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Recovered For A Picture Perfect Finish

| Right | April 8, 2015

(A mother comes in with her children for a photo session. I’m directing the kids about with a ‘Hey, could you move over here?’ or ‘Could you stand there?’ None of the children seem unhappy, and we’re having a blast. The mother suggests the exact pose I’m about to set up for. I can’t help but speak.)

Me: *bursting out laughing* “Wow! That’s amazing! Get out of my head; it’s a really scary place, you know!”

(I think nothing of the comment, as it’s happened before.)

Mother: *tone darkens* “Oh.”

(She turns around, frowning, and begins fiddling with her phone. I set up the pose for her daughter and take a few variations of it to try and make sure I get it perfect. The daughter, a completely delightful ham, distracts me from noticing the absolute anger on the mother’s face.)

Mother: “I can’t believe you! You’ve completely spoiled the mood! My children don’t even want to do this and they hate being here.”

Me: *dumbfounded* “I’m sorry… What? Was it what I said about being in my head? It’s not meant as an insult to you…”

Mother: “I don’t care! You’re so terrible! Just give us the picture of the kids together. We don’t want anything else from you. You’re just a horrible person!”

(The kids seem stunned, and the daughter practically droops. They were just getting ready to get solo shots, something they were all excited for. If I have any weak point, it’s disappointing kids. I try to save the moment one last time.)

Me: “Ma’am, I’m very sorry. If there’s anything I could do to make you feel better so we can get the last few pictures your kids seemed to want—”

Mother: “I can’t believe you! How dare you refer them as ‘my kids!’ They have NAMES you know! I can’t believe you’d say such a terrible thing to them. I want my picture, and I want to leave right now. I’m going to speak with your manager!”

Me: “Ma’am… I am the manager.”

Mother: “Wait, YOU’RE the manager? Oh, I’m going to customer services, then.” *turns to her children* “Can you believe it? This idiot is the manager? I can’t believe someone would be so awful and stupid to hire this sorry excuse for a manager. I can’t believe they let people like you work…”

(This goes on for a solid minute. I’m too stunned to speak. I get to the point I can’t take this mothers continued diatribe of insults and degradation in front of her children.)

Me: “Ma’am, I have to ask you to leave. No person deserves this level of abusive behaviour from any customer or person. I said one thing that normally wouldn’t be considered offensive, apologized for it, attempted to fix the problem and despite this, you chose to mistreat me. You’re already seeking to go above my head to report me for something pretty minor, so I haven’t got much to lose by asking you to leave and stopping you from using me for a verbal punching bag.”

(Her husband has just arrived on the scene as I finish my speech, so she turns to him.)

Mother: “Can you BELIEVE that? She’s telling me to leave! She doesn’t have that right! She’s just a terrible person!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’ve told you to leave, and I mean it. I will call security and have you removed.”

(I move to pick up the phone. Her husband shrugs his shoulders and reminds her that they need these pictures for someone other than her. Her body crumples and her tone changes entirely.)

Mother: “Please, this is for my son’s [relative] who’s [in a very far away place]. My son is going to [far away] university and we won’t be seeing him for a long time. It’s very important to them.”

Me: *hangs up the phone and sighs* “Fine, I’m going to put something together for them. But I want you to leave once I’m done.”

(I move around to gather a CD and put their session on it. Every time the mother looks at me, her composure crumples a little more.)

Mother: *meekly* “I could pay…”

Me: *I hand over the CD* ”Ma’am, I have never, ever in my time here have had to ask someone to leave like that. That was a terrible experience to have and your payment to me is to never, ever treat another human being like that again.”


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