My retail job would be so much easier on my anxiety if I didn’t have to deal with incredibly rude, entitled, out-of-touch assholes. These are the type of people that make me question my pay grade and life.
The Saturday before Labor Day, I got screamed at by two different men within five to ten minutes of each other during the first half hour of my shift. The first was brought up to my service counter because his card wasn’t working. He kept swiping it despite the fact my register kept saying he needed to use the chip reader. “There’s no chip! I had the bank take it out!” he yelled at me showing his card that clearly had a gold chip in it. Finally he angrily walked off saying he’d shop someplace else. The other customer wanted to cash a check, but his ID was expired. I explained I cannot take an expired ID and asked if he had a second form of identification. He demanded his stuff back, told me to fuck off, and said this store is fucking stupid.
Gotta love holiday weekend.
Last week was weird about batteries. While working customer service a week ago, an old man walked up and plopped down eight loose lithium batteries on my counter wanting a return with no receipt or packaging. I politely explained I needed a receipt or the packaging to be able to process a return. He said he shouldn’t have to keep the receipt or the packaging and just kept telling me to return his batteries. “I drove 23 miles to get here!” I had to get a manager to explain what I just had told him and he gave her an attitude as well. We finally just had his son go grab an 8-pack of batteries and we used the barcode from that to process the return to give him store credit. The following day I overheard a lady who was yelling at my manager over the batteries not having expiration dates like it was our fault that they didn’t have any on the actual packaging. “Well, everything should have expiration dates!”
The theme of the week before Labor Day weekend was about services we didn’t offer anymore:
One lady wanted a shelf she bought assembled and whoever she talked to wasn’t aware that we don’t offer free assembly at the store anymore. She came back in the next day and someone else had to inform her that it’s not a service we offer in store. She kept saying “I’ve gotten stuff put together before!” Eventually after back and forth, she finally just got the damn shelf returned.
Another lady wanted an item we carried, but in a different color so she asked us to order it. She said we had stuff ordered for her before. We used to be able to order things for customers or have them delivered from another store, but we no longer offer those services and my manager explained that she would have to order them online. She had a complete crying meltdown because she needed the item in white as she was blind and needed to be able to see it. We offered help her set up an account, help her order the item, and get a gift card so she could pay for it since she only had cash, but she outright refused every suggestion we had. The part that irked me was when her friend called her phone and she told her friend that we were giving her the run around, that we wouldn’t help her, and that we “don’t help disabled people”. No, you wanted us to do something outside of our capabilities—we couldn’t do it even if we wanted to—and you shot down every alternative we gave to try and accommodate your situation.
The self-checkout is often a breeding ground for entitlement and audacity. Many people straight up refuse to use them. Some believe that the items should be cheaper if they have to use self-checkout. Some joke about waiting for their W-2 for “cashiering”. I had a guy tell me a joke about how a customer went to the break room claiming to be a worker because he checked himself out on a self-checkout—he thought he was so hilarious when I actually found it quite insulting. One time, a customer had me scan all his items for him in self-checkout because he thought he was doing me a favor by giving me job security. “I want you to have a job!” Sir, I do have a job and sometimes that involves watching multiple self-checkouts at once instead of running a singular register. I’ve also had customers come to my register with a single item that costs less than five dollars with the same “I’m helping!” attitude of Ralph Wiggum when in actuality they’re just holding up my line.
My “favorite” self-checkout incident occurred sometime last year. We were so short-handed that day that we only had enough people upfront to watch the self-checkouts and there weren’t any registers open. Being that it was after 5pm when most of the staff was gone for the day, we did have any extra hands to come up and help us. This made one middle-aged woman extremely irate. She was screaming the entire time she was checking out her groceries about how she had to use self-checkout. “Fuck this place! I’m never fucking shopping here again!” I remember her asparagus wouldn’t scan and she just threw it aside when I offered to help scan it for her. “No! Fuck it! I don’t want it now!” Somehow by some miracle I didn’t have a full blown panic attack. I learned later that my grandma, who also works at the store, was on sanitizing cart duty and saw the whole thing. She had the balls to go up to this woman and politely ask, “Excuse me, were you yelling at my granddaughter just now? The one with the blue hair in the self-checkout?” The woman was so embarrassed that she was apologizing profusely. “I didn’t know she was your granddaughter! I’m sorry! Tell her not to take it personally! I was only venting!” She should have apologized to me personally instead of to my grandma, but I’m glad she was put in her place.
Some other customer stories off the top of my head include:
*The lady who bought a BB gun for Christmas for her grandson and got pissed that our policy wouldn’t allow her to return it. “There should have been something telling me I couldn’t return it!” There were signs posted in Sporting Goods near the product that explained they were non-refundable.
*A guy came up asking if we had free Wi-Fi because he needed to download an anti-virus program to his phone. I gladly showed him what network to use and he got huffy because the network was unsecure. Dude, you’re using free WiFi in a retail store. He then paced around the front end while talking on the phone with a customer service rep of the program he was trying to download and chewing them out.
*An older woman in her own motorized cart refused to bag the groceries she checked out herself, which resulted in two employees checking to see if she had actually purchased the items. I only know about it because she had me call a taxi for her and then proceeded to chew me out about how two separate coworkers “gave me the 9th degree” about not putting her groceries in a bag. “I’m allowed to not put anything in bags if I don’t want to!” She’s not wrong, but our training requires us to deter shoplifters and walking out of the self-checkout with a whole basket of groceries not in bags looks kind of sus. More importantly, she was taking it out on me when I had absolutely nothing to do with her being stopped by two coworkers. She came back to my counter about 20 minutes later pissed off because the taxi I was told would be there in “about 20 minutes” wasn’t there yet and demanded I call them back. They said they were on their way.
It’s not like this all the time or even throughout my entire shift, but interactions like these occur often enough that its understandable why there there are suggestions calling for forcing people to work retail or food service for an X-amount of time to learn how to be a kind and decent human being. Having worked retail and food service, I understand the sentiment.