Friday, August 30, 2013

Customer is Always Right

Of course, out of all the employes the little elderly man could corner and snarl at, he would have to pick the new girl. It was her first day on the sales floor.

"Can I help you?"

"—and I don't understand why! I doubt it." he said facing me, "I am looking for Plaster of Paris."

"Yes sir, I can show you where it is."

"No you cant! You don't have any."

"I'm...sorry? Did a sales member help you from that department? Because we actually carry—"

"Young Man I have seen your stock back there and you don't have ordinary, honest to goodness plaster. You have some crazy new-fangled goop that you mix together and it heats up really hot. You can't touch it. I don't need something like that! Doesn't sound safe."

"Resin? That's a different product actually, our Plaster of..."

"I am telling you, you don't have what I need! And where am I supposed to go to get Plaster of Paris if not here? If y'all don't carry it, WHERE would I find it? It should be here!"

"You can alway try [competitive company.]" I gave him directions to the store and walked him to our door thanking him for his time.

That evening after the store closed, we straiten the product on the shelves in preparation for opening in the morning. I found it humorous to straighten four containers of Plaster of Paris mix that apparently, we don't even carry.

Customer Assist

"Excuse me I have a return."

I looked up from the current customer I was working with to see a woman standing several feet away holding up a bag.

"That's fine Ma'am. Just step in line and I will be with you in a moment." This of course wasn't exactly accurate as we were swamped at work and my line was fairly long. Still, what else do you say to the person who waves to get your attention while clearly not getting in line?

"In line? I have to WAIT in line?"

"Yes Ma'am." I returned my current customer.

The woman went to the back of the line, but I could hear her voice carrying over the rest of the conversation in the store. She hadn't finished her rant to the people around her by the time she reached my counter again. Much to the chagrin of everyone around her, she still steamed on.

"And that's ANOTHER thing about this, I wasn't really asking if I had to wait. He didn't need to just respond like that. I just wasn't sure WHERE I was supposed to go. There are so many lines here! It's just not right."

"Right. There." The exasperated woman in line with her pointed above my head to the oversized sign hanging above my head:


Bless you woman...bless you.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'd Settle for 50/50

"I need someone to help me!" The woman looked completely overwhelmed. "I have to make a centerpiece for a dinner and I have no idea where to begin. It's supposed to be a fall theme."

"Okay, that's not a problem, I would be happy to help you out." I smiled. It would actually be nice to do something different for a change than the usual cash-register and shelf-stocking monotony.

For over twenty minutes, I showed her product, sketched a basic table layout, discussed ways to keep the whole theme unified, STRONGLY discouraged her from placing a moldy, bug-eaten, moss-covered log from the woods behind her house directly on the dinning room table near food. We branched into fabric, napkins, and plate chargers. I was going to get her as much product to tastefully pull this party off successfully as I could!

Wait, party? Did I say party? "Oh no, " she informed me as we made our way to the non-scented candles, "this isn't for a party. It is for a competition."

Lady if you win this you owe me—just so we are clear.

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Flavor are You?

"I nearly walked outta' this store without paying for my stuff!" The man said laughingly as he approached my counter. I continued helping my current customer, but I smiled in his direction and said "You don't want me to tackle you in the parking lot!" This was clearly a joke. Anyone who has seen me would question my ability to tackle a five year old, let alone a full grown man.

"My dog would take care of you if you tried!" He responded gruffly. "Are you a Baptist?"

The question surprised me. "Umm... no sir I am not." I turned my attention back to my current customer.

"Well what religion are you? Atheist?" He questioned. Apparently, that was the next logical step from Baptist.

"Why does it matter?" I asked him. The lady at my counter nervously chuckled.

"It matters," he immediately replied "because depending on your flavor my dog might really enjoy eating you!"

My customer grabbed her purchases and made a beeline for the door.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Of Religiosity and Work.

 I am not interested in making some deep spiritual proclamations while ringing up your sale of goods. I don't need you to leave me "something to read" as I give you your change. I know you think you are being a good soul, but you see—

The woman in line ahead of you? She just dragged a coworker around the store for thirty minutes showing him all the things that would invite "darkness" into one's home. The black wearing, tattoo-sporting woman yesterday tried to get me to buy homemade spells from her online-shop, to bolster my love life. The man over there with the back brace on? He had a "Faith-healer" pray over him in line and then ordered him to take off his brace and prove to the world he was healed. To top it off, clicking in my pocket right now is red glass jewelry that a customer has given me to "proudly wear the blood of Jesus." While standing behind the counter, I have nowhere to put that tri-folded piece of paper that I already know is informing me to "escape hell and enter heaven," so likely it will simply go into the trash.

If you want to talk faith and worldviews with me, I would enjoy doing so. However how about you actually befriend me first, ask me out to lunch or coffee, and talk shop then? Not when I am juggling five things and trying to make change. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Surprising as it may seem, I am actually a person of faith. Not only is it a real and important part of my life, I love discussing faith, spiritual life, and relational values with my friends, many of whom do not share my own worldview. It is helpful to learn to formulate what I believe, when someone I know and care about holds a completely opposite point of view. I have friends who are Catholic, Neo-pagan, Baptist, "Spiritual," Muslim, Atheist, Pentecostal, Orthodox, and Agnostic. :-)

That's Right! Retail is Boring.

I stared at the pile of scarves that had been dumped over the candy counter. REALLY? I had just folded them on their hangers and replaced them moments ago. Fold, twist, wrap, hang, fold twist wrap, hang—the pattern for displaying the scarves properly was a bit of a nuisance, why couldn't people just look at them where they hung?

"Oh, YOU are the one hanging up the scarves!" An accusing voice from behind me interrupted my work.

I turned to see a woman standing behind me with that odd , forced smile. You know the one; it's the same smile as when a teacher, or a mother catches you doing something wrong and scolds you while smiling. She reached around me and began to undo the scarves.

"I keep trying to look at these, and someone kept hanging them back up! I have to see them fully open to know if I like them or not!"

"Humm..." was all I could think to respond with.

"Well," she smiled at me patronizingly, "You just work retail. I'm sure you need something to do anyway."

I walked away, fighting off images of tying those same scarves deliciously tight around that woman's neck. 

You are Right, I Deserve Better.

"Can you help me? I really need to know if this is a crazy idea or not?" The woman approached my coworker.

"Sure!" She answered, "Let's hear it. I like hearing crazy ideas!"

The woman's face immediately changed. "No. Never mind. If you are not going to take me seriously I don't want to work with you. I will ask another employee. You really don't deserve to work here."

Lady that was one of our most knowledgeable employees. Had you not been slightly psycho, I am sure she would have helped you pull off your crazy idea successfully. Just so we are clear, you don't deserve to shop here. Aaaaand—"Have a Nice Day."

Friday, August 16, 2013

My, What a Loud Voice You Have Grandmother!

"I have a question for you—I need to find out if you have a product or not." the elderly lady stood in front of my counter, smiling and asking questions about our inventory. I answered her questions, and directed her to someone who could help her further. It was a pretty normal exchange.

 Before she walked away she said "Thank you, you are nice. I can't let you have TOO nice of a day though, so I am going to be one of THOSE customers just to keep you on your toes." That's when she began yapping like a Chihuahua at me. That's right, before God and the rest of creation an old woman barked like a dog at me. True Story.

Monday, August 12, 2013

We are all Human

To the two women staring and glaring at the bi-racial couple in the checkout line ahead of them: You were so focused on broadcasting your own icy disapproval, you failed to realize that you were the recipients of ours. I was even giving you my best "glowering sneer" as you paid, but you both were too busy whispering and gawking as the couple left the store to notice. It's a new millennium ladies—time to move on.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Feathers aren't My Style

"Excuse me, I brought this dress in the store with me; It's mine. I just wanted to match some things to it." She said to me, waving a thrift store bag in my direction to prove her point.

"Oh that is just fine Ma'am," I said, returning to my work.

"Well? Aren't you going to help me?" She indignantly responded.

"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize you needed me. How can I help?"

"Hold up this, like you are wearing it so I can see what it looks like." She unfurled a tragic looking black, synthetic T-dress adorned with yellow, green, and red peacock feather print.

"I'm sorry, you—you want me to—"

"Hold it right like this!" She pressed it against my shoulders. She produced long stemmed peacock feathers and began to position them on the left breast. "I just need to glue a few of these on, won't it be lovely?"

"It will be—uh, definitely unique Ma'am."

There I stood, modeling a dress in the middle of the store for the enjoyment of my coworkers, passing customers, and one particularly direct lady.

Monday, August 5, 2013

At a Loss for Words

I rounded the corner of the isle to find him staring intently at the product hanging before him. Hands clasped behind his back and a quizzical look on his face.

Me: "Are you finding everything alright sir?"

Customer: "Eeeh---" He nodded while shrugging in a confused manner, "Poketty poketty poo."


I walked away to the far side of the store. True story.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Of Cheetahs and Entitlement

"Okay so my child has to make a Cheetah for a class project. Do you have a kit or something?"

My co-worker looked up from her work. "We don't have a kit exactly, but we do have plenty of items you could use to make one if you wanted. What kind of Cheetah are you making?"

"There is only one kind. Duh!" The child rolled her eyes.

"Hum, have you researched this yet? Because there are several species—" she began to reply.

"No there is only one! It has spots!" the child interrupted.

"Okay then—let me show you our clay, glue and paper."

"Actually" the mother interjected "It's due tomorrow. Can you just make it for us?"

"No Ma'am, we don't actually do craft projects, we just sell the supplies."

"But it's due tomorrow!" The mother insisted.


"Well sorry doesn't help me out! I want to speak to your manager. I need someone to make this!"

"Yes Ma'am, let me get one for you if you will just wait right here..." She gingerly stepped around the woman, avoiding any sudden moves that might further provoke the ravaging entitlement from within.