Meet My Mother, Karen

, , , | Right | October 17, 2019

(I work at a movie theater. It’s a premiere weekend, there is a flu outbreak so we’re short-staffed, and one of our popcorn machines has broken down, meaning our concessions lines are long and slow. A customer and her teenage daughter approach, and I can tell there’s going to be trouble. Before I can even say hello, the customer starts.)

Customer: “We have been waiting in line for twenty minutes! This is ridiculous; the wait should never be this long! What is the matter with this theater that the line is moving so slowly?”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m so sorry for your wait; we’re short-staffed tonight. What can I get you?”

(She orders, still very surly, and I move to gather her drinks and candy before stepping in line behind several of my coworkers at our one working popcorn machine. I can overhear the woman’s conversation with her daughter.)

Customer: “This is absolutely ridiculous. We’re going to miss the start of the movie!”

Daughter: “It’s okay. There will be a bunch of previews;  we’re not going to miss anything.”

Customer: “These workers are so lazy. If they got the lead out and picked up the pace a little bit, we wouldn’t have this long of a wait, anyway. Oh, I can’t believe it. I’ve been waiting to see this for months and now we’re going to miss the beginning.”

Daughter: “She said that they were short-staffed, and this place is mobbed. I’m sure she’s doing her best.”

Customer: “No, did you see the way she rolled her eyes at me? She’s doing it on purpose; she wants us to miss the start of our movie.”

Daughter: “Come on, Mom. It’s not like she knows we’re running late. No one’s doing it on purpose.”

(I approach with the popcorn at this moment and make sure to give my best customer-service smile. Again, before I get a chance to speak, the customer, already pushing her credit card into my hand, snaps at me.)

Customer: “You’ve made us miss the start of our movie. I hope you’re happy.”

Daughter: “Oh, my God, Mom, she’s not doing it on purpose! It’s a busy day, she said they were short-staffed, we’re the ones who were running late in the first place, and you’re being really impolite to her!”

(The customer turns bright red. For a second I worry she’s about to yell at her daughter, too, but all she does is gather up the food and take her card back when I hand it to her. She walks away as soon as I do, but the daughter lingers.)

Daughter: “I’m really sorry; she’s never like this. It’s been a really bad week, but you shouldn’t have to deal with this. I’m sorry.”

Me: “Oh, it’s okay! You don’t have to apologize–“

Daughter: “Yeah, but I wanted to. I hope your day gets better!”

(I really hope the daughter enjoyed the movie.)

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It’s Nuts To Go Without Coconuts

, , , | Right | October 17, 2019

(I work at a bakery that’s famous for its coconut cream pie. We sell the pie four different ways: full-sized, baby, slices, and little individual bites. It’s nearing the end of the day and it’s getting slow, so my coworker has gone upstairs to do restock and I’m left puttering around behind the counter, doing various little pieces of side-work. A very well-dressed woman in her fifties or sixties comes in and I greet her.)

Customer: “I heard you’re famous for your coconut cream pie!”

Me: “Yep! It’s the favorite, for sure. We sell it at all the locations in [Company].”

Customer: “I have a question about it.”

(It’s tourist season, and has been for about a month, and it’s not unusual for non-locals to want to know about the pie. I figure it will be one of the standard questions, like what makes it a TRIPLE coconut cream pie, etc.) 

Me: “Ask away!”

Customer: “What does coconut taste like?”

Me: *pause* “What?”

(I think she is joking at first, but eventually, I realize she isn’t. Because I have no idea how to even begin to explain the flavor of coconut, I start asking her if she’s ever eaten anything with coconut in it — Almond Joys, macaroons, Sno-Balls, doughnuts with coconut flakes — but she apparently has not.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but I’m really not sure how to explain the flavor. But I can go and ask the pastry kitchen if they have any coconut flakes lying around so you can try them?”

Customer: “No, thanks! I’ll just get the pie bite.”

(I gave her the bite and rung her up, and she happily left. I still have no idea if she somehow managed to go through her entire life without eating coconut or if she was making a joke in the most deadpan way possible. It’s definitely one of the most bemusing customer experiences I’ve had to date. Honestly, it’s a small miracle that I didn’t just laugh in her face when she asked the question.)

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Call, Cancel, Call, Cancel, Become A Millionaire

, , , , | Right | October 17, 2019

(I am working as a call center representative for an appliance service plan, in which members of the program can call in to have someone come out to repair their appliances while only paying a monthly fee. We work with a select group of vendors whom we contract the work out to and cover their costs for the visit.)

Customer: “I want to cancel the service call I have today for my central AC, if it is not too late.”

Me: “Certainly, give me a moment.”

(The customer has an appointment for later today, which I cancel with the customer’s reason.)

Me: “Okay, that order has been cancelled. Anything else I can help you with today?”

Customer: “Yes, how much do you pay your people to come out here?”

Me: *pause* “I’m not entirely certain, sir. It varies depending on the company we send and the work that is done. I’d guess that the cost of the visitation would be anywhere from $100 to $150 before costs for parts and labor.”

Customer: “So, that means I saved you the cost of them being sent out, right?”

Me: “Uh, yes, sir, that’s right.”

(Awkward pause.)

Customer: “I guess what I’m saying is, can I get credit to my account for that?”

Me: “No, I’m sorry, sir, we don’t offer credits for cancelling your service orders.”

Customer: “But I’m saving you some money, so shouldn’t I get something?”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t really offer anything like that; the cost of operations is just something we cover whether it happens or not.”

Customer: “Well, it was worth a try, I guess.”

(Sometimes I wonder if customers really think about these requests from a business standpoint. If we gave money out to everyone who cancelled an appointment, we wouldn’t be around for very long.)

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Maybe We Should Exclude Customers From The Sales

, , , | Right | October 17, 2019

Customer: “So, this shirt is 40% off, right?”

Me: “No, ma’am, I’m sorry, but the sale doesn’t include women’s apparel.”

Customer: “But it says it on the sign!”

Me: “It says that it excludes women’s apparel.”

Customer: “Why would they put it on the sign if it doesn’t include that?”

Me: “To inform you that it excludes that.”

Customer: “So, you’re saying that the shirts aren’t on sale?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, that’s what ‘excludes’ means.”

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Bags And Bags Of OCD

, , , , | Right | October 17, 2019

(I’m a cashier at a grocery store that also has baggers. It’s a busy weekend, so every lane has a line. My next customer is a woman who doesn’t have too many items.)

Customer: *to the bagger* “I’m sorry, but could you bag at a different lane? I have OCD, so I need things bagged is a very specific way after everything is scanned.”

(The bagger complies, and I assume she will just bag her own items. Since it is a small order, waiting to bag until the end won’t cause too much of a wait.)

Me: “All right, ma’am, your total is [amount].”

Customer: *organizing, but not bagging her items* “Okay, but first—” *hands me three of her items* “Could you please put these in five bags?”

Me: “Five?”

Customer: “Yes, I need every set of items in five bags, and the bananas on their own, but still in five bags.”

(I am wondering why she sent the bagger away if she’s not even bagging her own groceries, as she could have given him the same instructions so he could bag while I cash her out.)

Me: “All right, ma’am…” *starts bagging and putting the bags in the cart while noticing the growing line*

(One of the things we’re taught in training is to try to keep the fragile items near the top or in the child’s seat if it is empty; however, after I place her bananas there…)

Woman: “Oh, wait! I didn’t wipe that area down earlier; could you please put those bananas in different bags and put them in a different spot?”

(I take the fifth bag off and attempt to put another one on, but she insists that all five bags need to be replaced. After a decent amount of time has passed, I have bagged everything to her standards, but my supply of bags is low and the line has more than doubled in size.)

Woman: *finally getting ready to pay* “Sorry about that. I have OCD.”

Me: *trying to act cheerful* “That’s all right, ma’am. Again, your total is [amount].”

(She pays in cash, and her change is $2.00, but she insists on having the newest-looking bills I have. I have absolutely no new-looking $1 bills, so I get two from the very bottom of the stack since they are the flattest. She reluctantly accepts them, thankfully without a fuss, and finally leaves me to take care of the other customers. An hour or so after the rush finally dies down, a supervisor approaches me.)

Supervisor: “Hey, [My Name], what was up with that line? You’re usually faster than that.”

Me: “Sorry, I had this customer who needed everything quintupled bagged.”

Supervisor: “Was it a woman?”

Me: “Yes. She said she had OCD.”

Supervisor: “Okay, I know who you’re talking about. I’ve dealt with her before. I get that she has a condition, but if she knows about it then she could at least try to do something about it, like bringing her own washable bags or something, instead of wasting so many of ours.” 

(I completely agreed with him. Thankfully, that customer isn’t a regular, but still, you can only put so much blame on your mental conditions.)

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