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Give Them Some Panic Attack Slack

, , , | Right | December 18, 2018

(It’s a quiet time of year with only a steady trickle of customers. I’m just tidying up my till when a girl in her late teens or early twenties comes up with earphones.)

Customer #1: “How much would these be? The spare earbuds are missing.”

Me: “I’ll just check what price they are now; bear with me!”

Customer #1: “No. I’ll be holding people up. Don’t bother…”

Me: “No problem at all. You’ve come at a quiet time, and I have to keep busy! We’ll sort this out.”

(I scan them through. They’re expensive, so I am unsure how much to reduce them by. I am just about to put out a call for my supervisor when one comes past.)

Me: “Oh, [Supervisor], can I borrow you, please?”

(The supervisor comes over. At the same time, a lady comes to my till and is, of course, only second in line. I explain the situation to the supervisor and ask how much they could be reduced by.)

Customer #1: “No. People are waiting.”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. This won’t take a second.”

Supervisor: “We could knock them down to [price]?”

(By this point, I’ve realised the girl is getting very stressed. She’s backed right into the space where the cashier normally stands on the next till and is casting nervous glances to the woman next in line. I know something’s not right.)

Customer #1: “People are waiting… I’m sorry… I don’t know what to do…”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. It’s not a problem at all. Just take your time.”

(The girl is clearly distressed. But what annoys me most is when I glance towards [Customer #2], who has been there for less than a minute, she’s drumming her fingers against the conveyor belt, throwing dirty looks at the girl, and giving exaggerated looks at her watch.)

Supervisor: *gently* “What would you like to do?”

Customer #1: “I don’t know… I don’t know… I’m sorry to cause so much trouble!”

(I was terrified she was going to pass out — she looked that worried. My supervisor and I reassured her over and over that it was all right. In the end, we told her that she could step away from the till if she wanted to, have a good look at the earphones, and decide if they’ll fit her phone and if she’d like them. We told her she could open the packaging if she needed to. She seemed happy enough and went off to stand a short distance away and decide in her own time. [Customer #2] put her basket onto the belt and unloaded it, and remained frosty throughout the whole transaction as if the girl having a panic attack really inconvenienced her. The girl did come back but decided against the earphones. Thankfully she was a lot calmer and seemed a little happier! I just wished [Customer #2] could have shown a tiny bit more understanding instead of obvious impatience.)

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