Return To Being Off The Clocks

, , , , | Right | January 11, 2019

(At my store, we have a policy to clock out during breaks, and a further policy not to do any work while clocked out, as employees legally must be compensated for their time. Small favors such as guiding a customer on the floor are okay, but anything at a register is strictly prohibited. I have just clocked out for a break and am still in my uniform. During the last few minutes of my shift, a customer has been standing at the service desk with a cart full of items, growing increasingly visibly agitated that no one is manning the desk. The customer sees me passing by and approaches me.)

Customer: “You. You need to help me. I need to make a bunch of returns and no one is manning the f****** desk.”

Me: “Sir, I sympathize with you, but I am not on the clock right now–“

Customer: *cutting me off* “That’s bulls***! I just saw you working!”

Me: “I was on the clock then, but now I am not. And I legally cannot do anything at a register right now or corporate will get in trouble for—“

Customer: *interrupting again* “I don’t f****** care; just go back there and do my return!”

Me: “Sir, even if I were clocked in, I can’t help you. We have to be trained in processing returns, and I haven’t been, so I’m not authorized to do anyth—“

Customer: “I don’t care if you’re not f****** authorized. I need this s*** done now!

Me: “Sir, as I’ve already said, I’m not on the clock anymore. But if you just go to register twenty you’ll find my manag—“

Customer: “I don’t want to go to register f****** twenty, you stupid b****. I want you to do my returns now. Where is your manager?! I’m going to get you fired!”

(I have been on register fifteen, within earshot of the manager’s desk, the entire time. The customer is now so close to me I can feel his breath on my face as he yells at me. I have been trying not to panic and to stay professional, but since I am off duty at the moment, I get impatient with him.)

Me: “My manager is right there at register twenty, as I just said. And since I’m not on the clock right now, I feel at ease saying that if you don’t want to walk five registers over to get the help you want, that is not my problem.”

(I walk away, leaving the customer still yelling obscenities at my back, and take my break in the fast food restaurant at the front of the store, where I have a clear view of the registers. The customer does indeed go directly to register 20 and proceeds to yell my manager up one side and down the other about me, pointing toward me frequently. She stands there smiling serenely the entire time. He then comes up to me in the restaurant and puts a finger so close to my mouth I could lick it.)

Customer: “I just got you fired.”

Me: “How are those returns going, sir?”

(He stormed out, leaving his cart and all his items at the service desk. After my break, my manager approached me, clearly trying not to laugh. She informed me the customer had tried to tell her had I cursed at him and called him names, which she knew was false because she had overheard everything, having only been five registers away. She did, however, think “that is not my problem” was the funniest thing she’d ever heard because it was the tamest part of his version of the story and the only part that was true. “That is not my problem” became a running joke around me from then on.)

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