The security gates have been pulled halfway out and the ends locked in place. Most of the cashiers have cashed out for the night, with the last two waiting on the few stragglers wandering the store. The end-of-the-night regulars have come and gone, and the cashiers have started their countdown to the end of the night.
“Four GLORIOUS minutes!”
That’s when he walks in.
“Good evening sir, we’re just getting ready to close for the night. Is there anything I can help you find?”
Grunt is too nice a word for the noise that somehow comes out of his throat, like a dying goat choking on dry oats.
“Looks like I made it just in time then. I know exactly what I want, I’ll be quick.”
But quick, he isn’t. He wants to make sure we have enough time to properly take in his majestic presence. His asscrack peaks out every-so-slightly from his two sizes too large jeans, which have managed to drag down the pot leaf print boxers providing the only barrier between denim and bottom. Those proudly displayed boxers match his slightly too small t-shirt and the filthy crooked trucker hat crookedly perched on his head, both emblazoned with pot leafs. He can almost hear the thoughts of every girl he passes in the store, “Wow, he is such a badass. I bet you he smokes pot. I need that sloppy pile of man meat all over me!”.
He slowly slinks through the aisle, with the swagger of a real suburban gangsta. Picking up each and every bottle, he examines them closely, as if to read each and every work on the back of the bottle. After all, it’s important to know the copywrite details of a winery’s label.
“Sir, the store will be closing in three minutes. Is there anything I can help you find?”
His smell. It’s not something you forget quickly. While the unmistakable smell of weed accompanies his marijuana-themed attire, there is a certain odor about him, a manly musk. It’s a mix of three days gym sweat, Cheeto dust, and a bottle of Axe body spray, and it lingers as he moves down the aisle.
“Yeah, I had this pine nut grigarion the other night at a restaurant and I was looking for it here. Do you have it?”
“I’m sorry sir, is it a pinot grigio you’re looking for?”
“Yeah, that’s it! Pine nut grigarion! All I see here is the white. Do you have a red pine nut grigarion? The one I had was red, but it was definitely a pine nut grigarion.”
He looks at all the pinot grigios in the section, insisting they should be red. He’s shown to the pinot noirs and says they’re not the right wine. He hems and haws over every bottle in the aisle, making sure he finds the exact ‘pine nut girgarion’ he’s looking for, reading every single label. Finally, he finds it: Bodacious Smooth Red. A somewhat sweet, fruity wine, it is nothing close to a pinot anything.
“Attention shoppers. The store will be closing in two minutes. Please bring your purchases up to the front, or ask a customer service representative for assistance. Thank you.”
He wanders around the store, a bottle of red in hand. Strolling into the beer fridge, he seems to have no intention of checking out anytime soon. He carefully picks up and examines random beers, pausing every few steps to pull up his falling trousers. The line-up at the front cash grows longer with last minute shoppers hurrying to leave before the store closes. This man is not among them.
“Sir is there anything I can help you find. We’re getting ready to close up the store now.”
He wanders, seemingly unaware of the employee trying to help him, or of the growing line of people at the checkout, inching his way along the giant wall of coolers. Again, he picks up random cans and bottles, examines them, and puts them back with a sigh.
“Sir? Do you need any help?”
“I’m not really sure what I’m in the mood for. Do you have anything on sale? A sparkling wine? Or maybe a whiskey? I’m not sure what I want. Is there a sale section here?”
Inwardly cringing, you lead him to the very small clearance section in the back of the store. Again, he feels the need to pick up each and every bottle, examining it closely. You stand there, waiting to help him and answer the inevitable questions you know he’ll have for each and every product. He mumbles to himself, staring at each bottle like he’s looking for some sort of hidden message on the label.
“Now this bottle here, with the fancy looking label, what is this? Why is it on sale so much? What does it taste like? Is this anything like the pine nut grigarion here?”
“Sir, that’s whiskey. It tastes like whiskey. It’s on sale because we’re not going to carry that specific brand anymore. It tastes nothing at all like the bottle of wine you have there. Are you looking for something like it? Or is there something else I can get for you? We are trying to close up the store for the night.”
He stares at the bottle again, seemingly having not heard a single word you said. His attention went back and forth between the bottle of whiskey, a bottle of Advocaat, and a can of Four Loko. None of them is anything close to the bottle of white wine masquerading as red he has clutched in his hands.
“This orange stuff here. Is that like, watered down red? Or red mixes with that yellow wine over there?”
He stared at the Advocaat, a liqueur whose thick and creamy base separates from the rest of the liquid when left sitting for more than a minute, wondering what kind of wine it was. The automatic lights above starting turning off, indicating the store was now officially closed. By the light of the emergency light boxes in the corners, he stared at the bottles.
“Sir, it’s a liqueur. It’s not a wine. It’s meant to be mixed with other things, like Sprite. I can bring it up to the front cash if you’d like, but the store is now closed for the night. The cashier is waiting to ring you out, and then we are locking the store for the night.”
“You’re closed? Why didn’t anyone say anything? I thought you guys were open until 9:45 pm! It’s barely 9 pm! You really should’ve told me you were closing, I would’ve just gone to another store. That’s horrible customer service.”
He storms off towards the front of the store, only to be distracted by a shiny object: the foil tops on the sparkling wine bottles. Stopping only a few feet from the cash register, he pushes some bottles back on the shelf, mixing them up into the bottles next to them, and puts his bottles down in their place. Cautiously, like the top might explode at any moment, he picks up a bottle of sparkling wine and examines it closely.
“Sir, do you want me to bring these up to the cash for you? “
“Now hold on a minute, I’m the customer here! You need me! I’m done shopping when I say I’m done shopping, not when you decide I’m done! I’ll stay here all night if I want to, I’M THE CUSTOMER! I pay your wages! Now, what the hell is is this shiny wine here?”
By now, he’s shaking the bottle violently, inches from your face. His face is a shade of red you’ve never quite seen a human turn. Sweat, emitting that ‘musk’ mixed with Axe, roll down his face and soak through the arm pits of his good marijuana-leaf shirt. Thinking quickly, you try to find a way to calm him down and get him out of the damn store.
“Sir, I don’t mean to seem like I’m rushing you. It’s just that our systems are controlled by our head office. That’s why the lights turned off at exactly 9-o-clock. As a safety precaution, if our registers are not cashed out and turned off by 9:15, our silent alarm is triggered and the police are called. The last time that happened here because a customer was a little indecisive, the police threatened to press charges against him for causing a false alarm to be triggered. I’m just trying to avoid that from happening again. I would hate for you to get yelled at simply for wanted to be sure of your purchases before you buy them.”
It’s a lie. A bold-faced lie that anyone with half a brain could see through. Yes, the lights go out automatically, but the alarm isn’t triggered by not cashing out. You’re sure he’ll see through this, yell at you even more for trying something so obvious just to get him out of the store. He can’t be that stupid that he’d actually believe it.
“Oh, well I didn’t realize that! You really should have signs posted or something, so customers know! Here’s I’ll run up to the cash right now with my stuff, we don’t need to get the police involved. I have some stuff in my truck they may not like, heh heh.”
He grabs his bottles and scurries off to the register, his ass crack bobbing up and down as he jogs. Finally, you think, we can get him out of here and close! It’s not 8 minutes past close. The tills are normally counted by now, and all that’s left is the safe and paperwork. He puts his bottles up on the counter, finally noticing the young woman behind the counter.
“Well hello there beautiful. Is that smile just for me?”
She grabs the bottles, making idle small talk while trying to scan everything in. Somehow, the Advocaat doesn’t want to ring up.
“Not ringing up? I guess it’s free then! Ha! It’s free then, get it? Because it won’t ring up, you won’t charge me? I figured you needed some good jokes to cheer you up at the end of the night.”
Inwardly cringing at the joke she’s heard at least two dozen times in this shift alone, she smiles and finishes ringing up his purchase. She asks if he has an Aeroplan points card like the register prompts her to do.
“Nope, I’m afraid of flying. They took my plane away. Ha ha! Why? You want me to rack up those miles, take you on a nice vacation?”
She hits ‘no’ on the register, and tells him his total. Purchase bagged and paid for, she tells him to have a good night and asks if he wants his receipt.
“Why, is your phone number on there? It should be. How about I take you out sometime? I could show you a real good time. I’ll even let you pay. That’s what you enlightened bitches like these days, right? That whole pretending you’re equal thing? Come on, I’ll let you buy me a steak, we can split this fancy orange wine here, I’ll show you my sword collection. Sound good little girl?”
You can actually see the poor cashier’s skin starting to crawl. She can’t leave her till or cash out until that man is out the door, for safety reasons, so she’s stuck standing there until he finally wanders out the door. He leans in closer, trying to sweet talk her into leaving the store with him and running off into the darkness together in his 1992 Ford Tempo his mother lets him borrow. Thinking quickly, you pick up the back phone and hit the page button.
“Sarah, Mike’s on the phone. He wants to know why I haven’t let his fiance leave for the night yet.”
“Oh, you’re engaged? I didn’t see a ring. That’s false advertising! You can’t do that to a man! I’m done with this store! You guys have horrible customer service! I’m calling the manager tomorrow and filing a complaint about all of you! I know him personally, you know. We grew up together. He lived next door! He was the best man at my wedding!”
You try as hard as you can to hold your tongue. You know exactly what you want to say to this stinky, sweaty, overgrown man-child standing in front of you.
“Oh, so you grew up in Slovakia with our manager, KAREN? And somehow ended up in the same Canadian city as her, shopping at her store? I’m surprised SHE didn’t mention that! Be sure when you call tomorrow to talk to HER, you don’t get HER confused with whoever the hell you’re talking about right now! Now, sir, we are closed. We have been closed for almost 15 minutes. We told you we were closing, we helped you pick out your booze, and now we’re helping you out the damn door. You can come back during our normal store hours to shop if you want, just don’t do it when I’m here or I’m going to freakin lose it!”
You know you can’t say that though. You’ll only wind him up more, make him stand there and yell even more. So instead, you walk him to the door to let him out, handing him the manager’s card so he can call her in the morning if he really wants to. You close and lock the doors behind him, and then turn and lean back with a sigh while telling your last cashier to finally cash out. It’s now almost 20 minutes past closing time. As you’re about to pull out the security gates for the night, a pounding on the door makes you jump and turn.
It’s him again.
“Hey, I forgot to get something while I was in there! Let me in, I’ll be real quick! I promise!”
“Sir, we’re closed. All of our registers are turned off for the night, so we can’t make any more sales for today. You can come back tomorrow at 10 am.”
“You can’t be closed, you’re still in there! C’mon, I’ll be really fast! I’ll even pay cash! Just let me in or I’m calling corporate! I’ll get you fired! I’ll have your job for this!”
‘Sure buddy, you do that’ you think, as you pull the gates closed for the night. You head into the office to get your team cashed out and get all the nightly paperwork done. With everyone’s help, you’re able to get it all done in 15 minutes. You set the alarm, grab your things, and head out as a group to the main door to leave for the night. As you open the door, the smell of old BO and Axe Body Spray invades your nostrils again.
“See, you’re not closed! The door is open, just let me in! I’ll be fast, I promise! I just need to grab some vodka, and a few beers, and maybe a gift card too. It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow, and I didn’t get her anything yet…….”
You tune him out as your turn, lock the doors, and head out into the parking lot with your co-workers. As you roll down your car window before driving off, you can still hear him complaining to no one.
“This is horrible customer service! You’re barely closed! C’mon, just let me in! I know the president of the company, and I’ll sue you! You’re all getting fired for this!”
You drive off into the night, as his tirade fades into the night behind you. Hopefully, he won’t come back tomorrow night.
*so this is pretty much just an amalgamation of a bunch of different customers and situations I’ve had to deal with closing up the store. It’s the worst of the worst, all rolled into one Super Aweful Customer.