Thursday, March 25, 2010

Your Impatience is Not a Sign of Importance

Most customers treat service workers as equals and are polite and understanding. Others act as if we are invisible and will not engage in conversation, make eye contact, or acknowledge our existence in any way. I think they are funny. I will chatter away, "Did you find everything you needed?" Silence. "Do you have our discount card?" Silence, and customer looks at ceiling. "I do hope the weather will clear up. What do you think?" Silence and customer looks at shoe. "You have a really nice day. Thank you for shopping with us." Silence. Customer yanks bag from my hand scowls and turns toward exit.

There are a few customers that seem to think that we are all incompetent simpletons. One lady a few days ago had no patience for her brand new cashier. An item didn't ring in correctly for the customer in front of her and I had to correct it. She rolled her eyes at the cashier and grunted before yelling, "I'm in a big hurry today!"

I just smiled at her and corrected the price. The cashier then needed me to override the order because there was a voided item. I did that for her while the lady grunted and tut tutted and rolled her eyes continuously. I wanted to tell her that the new cashier would not be able to work faster because of her eye rolling. I also wanted to threaten her with what I used to threaten my own children with when they were teens. "I can pop out your eyeballs and put them in a jar so you can shake the jar and roll them all you want. By the way, I always thought that Gary Larson could turn that image into a great Far Side comic. Can you picture a group of teenagers rolling their eyeballs in jars?

The one customer in line in front of the rude customer was finished and the cashier started ringing her order. She said, "Thank you for your patience today ma'am." The look on her face was priceless.

Wouldn't you know it the lady paid by check and there was a problem with her account and the cashier had to call me to override it while two or three people waited behind her without huffing or puffing or grunting. She was still tut tutting and grunting and rolling those eyeballs the entire time.

The best way I have found of dealing with unreasonable people is to be pleasant and polite the entire time. Some people have control issues and they just want to affect your mood and have an impact on your emotions with their negativity. After many years working with the public I recognize that this is their problem and am able to laugh at this. I will NOT be taking on your cloak of negativity and wrapping it around my being, I will NOT bring this emotion home and share it with my family. You have failed in recruiting me. Have a nice day, and please shop with us again.


  1. :) You are hysterical. That's a great line you had for your kids. I'm impressed with what you said. It takes a strong woman to deal with people like that day after day and still be upbeat, positive and not let it affect you. Kudos!

  2. I have a friend Tim who worked in an Antique Mall have a woman totally ignore his greeting and offer of assistance. Her husband came up to Tim and said "My wife does not talk to the hired help." When Tim told a group of us this story we could barely stand for laughing and we still joke about it to this day. The loss was totally this woman's as Tim is one of the funniest, smartest people I know.

  3. Loved the eyeball line (and visual)!

    I heaped well-deserved praise on your head for your recent post about your dad and family cemeteries. You inspired me to write my own comment, leapfrogging off of yours.

  4. Lyza, that's why a lot of people can't do this job. You just have to refuse to let it affect you.

    More Style than Cash, thank you for sharing this story. I loved it! I have to wonder was she herself too haughty too speak to him or did her husband forbid her to speak? I have to wonder if he was afraid that a blue collar man was going to steal his wife away.

    April, I just read your post and it was beautiful. Thank you.