Understaffed But Not Understood

| Greensboro, NC, USA | At The Checkout, Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(On the day before Father’s Day, with a huge sale going on, the coworker who is supposed to come in to work with me doesn’t show up. I am swamped and can’t answer any phone calls. I just stay at the counter ringing people up. We are so busy that I don’t have time to call any of my coworkers to see if they can come in to cover the shift. There is only about half an hour until two other coworkers are coming in, so I just do my best until then. With a line about ten customers long, a customer comes storming up to the register and interrupts the conversation I’m having with the customer currently at my register.)

Customer: “I need some help! Where is the employee who should be working the sales floor right now?”

Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but no one else is here right now. If you’ll kindly wait in line, I’d be glad to help you shortly.”

Customer: “What?! This is outrageous! You should have more than one person working! Everyone knows that is just good business!”

Me: “Unfortunately, there was a scheduling mix-up. I’m the only one here right now.”

Customer: “But I need one of you to help me find something! What am I supposed to do? That’s what you all get paid to do! I am very busy and I need to get my Father’s Day gifts bought! I don’t have all day! Really, on a holiday, you should have more than one person working!”

(Since the customer isn’t listening to me, I just turn back to serving the line at the counter. I finish the next customer, and try to explain the schedule issue again, but she’s not having any of it. One of our regular customers is standing nearby at a sale table and finally speaks up.)

Regular Customer: “Ma’am, what is wrong with your hearing? She just explained to you that her coworker didn’t show up! I think she’s doing a remarkable job handling all of this by herself. You are just making things worse!”

Customer: “All I need is to see if they have these items in stock! Can’t she see I am in a hurry?”

Regular Customer: “As are most of us. It’s a busy holiday at a popular store. What do you expect? When people don’t show up to do their jobs it makes it harder on the rest of their coworkers, especially when there’s only one other person working!”

Customer: “But—”

Regular Customer: “Now, I don’t work here, but I shop here often. In favor of giving everyone in line and this poor employee a break, I’m going to help you find what you need. But only so you leave us all alone!”

(I thank the regular and the two disappear into the back of the store. The customers in line make some comments. A moment later, the original customer storms to the front and out the door. I turn to the regular customer as she returns.)

Me: “What happened?”

Regular Customer: “You didn’t have the item she wanted. Her sale flyer was for the bookstore down the street.”

A Gross Grocery Error

| Newark, NJ, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Health & Body

(The customer in front of me is dropping off a prescription. She’s on her phone.)

Customer: “…and then can you pick up [Name] from school, or do you want me— Hang on, I’m at the front of the line.” *to pharmacist* “Here’s my prescription, ID, insurance data. Need anything else?”

Pharmacist: “Just give me a minute to read through this.”

Customer: *on phone* “So, anyway, about the groceries. Why is taking—”

Pharmacist: “Excuse me?”

Customer: “Oh, hang on.” *to pharmacist* “Sorry, I know it’s rude to talk on the phone, but—”

Pharmacist: “No, no. Your prescription. It says ‘cheese, yogurt, chunky peanut butter.'”

(There is a pause.)

Customer: *on phone* “I think I know why it’s taking you so long at the grocery store.”

Christmas Is Their Cross To Bear

| IL, USA | Crazy Requests, Holidays, Religion, Theme Of The Month

(It is a few days before Christmas. I am finishing up with a patron. At this point, she has been nice and cheerful.)

Me: “Okay. We will give you a call when the book comes in. Thank you and have a good night!”

Patron: “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

Me: “Um, no. I handed you back your card, didn’t I?”

Patron: “No. You didn’t address me correctly. Try again.”

Me: “…Have a good night, miss?”

Patron: “It is the time of Christ and you did not bless me with a Merry Christmas. What kind of Christian establishment hires such heathens that do not bless their customers with the correct Christian way?”

Me: “Well, honestly, ma’am, this isn’t a Christian establishment. It’s a public library. I apologize for not wishing you a Merry Christmas.”

Patron: “Every single place on this Earth is a Christian establishment and until you realize this you are headed straight to Hell. Next time I come in, I expect you to bless me and have a proper Christian attitude. I will take this up with your boss if your behavior continues to trend this way.”

(She stares me down for a few minutes and then leaves. I later find out she did complain to my director and insisted she follow the laws of God by only employing good Christian people!)