Sir, Please Don’t Shove Bottles in your Pants

It’s been a long, strange few days. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend is worn out from his 10-hour days at work and just wants to curl up on the couch and eat pizza tonight. So instead of his usual experimentation in the kitchen, he’s making a frozen pizza and some garlic bread. Of course, he can’t just throw the pizza in the oven. He’s in there right now throwing on extra mushrooms and cheese, and grating cheese and garlic for the pre-made garlic bread. Even when he’s too tired to be creative in the kitchen, he is so damn creative in the kitchen!

I think part of the reason we’re not cooking tonight is because of the damn fruit flies in this house right now. I tried for weeks to get rid of them. I’ve scrubbed the kitchen down, gotten rid of any food sitting out, I even set up little traps for them with wine and dish soap. But they just keep coming from somewhere. Well, AAB may have found where they’re coming from. It seems that the roommate in the basement is doing more than just stealing forks from us. Every two weeks or so, we run out of cutlery and plates, before suddenly everything is clean and put away while we’re both gone. We’ve known that it’s him hoarding it all in his room. Well, it turns out it’s worse than I thought.

AAB went downstairs to do his laundry. There, in the laundry tub in the laundry room, is a massive pile of plates, cutlery, pots, and pans. They’re not washed, and some of them are not even rinsed. If he’s letting this sit out in the open, what the hell kind of shape is his room in?

I’m thinking that our biggest goal for 2018 should be to figure out our housing situation. I’ve been putting off making any decisions because I’ve applied for jobs in other cities. I don’t want to buy a house or sign a lease, only to get a job four hours away. This is getting to be a little ridiculous, though. I think it’s time to either shit or get off the proverbial pot. I mean, living with people who have such an overarching sense of entitlement is really starting to get to me. I mean, can you imagine moving in with other people, taking all of their kitchenware, hoarding them in your room covered in filth, and not even thanking them for letting you use them? Or how about not even asking if you can use them in the first place!

Ironically, that sense of entitlement is something a few of us were talking about at the end of my shift tonight at work. We were sharing stories about truly honest people who forget to mention the case of water on the bottom of their cart, only to return later to pay for it. I know, I didn’t think such people existed, but I work with one of them! People like her seem to be very few and far between, especially where I work. Standing outside the store tonight, we were going over the shoplifters we’ve caught on camera so far this week, and how many we possibly missed.

You see, a lot of the shoplifters we catch seem to follow a few different scripts. There is the “run in, grab and conceal the bottle, run out” kind. They’re kind of like the Smash’N’Grabs I witnessed when I was with friends in a convenience store late one in Detroit. That night, after the store had stopped selling beer and had just turned the lights off in the beer cooler, a group of kids came running in. Two of them grabbed as much beer as they could carry and headed for the door, while the other two smashed pop bottles on the floor as a distraction. This isn’t a new schtick, and it’s something they actually train pretty much any and all retail workers to look out for. Sure, their exit methods vary at times. Some run out claiming they forgot their wallet in the car. Others pretend they didn’t find what they were looking for and just head for the door. Some are in and out so quickly, you don’t even notice them at first.

Another popular type is the “bring a big bag and hide stuff in it” people. I mean, how do they think they’re getting away with this? Sure, they may be able to walk out the door, but that’s only because we’re not allowed to tackle suspected shoplifters anymore. We still have them on camera, and we document the crap out of them. When we have security in the store and they catch these people, they’re going down for every single theft we have them on camera doing. Some of these people are amazing though. I’ve seen people load bags up with hundreds of dollars worth of bottles and just walk out the door with a big grin on their face like they just got away with murder.

My personal favourite is what I like to call “The Pants People”. These people walk into a store and just start shoving stuff down their pants. It’s amazing just how much one person can fit into a pair of pants, really. These are the worst people to catch because if we get the product back it all has to be sanitized if we can still sell it. I’ve actually seen people walk in with elastic bands around the bottoms of their sweatpants just so they can fit more stuff in there without it falling out the bottom. Of course, this makes them easy targets to follow, considering elastic bands around your ankles is not exactly a huge trend this season.

What gets me with each and every one of these people we catch is the sense of entitlement they have. Most of the ones that we do catch with either security or police present just seem to think that it’s their right to walk in and take whatever the hell they want, without paying for it. We’re not talking about people stealing a loaf of bread to feed their starving family here. I have seen people who have the money to pay, sometimes with them in their wallets, and just not want to. More than once, I’ve seen someone get caught somewhere and then pull out the money for the items. They seem to think that if they just pay for it then and there after being caught, they’ll just be let go. The thing is, it doesn’t work like that.

Believe me when I say that I understand how expensive life can be. I have had to do without many times before. I’ve had to survive off of what I could get at food banks. I don’t have cable, or a car, or pricey electronics (aside from the computer I saved up for). I’m not out taking trips, or going on shopping sprees like some of my friends can do. I have to budget, and grocery shop at the dollar store at times. I haven’t eaten name brand macaroni and cheese in years because that’s a splurge for me. I know what it’s like to live paycheck to 4-days-before-the-next-paycheck. It sucks. But I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to get ahead even just a little bit. I know I’m not entitled to anything, the world doesn’t owe me a damn thing, and it’s no one’s job but my own to pay for my life choices.

Then I see these little Draco Malfoy brats coming into the store, shoving a bottle or two in their coat pockets, and pulling the “don’t you know who my father is” crap when they get caught. They seem to think that because their daddy is someone important, they can get away with anything.

Or we get the “well I’ve had a hard life, this is life’s way of giving back to me” shit-nobs who seem to think that because life didn’t go the way they planned, life somehow owes them. I have actually heard someone (not at my store, at a nearby drugstore while I was cashing out and security grabbed them) say that because they went to school for a certain career, and then couldn’t find work in that career six months later, the universe owed them for letting them waste all that time in school. Hell, if that were a good enough reason to steal, I’d be knocking over banks left, right, and centre!

It really just boggles my mind how people can rationalize something like stealing, making it seem like they have a right to do it. I get it, some people are in a place in life where stealing really does seem like the best option. Maybe they’re starving and are stealing food or something to sell for food. They could be in the throes of addiction, and can’t find any other way to pay for their habit. For them, stealing seems like the only option. These are the people society failed, the ones who need more social programs, the ones who need help. Still, that doesn’t give them the right to walk into my store and just load up their bag with whatever they damn well please. We need to fight for better social programs to help people like this, in order to stop people like this from resorting to theft.

The ones that bother me the most are the ones who have options. The ones who have the money to pay, but don’t think they should have to. The ones who do it for a thrill, or for a cheap night out. They’re the ones who pull the “don’t you know who my [relative] is” crap or pull out their wallet after they’re caught. These seem to be the majority of the ones I’m able to catch on camera, or in the act while on the floor at work. And these are the ones that piss me off the most.

I don’t know about you Sunshine, but I was raised not to take what isn’t mine. It doesn’t matter if it’s another kid’s toy, a product in a store, or credit for another person’s work. All of that is stealing, and it’s wrong. Why do these people seem to think it’s alright for them to do it?

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Do You Never Sit?

The last few days at work have been just ridiculous. Tuesday night after I left apparently there was the most dramatic shoplifting and arrest ever at our store. I don’t know the details, but it somehow involved random heroes trying to attack a security guard, a woman thinking she’s SpiderMan,  and physical threats of violence. We’ve had people from the surrounding businesses coming in the last two days wanting all the details.

Then last night, it was Asshole Night at the store. It started with one guy demanding we do a cashback on her credit card, no matter how many times I told him I couldn’t do that. I mean, even if I could just bill him for a random amount, my drawer doesn’t open unless there’s cash involved. Later a co-worker went up to a group of five guys and flat-out asked if all of them had their ID with them, since they were all shopping together, all touching everything, and very loudly talking about how they were all splitting the booze. Of course, when they got up to her counter, only two of them had ID, and they tried to argue with her. Everything seemed to go downhill from there for the night. We had the weirdest conversations with customers, the weirdest transactions, and a man who took three trips into the store to try and get cash back from what looked to be the bank card Moses carried in the desert for 40 days, only to get money from a cabbie.

And then today….. well, I was supposed to leave work before 3pm, and didn’t cash out until close to 6pm. Our manager is off sick with a heart issue. Then our assistant manager had a cardiac episode while he was unloading skids off the delivery truck this morning. One of our closers called in sick, we had to borrow a new person from another store, our next-in-charge woman (who has been doing the job of three people for more than a week now) was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and our closing shift leader (who is already a big ball of nerves) was on edge because everyone else was on edge. So I did the only thing my family taught me to do in a time of crisis: I fed people. I ran to the dollar store and got Christmas cookies, and pfeffernusse, and little holiday candies and chocolates, and made a big snack plate. I got a candy bar just for the acting manager. And I got soda and bells for me.

In all of the craziness of this week, there’s something that stands out in my mind. One of my co-workers has a chair at her register. She’s what we call a modified worker. She has issues with her wrists and her feet, and we accommodate that. She still works her ass off, though. In an 8-hour shift, she can unload a truck, fill the warehouse, do stock, and run cash. She regularly does more than the young new girls we have at the store. It’s just that she has to wear a wrist brace while running her cash register, and she can’t stand at the register. She has her own chair that she wheels out the start of every shift, and is willing to lend out to anyone who needs it.

Still, random people will regularly say things like, “Must be nice, getting paid to sit on your ass all day”. She hears variations of that all the time. A few weeks ago, the work BFF had a powerful migraine and had to borrow the chair. If she didn’t sit, she felt like she was going to pass out. But by just sitting, she was able to run cash just fine. In just the two hours we worked together that day, I heard two or three people make similar comments to her. We’ve had other modified workers at our store in the past, who are now at other stores, and they had to deal with a lot of the same thing. Even I experienced it last year around this time. I don’t know what I did, but I messed up my back something fierce. Even when I was sitting down, I was crooked and obviously in pain. Even moving to bag larger bottles was painful for me. And still, I got comments about me being lazy, about me sitting on my ass while everyone else worked. And those same people make comments to my co-workers to this day along the same lines.

I’d just like to know, do these people ever sit at their jobs?

Before I worked here or went back to school, I had an office job. I made a bit more money than I make right now, and I sat on my ass all day behind a desk. I worked on a computer, handled money, and talked to customers all day. Not a single one of them ever said that it must be nice to sit on my lazy ass all day.

My mother works for a doctor. She sits behind a desk all day, greeting patients, making appointments, and taking money. No one ever tells her that it must be nice to sit on her ass all day.

My father sold cars for many years. A big part of that job was sitting at a desk, doing paperwork. No one ever told him that it must be nice to sit on his ass all day.

We already get all kinds of bizarre and intrusive questions and statements from customers. Being a union store and government-owned, a ridiculous amount of people seem to think that we make $30+ an hour and get full medical benefits. In fact, we had a customer say that to us out of the blue not 10 minutes after we opened today! Our assistant manager (before his incident) and a co-worker were goofing off while they walked to the warehouse together to put some things away. A regular customer came in, saw them joking together, and commented that “it must be nice to make $48 an hour with full benefits just to goof around”. People are always up in our business, trying to make us justify our existence to them. In fact, the three of us working cash at the time combined might make that $48 an hour, with absolutely zero benefits and no guaranteed hours.

We have people that assume we make ridiculous amounts of money an hour. We have people that assume we’re all rich, and we’re all lazy, and we’re all too stupid to find “real” jobs. We have people who think that just because we work in a liquor store, they are automatically somehow better than us. And all of these people are quite vocal about it, making sure we know what they think of us at all times.

I can deal with the people who think we make crazy money running a cash register because it’s been made publically known that is not true. During our last union contract negotiations, everything was made public. People still ignored what was published, didn’t read anything about what we were fighting for, and came at us asking if we were happy now making $48 an hour. Those people, I keep telling myself, are a lost cause. They want to hate us, and want to blame us for the price of alcohol. They seem to think that if the government did things their way, things would be so much better and so much cheaper. They ignore everything they’ve been told and just rag on us every chance they get. In my mind, these people are a write-off. There is no getting through to them, so why bother trying.

It’s the people who see someone sit for a few minutes and assume that they’re some lazy piece of crap that really gets to me. Yes, my co-worker sits at her cash register. She has a medical reason and doctors’ notes that allow her to do so. In order to get that chair, she had to go to doctors, and get doctors’ notes, and get medically assessed. She had to go through a crazy amount of red tape just to be able to sit down because it is medically necessary.

I want to know, do these people randomly walk into offices and shame the people working there for having chairs? Would they like to come into our office in the store and shame our manager? He spends most of his day sitting in a chair at his computer, doing work. Is that acceptable to these people? What about secretaries in doctors’ offices? I would like to see one of these random customers go to the awesome forward-sassy-yet-kind secretary my doctor had and try telling her that she’s lazy for sitting in a chair.

I wonder how many of these people have jobs where they have a chair. Even if they don’t spend their entire day in them, do these people sit? My co-worker doesn’t spend her entire 8-hour shift sitting at her cash register. Like I said, she’s in the warehouse slugging cases of spirits around, and throwing cases on carts so we can put them out on the shelves. As long as we don’t stack the boxes two-high on a bunch of carts, she’s out there putting away stock with the rest of us. She’s one of the most knowledgeable people I know in our company when it comes to wines, and my go-to when a customer has a question I can’t answer. She’s on her feet and lifting heavy stuff for the majority of her shift, and only sits down because it is medically necessary. If she didn’t have to sit, if the pain wasn’t that bad for her, then she would probably spend a full shift out there on her feet. So how long does she have to be on her feet in order to be worthy of sitting?

This is just one of those things that really makes me mad. I hate when someone comes into a workplace and just talks down to the workers there. If someone needs to sit, let them sit. If they need to eat, let them eat. If my cashier somewhere has a water bottle, or a pop bottle, or a little baggie of chips, I don’t care! I mean, if she’s snacking on ribs and getting sauce all over my purchase, that would be a problem. But I have seen people freak out on cashiers because they needed a sip of water. I have had customers come up to my register while I’m taking a drink of water and flat out say, “Done your break yet? Gonna get a little work done today maybe?”

What really pisses you off at work? What do customers say to you that just makes you want to throw things at them? Drop me a line anytime at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com or comment on my posts and let me know.

Sometimes People Suck

Well, this has been a doozy of a weekend at the store, Sunshine! We opened two hours late yesterday, in order to observe a time of silence and honor our troops on Remembrance Day. Then today, somehow the world forgot our store hours even though they’ve been the same since April 1st. We’re open 11am until 6pm every damn Sunday and open until 9pm on Saturday. None of that changed this weekend, and people just couldn’t wrap their heads around that. We were getting so many phone calls the last two days that I was put in charge of answering the phone. An hour into my shift yesterday and already I had answered at least half a dozen “are you guys open” calls.  There were a few real gems in there though.

Caller: Hey there, are you guys open today?

Me: Yes, we’re open until 9-o-clock tonight.

Caller: Great. And what time do you close?

Seriously, a call went like that. My poor work BFF was standing next to me, and only heard my side of the conversation. “Yes, we’re open until 9-o-clock. We close at 9-o-clock tonight. Yes, 9pm. No, 9. Nine tonight. Ok, thank you, bye.” Most of the rest of the calls were basically just, “I drove by and saw the open sign was on/people were in the store/ my husband came home with whiskey, does that mean you’re open?”

A lot of the people I work with don’t like taking calls like that. I get the biggest kick out of it, though. I take my phone duties very seriously and was freakin sprinting through the store to get the phone last night. Today, I could answer a call before the first ring was barely done ringing. Stuff like that just gives me a silly little break to my day. Some people think that nothing can bother me if I find calls like that funny.

THey’re wrong. Dead wrong.

[Cue ominous music]

There are so many things that customers do that bother me. Like, I turned to my co-worker today and told her it must be near closing time because I was getting unreasonably angry about things customers were doing and saying. It wasn’t, the customers were just that annoying. In any job you have to deal with annoying people, I keep telling myself. This is no different, except that they stick around for a much shorter period of time than an annoying co-worker in an office would.

Do any of these things bother you two? Are there things customers do that annoy the ever living crap out of you? Here’s a list of just the very basics, the most common, the things that we have to deal with far too often that annoy the sweet candied horse plops out of me.

  1. Very stinky people. Our store is next door to a gym. For some reason, customers feel the need to have a very intense workout, sweat out days worth of booze, garlic, hot sauce, and cigars (from the smell of it), and then come directly to our store in all their stinky, sweaty glory. Then they get offended if we spray FeBreez after they leave.
  2. My hand is right there in front of you, waiting for you to drop your change and/or bills into. Instead, you throw your money down on the counter. Bonus points if it’s a wet day, you had your bag or umbrella up there first, and you throw the money down in a puddle that makes it impossible for me to pick it up off the metal counter unless I slide everything over to me, and dump your damn puddle water all over my pants.
  3. Most people will at least tell the person they’re talking to, “I need to pay, hold on just a second” and pay me. Most people. Unless it truly is an emergency, why do you need to keep yammering away into your phone? I don’t care if Crystal bought the same couch as you. Why do I need to hear about what a bitch she is for copying your style, which you just copied from an Ikea catalog anyway? Bonus points if you’re on your phone and then get mad at me for not asking for your points card, even though I did ask. You just didn’t hear me over your whole couch conundrum on the phone.
  4. I need to push a different button on my register for debit and for credit card payments. That’s why I ask what kind of card you’re paying with. No, tapping it 37 times on the machine won’t magically make it read it. And no, saying “it’s a tap/ chip/ Scotiabank/ card” doesn’t clear anything up for me. If I ask you “debit or credit”, just pick one.
  5. And that whole payment thing happens AFTER I ring up your items.  You can’t pay for things until I ring them up. Throwing bottles on a counter, saying “credit”, and then tapping your card on the machine before I even get the chance to ring in a single bottle isn’t going to do anything.
  6. Cashback is a service we offer to people who are paying debit. We add an amount on to your total, and then give you that amount in cash after your card is approved. Why do you go through the process of putting your card in the machine, entering your PIN, taking your receipt, and start to walk away before you ask for cash back?
  7. And yes, you have to buy something in order to get cash back. You can’t just insert your card, push buttons, and get money without buying something. You’re thinking of an ATM, which we have a bunch of in the plaza. We’re a retail establishment. We’re in the business of selling stuff. You have to buy something to get cashback.
  8. Again, this is a retail establishment, not a bank. If you pay for a $7 purchase with a $100 bill, there is a good chance that I’ll have to give you some smaller bills for your change. It’s not like I keep a wad of $50 and $20 bills hidden away just in case you come in and want to flash your big bills at me. If you want a bill broken, go to a bank.
  9. Same goes for other businesses wanting to buy $5 bills and change off of us. There are three banks within walking distance of my store, 2 of them in the damn plaza. Go see them! We need our change for breaking the $100 bills for $7 purchases!
  10. Again, we’re not a bank. Yes, our cashback limit is $500 if we have it in our till. That doesn’t mean you can specify how you want your money. No, I can’t give you $500 in fifties and hundreds. There is a damn good chance your cashback will be entirely in $20 bills, possibly with $10 bills in there. There is even the chance I’ll be down to giving you $5 bills if that’s all I have. Don’t try to give me back my bills and demand a $100 bill. If I didn’t give it to you, then I don’t have it!
  11. I had a woman today tell me no less than 9 times that she needed two of her wines in one bag, and three in another bag. She was going somewhere and wanted to drop the three wines off at home, and bring the other two with her. She told me this 9 times to make sure I knew to put the two wines she put at one end of the counter in one bag, and the three wines all the way at the other end of the counter in another bag. She spoke very slowly the last few times she told me this. I know I looked tired and sick (because I am), but I can follow simple instructions.
  12. And yes, just because I’m a cashier doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. I can ring through purchases, make change, do math, hell I can even read the damn labels! You’re the one who can’t figure out the self check out, Brenda, so don’t talk down to me when we’re on opposite sides of the counter.
  13. We have clearance tags that say SAVE $X.xx on them, right next to the the price. You could be saving $10.00 on a bottle of scotch, but it still costs $75.00. Or you could be saving $1.75 on a bottle of wine, but it still costs $9.00. If you misread the tag and think you’re getting the wine for $1.75, why are you getting mad at me for it? It says very clearly what you’re saving and what you’re paying. Just because you read it wrong doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. And just because you said “Wow, $1.75!” out loud when an employee was in your line of vision doesn’t mean that they heard you, or that they knew what product you were talking about. We have some really cheap things in our store too. For all we know, you could be talking about a cheap clearance beer or a wine stopper, if we even hear you in the first place, Brenda. Stop trying to make you not wearing your reading glasses in public our fault.
  14. We all have nametags. Don’t refer to us as “the redheaded bitch” or “the ditzy one” or “that fat guy”. Either read the tag or point us out. No need to insult us to another employee to try and make yourself look good.
  15. We know all the liquor laws when it comes to denying someone a sale. If someone ahead of you in line is getting denied, don’t stick up for them. We could lose our jobs AND get a huge fine and possibly even face jail time if we serve someone we shouldn’t. We’re trying to do our jobs here, and the shit we deal with when it comes to denying service is enough to warrant an entire post of its own.
  16. “It didn’t scan, I guess that means it’s free!” No, it isn’t. If you leave without paying for it, you’re stealing it.
  17. “Gee, I was worried. I just printed that $20 bill before I left the house, didn’t know if you’d take it!” You’re not funny. Do you know how many times I hear that? And how many fake bills we actually have to deny? And how much trouble we can get in if we do take a fake bill? Just don’t, man.
  18. We have to fake a chuckle at some pretty damn awful jokes sometimes. When we can’t even muster a fake giggle, then whatever you said is just plain wrong. That’s right, your racist jokes just make us uncomfortable. Same with the sexist comments, whether they’re about us or anyone else.
  19. We get paid to be friendly. 99.9999% of the time, we’re not flirting with you. I have only seriously ever flirted with one customer, and he is now my Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend. That’s one out of the tens of thousands of people who came through my line that year. One. If I smile, it’s because I have to. If I touch your hand, it’s because I was giving you back your change or your ID, not because I was hoping you’d take my hand brushing up against yours for a tenth of a second as some sort of flirtatious action meant to make you want me. No, I don’t want your number and no, I don’t wanna give you mine, and no I don’t wanna meet you nowhere and no, I don’t want none of your time. Honey, I’m looking like class and you’re looking like trash trying hit on some poor cashier.
  20. Those goes triple if you’re like 50 and trying to flirt with my 20-year-old co-workers. I will call you out on that shit man. I’m very protective of my little kittens, and you’re just making them uncomfortable.
  21. Just because our hands grazed while I was giving you back your change, don’t wait outside the store until my shift ends. That is beyond creepy. Like, we will call the cops on you and I’ll have multiple escorts home to make sure you’re not following me.
  22. Same goes for if you threaten to kick my ass, or track me down, or mess me up because I wouldn’t serve you.
  23. There are cameras and mirrors EVERYWHERE. If I look you dead in the eye and say “do you want to pay for the bottle you shoved in your pants”, that means that a) I saw you shove a bottle in your pants, b) you are on camera shoving a bottle in your pants, and c) I just approached you near the door to make sure I could get you to look directly into a hidden camera so the cops have a good, clean image of your face. And we document EVERYTHING, dude.
  24. I have to ID people who look 25 or younger. If you’re very obviously in your 60s, don’t ask me why I didn’t ID you. Don’t try to guilt me into IDing you. Don’t tell me I’m making you feel old, or tell me 37 times that it’s weird that I didn’t ID you. You obviously look older than 25. Get over it, GreyBeard.

So that’s just the short list. You know there’s so much more to retail like that can get on your nerves. Luckily I’m not in a store that has stacks of clothing that can be destroyed in seconds, or those big bins of big rubber balls that internet folk kept diving into for ‘the lulz’. Are kids still saying for the lulz these days? Are lulz on fleek? I don’t know anymore. Kids these days, am I right?

So what kinds of customers really grate your goat cheese? Is there something you hear 37 times a day that just makes you want to rip off your ears and shove them in a blender? Or makes you want to shove parts of other people in a blender? Leave a comment, or you can send me your retail horror stories at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com . I’m sure I’ll have another one (or 97) of these posts in the future. Let me know what you’re dealing with that I don’t have to at my little piece of retail heaven.

Everyone’s Favourite Customer

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. 

How Not To Keep Your Job — Update

OK, so things with The Kid got interesting during his last shift.  Aside from snapping at me that he already knew how to do everything (when I was trying to show him how to do something he hadn’t done before), he made a big bunch of glaring errors.  Then, at the end of the night while everyone was cashing out, a few of us ran to the back to throw our uniform shirts in our lockers and change into regular clothes. I had on my jeans and work boots, and a very high-cut tank top (which I made sure showed zero cleavage, since The Kid seemed so nervous even serving a customer with big boobs, let alone having to work alongside a set of Double D’s), and a co-worker threw on a pair of shorts. When the shift leader asked him what he drawer total was, The Kid started to answer, but mid-number he just mumbled and stared at my chest.

Now, I’m used to people staring at my chest. Hell, even I stare at my chest sometimes. It’s damn, near majestic. But The Kid sat there with his jaw dropped open, eyes wide, and was almost drooling while he stared at my non-existent cleavage. I even asked a coworker if maybe my shirt had been pulled down a bit while I was lifting drawers. But it was pulled almost up to my collar bone.

Still, The Kid sat there gape-jawed and silent while the shift leader asked him THREE TIMES what his total was.

The next day, on my laid-back Kid-less Sunday shift, a senior co-worker asked if I noticed any issues with The Kid that we could address. Now, we had been making lists of things he did wrong, not to shame him or get him in trouble, but to make sure we knew what to go over with him the next time he was in. Well this list was more than a page front and back.

Very long story short, the other night The Kid came in for his shift. The Big Boss Man made all the other people getting ready to count their drawers go out and do stock while he and the assistant manager had a “little talk” with The Kid. A few minutes later, The Kid was escorted out of the building, never to be seen again.

The Big Boss Man came around to each of us on shift that night to let us know that The Kid was “no longer under our employment”.

Shocker, I know!

(Actually, my reaction was,”Really? gee, no one saw THAT coming!” in the most Daria-esque sarcastic tone I could muster).

So it turns out, that last post really WAS a list of things to do to make sure you Do Not Keep Your Job.

Hope you’re having a better weekend than The Kid, Sunshine. We have our strike deadline at 12:01am Monday (so tomorrow night), so there may be some Customer Service posts coming up from that. Also, I’m working on a series on files you need to keep. I mean, filing is probably the least fun and sexy thing you can think of right now, but keeping certain things filed away in an orderly manner can save you a RIDICULOUS amount of times sometimes. Time that could be spent on much more fun and sexy things.

Believe Me: I Know My Job!

So I can’t say exactly where I work, but it deals with selling alcohol in a store run by a provincial government. Now, we are trained to a ridiculous degree! I met the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend after I had been hired on here, and showed him the training booklets I got just to be a seasonal worker. And then the books for the tests to be a casual worker. And my Service Knowledge book. And Product Knowledge books. And my Customer Service training books. And the notes from my in-class training. And the online modules for my mandatory training. In short, I am constantly either in training, about to start training, or just finishing training.

And one thing we’re trained on constantly is the ID laws for our province.

Here’s the gist of it all: in order to buy alcohol at my store, you need to have valid government photo ID with you. I can ask anyone at any time to produce their ID, and deny a sale if they don’t have that. Yes, the legal drinking age here is 19. That doesn’t mean that if you’re 20 you don’t need your ID. We are legally obliged to ID anyone who appears to be under 25. And that’s not all.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not the one paying for it. If you touch it, talk about it, point to it, offer money for it, pass money to someone in the store, or say something like “Thanks man, I’ll pay you back for this later” in front of us or our security staff, you’re getting ID’d. We have this little thing called a Second Party Purchase, where we know someone is buying alcohol for someone else. If you carry it up to the counter for someone, you’re getting ID’d. Yes, there are a few exceptions: if you’re a child carrying it up for a parent on crutches, or you lift it up onto the counter for a wheelchair bound friend who can’t do so themselves, we will most likely let that slide. You are allowed to help, as long as it is clear you  are only helping.

We get this training drilled into us. Do you know how much of a fine we can face PERSONALLY if we serve an underage person? $250,000!!! So we are damn sure to ID everyone we need to! Not only that, but we look out for each other. If I see a group of customers all picking things out together, I’ll be sure to tell my co-workers to make sure they ID the whole group. You are damn right we’ve all got each other’s backs!

All of this being said, it amazes me that amount of people who come through my store and seem to think that either the rules don’t apply to them, or that they know our jobs better than we do.

Case in point: last week, I walked by a group of three young men in the vodka aisle discussing what brand of vodka to buy. All three of them were pointing at bottles, and were talking about how they would pay their friend back later for buying the vodka. When they came up to the register, I motioned for my coworker to ID the whole group.

Well, the young lad who was paying went off! Apparently his dad is a cop, which means he knows the law inside and out, because the first responsibility of being a cop is to make sure your son knows exactly which laws don’t apply to him. According to this boy, even though him and the cloud of cheap Axe body spray he called friends had all decided together which bottle to buy, we couldn’t legally ID his friends because they didn’t touch the bottle.

Normally, our story would end here. Child Who Is Not Smoll would yell and scream, and then leave without his bottle. But not this time!

No! After being denied once because his friends didn’t have ID, Boy Child came back in the store to try and buy the bottle again! Now, since we just saw him in there trying to buy for his friends, and it’s recorded on the store’s security camera that he was denied for his friends not having ID, we can’t sell him this bottle. The only way we can sell him the alcohol is if his friends both come back with their ID. But he wasn’t hearing any of this!

No! His dad is a cop! He knows the law! His friends didn’t touch the bottle! And he came back in alone!

Needless to say, he was rejected again. As he slowly meandered on out the door, he had some very loud choice words for my coworkers and I. Out shift leader told him that since he had already created a scene twice in a span of less than 15 minutes, he was not allowed back in the store for the rest of the night. If he did show up again, he would be denied service and asked to leave.

Did that stop him from coming back?

Well, if it did, would I still be writing this?

He came back with his friends a while later, claiming that because they all had ID now we had to not only serve them, but APOLOGIZE to them for not serving them earlier!

Needless to say (even if I am saying it here), they did not get served. Even better, we had police on sight for a separate incident later that night. You know what? They had no clue who this Boy Child was, and had no officers on the force with his last name!

Want to know the worst part of all of this? His two friends seemed pretty apologetic throughout the whole thing. If they had just come back with their ID, we would’ve served them. Even if the Boy Child had flipped out a little tiny bit at first like he did, but they all came back with ID and apologized, I would’ve served them.

But after all of that, the three of them left empty handed.

The moral of the story Sunshine? While you may think you know customer service, the people in each position get specific training for their job like you would not believe! So don’t be THAT customer that tries to teach employees about return policies, or ID laws, or anything else.

Customer Service Representatives get a shit rep, and take a lot of shit from people. We are all people, and we all deserve the respect you would give any other person in any other job. So be kinds, be polite, and don’t be that asshole who thinks they know our job better than we do!

Customer Service Hell: Charity Donations

Twice a year at my store, we are asked to ask customers if they would like to donate to a certain charity. This year, we also had a third round of this, with all monies going to the Canadian Red Cross to help the people of Fort McMurray during those devastating wild fire.

Now, keep in mind, we are only asking IF you would like to donate. We’re not FORCING you to donate. We’re not asking your personal opinion on this specific charity. We don’t care if your roommate’s sister’s dog’s veterinarian’s secretary once read a website 11 years ago saying that this charity is crooked. We’re just doing what we’re told to do in our daily work.

That being said, here’s a small collection of reactions I’ve had to “Would you like to make a small donation to X?” (Everything here is pretty much paraphrased, since I’m not allowed to record customers, and it’s frowned upon to stop working to write down exactly what a customer just said to me so I can laugh at them later)

  • “Well why should I give them money? No one ever gives me free money! Why aren’t you collecting money for me?!?!”
    Well buddy, you’re not a registered charity. 
  • “What the hell do sick kids need money for? They don’t pay bills, they have parents for that! What kind of scam are you running?”
    Yeah, because we’re collecting money for sick kids to buy Ferraris and tour Europe, not to help with their medical expenses or anything.
  • (In response to being asked to donate to help wildfire victims) “Do you have any idea how much money people make out there?  They can afford to rebuild for themselves!”
    They just lost EVERYTHING, including for some those high paying jobs you’re talking about. They also have to rebuild work, schools, homes, businesses, public buildings, forest land…………
  • “Do you have any idea how much the CEO makes? I heard it’s more than $500,000 a year! I’m not giving more money just to line HIS pockets!”
    First, no the local CEO of this certain charity doesn’t make anywhere near $500,000 a year. Secondly, he is a CEO, which means he has all the responsibilities of a corporate CEO, just in the non-profit sector. And third, if you’re so hell-bent on curbing CEO salaries, why are you shopping here?
  • “My friend worked as their bookkeeper a few years ago, and he said that what he saw would make anyone never donate to them again.”
    Understandable, but I know the bookkeeper of this charity, and SHE has had her job there for more than 20 years. Unless your friend was 7 when he had the job, you’re full of shit buddy.
  • “Why should I give them my money? I work hard for my money! Stop trying to take my hard-earned money you c…….”
    You can guess what that C word was, or you can try to Understand it Next Tuesday. The guy who said this has called multiple girls at my store this word, and is famous for throwing a fit when asked for donations. I always feel bad when a new girl gets him at her till before we can warn her.
  • “FLARHGMEKLLKJDFSANLJKHTOIAHKJSDNGFJKSAFDGHKL!!!!!!!!”
    Seriously, this woman just started yelling random jibberish at us until the transaction was complete.

That’s just a few of the ones that stick out in my mind the most right now, Sunshine. Have you had to deal with customers like that? Leave a comment, tell me what YOUR most memorable experience was when you had to ask for donations at work.