1. The person who insists the back-room is the size of Texas. Dude, it’s probably a 30 square foot room with like 6-10 boxes, two of which are full of clothes hangers. So no, believe it or not we don’t have a medium sized, pewter colored version of that shirt lying around in the back. However, we have no qualms with wasting five minutes playing on our phones while we halfheartedly “double-check” for you. Come to think of it, this person is as much a blessing as they are an annoyance, because sometimes you need an impromptu break, and their adamant request that you search for a non-existent product provides one.
2. Epic mess makers. It’s unclear how some people do this, but if unfolding and carelessly throwing clothes were an Olympic sport, there would be some top prospects in every retail store across the globe. Their rejected items are often found in sloppy piles of unfolded shirts, discarded pants, hangers and boxes carelessly tossed aside. I know customers aren’t obligated with tidiness, but the only people who chaotically discard stuff are lazy jerks and folks who’ve never experienced working retail.
3. Thieves. This isn’t my store or my personal belongings but c’mon. Realistically I’d never even considering intervening directly, but if you’re creeping around or blatantly stuffing Blu-rays into your backpack, I feel obligated to inform security or whatever, and it’s just trouble that most employees don’t feel like enduring. We know that we’re supposed to care, it’s just hard to sometimes.
4. The person who doesn’t seem to know where they’re shopping. Why don’t we sell marble flooring? Well, mainly because this is a grocery store… I’ll never understand why people are shocked to find that a particular place doesn’t carry all of their random needs. You can’t expect Blockbuster Video to have a wide array of vacuums, or H&M to have Taco Shells and detergent. It’s frustrating when people get irritated at you, for working in a place that obviously can’t fulfill their absurd requests.
5. The people who know it’s your job to ask if they’re “finding everything alright,” but still get rude about it. It’s common courtesy and basic customer service. If employees could, many would let the customers approach them for help, and only offer assistance to those who visibly need it. It’s just not that big of a big deal. Yes, we know multiple staff members asking the same question over a short period of time can have the feel of pesky Internet popups, but that’s part of how these people earn a living, which brings me to the next nightmare…
6. The customer who treats you crappy because they know you’re WORKING, thus, forced to take their disrespect and nonsense. One time, while working retail I actually had this exchange with a customer:
Customer: Where are those humidifiers you guys have on clearance?
Me: Oh, they were actually right in this very spot, but they sold out yesterday.
Customer: Well what aisle are your time machines on.
Me: Excuse me?
Customer: Do you have a time machine so I can go back to yesterday, or are you giving me useless information about a product you no longer have?
Is this dry humor? Perhaps that would explain why he wants to moisten the air with a humidifier. I laughed uneasily, thinking maybe this dude was joking. He wasn’t. He wore a smug look and while I wanted to smack him in the face, then direct him to the extensive Band-Aid assortment on aisle 4, I bit my tongue and apologized for being out of humidifiers. All because bills and responsibilities made retaining that job a necessity.
7. Cheap schemers. No, I don’t have the authority to give you a 90% discount because the box has a crease on it. No, this pack of batteries that you found isolated and blatantly misplaced in the candy section aren’t 50 cents. Employees know the difference between confused folks and shysters trying to take advantage of that customer’s-always-right mumbo-jumbo.
8. The people who think the place you work at is your entire life. They expect you to know every sale item listed in the ad, or have photographic memory of the entire inventory. Statements like, I’m looking for a universal remote you guys advertised a few weeks or months or years ago. I don’t remember the brand or model or price, but it was black and had buttons.” are the absolute worst.
9. The DJ. Okay, so there isn’t an actual DJ, but stores often have music playing on a loop, and boy can it get annoying. The 298,059th time you hear Hey There Delilah your sanity plummets – that’s a fact – the scientist said so. Yes, the same scientist from The Scientist by Coldplay, which also proves that even a beloved song by a cherished band isn’t exempt from the negative effects of constant repetition. At the grocery store I worked at during high school, Possession by Sarah McLachlan violated my ears an inappropriate number of times. To this day, hearing that song immediately prompts me to put things in plastic bags while wearing a fake smile.
10. The inventor(s) of Black Friday. Consumers are the real inventors of Black Friday, so curse them. Curse them and their willingness to trample one another to death for a $200 flat screen. If ever caught in an apocalyptic warzone of sorts, I will refer back to my days working Black Friday at Target to survive.
11. Last minute shoppers. The time a store closes is NEVER the time that the employees are able to go home, so by shopping 2 minutes before the doors are shut, you’re prolonging their stay even further. Technically you’re not doing anything wrong by choosing to enter when the store is still open, but there’s a common courtesy/unwritten rule that hopes most people would be considerate of such violations. Imagine I went to you right before bedtime and injected Red Bull and coffee directly into your veins? You’d be awake for hours. Yes, partly because a crazy guy stabbed you with a syringe full of caffeinated beverages, but also the caffeine’s lasting effects! When you go in a place at 9:59, that’s scheduled to close at 10:00, you’re jamming a needle into the life of all those employees.