Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Increase in Crazy

I work in customer service. Wherever you are there will always be that one customer per month that goes berserk or starts cussing, or has a meltdown in the store. I've seen my share of unpleasant people. Usually there are no problems and just an occasional outburst every month or so. Here lately however, we are experiencing what I can only refer to as an increase in crazy.

There is a drunken woman who wears garden gloves and a child's cowboy hat that looks as it it's been run over a few times. She mutters to herself, and swings a cane around while she walks. She loves to buy various items and then return them. One day she threw her purse on the counter to rummage for her receipt and a roach crawled out of it. Two days later she returned two empty bug bombs and said they didn't work. Yes, empty! She had her receipt and the manager said to give it to her. Finally, on a different night someone told her "No." She was trying to return something with a receipt for a completely different item. She cussed at us and threatened us, and disturbed several others shopping at the time. The manager on duty said she hadn't abused us enough to be trespassed by the police.

We pay you to get sick. There's another lady that comes in and says I bought this sandwich meat, bread roll, roast, etc and I got sick after I ate it. We apologize and refund the money for the item. She then says, "I need to be compensated for getting sick. Who is going to pay me for being sick?" We call a manager and the manager gives the woman a free ten dollar gift card for our store so she can buy some more groceries and get sick again. Yes, she gets sick often.

Some people clean out their shelves at home and bring all their out of date products back to the store where they receive store credit. If I forget something on a back shelf I will throw it out. I guess they feel no embarrassment when they drag a bag of yellowed cereal boxes and roach encrusted cans back to the store. One man brought back a two liter of Pepsi from 1997. "I bought this here last week but I meant to get a diet Pepsi. Can I exchange it?" The manager said yes. The man very kindly offered to put it back on the shelf for me. No thank you. This will go right in the trash or perhaps a museum.

Other people will get angry because an employee doesn't smile enough. Some will tell a manager that the girl on register three didn't smile and was very unpleasant. Despite the fact that they may have been prompt with ringing the groceries, correct with the change, and courteous as well, their job may be in jeopardy because they failed to grin like a good corporate employee.

A few weeks ago I was working and an elderly gentleman approached me. He pointed at a coworker and said, "That girl down there, that little colored girl, does she work in this store."

"Why yes sir," I replied, "The nice woman helping out on register five? She's my manager."

"Humph." he said before shaking his head and stalking out. If only I could have spoken my mind with him, but I had to be a good little smiling corporate employee.

In months past we have had the occasional incident once a month or so. Here lately, every day has been crazy. We have had more than one person cussing out an employee per week. The service hasn't changed it must be something in the air. I wonder what tomorrow may bring. Sometimes I dream of a different life. Here lately I wish I trained to become a mortician. The customers would be so pleasant.


  1. Working with the public can be so difficult, it's true. But I'm guessing you are kind to these nut jobs and nobody else ever is and that attracts people like that to you.

    Isn't odd that those who need our love the most are the most darned difficult to love?


    Your blog is a breath of fresh air. Keep on keepin' on. I'm glad you were lucky in love because that's what keeps us sane.

    Warmly wishing you well,
    Mother Connie

  2. Connie,
    Thank you for visiting! You gave me a new perspective. I never thought about some of these people like that. You are so right. Many of us in retail are polite and DO show them kindness. So that's why they show up so often on my shifts. (giggle)

  3. Well, you are having the darl experience. One thing I must say people who work in customer service they pledge whenever they call any customer service department of any product or service would never curse or abuse. In a way you learn to become a nicer person even though your experience is dark

  4. Ashok, you are so right. Sometimes we become overly polite although I have seen a few workers rebel and become rude at times.

  5. The woman in the cowboy hat and garden gloves--wonder if she might be mentally ill, and not drunk? Like maybe schizophrenia. My DD is developmentally disabled and I really appreciate the clerks and customer service people who are nice to her and treat her with respect.

  6. Hi Maxine, there may be an underlying condition too, but unfortunately she buys beer in the morning when behaving almost normally. A customer informed us she was drinking in the parking lot and throwing her cans about randomly. I haven't seen her for a while and I hope she is somewhere receiving help.

    I have another customer who comes in with her autistic son. She always picks my line when I am working. When other workers may ignore the boy who mumbles and shouts occasionally while grabbing the bags, I engage him in conversation, hand him the change and the receipt, and thank him for helping his mother with the groceries. I hope your daughter finds joy in her shopping trips.