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Kind Of Makes You Want To Never Be Helpful Again

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: anto9900 | April 15, 2022

This happens in Australia just before our first lockdown. There are mandatory mask requirements when shopping at retail stores. In high school and all through university, I worked at a mum-and-pop hardware store, so I know my way around hardware.

In our big box hardware stores, there isn’t much customer service. Most staff are there to check on stock levels, stock shelves, and attend the cash register. The old warhorses on the staff are always occupied helping people, but they are in short supply.

It’s a Saturday and I need some plumbing supplies. I’m in one of the most intimidating aisles for a lot of people; it’s got all the copper, taps, and toilet fittings. I’ve got all the items I need and I’ve been there for a good twenty minutes. I can see an older gent struggling and trying to work out what he needs. I catch his eye and he waves me over enthusiastically. I grab what he needs for a leaky cistern and instruct him how to install it. He thanks me and leaves.

As I’m about to leave, another old gent waves at me and asks me for help. I show him a direct replacement for his tap washers, but then proceed to show him a ceramic fitting that basically makes sure he never has to replace washers again. He balks at the price, but I convince him to get it — once a salesman, always a salesman, and he gets a seniors discount.

As I’m about to leave with the gent, a woman appears from behind me, silent as a mouse. Then, she screeches at me.

Woman: “Oi, you! I want these items!”

As I turn, she shoves a list in my face. Now, if she had smiled at me and asked politely, I would have happily helped her, but I smile and politely decline.

Me: “Sorry, I don’t work here.”

I indicate my clothes. I’ve got a blue singlet on and blue cargo shorts (with pockets full of plumbing products). Staff wears red and green. I turn and proceed to leave. The woman reaches out her hand and tries to turn me toward her, but I slip out of her grasp.

Woman: “You f*****’ helped him—” *indicating the old fella still standing next to me* “—so you work here. Don’t lie to me!”

I attempt my best withering gaze.

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t work here. I’ll let the counter know you need help and they will send someone along.”

I make a hasty retreat with the old gent.

The woman is hot on my tail, screaming at the top of her lungs, calling me a few racist names, and claiming I’m sexist besides other choice things. I ignore her and I think that infuriates her more. She tries a couple of times to get a hold of me, but I shrug her off. One of these times, she loses her footing and trips, which enables me to get the h*** out of dodge.

A member of staff intercepts the woman.

Employee: “Ma’am, please stop screaming.”

The woman points to me and starts ranting about me, calling me names, and making up a story about me being rude and racist and assaulting her. Clearly, as soon as she says “assault,” the situation escalates. She’s in for a very big surprise.

The employee turns to me and rolls her eyes. She knows this is going to be a long one. I do, too. I turn to the old gent.

Me: “You might as well go get in line. This is going to be a while.”

Old Gent: “It’s fine. You’ll need a witness.”

My heart bursts a little at that.

Security is called. I have a quick conversation with the manager and relay the events that have unfolded. The old man relays the same thing.

Me: *To the manager* “Can you please remind that woman that there are multiple security cameras around?”

Police get called anyway, and unlucky for the woman, she has no time to recant as there is already a patrol car in the parking lot. They separate the woman, the old gent, and me, and do a quick interview.

Then, I chill in the office for about an hour until the officers come back in.

Officer: “We’ve reviewed the tapes. Do you want to press any charges?”

I decline and they let me go. The manager walks me to the checkout and lets me know that the woman is getting a lifetime ban. I pay for my plumbing supplies with a trade discount. As I’m walking to the exit, I see the old fella sitting on the bench. He gets up and asks me if I want a sausage. We have a good laugh over sausage with onions and a soda. I offer to come over and fit the tap washes for him, and we organise a time for tomorrow morning for me to drop by. He actually only lives a street away from me.

As I’m getting in my car, the woman emerges with the cops and the manager. She looks distressed, but at least she’s not in cuffs. I know she’s not got many options, so I drive by as she is “talking” to someone on the phone and wind down my window.

Me: “Hey, see across the road the sign that says [Store]? They are a trade plumbing supplies store. If you go there and don’t be a b****, they will have everything on your list.”

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