If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.
TALES FROM THE TRENCHES
Although I have enough personal stories from the customer service trenches to fill a book (two actually. They go by the names, If Life’s An Experiment, I’m A Lab Rat and Catless Tails) I figured, by now, you’re tired of listening to me.
So here are true stories from the aisles and stockrooms of the world.
I’m in the store with the manager and a woman with a carriage was banging on the glass. She’s screaming that she left her baby in the store. He opens the door and the three of us run around the building looking for the baby.
About five minutes into it we haven’t found her so the manager is about to call the police when a guy starts banging on the door. It’s her husband with the baby.
We’re all relieved, of course, but as the manager was unlocking the door to let her out he noticed something in the carriage.
She’d put on this elaborate scene to steal a boom box.
A customer’s pants fell down in front of me. He let them linger while asking,
“See anything you like?
A husband and wife come into the restaurant and, eight seconds into their stay, she huffily exclaims,
“So, am I just supposed to seat myself?”
I inhale a deep, calming breath, put on my best smile and say,
“Oh I’d be happy to seat you, do you prefer a booth or a table? We have a wait on booths right now but I can seat you at a table immediately.”
The husband dryly responds,
“I’ll see if anything’s opened up.”
I go to my manager and talk over the situation. The only booth available is one that seats ten in the closed dining room. I go back and explain there may be a slight wait for a more desirable table and she goes directly into grumpy (I’m guessing Hypoglycemic much?),
“I don’t see why on earth I can’t have the large table, regardless of the room being closed.”
I put on my Adult Britches™, take off my sarcastic ‘tude and reply,
“Absolutely, ma’am, please, follow me.”
I settle them into the table and laugh out loud because, the truth is, the room is closed because there are eight children under the age of six in there running around screaming.
But hey, the customer is always right.
I was stocking a shelf and turned to see a guy waving his arms like he was juggling. I didn’t think much of it until he hit the ground and started crawling.
I look and see what he’s chasing and think,
‘Is that a glass eye?’
The guy catches up to it and it was.
I was working as a credit counselor and a soldier who’d been in Afghanistan and was getting deployed to Iraq called. He said he’d been dropped by a creditor without reason. His debt was now $3000 higher than before he’d joined our program. I called the company and was told his payments had been late. I agreed and told her it was because the Army was late sending his checks to his wife.
“Were you aware he was in Afghanistan?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “But I thought he was on vacation.”
“Yes, people are dying to go there for the mountains and terrorist sightings.” She said,
“Well, you never know.”
A kid was rolling around on the floor bitching that he had to go to the bathroom. His mother ignored him even after he pissed on the floor. He was sitting in it splashing while he mother kept on shopping.
I was stocking shelves at a grocery store when a woman rushed up and told me she’d never buy our brand because our company tested products on animals. I told the woman that we were part of a large corporation and, although that may be true somewhere in the company, our tiny little division didn’t.
I gave her an 800 number to corporate so she could voice her displeasure to the proper people when she started screaming that I was a bunny killer. I’m watching this woman go nuts and I couldn’t help but to start laughing.
“Ma’am,” I said. “I’ve never so much as placed a cup of coffee near an animal and, personally, I think you should back off on your java intake.”
She was so upset she took the corporate number from me and called them. To complain about me!
While moving out a divorcing couple they got into an argument about a TV so the husband took it to the porch and threw it off. It hit her car right on the hood.
She seemed to take it well as she walked into the house, found some big metal thing and threw it on his car.
I drive a bus and a woman slapped me across the face while I was driving because she said she knew I was thinking racist thoughts.
My father was a ticket agent at a train station for 21 years and he told the story of the time a blustery fellow dashed up to the window, furiously waving the ticket he had grasped in his hand.
“What’s the platform for Chicago? I’ve gotta catch that train NOW!” He yelled.
That information would have been on the ticket, but the ticket was in constant motion, and my father knew the answer anyway.
“Chicago? Platform 6,” he said
The loud, blustery fellow dashed off. Ten minutes later he was back, demanding to speak to my father’s supervisor. My father had misinformed him and caused him to miss his train, he loudly declared. The platform for Des Moines was NOT platform 6.
“But,” my father said, “You didn’t ask for the platform for Des Moines! You asked for the platform for Chicago!”
“I SHOWED YOU MY TICKET!” The increasingly irate fellow bellowed.
“You WAVED it at me! How did you expect me to read it, with you waving it around like that?!” my father replied.
Naturally, his supervisor reprimand him severely, for the customer’s benefit. He should have read the ticket!
I was picking up a college roommate from the Outer Banks, North Carolina, where she was staying. It was a very pleasant trip until we stopped in a diner in the DC area on the way home for lunch.
There was an elderly couple in a booth near us. The woman was very quiet but her husband was amazingly demanding. Hotter coffee. More butter. Rounder pancakes. The jelly is the wrong color.
The diner was very busy and the waitress for our section, a very young, courteous girl, was bustling as fast as she could, but this man wanted his own private service.
Finally, he asked for the check. As two young working girls ourselves, we’d been taking this in and were both glad he’d be gone, as I’m sure the waitress would be. But she’d made a mistake tallying up his check — she’d overcharged him ten cents. ONE DIME. He demanded to see the manager at once. That manager publicly upbraided her for her colossal mistake and implicit rudeness.
Before we left, we stopped in the ladies room. That poor girl was in there, sobbing like you wouldn’t believe. My roommate gave the girl a big hug and told her it was clear from the get-go that the old buzzard was going to use any excuse to get out of tipping her, despite keeping her running for 45 minutes; she’d seen that type before.
Although I have many stories they all end pretty much the same: my losing my shit in the stockroom. So instead I’d like to give a warning.
No matter what career you choose, do no sell shoes. You will become nothing more than a bitter, angry, woman-hating asshole.
If you’re wondering why I’ve been doing it for twenty-five years and haven’t left, it’s too late. I own the company.
No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make this lady happy. I must have showed her every dress in the place and she kept complaining.
I’m standing there with an arm full of dresses when she says,
“I’d like to talk to your manager. You’ve made this experience wholly unsatisfying.”
I lost it. I threw the dresses at her and said,
“And you’ve been a holy fucking bitch. I’ll send the manager over so he can see why I deserve a raise.”
A guy came in to the restaurant a bloody mess. I asked him if he wanted me to call an ambulance. He didn’t answer for a minute. He just kept looking around. I asked again, he didn’t answer. Finally, he looked at me and said,
“Can I have a job application?”
A guy came in three days in a row right after opening wanting to buy a newspaper with a hundred dollar bill. There was no way I could break that so I ended up giving him the paper.
On the fourth day I was ready for him. I’d gone to the bank and got one hundred dollar bills using my own money. I hand him ninety-nine ones and two quarters and he flips out.
He tells me he doesn’t have to take the ones. I explain it is legal tender in the correct amount of his change so, in fact, he did have to accept the change.
He left in a huff and I never saw him again.
I worked for a major league sports team and had to deliver papers to a future hall of famer. I ring the bell, he opens the door, grabs the papers, takes a step back and tells me to come in and stand there.
I’m standing there for ten minutes, afraid to move an inch. I’m looking around expecting some opulence. This guy was worth millions, this was a multi-million dollar condo but his furniture was shittier than mine. There were beer cans all over the place. It looked like a frat house.
He calls from his office and I stand in the doorway for another couple of minutes looking around at this mess. In the corner on the floor was an MVP trophy. There are boxes of balls, jersey’s, and pictures he’s signing for big bucks for a dealer. It was amazing. Finally he says,
“Grab some trash bags from the kitchen, pick up the cans and bring them to the liquor store.”
Although that was way out of my job description I knew better than to refuse. So I started cleaning up. I must have filled ten trash bags, at least. Then I hauled them down the stairs, five floors, because I couldn’t use the regular elevator and the service elevator was doing a move.
I get all the bags in my car and bring them to the liquor store. By now I’m sweating like a bastard but I’m done. I get back to the condo thinking that, like the other players when you do a personal service, he’ll be giving me a tip for being his cleaning lady.
He meets me at the door, hands me the papers and says,
“Where’s my money?”
I’m dumbfounded as he says,
“You better not short me. I know exactly how much is there.”
And not for a minute did I doubt him.
I was working backstage security when this guy without a pass tried to get into the room. So I stopped him and he went nuts.
Turns out he was the main act. I didn’t know him from anyone else. He was before my time so I don’t think I even knew any of his songs. But there he was, pulling a nutty right there in front of me.
In the middle of the exchange he says,
“I’ll have your fucking job.”
I was so sick of putting up with this has been. I’m working some stupid job at my college and I’m getting shit on by a guy who hasn’t had a hit in my lifetime? Please!
“I saw the crowd tonight,” I said. “And taking my job would be a good move. I’m sure I’m getting paid more than you tonight.”
I worked in gift shop and this woman wanted to return a set of wine glasses. She said she got the wrong type and had never used them.
I open the box to make sure everything was okay. They were in good shape but I took one out and held it up to her.
“Next time at least clean the lipstick off the rims.”
I arrived at work and there were a few people waiting for us to open. I walk past a few people who may have seen me wearing my vest up to the guy in front.
“You’re not cutting in front of me.”
“But sir, I. . .”
“. . .fuck off.”
I turn to the other people and they’re laughing. So I shrug my shoulders and wait. The guy is looking at his watch every ten seconds. He looks around the parking lot, down the walkway, and the more he looks around the angrier he gets. He turns to the rest of us waiting and says,
“It’s past ten o’clock! Where the fuck is the guy?”
I jingle my keys in his face.
I work in for a truck rental place and sometimes we find people sleeping in the back. One day I’m taking a customer out to show them the truck, I open the back and a guy is standing there jerking off.
A customer called to tell me there was some dog shit was in the back. I didn’t want to tell her dogs would find it impossible to open the back and that it had to be human feces. Instead I said I could send someone out to clean it or she could and I’d reduce the rental. I declined her offer to bring the shit when she dropped off the truck as proof.
I worked in a photo developing store and a woman came in irate because she said her pictures looked like hell. I ask if I could see them so she starts waving them in my face telling me I couldn’t touch them. I ask her to put them on the counter so I can at least see them. And she’s right, the pictures looked like hell. But it wasn’t the fault of developing. They were all out of focus.
I was making an appointment to service someone’s furnace and asked them their address.
“Why do you need that?”
“We need to tell the repairman where to go.”
“I don’t like that. I don’t let strangers in my house.”
“Then how are we going to repair your furnace?”
“Can you do it over the phone?”
I couldn’t make this customer understand that the item they wanted would not do what they wanted it to do. We go back and forth for awhile until he says,
“What would you think if I told you I was never going to step foot in this store again?”
“I was being blessed by God.”
I caught a shoplifter and she started screaming that she brought it from home.
“You carried a twenty pound turkey from your home in your pants?”
I worked at a breakfast place and we had this customer who was a jerk. Nothing was ever right even though he got the same thing every day. Armed with this information every morning we’d take turns kicking his bagel around the stockroom floor.
This crazy guy used to come in to get a coffee every day. He’d sit there until the moment we all dreaded: all of the other customers would leave. He was harmless but it was annoying to have him go on and on with his conspiracy theories while we were cleaning up and restocking for the next rush.
Then, one day, he was gone.
About six months after that a delivery guy delivered about a dozen good-sized boxes filled with his conspiracy theory papers. And an envelope for each of us with ten dollars.
We would read them during breaks and have contests to see who could make sense of them. There was some far out shit in there.
It was a restaurants grand opening with signs stating that everywhere. A woman was screaming that this was the worst service she’d had in all the years she’d been coming there.
Someone called for directions. I asked where they were coming from and they said,
A customer brought two items over to me. One was a high-end personal stereo system and the other was on the low-end. At first he’s asking me the differences and general questions. He seems to be paying attention but I could tell he had something else in mind.
He asked me if I’d ring up the low-end model and let him take the high-end. I told him as tempting as that sounded, it was impossible. He starts trying to convince me and it was just getting old. I told him that I’d get my manager if he wanted to discuss this any further. He tells me I don’t have to be such a jerk and he was joking.
Twenty minutes later he comes back with the low-end box. But the box was beat to shit. The top was bowed, the sides were bulging, there were rips in the cardboard. I look at the guy and he’s telling me to ring it up.
I tell him that it’s against company policy to sell items in distressed boxes and that I’d have to get him another one. I begin to put the box behind the counter when he grabs it. We both have our hands on it over the counter. He tells me if it’s distressed I should just give him a discount, ring him up and let him leave.
I tell him I could do that but I’d have to call the manager for authorization. He pulls the box out of my hand and runs toward the exit. Where he was clotheslined by a security guard who’d seem him switch items on the security monitors.
You’d think working in a greeting card store would be very laid back. But after hordes of women come in during their lunch break the place looks like a cyclone hit it.
But it’s the people who get pissy because you don’t have a card that expresses their exact emotion that can ruin your day. I had one woman rip me a new asshole because she couldn’t find anything suitable. I’m trying to help but that was only making things worse. It got to the point where she started to blame me for the sentiments.
“Lady, I just ring them up, I don’t write them.”
That pissed her off and she started ripping cards in front of me. The owner comes running from the back and it was a bid deal. She refused to pay for the cards she destroyed until mall security was called.
The next week I saw her in the store again. This time I guess our cards got better because she picked up a few and left without a word.
I did dog walking and one of the humans demanded I bring her dogs poop back after the walk. She said she’d know if I switched it with another dogs so don’t even try it. I never asked her why she wanted it.
If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.