Needs That Shampoo With Those Calming Herbs

, , , , , , | Right | March 29, 2020

(I am a manager, dealing with a customer that has nothing better to do today. The first time she calls, she wants me to walk to our shampoo aisle and begin listing all our shampoos. All. Of. Them. We have an entire aisle of the things, on both sides. Many brands, many varieties.)

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, I am unable to do that. You will need to come in yourself and look for whatever you’re hoping to find.”

(There are about five minutes of blessed silence after hanging up, and then she’s calling back, very upset.)

Caller: “You need to do your job and help me! I am the customer and you need to–“

Me: *far more reasonable than I normally am* “That’s not my job, ma’am. I cannot spend time on the phone listing an entire aisle of products. Either physically come into the store or look online. Now, I have customers who are waiting for help—” *a lie; thankfully, no one else is being inconvenienced by this nonsense* “—and I need to go.”

(Third time. I answer. She is no longer “upset.” She is screaming full bloody murder, in words somewhere between the Cthulhu language and something that would deafen a dog. She takes big, deep breaths and then full-volume screams a word or two, followed by a breathless sob. I hang up again and grab my walkie-talkie. I brief the staff not to answer the phone and to let me handle all incoming calls. I have a feeling this is going to be a doozie. I go into an office and sit down. Fourth time she rings; it’s been approximately twenty minutes since her first call, with a call every five minutes. All I hear is incomprehensible screaming, mixed with overdramatic sobs and heaving breaths. This time, I don’t hang up. Instead, I set the phone down on the counter and leave it there. She is left screeching word salad at empty air. I start typing at the computer, writing an email to the higher-ups, explaining the situation and detailing the times she has been calling. Blessed silence falls and I cautiously pick up the phone.)

Caller: *soft sounds of sobbing and half-moaned cries* “Why won’t you help meeeeee… I just want to buy some shampooooo…” *moan, sob, hiccup*

Me: “Are you done?”

Caller: *sniffling* “What?”

Me: “Are you done acting like a two-year-old?”

(There’s a heavy silence, and I can hear her breathing ramping up again. She’s working herself up to another screaming fit.)

Me: *quickly* “Ma’am, if you are suffering from a medical emergency, you need to call 911. However, I am unable to help you. And no, I will not ‘make it better’ by listing every bottle of shampoo we carry.”

(The moaning and sobbing vanish like magic. The way she was carrying on before, I expected tears to pour through the receiver. She is suddenly and completely calm; there’s not a waiver in her voice to indicate that she was ever in any kind of emotional distress — nary a sniffle or hiccup to mar her perfectly even tone.)

Caller: “But that’s your job! That’s why I’m calling you! You have to list them! I’m the customer! You can’t refuse to help me!”

Me: “Actually, yes, I can. I can refuse you service due to your behavior. We don’t take over-the-phone orders, nor are we allowed to spend a lot of time on the phone listing all of our products. Now, you can check online, or you can come in yourself. Those are your options.”

(I hang up. At the fifteen-minute mark, the phone rings again. As soon as I pick up, there’s a click. I put the phone down. Ten seconds, the phone rings. Click. Phone down. Ten seconds, the phone rings. Click. Ah. We have resorted to this, have we?)

Me: *over walkie-talkie* “Heads up, everyone. Ignore the phone ringing if it’s from [number and name from phone ID].”

(The phone rang. This time I didn’t answer it. I let it ring. She was no longer getting human interaction… at all. No acknowledgement. No response. She was now getting a very indifferent, automated answering machine. The line went dark. Then, the phone rings again. The woman tried four times to get someone to pick up before finally… FINALLY… giving it up. I sent my email, detailing the situation. I never heard from her again while I worked there, and nothing came back from the upper management.)

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