon.
I used the information on it to pull up his account, noted a key piece of information on the account, and gleefully told him, “OK, sir. I see your birthday isn’t until next month, and unfortunately, the birthday coupon is only good for a single purchase during the month of your birth.” As I said this, I was holding the coupon up and pointing to the text I was referring to.
I am 90% certain I had my best customer service smile on my face at that point. After standing there and staring at me for a few seconds, he let out a snort of what I presume was disgust, then he turned on his heel, and started heading for the door. “Wait!” I called after him. “You forgot your birthday coupon!” Without stopping or turning, he made a dismissive wave of his hand, went through the door, and disappeared into the night.
Adios and good riddance. At this store, our manager was a super-cool guy who encouraged us to bend over backward to help customers, which I gladly did. Customers came in all the time trying to use their birthday coupons early, and it was never a problem. We’d happily give them the discount anyway, with a friendly reminder that it was supposed to be used during their birth month.
But hey, Ihe wanted to act like that. He couldn’t be bothered to show me even common courtesy, nor would he speak even one word to me. That was his choice.
4. A Watery Chuckle
I work in a large airport at a small convenience store on one of the busiest concourses. I hear it all, especially about our prices. Although we try to keep our margins as low as possible, we still have to pay our rent as a business, and it’s about $14k a month. One day, I had an older woman come in and set down an expensive brand of water that was priced around $5.15 after tax.
I knew that she was going to say something about it, so I prepared myself mentally. Indeed, she did say something, and it threw me for a loop. She asked me, “Wanna know something funny?” I said that I did. She said, “This same water in another airport is $2.50.” I stared blankly at her for a solid 10 seconds. Finally, I said, “I think I missed the joke.”
She then proceeded to insult me, but she still purchased the water before leaving in a huff. Best day I’ve had in a while.
5. A Customized Experience
A customer showed me a ring and asked me about it. I told her that it was a sterling silver lotus ring. The customer then proceeded to show me that it did not fit her. As she wedged it halfway down her finger, she said, “But it does not fit me, see?” Did I look like a jeweler who could resize rings on the spot? No. So I explained to her that we had only one piece of that design left.
A while later, the same lady asked if the artist was local. I said that I wasn’t certain that she was from the city, but that all the artists represented in the shop were American. That meant that if she wasn’t from our state, then she was from another state. Then the lady said, “Well, duh. If she’s not from here then she’s from somewhere else.” Sigh.
I wanted to eye roll since that was my standard response whenever someone asked about local artists, and I had never gotten such a sour reply before. Most people just wanted to confirm that the thing was at least made in America if not locally. And then she asked me which way her husband had left, so I just pointed to the only exit and said, “That’s the only way out.”
6. They Are All This Together
I work for a grocery store that only sells all-natural foods. That means no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, and such, as well as any items with certain ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. We have an internal list of ingredients that products cannot contain and even have had to cease carrying some top-selling products after reformulation introduces one or more of them.
Being the type of store that we are, we get people from all over the political spectrum and quite a few on the extreme fringes. This is about a guy who came to our store multiple times. I will refer to him as Mr. Q since I do not even know his name. Mr. Q was a semi-regular customer since before my employment. My first experience with him was indirect.
I was overseeing the front-end and placing some orders with vendors. He went through the line of one of my cashiers, Melissa. Unfortunately for her, Melissa did not have anyone else in her line, so the guy stood there yakking her ear off. Then I heard that chilling phrase. I do not recall what the full sentence was, but he said the magic words: “QAnon.”
This immediately made my ears perk up. He could have been someone more on the left, making fun of the QAnon thing or he could be a believer. Once I knew that he was spouting off right-wing conspiracy theories, I told one of the other managers that I was going to go rescue Melissa who was just smiling and nodding.
This involved getting myself to a phone out of sight and then paging the staff member to the loading dock so they could hide for a few minutes. This particular incident happened pre-pandemic, so the store’s general manager was still there. As I used the phone right outside his office, I got an odd look from him, until I told him, “Crazy at her lane.” He does not suffer fools, so he just chuckled.
This visit was done with. Then, after the pandemic started, my store adopted the policy of “masks must be worn, but if you claim a ‘condition,’ then you don’t have to wear one.” This annoyed us because we had so many liars. Mr. Q, of course, was one of those. He was relatively quiet until he checked out. At the exit door, he stopped and turned around.
Then, he started loudly proclaiming how the whole pandemic was a hoax because otherwise “people would be dropped like flies in the streets!” We just rolled our eyes at him and he left quietly, thus, ending that visit. Then came the third and final visit. This happened after our store had decided to go to a “mask-mandatory” policy without the medical exemption.
We got battle-hardened by this since we had to fend off people screaming about how it was against the law and how they were going to sue us, etc. That’s when Mr. Q came in, and things started to get interesting. One of the other managers, Aaron, spotted him but he was occupied with a customer, so he alerted me. He also said, “That guy is a fool, so good luck.”
Our strategy for dealing with people without masks was to just grab the box of the complimentary ones we offered, approach the person, and ask them if they needed a mask. Most of the time, by then, it was people who simply forgot to put one on…but that wasn’t the case with Mr. Q. Our conversation went like this:
I asked him, “Hi! Did you need a mask today?” He simply replied, “I have a medical condition.” I clarified, “Sorry, but we still need you to wear a mask to be inside the store. We do offer curbside shopping though. But, since you have a list, we would be more than happy to shop for you and then take payment and bring the bags out to your car.”
He, of course, became annoyed and said, “Are you aware of the United States Constitution? Do you know you are violating my rights?” I stood my ground and said, “Sorry, sir, but this is private property and we do require a mask.” By this time, Aaron had finished with his customer, so he came over to back me up and said, “Yes. We are not a government entity.”
That’s when Mr. Q did the unthinkable—he proceeded to dramatically say that he felt sick, then he fake coughed on Aaron and me. So, of course, All semblance of “customer service” and “courtesy” went out the window at that point, and Aaron said, “You need to leave now. You are no longer welcome here.” Mr. Q took that as an invitation to go on a random rant about his rights.
So, Aaron told me to call the authorities. Mr. Q then went on another tangent and said, “You guys are poisoning people with the products you sell! What do you have to say for yourselves! I know my rights!” In the meantime, I went over to the phone and started dialing. By that point, we had called them so many times that we knew half the department by name.
Now, Mr. Q realized what I was doing, so he wisely abandoned his cart and left the store. Aaron pulled out his phone, started filming, and followed the guy out. Mr. Q then spent the next five minutes pacing our parking lot, screaming at Aaron. It was truly unhinged. His rants alternated between us poisoning people and targeting Michelle Obama.
Aaron repeated to Mr. Q that he needed to leave and that he was now banned from the store. Then, when he saw Aaron was filming him, he started yelling about how Aaron must be like Michelle Obama too. Thankfully, he just kept pacing. I joined Aaron outside after calling the authorities and getting one of the back-end managers to come up front to watch over the cashiers.
Unfortunately, he left before the authorities arrived. And since he did not buy anything, we did not have his full name to give to them. After showing the general manager the video, we got the verdict that Mr. Q was banned from thereon. That means that the next time he shows up, we call the cops immediately and then tell the guy he is banned, in front of them.
This would allow them to arrest him on subsequent visits. He wisely has not shown up since then.
7. A Red Flag
We have one of those self-serve lottery machines. Do you play numbers? Mega Millions? Scratch-Offs? You can do it all here at this machine. Except this one grown woman who, I swear, was deliberately just not listening despite saying repeatedly that she did not know what she was doing. I still persevered and tried to explain the process to her.
I said, “OK, so right in the middle of the screen are three big blue boxes. Touch the middle one.” The lady touched the Powerball button, which was on the far left, on a row of four boxes. I tried to correct her by saying, “No—that’s Powerball. You need to hit the red rectangle at the top right of that window where it says ‘Close’ to close this.”
She proceeded to touch the little tiny red button by the quantity bar. I repeated that she had to touch the box with the word ‘Close’ in it, but she was not listening. Of course, stared intently at the bottom of the screen where there was literally no red at all. This back and forth went on for a good twenty minutes. Somebody just end my misery for me.
8. Sunshine On A Rainy Day
This sweet old man made my day! His name is Samuel, and I’m not sure of any medical issues he has, but every time he comes in, he’s sweating buckets and his hands shake pretty bad. The first time that he came in while I was working, we just started talking since he always gets food to go for him and his mom.
He asked me if I had any pets and I told him that my childhood dog Max had passed about a week ago prior, so I just have a cat. He proceeded to tell me the nicest thing a customer has ever said: that my dog was waiting in heaven for me, and that he made it over the rainbow bridge. I cried like a baby after he left.
The third time that he came in, he asked me what college I went to, and how I was amazing for working and going to school full time. I was failing a class at the time and having someone who didn’t know me tell me that I was doing amazing just warmed my heart. When he came in for the fourth time, we continued our discussion.
I told him that I only had a couple of classes left at my community college and that I would be able to start my bachelor’s in business. He did not hesitate to gasp and tells me how proud he was of me, and how I will go on to do great things. He then told me that God had blessed me because my hair was so pretty, even though at the time it was unwashed and in a not-so-cute messy bun.
I think that dude is my retail guardian angel. He always shows up when I’m having a rough time, and he makes the day brighter and better.
9. A Ban Challenge
Today, a guy bought something at my checkout. After paying, he went, “Actually, I am banned here. What do we do now?” I stared at him for a solid second, my brain probably making the Windows XP shutdown sound. I was shocked by his audacity, to not only come again after being banned but also telling me about it, after buying something.
I asked my supervisor, who sighed, saying that he got lucky in that case and that I should tell him to take his things and leave. But that wasn’t enough for him. He started provoking me, saying, “And what about the next time, huh?” I explained that I wasn’t authorized to decide about the duration of his ban and that, in case of doubt, he just shouldn’t come again.
He still went on, now outright harassing me, “Yeah, what do you want to do? Do you want to call the authorities? Huh? Huh?” At this point, I was about to cry, because he just kept harassing me and I didn’t know what else to tell him. Then a lady in line stood up for me, telling him to leave me alone because he was making me nervous.
“Yeah, I can see you’re shaking. I wonder why,” he blurted out. I was, in fact, shaking because it took all my strength not to cry in front of everyone. After telling the lady to mind her business and being rude to her too for a bit, he finally left. My heart goes out to the lady, who was third in line, and told me, “Honey, don’t ever let a man talk you down like that! Always remember: Big ego equals small elsewhere!” That really lifted my spirits!
10. Like Money In Your Pocket
I used to work for Kohls. While there, I had one customer come to the service desk with her receipt, saying that the cashier did not take off her 30% coupon. Usually, this is an easy enough fix, but when I looked at her receipt, the total was $0.00. She had already used Kohl’s cash to cover the whole thing. I told her the computer system takes the dollar off coupons first.
It is only afterward that it will then take the percentage off. This is how it works, irrespective of the order in which you scan them. Since her Kohl’s cash took care of the total, I told her that the system couldn’t take 30% off of $0.00. Apparently, she didn’t like that…not one bit. She then started yelling at me and telling me that I was stealing money from her.
I explained to her that Kohl’s cash is just a coupon we give to customers and not actual money. She then told me that she wouldn’t be shopping at Kohl’s again, and she threw her 30% coupon at me before leaving.
11. Listening In
I have been working throughout COVID in a supermarket. A few months ago, I found out that I have permanent hearing damage and hearing loss from an illness I had from January to February. I am currently in the early stages of an audiology referral and my employer has been really helpful. They are making sure that I can still work in the same roles as before with the same level of confidence.
One day, a customer arrived at the till who, for some reason, misinterpreted one of the offers that we run. Essentially, she wanted the discount but did not want one of the items required for the discount to go through. She did not realize that I have to scan everything and, therefore, charge her for the extra item in question so that she could get the discount.
I processed the transaction in this way but not without her raising her voice and attempting to grab the item that she didn’t want out of my hands. At that point, I was quite confused. I could hear parts of this customer’s sentences, but she was speaking very quickly and I did not understand why she was getting so incredibly agitated over some frozen peas. Around this time, she also started to badmouth all of my colleagues and myself, saying that we “shouldn’t work here if we don’t know what offers are on in the store.”
She also said that the staff members “know nothing,” implying that I was the one who should lose my job because of her adamant misreading of an offer. Through this, I finally understood why exactly she was so angry. So, I asked one of my colleagues to come to the tills in order to assist the customer.
She did not want to engage with me, nor was she capable of having a civilized conversation at that point. My colleague arrived and I began to serve the other customers waiting while the woman went on to my colleague about how I was “incompetent” and “useless.” But that’s not the worst thing she said—she repeatedly stated that I “wasn’t listening” to her, even though I had given her my full attention.
The repeated emphasis this woman put on me not “listening” really hit a nerve. The last thing that I wanted after going through the wringer with various illnesses for the past seven months was to be told that I was losing my hearing. It was permanent, and it was not something that could be fixed in the same way as the previous illnesses.
I have to work a lot harder on the tills due to the aforementioned hearing loss and as much as I try to not care and ignore it, this was just too much for me to handle at the moment. I started to cry in the middle of a transaction while this woman thoroughly berated me for something that I had absolutely no control over.
Somehow, I managed to pass it off as hay fever which I don’t think anyone believed. Eventually, it clicked into place for the customer that she was incorrect, and she very quickly went on her way after realizing that she had just completely humiliated herself in a store full of people. There was no apology made to any of my colleagues, or to myself and the other customers in the store.
I had been debating whether or not I needed to get a lanyard clearly stating I have a hearing loss, but it is still very early into the investigation process and I didn’t want to buy one before I had any thorough tests done on my ears. But this was the event that cemented that I absolutely needed to get one as soon as possible.
Regardless of my hearing loss, that kind of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and a completely different kind of demeaning. It was the most insulting reaction I have ever seen, and over a bag of frozen peas, no less. If she didn’t want them, we had a perfectly acceptable food bank to which they could be donated.
12. A Short Wick
I work at a candle store and this happened yesterday. An older woman came in—she was probably in her 80’s but still seemed to have her wits about her. Anyway, she was going on and on about needing a small gift for a guy who did some work in the building she lived in. I told her that we carried a line of skincare and bath products for men.
She scoffed and says that would be weird. So, I said, “How about a candle?” This was because, you know, I work at a candle store. Her response made me curl a fist. She basically said, in an angry voice, “I can’t give him a candle. He’s not gay!” I was trying very hard to bite my tongue and remind her that we have tons of male customers and even my straight boyfriend likes our candles.
She then had the nerve to say, “That’s good for him, but I cannot give the man a candle because he’s not gay!” At that point, I was over it and I walked away. My manager then stepped in because she has a lot more patience for ignorance than I do. After she left and we vented about her, my manager told me that the woman ended up buying a notebook that says, “Slay the day.”
13. Sole Cost
I no longer work retail, but I used to work at an extremely discounted store, something like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc. This incident actually happened a few nights before my last day. We were about to close, and this lady came up to my register to check out. She handed me a pair of Michael Kors baby shoes and asked me how much they are.
I told her the price—$27—and she flipped! She retorted that the price could not be correct. I calmly said, “They are $27, ma’am. Did you still want them?” She replied, “I want them but not for that price.” She clearly wanted a discount. I had to clarify: “I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t do discounts. We’re already an extremely discounted store.”
She said in disbelief, “$27 for baby shoes?! That’s crazy.” So, seeing her reluctance to pay that much, I assumed that she did not want to buy them anymore. Thus, I offered to put them back for her. She stopped me angrily, saying, “Uh hello? I said that I want them!” I acceded to that but firmly maintained my stance by saying, “OK, ma’am. They’re still going to be $27 though.”
She refused to believe me and asked me to check again. So, I flipped the computer screen around and showed her the price. At that moment, she did not know what to do because she was wrong, so she snapped at me to get my manager. The said manager came, confirmed the price, then left.
I thought that was the end of it, but no. Karen then said, “I just don’t understand why they are so much?” I tried to make her understand by saying, “Well, these are Michael Kors, one of the more expensive brands we carry here. If you were to buy these anywhere else then they’d be at least $100. You’re actually getting a pretty good deal.”
She still refused to budge and said, “I just don’t believe you. That’s not the real price. And you should know, I work for the Attorney General, and it would be a shame if you lost your job because you’re making up prices.” Still trying to maintain my cool, I replied, “There’s no benefit for me to lie to you.” She finally became quiet.
What was she thinking? Consider this, lady. I get paid $9 an hour to scan items. What on earth makes you think I make commission? If you want Michael Kors goods then you have to pay Michael Kors prices, even though this was already a bargain.
14. Limits Are For Other People
This happened around the time when Walmart had just announced its pickup service. We had no sort of “do your shopping for you” or personal shopper positions, so I should have seen the immediate red flag when my customer service manager (CSM) approached a coworker and asked if I wanted to be a personal shopper.
I was mid-transaction, and the coworker was chanting to herself, “Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes.” But I was 19 and naive and still believed cranky last-minute Christmas shoppers were the only problem creatures. I also wanted to make my co-worker happy, so I said, “Uh, sure.” My CSM briefed me on the woman who had only $85.
I was told to make sure that she stayed around $85, and that was the only introduction or warning I got before I was sent off with the lady, who I never learned the name of, but I will call Audrey, as she was just as cartoonishly whiny as the little girl from the old Little Audrey cartoons. The first red flag that I saw was that she immediately walked over to the garden center to see the Christmas clearance items.
I had just met Audrey, so I assumed she was certainly old enough to know her limits. She was probably around 65 if I had to guess. So, I followed her. But boy, oh, boy, was I entirely wrong. We walked around the garden center and she took notice of the special perfume and cologne sets that companies get specifically as Christmas gift ideas.
She grabbed one and said that it looked really nice and that she would love to try it out. She then placed it in her cart and proceeded to pick out sets for various family members—some nice slippers with vibrators in them to massage your feet, and not one, not two, but three Christmas yard decorations with lights.
I politely informed her that she already had easily over $150 worth of stuff in her cart, and she asked me whether I was sure. So, I totaled up the price of all the stuff in her cart and then added on sales tax. She reluctantly put back several of the perfume sets and two of the lawn decorations, and we departed for the next area of the store.
Since she was old-fashioned, she still used a landline phone and informed me that she needed AA batteries for it. She said that she wanted to get rechargeable ones, to save money, and I agreed that may be a good idea…until she picked out $30 batteries. We spent a lot of time there because she specifically wanted batteries that indicated on the package that they were good for phones.
I got her to put back two more Christmas items, but some of her more expensive items remained in the cart. Then I asked her if she was ready to check out—she informed me that she still had to get her groceries. I had easily spent 45 minutes with this lady but I was long overdue for my break…my stomach sank so far that I had to scoop it up off the floor.
But I followed her as she picked out her groceries, all the while reminding her that she had a limited amount of money. At that point, I fully understood why my CSM would lie about this. Once again, I informed her that she had over $150 in her cart so she put a few items back; though, she did not believe me when I still insisted that she was over budget.
Instead, she insisted that we head to the checkout to confirm. Maybe she was one of those people who had to see her total to believe it, or maybe she was just being dumb, but I was too mentally exhausted to deal with it, so I just followed her to a checkout lane and unloaded her cart of items for her. When he recognized her, the cashier looked at me and nodded.
He then asked, “How long did it take?” To that, I indicated that it had been over an hour and he rolled his eyes, saying that sounded about right. But my ordeal was far from over—the cashier rang up all of her stuff with me there to bear witness, and he did not know her limit this time.
So, he did not say anything when we passed it. We made it to something like $193, and Audrey looked at her total and said, “Oh…” She took off a few slabs of meat, which brought it down around $20, and then handed the cashier a flavored drink enhancer and stared at him expectantly. The total was still $172, and she passed him another flavored drink enhancer.
I informed her that we might have to take off one of her more expensive items, like her perfume set or her slippers. She insisted on the slippers but decided the perfume could go. Great! That brought it down to $161, which was still progress. She inched the total down a few items at a time, all the while insisting certain items were off-limits.
I thought she put back the batteries and replaced them with regular batteries since those were much cheaper. The guy had since turned off his light but he still had a line. With his replacement cashier now present and the light still off, we were all trying to talk the lady down from everything she still insisted was necessary.
When we got her down to $120, she started asking us if she could just have some of her items The cashier seemed to know where this was going and told her she could have them if she paid for them. We tried several times to pry more items out of her transaction, but she insisted she needed everything that was left in the cart. It was a nightmare.
She started asking the replacement cashier if she could help her afford the items, to which the cashier told her no. She could literally lose her job for trying to do that. She then turned to the man behind her and asked for money, and he was about to offer to pay the remaining cost until the cashier gave him a look and requested that he please not do that. Clearly, this woman had done this before.
She then told the lady that she was not allowed to solicit at our store and that she was going to have to put some stuff back. Defying the advice, the nice customer behind us gave her $10. The lady put back another frozen item and was at $115. All she would need to do is to put back her cheap plastic lawn ornament…but she continued to whine about how she really needed it and how it would make her yard look so much nicer.
At that point, I sighed and decided to just take the item off her transaction, pay for it myself, and give it to the lady. I was done with it entirely. The cashier, however, told me that I could not do that and that I could lose my job for it. But I took the item to punch out for my break, grabbed my wallet from the back, then purchased the item and gave it to the lady.
I told her that I did not even have a yard and I just wanted it to be over with. The CSM later decided to just ban the lady from the store. I was also allowed to take it easy for the rest of the day. A very stressful ordeal, but the closest thing I could have gotten to a happy ending. And no, I didn’t get in trouble, much to my relief.
15. On The Edge
A lady demanded that I call her a manager today. She wanted to complain about how some items did not have a price on them while others did. She started interrogating me about pricing protocol, but I was on SCO duty today. Though, since I’d never seen her in the store before, I lied and said that I had nothing to do with stocking.
The manager arrived and Queen Karen launched into a full-fledged rant. Then, while she was at the counter complaining, she added a very hand-flailing, gestured complaint that the counter edges were too rough and sharp. She went as far as to say she was lucky that she did not injure herself, otherwise she would have called the health board. I wipe that counter down probably 200 times every day.
I assure you, there is nothing sharp about it because I would be among the first to raise a concern about it if there was. The employees where I work are very aware of how something small like a sharp edge on a cart can end up with a potential lawsuit in this crazy economic and opportunistic climate in which we live right now.
My manager handled it well, but the other associates and I couldn’t stop laughing about it all shift. Their loud proclamations about how such-and-such—mostly random things like the color scheme, etc.—could have been fatal for us were just absurd.
16. Make Way
So, I work at a grocery store chain and Tuesdays are what we refer to as “Specials Day.” Basically, it’s my job to change out last week’s special with the current week’s special. It is a long and painful project that I volunteered for when I got promoted because I like doing projects that other people do not.
That day, I was doing my thing in the specials aisle. I started getting gradually more and more annoyed since the whole process would be three times faster if they just let me do it when the store was closed, but, for some baffling reason, they wanted the customers to interact with me as I was occupied with 10 pallets of random things.
Near the end of my ninth pallet, I had myself basically pinned into a corner of the aisle. This was a strong nonverbal language that should have signaled to the customers, “Hey, maybe don’t walk this way. I’ll have to step around my pallet, move my pallet jack, and reset myself if you do.” But lo and behold, trouble was headed my way—a lady came walking down the aisle, approaching me at the end.
I am a chill guy, but I don’t really talk much to the customers because my store is in an upper-class area and the wealthy folks don’t like getting spoken to by some sweaty dude in a uniform. So, when she kept walking towards me, I realized that she was going to try and walk around my pallet or, God forbid, walk on it.
I quickly moved my jack and the pallet and looked up at the ceiling, questioning God for creating oblivious customers. Apparently, that look at the ceiling really truly infuriated her. At first, as she walked through the suddenly clear path, she apologized half-heartedly in that way only some types of customers can pull off.
But her apology read more like “Oh, I am sorry wage person. I sure hope I didn’t inconvenience you with my presence.” I nodded my head at her “apology” and turned back to move my jack and pallet back to where I was working. Apparently, not only did she expect me to move, but she also really expected me to graciously tell her it was no problem that she made me move my entire working station so she could save 15 steps.
Between not accepting her apology and looking at the ceiling for about three milliseconds, she decided right then and there that I was a menace and needed a talking to. She started with the basic criticism of me being a retail grunt who didn’t have a big fake grin on my face the entire day. She topped it off with the classic line that always gets my blood boiling: “I do not think you should be working here if that is going to be your attitude.”
She said that while looking at me like I was an animal in a zoo exhibit. I did not reply and just kept working. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I thought. I cannot please everyone. Then she got in line. Now, the line to the checkout is situated about 10 feet from where I was working. At that point, the villain, in her mind, had her walkway obstructed.
She went out of her way to loudly criticize me and complain about how I should not be allowed to work at the store. Now, I will be honest with you, I should have just let her have her moment. If I had let her just screech and complain, it probably would have ended there. Maybe a phone call or strongly worded email to corporate. No biggie. I should have just smiled and kept working.
But there was a part of me that needed her to know that yelling at customers about how terrible I am is not how we did things at our store. So, I told her, calm as I could, that she needed to stop making a scene. And when I say something snapped in this woman, it was like someone hit a light switch. Immediately, her phone was recording me and everything got a lot more dangerous.
She was asking leading questions like, “Did you just tell me I can’t talk to other customers?” and “Do you think you have the right to break my first amendment?” and “Who’s the manager here?” Now, there are two things you can do when someone gets their phones out and records you. You can walk away, potentially get followed, and then you can ask them to stop recording.
Or you can be a fool like me and ask them to stop recording you right away. The latter method, naturally, led to her screaming even louder and accusing me of being a terrible person. She randomly started threatening me, saying that she could have me fired whenever she wanted. At that point, I was just trying to get her to leave.
She had made the scene worse by recording and trying to be the next viral “look at how bad I was treated” internet star, and it was clear that she just wanted to capture my angry reaction on film. I am glad to report that I did not get angry with her. I did not raise my voice at all. I just stood there and let her scream at me. As she finally finished paying for her groceries, I asked her again to please leave if she was going to continue making a scene.
This led to her sitting behind the cashiers and between the doors and waiting for me to walk away so that she could leave. I informed her that I needed to see her leave. She said that she was not leaving until I was out of her sight. I stood my ground and told her that she needed to leave or I would be forced to call the authorities.
Oh, God. She had the wrong reaction to that statement. Most of the time, if someone says, “Hey, this might need to become an official matter,” the natural human reaction is to reevaluate what they are doing and decide if they want to continue. For reasons only God knows, this customer’s reaction was “Good, call them. I want them here.”
Here’s the thing. I was not ever going to call them. It was a bottomless threat. What was I going to say to them? “There is a lady screaming at me and recording me?” Worst case scenario, this woman makes the whole situation into some kind of bigger issue and I end up on the news. So, my bluff having been called, I walked into the office and called my direct manager.
I told her what had happened and she basically told me to get back out there and deescalate the situation. I went back to the registers and I actually decided that the best course of action was to tuck tail and just apologize. So, I did. I said to her, “I’m really sorry you had a bad experience today. I hope you can come back and shop here. I understand what went wrong and I will gladly give you corporate’s information.” And then I told her to have a good day, indicating the door as I said that.
She sort of accepted my apology. Of course, she still went on about how I was terrible and how I should not work there, but at least she calmed down a little…until she mentioned she was an “investigator.” Not seeing a uniform or a badge, I asked her what I thought to be a natural and reasonable question.
I asked, “An investigator for who?” Her exact reply was, “Do not play stupid. You know what kind of investigator.” Then she went on to say that she was going to call corporate, let them know that I was only harassing her because she was an immigrant (which was ironic since I am an immigrant too) and that I should expect not to have a job in the next 24 hours.
I just sat there and took it. There was nothing else I could do, really. Sometimes you just have to let them screech so they will leave. As she finally turned to leave, she noticed that I was watching her. So, she came back and said that I could not watch her leave because I was “going to attack” her outside.
I clammed up even more at that comment. As a final shot, she told me that she had “the means to retaliate” in her car and that she’d “gladly use it” if I come outside. She finally left and I called my boss, breaking down in tears of pure frustration, telling her how the de-escalation went. My boss assured me that she was just a crazy lady and that she, my boss, would have my back if this turned into a bigger deal.
17. Showering The Troubles Away
I am a shift manager two days a week and a cashier for three at a truck stop and rest area. We have fast-food restaurants, showers, parking for big rigs, and passenger vehicles. Today’s troubles, like most of the trouble I encounter, revolved around showers. A driver came down, plopped his wet towels on the counter (even after my cashier directed him to a towel bin), and then threw his key onto the pile.
The cashier asked him, again, to place the towels in the bin. He finally grabbed them and said, “Oh, so you guys do not have to touch them.” I replied, “Yes, policies have changed some due to the pandemic.” In truth, that has been the policy for at least the three years I have worked there, but this seemed to be the quickest way to resolve the matter.
My cashier asked him what shower he was in, and instead of speaking, he held up the numbered key. Though, his finger was blocking the number, so we could not see what it was. When my cashier reached for it, he raised it higher so he had to stretch to get it. At that point, I was starting to get really irritated. His behavior was just so unnecessary.
I told the driver, “Way to make it complicated.” This man lost his mind. He got right into my face and said he would slap me hard. I told him to leave, and he started flexing like he was actually going to throw a punch but said, “I’m not going to go for you. But want to know what I will do? I will find your family and mess them up.”
I pulled my cellphone out and started recording. The store manager then arrived at the building and heard the tail end of our shouting match with each other. He stepped in between us when the driver came too close. The driver started shouting at him, ” Don’t get involved, bro. You don’t want none of this.” My boss replied, “This is my property.”
The driver calmed down very quickly, and they stepped outside. My boss told him exactly the same things I had; that he was not to return, etc. The end. Fast forward to the end of my shift—we had yet another driver issue. So, the policy for our showers is that we hold onto something as collateral until we get the shower key and the towels back. 99% of the time, it’s a non-issue.
The other 1% of the time, it’s a mess. This time, a driver came down, and since my cashier had a few people in line, I thought to ask the driver if he had brought the towels down. The driver said that he had not because he had not been told to do so. The cashier clarified that they had, in fact, told him. The driver just shrugged and said, “I don’t care, man. I have a Lyft outside waiting. Give me my keys.”
He had left his personal keys as collateral, but since we did not get our items back, I told him he would have to get the towels. He became belligerent to both me and my cashier. At that point, the overnight manager was in, so he got some too. This went on for a few moments; then, in what I thought was a bluff, he said he was calling the authorities.
Spoiler alert, it was not a bluff. Like the guy at the start of my shift, I started recording on my phone. And this guy actually threatened me. After about seven minutes or so, a couple of officers arrived. The guy was belligerent with them too, and he pushed the cashier to the point where they told him he needed to back up and calm down.
One of the troopers came to the back desk where we dealt with the showers. The driver, at that point, looked like he was about to break down in tears. The trooper asked about our policy, and it was explained. The driver told him what he told us, “I am here for a shower. In and out. I do not have time for this. I have a Lyft outside. I just want my keys.”
In what I thought would be the best moment of my day, the trooper escorted him upstairs to the showers and made him get the towels. We gave him his keys and receipt for the shower, but I added that after today, we did not want him back on the property. The trooper and the driver walked away, but the trooper made sure that he acknowledged what he had been told.
He asked him, “Did you hear what the manager said? You’re not welcome here anymore. If you return, you will be charged with trespassing.” I left a note for my boss about what had happened and went home. If the driver had simply said, “Oh sorry, guys. I forgot,” or if he just didn’t act the way he did, then we would have just given his things back. But he wanted to be petty about it.
I am better at the petty game. My takeaway from today is that my boss is pretty awesome. He had my back, stepped between me and a guy who audibly threatened to harm me and others. He probably will not appreciate that I let the second incident go as far as it ended up going but it is what it is. Sometimes, in retail, you just have to defend yourself.
18. Smoke Signals
We had a new employee start yesterday. She seemed to be a very sweet girl in her late teens and had a great sense of humor. I took a liking to her instantly. She had never been in charge of a register before, so I was put in charge of training her. I showed her the ropes and let her take over, staying close by in case she needed me.
When it was quiet, I taught her what the procedure was when it came to smokes. She asked me if she had to ID everyone and I told her that she would have to use her judgment. If a person seemed younger than 21 to her, then she should go for it. If they looked older, then it wouldn’t be necessary. She seemed to understand, and she was getting the hang of the register quickly.
I figured that I could stop shadowing her and let her do her thing. I told her that I was going to do some stocking, but that I would be close by if she needed anything. In fact, I would be no more than an aisle over. She smiled and said OK. About 10 minutes went by, and I heard somebody yelling. All I could hear the girl say was: “I am sorry, sir,” in the most terrified tone.
I came over to find this old man screaming at her. She was hunched over and looked like she was about ready to cry. Apparently, he had told her that he wanted a particular brand of smokes. She gave him the wrong ones twice and was slow to find the right ones, and then she asked him for his date of birth when she rang it up.
He was yelling about how he was in a rush and needed to go. He saw me and said, “Hey, can you ring me up? This woman does not know anything.” I looked at her and saw the tears rolling down her face. That was not OK. I told him to not talk to my coworker that way and informed him that it was her first day. He said, “I see that, but I have to go.”
I told him that he obviously did not because if he did, then he would not be screaming at her. He replied with a threat, saying that if I said one more thing, he would never come back to support our store. That was fine with me. I did not want customers who disrespect employees in the store anyway. In the cheeriest tone I can muster, I told him to have a fantastic day.
He stormed out muttering and I consoled the new girl. She was full-on sobbing at this point. What a horrible first day that had to have been. All because some mean person could not show a little empathy.
19. Behind The Doors
I just finished working the weekend and, boy, reopening after a lockdown has really brought out the geniuses, huh? Yes, please take your sweet time, ignore the store hours since they are clearly just a suggestion. It is not like we have lives or would like to get home before it starts pouring out. Keeping in line with the genius parade, on Friday, some dude waltzed in 10 minutes before closing.
I greeted him and asked if I could help him find what he was looking for since we were closing soon. He didn’t really answer. Fast forward nine and a half minutes—I caught him talking to my coworker for the greater part of his visit, and I knew immediately that he would be trouble. He was mostly about random topics, but clearly, she did not care. Unfortunately, she was too nice to cut the guy off and say that she was busy.
I start the closing ritual for the store, which involved turning off the open sign, flipping the sign by the door, closing the doors, etc. I also tried to make more noise than usual so that the guy noticed what I was doing. Of course, he did not, since he was too far into his story about wanting to be a hairdresser or something.
I waited about 30 seconds before I abruptly interrupted. I asked my coworker if she was ready to close her register. That tipped the dude off and he finally left…he did not even buy anything. We have had more people like this, all just waiting for the store to close. Then, we have those who are the other way round. We had a woman who was standing at the doors for a while waiting for us to open, and then got into her car and left as I was walking to unlock the doors. This has happened quite a few times and I cannot really wrap my head around that logic.
20. With A Smile
One day, I had an old guy come through my register with lumber. I said hello to him and instead of greeting me back, he immediately told me had eight pieces of the stack of lumber on the left. I proceeded to count them and he snapped at me, saying, “I said eight!” I told him that we were supposed to count them. I completed counting and rang up those eight pieces.
He then told me that there were 10 pieces of lumber on the right side of his cart. Once again, I counted them. He said to me, “What school did you go to?” I was so confused by his question that I did not even know what to say. What was interesting is that, despite how cranky he was, he kept smiling at me as if his rude remarks weren’t uncalled for.
He was also wearing his mask with his nose hanging out. Once he finished paying and I gave him his receipt, he left the store without saying thank you or anything to me. That guy is definitely up there as one of the worst customers I’ve ever had. Absolutely no manners and I am still disgusted by his behavior to this day.
21. Powered Up
On one Saturday afternoon, we had a power surge followed by an outage. It affected all of downtown, but the store was not notified. Now, you would think that people would be understanding…but there was not one empathetic soul in our store that day. People started complaining that we did not have a backup generator. This was, in their eyes, totally the employees’ fault too.
We had one register that could still ring, but the card reader was down, so it was cash only. And the belts would not move. All of this should be obvious, but no. We got questions like, “You mean I can’t use my bank card?” despite the fact that we had been repeating that for the last 20 minutes. Add to the mix this one lovely man who kept shouting, “Time to get out the pencils and paper!” because we most definitely know the price of every item in the store.
We finally got everyone out, locked the doors, and put stuff away to enjoy 30 minutes of bliss. The instant the power went back on, people were beating on the door. My manager told them everything had to reboot but, of course, they wanted to shop during that time instead of waiting five more minutes.
22. Here We Go Around The Counter
I had a customer who was standing at the cash with items all over the counter, just staring at me. So, I sidled up and cashed them out. All of sudden, the customer left and started browsing the store some more. When he moseyed back up to the counter just moments later, I asked him if he was all set. He said nothing and went off again to look at something else.
Then, after some time, the customer stood impatiently before the register, proclaiming sourly, “Can I get some help over here? I’m ready to cash out.” It took everything in me to not give a bratty reaction. As I was ringing him up, I also got hit with the old, “No, I always get 10% off,” even though our item rewards system has literally been only 5% off for the past 10 years.
But no, this guy said he always gets a deal here. I had never seen the guy before in my life, but okay. Needless to say, they did not get the claimed discount.
23. Not A Know-it-all
This customer came in 10 minutes before closing. She was looking at jeans up until closing with the help of one of our newer staff members. He had been hired six months ago for the holiday season but received only one shift weekly. At closing, I told my coworker that we were closed, so he told the customer that he would have to bring the items to be cashed out.
The customer continued looking anyway. My coworker took me aside and spilled the truth about the situation—he told me that the guy was being aggressive and almost yelling at him to help. When he came up to the cash, he complained about not being able to find the jeans that he was looking for and said that my coworker should not have been hired because he did not know anything at all.
Bear in mind that my coworker normally works in our shoe department, so he does not know much about casual wear. He then wanted us to call another store in order to look for his size. It was five minutes after closing, so obviously, no one picked up. The cashier told him that, and he decided to ask for the manager as if that was going to do anything.
Since I am the shift leader, I was the acting manager. I turned around and asked him what he needed, and he started going on about how I needed to hire people with more experience. First of all, I don’t even hire people. Secondly, this was the kid’s first job—he was barely 16, and he was one of the nicest, most eager-to-please employees that we have.
I almost lost it at that customer. I told him not to talk about my employees like that. I do not even remember what else I said before my cashier jumped in to de-escalate the situation. Maybe I overreacted, but my coworker feels like the little brother at our store.
24. Selective Vision
Today, I had two unrelated customers really get under my skin. Most of the time, I shrug off mean customers. I let them complain and then reply with “Sorry, company policy” or some other non-response to shut them up. But not today. And the first one was a doozy. This customer was an older lady who had bought four packages of hot dogs.
We currently have a sale for hot dogs: buy two and they are 99 cents each while their normal price is $2.99 each. The limit is one, so it’s a pretty good deal; you save $4 overall. However, this lady was angry that only two of her hot dogs had gone for the sale price. I was called up and asked to fix it. The lady claimed that there was no limit mentioned on the sale sign.
So, I got out a sales flier, and before I had even opened it, she claimed that she doesn’t read the fliers. That made me instantly angry. I set up a refund and went to get the on-shelf sale tag. And wouldn’t you know it, in big bold capital letters the tag read: “Limit offer one per customer.” I grabbed the sign and started to go up front to show the customer.
She saw me coming and immediately took off because the cashier had run the refund before I had a chance to get the tag. It irks me that customers can read the sale sign, but selectively ignore parts of it.
25. Needing An Explanation
I had never ever encountered anyone really going off on me at work…Until yesterday. This encounter at my workplace—a burger place—involved a rude customer named Darren, his young daughter, my coworker named Karen, my manager named Bernard, and me.
At my workplace, we organize orders numerically. Once your order is finished, we call out the number and the customer comes to pick up their order at a hand-out area. Now, I am currently training for a new role, so I was close to the handout table, but not working it. I noticed a man, whom I came to know as Darren, standing in front of the table with a receipt in his hand and a burger in the other.
Obviously, I knew he had a complaint. I just didn’t expect that it would go like this. I asked him if something was wrong with his order. He said that he had gotten the wrong burger. He was actually calm at this point and he sounded only a slight bit irritated, but there was nothing alarming. I apologized and asked what kind of burger he was missing.
That’s when Karen, who was taking orders next to us, jumped in and said, “Oh, I think his daughter grabbed the wrong order. His order is in the back.” I later told her that it was not necessary to tell the customers their mistakes in that manner because either way, we were going to fix it for them. It was faster to just fix it rather than play the blame game.
Plus, no one was going to blame her and go on some witch hunt. I just wanted to do my job. At the time, I just said that the food in the back was already cold, so I just needed to know which burger he needed.” Instead of answering me, Darren said, “Wait. My daughter grabbed the wrong food though?” Karen said that was what she thought had happened.
So, Darren replied, “Well, can you tell her that? Because I do not want to start a fight if I tell her.” At that point, Karen and I looked at each other confused and uncomfortable. He then waved his daughter over. They were a tall duo, but I guessed that she was around 12. I tried to avoid the situation and reiterated, “Really, I can just get the correct burger for you. It’s not a big deal at all.”
Darren insisted that she needed to “learn this.” I then said, “OK. Well, I did not hand out the food, so I cannot say if she grabbed the wrong order. Karen can help with that.” Karen quickly washed her hands of the situation by saying, “I can’t. I am in the middle of taking orders.” That annoyed me and I thought, “Why were you listening to us in the first place then? Why put in your 2 cents when I was already fixing it and we had no issues?”
But my concern, at that point, was Darren, who suddenly really wanted me to do it. His tone made the situation really uncomfortable. Even his daughter started to look extremely uncomfortable. As he started getting irate, more condescending, and loud, I started to just look for a way out. He continued to insist that he wanted to talk to me and know what had happened.
I, once again, expressed my helplessness. “Yes, sir. But unfortunately, I do not know what happened. I was not here handing out the food.” He kept cutting me off, so I finally said, “I am going to get my manager for you because I cannot help you any more with this.” As I turned to step away, he started screaming at the top of his lungs.
He shouted, “No, don’t walk away from me! Ma’am, I do not want your manager! I am not trying to create a scene here!” Everyone was staring as he was going off and I yelled out Bernard’s name. Bernard came over and that is when Darren went back to his calm voice. He told Bernard that he just wanted to know what happened with his order.
I was still standing there and Bernard said, “He wants to talk to you.” Darren had a condescending voice when he was talking to me. He gave a half-truth and then asked, “Is that not what happened?” So, I stood quietly, and after he asked again, I said, “Well, I mean, my manager is here. So, yes, I am agreeing that that is what happened.”
I also refused to look at him because when I get angry, I cry. I was trying so hard not to let the tears out. Also, because he was bending down to my level, I wanted to punch him. Darren started saying stuff like, “Will you look at me? Why does it feel like you don’t want to be talking to me? Do you even want to be here talking to me?”
When he didn’t stop his aggression, I absolutely lost it. So, I said, “No, I don’t. Bernard, I’m not doing this. I can’t do this.” And I walked away. I went to the back where three or four different coworkers checked up on me. One even offered to let me punch him to take out my anger. I did not take him up on his offer, but I love that kid.
At that point, I only had like 10 to 15 minutes left on my shift, so I got to go home. Bernard apologized to me and said he didn’t expect him to speak to me that way. On one hand, I understand because Darren could come across as a normal calm customer. But on the other hand, this guy was literally just screaming at me. And he was at least 6’3 (192 cms) while I am 4’11 (125 cms).
Even his daughter was taller than me. I told Bernard that it felt a little biased because he was not as condescending with him as he was with me. But Bernard said that he felt it was more to do with height since he was just as tall and built similarly to the customer. Either way, he said that there was something off about that guy anyway, and I agree.
26. Too Good To Be True
To preface, it needs to be said that my store does not have coupons. We never have, and we probably never will. On this day, I had a woman come in saying that she wanted to get decor for her new house. I offered to show her what we had available. She then mentioned that she was so excited that she was going to get such a good deal.
I assumed that was because everything she was picking out was 40% off. Spoiler alert: it was not. She proceeded to spend over an hour picking out everything and having us put it behind the counter for her. That was when she finally mentioned, “Oh yes, I was so happy to get a coupon for half off of everything here,” which was the major red flag.
I then asked her if I could see it while also explaining that we did not carry in-store coupons. She proceeded to spend another 30 minutes looking for the supposed coupon. I finally got a glance at her phone and it all made sense—she had pulled up one of those websites that claim to give out coupon codes, but they usually don’t work.
It even said in a big text that they uncertified codes. She was perfectly polite the entire time but explaining to her that she couldn’t use any of that in-store was exhausting. I know the older generation can have trouble with stuff like that, but it was like she just could not believe that she could not use her coupons. And, of course, she had us put half of it back.
27. An Apple A Day
I had a customer yesterday bring in the clearance item that he bought, which was a MacBook. He came up to the register to return it. That was no problem. For reference, I’m five feet tall and he was a big guy. I followed protocol and opened it. I then checked to see if the laptop was up and running to turn off his iCloud accounts.
When the screen turned on, it was stuck on some weird screen with a mysterious folder labeled with a question mark. That’s all it displayed. I didn’t give it much thought. As I was processing the return, I noticed on the receipt that the form of payment was a $43 gift card, and the rest of the $1,057 was charged to his card.
Returns work by giving back the money in the same form of payment. So, I was telling him that he would get $43 back to a gift card. He immediately got upset and tried telling me that the last guy who helped him return an item of his but not to his card, but to a gift card. So, he wanted the whole $1,100 to his card.
Normally, I would let the customer know this kind of thing, and they would be OK with it. I was a little overwhelmed, so I called my super. She was held up with something and a minute into waiting, this guy started getting aggravated. He told me, “I don’t have all day! C’mon.” At that point, I was begging my super on the radio, “Please, I need you here.”
She came and checked out the situation. She also investigated the MacBook. I didn’t know if the guy didn’t disconnect it from his iPhone yet, but his accounts were still attached to his laptop. So, he started getting even more aggravated. Eventually, I called a floor manager up. They were letting him know that there was nothing we could do on our end.
This was because he did something like wipe his system. So, he had to call Apple to disable his accounts or find out why it was not working. He was sitting there, calling Apple, and I guess he was trying to use voice commands because he kept shouting something. Then he started to argue with the floor manager again, so I just walked away to compose myself
In the end, the guy got all his money back to his card and he was still able to return the item, claiming that he’ll never buy clearance items from us again.
28. Always On Clock
I finished a shift at my work and I was on my way home when I realized that I needed to do some shopping. I could not be bothered to go all the way back to my store, so I went to another shop on the way home. Mind you, I was in my work uniform and it was too hot to wear a coat over it. I was going to be in and out so thought it was no big deal.
How wrong was I?! Well, two minutes in, an elderly couple came up to me and ask, “Excuse me, do you know where the food storage bags are kept? I replied, “I am sorry but I do not work here I’m afraid. They just say, “Oh, right!” They stormed off and, although taken aback, I thought little of it. Instead, I got on with my shopping and headed to the self-service tills.
Just as I was about to finish, the couple came back and they had a manager with them! They told the manager, “This employee of yours refused to help us find our items.” The manager looked at me, then said, “I am afraid that this man does not work for us.” He pointed to my uniform saying, “He works for another company.”
The couple stared at me and said, “We thought he was making that up!” I’d never had a complaint from a customer while shopping in another store before! Well, there is always a first time.
29. Cost Per Spray
I work at a thrift store, and due to COVID, there needs to be a door greeter who greets customers coming in and sprays their hands with hand sanitizer. This was what I was doing when an elderly woman came in. As I sprayed her hands, she started coughing dramatically as though this was the first time anyone had ever done that.
Then, she said, “You sprayed too much. It got into my mouth.” I immediately felt bad when she said that, but then she lost me when she said that it had gotten into her mouth. She was clearly wearing a mask. To top it off, as she walked away, she muttered something. It sounded like, “This is going to affect the amount of money I spend today.” I don’t get how that affects me, but okay.
30. In The Know
This happened this past weekend at my shop. The customers were one of those annoying couples who’d regularly come in and ask questions every time. They would ask things like where the bin bags were or where the rice was as if they weren’t here literally all the time. One day, this couple came up to my till and I start scanning through the items.
Suddenly, the man said, “Can you press subtotal at the end?” I said that I would. This was because, obviously, I was going to have to do it anyway. I thought he was just particular or did not really understand how it worked. Anyway, the total came to around $55 and they were not very happy. They started asking me how much every item cost and to void out other items, which of course I did without a problem.
When they came to scan their voucher, the pop-up appeared as expected, telling me to get a supervisor to authorize the void. I told them, “Because you have removed some products, I have to get someone over to authorize them. They shouldn’t be too long.” The man looked at me with confusion and said, “I thought pressing subtotal would make it OK.”
This deeply puzzled me. Did he think that of all the people who ever worked my shop— till staff, supervisors, and management—that no one had ever considered or worked this out before? Did he think he, a completely random man, knew more about our till systems? That he knew more than the staff who are on them all day? Strange!
31. Time Is Money
I’ve worked in customer service for two years and the amount of stuff I’ve had to deal with is enough to blast God to the 16th dimension. One time, a customer wanted something way high up on the shelves, in the depressing fluorescent lights territory. I told her that I should be back within 10 minutes because I needed to get a ladder. She said that was fine.
Now, I don’t even weigh heavy enough to donate blood. I’m a petite little ballerina of a rodent with Campbell soup noodle arms. None of the other workers were around to help as they were dealing with their own stuff, so I dragged this ginormous ladder from the break room all the way across the store to get back to the lady and the merchandise.
Well, I headed back to the desolate ghost town of an aisle and find that the lady decided to take a first-class ticket to Employees’ Time Is Meaningless-Ville. She was nowhere to be seen. Okay, time is money, and people have got things to do and places to be and all that. But don’t act like your time is more valuable than mine, because it’s not.
32. Adventure Time
I currently work at a mall, in a candy store close to the food court. In the food court, there is a play area for kids with different structures to climb and play on. This play area has a no-shoes policy, meaning that to play there, kids have to take their shoes off. Now, kids are attracted to candy and have been known to wander in.
We can tell that they are from the play area because they lack shoes and, usually, we have an employee walk them back. These kids are usually really young, so it scares us a bit when they do not have an adult nearby watching them. Well, today there were three kids, probably siblings, all five years old or younger, that wandered in.
We took note of their lack of shoes and asked them to show us where their parents were; a common tactic to get them to walk back to the playpen and to their adult. Well, this five-year-old was kind of sassy and said, “I am five years old. I don’t need my parents since I walked here on my own.” His younger siblings agreed with him.
We then told him that he couldn’t buy anything because he did not have any money. Honestly, though, we will not sell to kids without shoes regardless of whether they have money or not. He and his siblings ran out of the store and we watched them run to the play area. We figured that they went to their parents and moved on.
15 minutes later, they were back with an unexpected vengeance. They all grabbed a bunch of stuff and tried to run out with it, but we stopped them. This time around, my manager walked back to the playpen with them. Later, when she came back, she said that when she got there, the other parents did not want to allow them back in since they had been disruptive and had pushed some of the other kids.
So, she had returned with them in tow and we had to call security to pick up the kids and make an announcement over the PA system. A security guard later said that a woman had picked the children up and was mad at them since she had told them to stay in the playpen while she shopped. Later, I told my friend, who works at one of the restaurants at the food court what had happened and she said that she had spotted them running around the backs of the restaurants.
She had to kick them out from there since it was dangerous for the kids to be there. My only question is, “Who lets their young kids alone in a busy mall while they shop?” Just get a sitter!
33. Grabbing Luck With Both Hands
Our store has a lottery kiosk. Yesterday, this lady was buying tickets and she ordered me to tell her good luck. She didn’t mean to wish her luck, either. She specifically said, “You should say good luck to me when I’m getting lottery tickets.” I just told her I grew up doing theatre and I was conditioned not to say good luck. This is sort of true, but I mostly do not say it because I just cannot be bothered by these people.
34. A Question Of Receiving
I had a woman say that she didn’t want her receipt. Then, when I threw it out, she yelled and said that I should give her a receipt. So, I went to print a new one and she immediately said, “No, I want my original receipt.” So, I pulled it out of my trash can, which only had receipt paper in it, and she goes, “It’s that one!”
I wondered, “Lady, how would you know? They’re all the same.” However, I held my tongue and just say, “No, this is for a smaller purchase. You got a bigger size.” I found hers and she huffed off. Fast forward a few days—I looked through the customer feedback box and I was shocked. We get a bad review saying that I was rude, threw out her receipt when she asked for it, and did not print her a new one.
It went on to claim that I just pulled a receipt out of the garbage and didn’t even give her the right receipt. Corporate gave her a gift card. I was done after that.
35. A Valuable Lesson
Yesterday was horrible. My relief wasn’t on time, and because of our nonsensical late policy, I was technically working for free after my shift ended. So, I was a little cranky when my last customer asked to “just grab one thing really quickly.” I said yes, but I was admittedly huffy. The customer decided to “teach me a lesson.”
They waited to grab the item until the entire order was through. I cannot void an order over $10, so that wasn’t an option. And today was the first of the month, so it was busy and I couldn’t afford to have my time wasted. I just wanted to scream.
36. Time For Change
What is up with the over 50 crowds being inconsiderate and generally just difficult to deal with? I had a retail customer come in at 9:30 am, right after I locked the door to go to the bank. He knocked, so of course, I opened the door and helped him. He got up to the register and paid with two $50 bills and two $1 bills for his $31.94 purchase because he wanted to break up his bills.
He then proceeded to dictate the exact denominations of change that he wanted, which I didn’t have since I hadn’t gone to the bank yet. So, I flipped through the change in my cash bag. He saw the denominations that interested him, which happened to be the only change that I really had. He wanted them, but I hesitantly obliged because what else was I going to pay him with?
That was when another customer walked in and wanted to pay with—wait for it—CASH! I hate it here!!! I have also noticed that it’s always the same kind of people who do things like this. They call in two minutes before closing and ask you to stay, or show up 30 minutes before you open and bang on your doors, etc. I cannot finish my home inspection classes fast enough because I am fed up with how rude and seemingly clueless a lot of people can be in public.
37. An Ill-fitting Argument
I work at Zara as a sales associate. Due to COVID, our dressing rooms are closed because they would be used as a shared space and, therefore, they’d require a wipe down, among other things, every time they would be used. We just do not have the staff to do that. So even though the pandemic is starting to die down, no dressing rooms.
Our return policy is pretty standard, though, so most people do not give us any grief and just buy their items and return or exchange them the next day if they do not fit. No big deal, right? Right. So, this happened while I was walking back and forth from our dressing room, which we are using as an extra stock room, filling up the shelves.
We were in the middle of a big sale, so I was trying to hustle and get everything out there as fast as I could. I was putting knitwear on racks, humming along to the song that was playing, and just generally having a grand old time. Then, approached me. The dreaded demon. Karen. She goes, “Excuuuuuuuuse me!” And I’m immediately on guard.
I turned around and immediately all my warning sensors were going off. She looked like a total Karen. Stringy blonde hair, thin lips, years of sunburn that has ruined her skin, not wearing a mask—but has one pulled down below her chin—and a girl behind her in her late teens that looked absolutely miserable being out with her.
Before I even fully processed it, my brain just said, “Oh boy.” I turned on my customer service smile and said, “Hi! How can I help you?” She was immediately in my face, not respecting social distancing at all. She demanded to know if we had a fitting room open, saying, “I was just by your fitting rooms and I saw your sign. Do you have any fitting rooms open?”
The sign clearly said that we did not, but I started with my little spiel. I said, “No, we do not have the fitting rooms open due to COVID, but our return policy still stands, even for the sale, so—” She interrupts me by saying, “But I need a fitting room.” She also stepped closer to me so I stepped back. Clearly, she had no respect for our social distancing rules.
I tried to explain again that she couldn’t use the fitting room, but she wouldn’t have it. “I just saw someone in there.” I replied, “I know, ma’am. That was my manager; she’s pricing items.” That apparently was not a good enough explanation for her, and she rebutted, “So she’s back there and I can’t be?” I just said “Yes.” She still kept trying to get close to me and I kept taking steps back.
She had me quite literally backed into a corner. She proceeded to retort, “This policy is ridiculous. I can’t believe this is still instituted, it’s completely absurd.” She then went on this entire rant about how stupid she thought the whole situation was. Apparently, she felt that she had to explain to me how stores work.
I replied, “Well, ma’am, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and if we were to open the fitting rooms now, then we wouldn’t have the staff to keep them clean and also run the store.” She rolled her eyes and just started talking about how stupid and ridiculous it was that we couldn’t accommodate her. At that point, I had enough.
I try to get her to stop attacking me for things I cannot control by putting it in perspective, “Ma’am, I’m just a sales associate and this policy comes from corporate. There’s really nothing that I can do about this.” This apparently enrages her, and she starts demanding that I change the policy right that second and get in touch with corporate to change the policy just for her.
At that moment, I had a divine moment of self-reflection. My third eye opened and I realized that throughout the whole conversation, I had been looking down. I am 5’3″ (162 cm), so I don’t get to look down at people very often. In arguments, I always feel stupid because I’m yelling up at whoever I am arguing with.
I am clearly not tall, but at that moment, I felt like an Amazonian goddess. I realized that I did not need to fear the Karen because the Karen would never have the dignity of talking down to me in an argument. She was still ranting and raving at this point, talking about how I needed to be the one who instituted the change because it’s my job in danger.
I looked at her, gave her my best sales smile, and said, “Zara is an internationally successful company, ma’am. I am pretty confident in my job. You have a nice day, now.” And I gave the polite gesture of “Get out of my way.” She stormed off, and the daughter, who had been silent and miserable the entire time, whispered, “I am so sorry,” and hurries after her mom.
I went to the fitting room and complained to my manager, who made a few choice comments about the Karens who don’t take the pandemic seriously. I love that lady, truly. Also, when I got home, I searched for Zara’s net worth out of curiosity. Seeing the results, I was relieved. Not worried about my job, not even a little bit.
38. Brand New
I work at a clothing store and our policy is that if the item has been worn, you cannot return or exchange it. So, this guy came in the other day and I was already getting a weird vibe. He was shuffling around and messing up all our displays, just muttering to himself. At that point, I was only walking through the children’s department to get to our break room.
But he stopped me to ask a question. He pulled out this filthy pair of children’s shoes—absolutely caked in mud—and demanded an exchange. He said, “The shoes have no sole.” I took a look inside the shoe, and within seconds I could tell that the shoes had been worn for a long time already. There was absolutely no mistaking it.
In fact, they had been worn so much that the sole had been worn down completely. As in, there were still little chunks of sole at the edges, but they were completely gone at the center. So, I said, “Sir, unfortunately, due to store policy, we cannot return or exchange items that have already been worn.” And he replied, “These have never been worn. I need an exchange. I just bought these the other day.”
So, I looked around the kid’s section for just a minute and I could see that the shoes weren’t even out. I tried to explain that to him, but he adamantly kept saying, “No, I bought this the other day. They have never been worn. I need a return.” I kept trying to explain to him that he could not return the shoes since they were caked in mud and worn out.
What he said next really flustered me. “I have been coming here for three years. I know the girl downstairs, and I need this return.” I obviously caught him in a lie, but he was not backing off. Fortunately, a lovely coworker of mine walked over and said, “Go take your break, honey. I got this.” After my break, I was walking down to my section of the floor and I could see the two of them, in the exact same spot, still arguing.
I heard him go, “This is downtown New York and I cannot even make a return? This is ridiculous. Just get me the girl downstairs.” When my co-worker asked for a name, and he could not give one. I could tell she was getting annoyed and a few seconds later, she met up with me on our escalator and we both just rolled our eyes.
39. Fishing For Trouble
I work at an aquatics store and I manage the freshwater aquariums. Whenever I work at the store, I usually ask people about their fish tanks to help them figure out any problems the tanks may have or recommend the best fish for them. Most of the time, I can help them prevent any beginner mistakes, or just stop their fish from expiring.
A few days ago, a lady came in a few minutes before closing. I was already behind on closing because of other customers, so I was kind of tired. This lady brought in dead fish and a water sample. The parameters looked good, but as a hobbyist myself, I suspected ammonia poisoning for her fish. We did not test for ammonia though.
Furthermore, this lady had done a full water change before her fish kicked it. So, I went through the usual—I explained the proper way to do a water change (25% every week) and also recommend products. She wanted a quick fix despite me explaining that her cycle was a mess and that there was no way that her fish would survive unless she started her cycle all over again.
Such is a process that can take weeks sometimes. Instead of listening, she made up an excuse about how she really needed to take some fish home because her kids want them. I still tried to guide her to a sensible decision. I recommended that she take only two fish so as to not shock the new cycle too much. All went well until she realized something that I had overlooked myself—the fish sale would end in a few days.
Then she insists that she absolutely must take the other fish too. I mentally say, “Alright. Fine. Take your fish.” Out loud I remind her that there is a good chance her fish are going to lose their lives unless she is very careful with her cycle. I, finally, send her on her way thirty minutes after closing because she would not listen to any advice that I gave her.
This was despite asking me what she could do and then not wanting to do it because she thought that it was too much work or she did not have time. I explained it later to the manager and she said that if she came back to return those same fish, I was to deny her the sale.
40. A Calculated Move
In one of my old jobs, I worked in a coffee shop. I really enjoyed it and the people who came in regularly were a dream. One time, the till had broken down, and we resorted to a pen-and-paper process to take people’s orders. We also worked out their change correctly by punching it into the calculator. Everything was going well.
Or, it was going well..until this absolute demon of a customer came in. She started rattling off her order. I was hurriedly writing it down and double-checking the prices on the menu. She saw what I was doing and she tutted me as if she was disappointed. She also had the audacity to tap on the broken till and say, “Why aren’t you using this? Surely it’s easier?”
I pointed to the sign next to them and said as nicely as possible that we were using pen and paper, etc. Then, rolling her eyes, she said her order slowly but with a condescending tone. After taking her order, I took my time repeating it back to her, since she had asked for a lot. Apparently, that was too much for them.
She responded by saying, “I am in a hurry and you are taking too long.” I apologized and explained that I simply wished to make sure that the order was correct. Then I proceeded to total up her order with the calculator, and I heard her sighing and huffing as I was typing away the figures. She said, “Why do you need a calculator? Clearly, someone did not finish math, or else you would not be working here.”
That was the final straw. I balled up the piece of paper, threw it in the bin next to me, and said, “Another member of staff will be with you to help you shortly.” I made my way to the staff area and told my manager what had happened. They told me to relax and said that they would sort it. Needless to say, I watched as my manager went out and made it very clear that the customer’s business was not welcome.
I just wish that I had the sense to throw that balled-up piece of paper in her face. I hate people like that.
41. Delivering It In Style
I work at a shipping store. One day, I was asked to ship something to Iraq to who I assume was a military husband. Well, as a typical Karen, she gave lip and was upset about price and other small things. After a long process, we got the $20 of junk shipped. A few weeks later, she returned to the store, upset. She demanded to see my boss.
She began to chew him out about how I sent the package to the wrong place and how we charged her too much. Her problem was that she wanted to send it to a military base, which should have astronomically reduced the price. My boss took one look at her, and shut her up with a single sentence: “Ma’am, how does my employee know a random street address in Iraq unless you told him to send it there?”
Karen was dumbfounded and, after a few moments of being flabbergasted, she rambled back that she would call the local news. She never did that or the other things that she threatened to do. She didn’t even write a bad message on Google.
42. A Steep Price
A man came in today to exchange a pair of pants. Unfortunately for him, he had bought a $70 pair and a $60 pair on a BOGO 50% sale, so the $60 pair was 50% off. He wanted to exchange the $70 pair for another $60 pair, but the system pairs up items when they’re in a BOGO offer. On the receipt, it would’ve looked like he was returning both pairs and repurchasing the one he wasn’t returning, in order to remove the BOGO offer.
After exchanging, he would have had to pay $11 since the BOGO offer was no longer available. He was not happy, as he would have had to pay even though he was returning a more expensive pair. I did him a solid and threw in 25% off. He would’ve gotten around $5 back, but he still was not happy with the offer. At that point, I knew he was going to be difficult.
He asked to speak to the manager, and as the shift leader, that was me. He wanted more of a discount, but I couldn’t reasonably give it to him. He kept getting angry, so I told him to come back tomorrow, and maybe the store manager then would reach a different decision. He agreed and finally left after holding up the line for a little over five minutes.
Well, he never asked me to keep the pants on hold for him. It was our last pair, too, so I put them on my manager’s desk, called her, and asked her for a favor. If he comes in tomorrow, she’s going to tell him that we don’t have them anymore. I also called my girlfriend—my manager’s daughter—who works at the closest store to us and asked her to hide their only pair in the back room.
The closest available pair in that guy’s size is now two cities over. He kept asking for more and now he will get nothing. It’s not much, but it’s a victory.
43. No Matter How You Slice It
I had this one customer one day ask me, “It’s 50% off for bag mulch if it has got holes in it, right?” I told him that it was up to the cashier and how big the holes were. He said OK. My sketchiness radar went off, so I went to tell one of my coworkers to keep an eye on him. After a little while, the guy came back with four bags of soil. Each one had a huge slash on top.
They were clean slashes too and not holes from rough handling. He said, “50% each, right?” I had a small line, so I went ahead and rang them up (each bag was like, $4 originally). After I gave him his receipt, he said that he would like me to tape the holes shut. Again, I had a line and explained to him that I could only do that once the line is gone.
That’s when he blew his top. He started making a scene, so I told the person behind him that I just needed a few minutes. It took me five minutes and a complaint from another customer for me to get them taped and sealed to his standards. A few days later, I was outside with a new coworker and he asked her, “Do you give a discount on rocks?”
I told her that it would depend on how bad the situation is. At first, I did not recognize him as the same guy—I thought that he said rakes, not rocks. So, he showed up with a few bags totaling roughly $90. He was demanding half off on each, so the coworker asked me what to do. We were only allowed a $50 markdown without any assistance. When I look at his bags, I almost lost it.
Once again, there were clean cuts. I told him that they were just open and none were missing, so we couldn’t do the full 50% off. Instead, I helped my coworker take $20 off. He did not like that and kept demanding we give him 50% off, saying that someone ruined his bags. I told my coworker to just mark them down so he could finally leave and we could get our lines moving.
I work in the produce section at a Trader Joe’s clone. It’s a hyper-corrupt corporate structure, but for once, I can’t blame what happened yesterday on corporate. Here’s what went down. So, yesterday, I was nearing the end of my shift and was bringing a few dozen plastic packages of cut fruit out to our cut fruit fridge. At the time I was exhausted.
I didn’t think about how I was balancing these packages on my work truck, and they all fell onto the floor—berries and grapes were just flying everywhere. Obviously, this was not a big deal, but this happened right in the center of the store, where our four departments and the doors to the back room converged. The store was also well over capacity with customers doing their Saturday afternoon shopping.
This incident had created a traffic jam of sorts. My manager and I were scrambling to pick everything up, and I was down on my knees trying to pick up the grapes. What infuriated me were the glib jokes and quips that customers felt they needed to make and the fact that even though there was plenty of space for them to get around us, they still grazed their carts within an inch or two of where I was squatting.
I was embarrassed enough, but it just got worse for me. I started hyperventilating and got tunnel vision, and had a panic attack. Even if, from an outsider’s perspective, the situation was somewhat comedic, from my perspective, it was exceedingly humiliating and dehumanizing, to be treated as an object. Customers were weaving around me like I didn’t exist and provided unnecessary commentary that nobody else cared to hear.
It was the most embarrassed that I’ve ever been at this job. In my state, the customers seemed like cackling buzzards swooping around, narrowing in on the prey. We, somehow, managed to clear up the path and get out of the way of the buzzards.
45. Discounting It
A doctor came into the store a few days ago with a bag of clothes. She asked if we had discounts for health care workers, to which we said that we did not. The discounts were only for military personnel and teachers or students. Immediately after hearing this, she got upset and said that doctors worked much harder and deserved it more than teachers.
In my eyes, it was rude and ignorant to expect that a well-paid doctor should get a discount over teachers who are severely underpaid. If she could come to our store and blow $300 on clothes and also have other shopping bags on her, I seriously doubt she needed a discount. But it only got worse. She had the audacity to say, “Well, who was working hard during the pandemic? Yeah, doctors! That’s right.”
It’s true in some ways, but she was also very well paid. Teachers, on the other hand, do so much to teach the younger generation, including future doctors, but they are not paid nearly enough, which is why they often get discounts. It just blew my mind how she sat there bashing teachers for getting a discount as if it was something the employees decided on.
46. Holier Than Thou
The main guy of this Pentecostal church group comes into our store every Sunday and Wednesday. He told one of our servers that she was going to suffer and that she couldn’t serve him because she has tattoos on her arms. He would never wear a mask even at the height of the pandemic. He’d constantly complain about the service and how no one at my restaurant was a good server. But that’s not the worse thing he’s done.
He also told one of our servers that he was going to call CPS on her because her kids shouldn’t have a mom who has tattoos and piercings. I would love to knock the religious superiority right out of his body through a punch right to the ear.
47. Rules Are For Others
My store is currently closed for in-store shopping and we don’t have a proper click-and-collect set up yet. The system we have basically sends us an email, then we call the customer to confirm. Well, someone called about 30 minutes to close on Saturday and I squeezed her order in at the last minute.
She yelled, “Ugh, whatever,” and hung up on my manager. We got back to her within an hour and placed her order. When she came to pick up both on Saturday, she disregarded all our COVID policy signs saying to call the store for pick-ups. Instead, she climbed over the barriers to knock on the store’s door. I was on the phone with a customer when she did this, and my coworker was completely out of sight.
. When she did it again today, I gestured for her to call us. She called, and then when I collected her order and opened the door, she laid into me about how rude I was being. I countered, “I think it was rather rude of you to ignore all our signs and barriers and knock on the door.” She got very upset and yelled at me about how she was never coming back. “You’ll be lucky to have a job tomorrow,” she threatened.
48. Half-baked Notion
I work in a bakery in a grocery store, and we have plexiglass in front of us and in front of our artisan bread for obvious reasons…Or maybe, not-so-obvious reasons to some people. Today, I had a lady reach over the glass, over my case full of cakes, to grab the cake from the top of my pile. She had to struggle to reach it.
Not only that, but all throughout COVID, we had to put all our bread in bags instead of leaving them out in the open. The glass is literally two feet tall. All I could think was, “If you have to struggle to reach over the glass, it probably means you are not supposed to be doing the thing you are doing!” This phenomenon has actually been happening even more since COVID and I’m really just over it.
49. The Fountain Runneth Dry
I run a convenience store inside a mall. Just outside our store is a lovely fountain, only it’s drained. It has been that way since before we got the store last year. One day, I was sitting around, enjoying the cool air on my face. Our store is located on a kind of odd angle, where one wall is shorter than the other, and you can see people walking by through the glass windows.
I sat around watching mall traffic while keeping an eye on my game, always alert for trouble. At one point, my idyllic view was interrupted by the sight of a man, clearly with a purpose, striding directly toward me. I didn’t even have time to give my usual chipper, “How you doin’ today?” line. The angry man asked me a question that threw me off-guard: “When are they going to turn on the fountain?”
I apologetically replied that I have no idea. A moment passed and the man’s brow furrowed. It appeared as though he was not sure how to process the fact that I didn’t have an answer. Then he said, apparently to make the situation clear to me, “They drained all the fountains!” It was my turn to be confused. Clearly, they drained all the fountains…I’d been looking at the empty fountain all day long, so I would know.
I don’t know why he thought I didn’t notice…Did he think it was my fault? Maybe he didn’t know that the mall makes its own decisions. So, I told him, “You’d have to ask the mall management. We’re just a convenience store.” He firmly told me, “I will!” And with his sense of duty now apparently locked onto a new target, he stomped on out of the store with the same clear sense of purpose.
50. Greasing The Parts
At the time, I was the front desk receptionist at a car dealership that had an attached service and parts department. I dealt with all kinds of people, but this one customer particularly left me dumbfounded. It was around 7 pm, about an hour after the service and parts department had closed. The sales department was open until 8 pm, so I was just going about my business as usual.
A woman walked up to my desk and slammed a 19-liter jug of motor oil down on the counter. That scared me since I was looking away at the time. She immediately demanded that I sell her the oil. I was confused and just kind of…looked at her for a moment. There was no checkout counter at my desk as we were in an entirely different part of the building.
Also, where did she get that? The parts department was closed and the window into the storeroom was locked with a fold-down metal cage. I finally got myself together and told her that the parts department was closed and that I would be unable to sell anything. Her reaction was priceless. She immediately got angry, blowing her top while gesturing to the closest window demanding that I give her the oil.
I suggested for her to go to another shop nearby, as they were open until 9 pm. Surely, she could get oil there. She didn’t like that answer and scoffed at me. “I need Kia brand oil, for my Kia brand car.” She said it incredibly matter-of-factly and stared at me like I was the dumbest person on the planet. That again caught me off guard.
I have pretty bad anxiety, so I was still mentally and physically reeling from her slamming the bottle down and I was not getting very collected thoughts. I tried to explain that any brand of oil would do and that I’d be happy to help her figure out what would work best so she could pick it up there…but she just kept shaking her head at me.
Finally, she shouted out that she would just come back the following day, that I had been absolutely no help, and stormed out. I noticed then that she had a kid with her. What a great example she set for her children. I did figure out that she had pulled the oil jug down off of a display case in the service department. That was extra amusing to me, imagining someone taking something off of a clearly not-for-sale display shelf because she was mad.
51. Dog Days
Several years ago, I used to work as a dog trainer at a very well-known pet supply store. While I was a dog trainer, it was still retail, so of course, I had to do 100 things outside of my job description. As a result, I was working the cash register, stocking, and yes, helping our loyal customers. The store I worked at was an absolute disaster with Karens, too.
Big, white suburban neighborhoods were situated around this store, so they came in like hordes. Well, on this particular day, it was vet day. Basically, a local vet service partnered with the store to offer quick walk-in vet checkups for things like vaccinations. Of course, put “cheap” and “Karens” together and you get the worst workday of your week.
This week, the store was packed. The line went all the way to the front, and we were the biggest store in the area. People were asking me questions left and right, dogs were relieving themselves everywhere, and kids were playing with the dog toys. It was the whole shebang. I was already like a headless chicken, having to juggle five tasks while also prepping for a dog training class. Yay.
But as I was making my way from the vet station helping another customer, I saw her, and she definitely looked like trouble. She had a dark tan, shoulder-length straight hair, sunglasses, and she was dragging a couple of kids down the aisle toward me. She looked like she was wanting to turn into the Hulk and was ready to fight. I prepped myself before I started to say, “How can I help—”
She stopped me in the middle of my sentence by saying one loud word, “Dogs!” She had a crazy gleam in her eyes. I tried to decipher her cryptic message and asked, “Dog…toys? Dog…food?” She then said, “Where are your dogs?” It took a second for my brain to catch up with her shrieks; to understand that she was hoping that we sold dogs.
Now, luckily, big box stores like this one tend to not sell dogs directly. Otherwise, they would get them from puppy mills. But now, unfortunately, I had to inform this lady that we were not that kind of store. I geared myself up for a battle, then said: “I am sorry, ma’am, but we do not sell dogs he—” She cursed and shrieked, then immediately spun around, pulling her kids like ragdolls the entire time.
She then stomped out the door again. It felt like I got hit and run over by words. This interaction was less than 30 seconds, so it was like a new record. It was then that I decided it would be best if I took my break before doing my next class.
52. Taking A Bow
Several years back, I was working at a small beauty supply store in the southern part of the US. Among other things, we sold little clip-in hairpieces. A family of four had come in and the mom and dad were discussing products in the first aisle while the two little girls were running unsupervised through the store, being loud and making messes.
It was truck day, and I had been stocking shelves out of a shopping cart, referred to as a buggy by many people in that area. It was chock full to the brim. I had gone to the stock room and when I came back 30 seconds later, I saw one of the little girls pushing my cart around the corner of the opposite end of the aisle.
She was standing on her tiptoes and still could not see over the handle. I heard her say something to her mother and her mother told her, “Put that back where you found it.” By that time, I had nearly caught up with the kid, who had turned the basket around. She pushed the cart up to me and said proudly, “Ma’am, are you lookin’ for yer buggy?”
I replied, “You do not need to be messing with that.” That’s when the mom’s Karen came out. She came roaring around the corner saying how I should not speak directly to her child and that if I had something to say, then I should say it to her. Never mind the fact that the kid had run into a shelf, slipped a bit on the tile floors, and almost turned the basket over on herself on the opposite side of the store from her mother’s location.
I did not bother to argue about safety concerns and instead went back to stocking shelves. A little while later, the mother asked me to help her match the color of her hair to the hairpieces. I helped her pick one out, then heard her confirm to her husband that it was the one she wanted. I then went up to the register, while she rounded up her kids.
When she got to the checkout, the hairpiece that she put on the counter was a different one than what I had seen her discussing. I asked her about it and she indicated that the other one was more than she could afford, but she planned to come back for it. I rang her out and they left. The next day, I got to work and the opening clerk said, “I got one of your customers today.”
I said, “Oh yeah?” I didn’t get customer complaints often, but that particular week, I had someone else come in, while I was off, saying that I was rude. They had been unhappy that I had prevented them from shoplifting but they gave some other bogus reason to complain. When my coworker confirmed this, it was in a tone that made it clear I was in for a ride a bit later.
So, I asked, “Have you ever seen me be rude to a customer?” “No,” she answered. “It always seems like you’re sweet, but to hear them tell it, you’re big and bad.” About that time, the door opened, and in walked the hairpiece woman and her kids. It was about to go down. She started laying into me about how she had come to return the hairpiece that she got yesterday.
We did not take returns on hairpieces in the first place. However, she said that in the process of trying to return it with my co-worker, they had found a discrepancy between the item that she was trying to return and the one I had rang up. So, my coworker had asked her to come back during my shift so I could assist with the return.
This woman pulled the product that she wanted to return out and it was a different product than the one she purchased from me—in fact, it was the one that I had heard her tell her husband she wanted…and it was in a different product box. I told her as much, and she started screaming, saying that I better not be calling her a liar.
She also started making thinly veiled physical threats. In the meantime, one of her darling kids had come back around the sales counter where I was standing and she was trying to get my attention to get in on the action. I was ignoring the girl, but she kept tapping me on the hip. I whirled around and curtly said, “Don’t touch me.”
Then, remembering the scene from the day before, I snapped my head back to the mom and smiled sweetly. Through gritted teeth, but with the most upbeat voice, I said, “I am sorry, could you please tell your child not to touch me and remove her from behind the counter. It’s not safe for her to be back here.” She snarled, “That’s better.”
She barked a command at her kid, then made it clear that she would be back in an hour to continue her reign of terror. Shortly after she left, our store manager arrived unexpectedly early for the closing shift. We brought her up to speed on what had been going on. When the lady came back, I happened to be in the stock room.
My manager closed the stock room door and told me in the sternest voice ever: “Do NOT come out.” I could only hear snippets through the door, so I don’t know exactly what happened. I got the picture that we must have given her some money back as a one-time thing, probably because the other option was to refer to corporate, who would have given her money back.
But then I very clearly heard the woman’s voice ring across the store, “Go get her and bring her out here. I am going to snatch her up and…” “You will not lay a hand on my employee,” my manager emphatically interrupted. I did not hear any of the exchange after that, because I was so shocked at my sweet, proper manager’s firm retort.
My coworker, apparently, was similarly surprised. The consensus among the employees after that was that we were pretty proud of how tough our manager could be if needed. They also decided that if I was being rude to a “customer,” it was probably someone stealing.