Screen Out The Customers Offended By Screens

, , | Right | September 11, 2017

(I am standing behind the desk, inputting stock data into the computer inventory, when a customer approaches the desk. I enter the last number on the stock item – less than one second – and look up.)

Me: “Hi, how can I help?”

Customer: “You can start by dragging your eyes away from that screen you seem so glued to.”

Me: “I’m sorry? I—”

Customer: “It’s extremely rude to keep playing your computer games when there’s someone waiting to be served. I don’t appreciate being ignored.”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m very sorry you felt ignored. It wasn’t intentional and I apologise. It won’t happen again. Now, what can I do for you?”

Customer: *huffs and puffs and heaves a big sigh* “I’m looking for [Book] by [Author]. I can’t seem to find it on the shelves. Do you have it in stock?”

Me: *turning to the computer monitor* “Let me look it up for you.”

Customer: “You’re doing it AGAIN!”

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  • Will Flynn

    The crazy is strong with this one.

  • Observe

    The anti-computer ones are really annoying.

    Lady, many things today require computers; they’re pretty much everywhere. Also, if you have a newer car, it probably has one, too. Be careful; it might be playing games while you’re driving!

    (Mind you, that last sentence might push her over the edge. Might be best to not say it.)

    • Just the opposite, please do say it! And by “newer car”, do you mean any car since 1996?

      • Laren Dowling

        Yup. Still newer (although not brand new) compared to a lot of the classic cars I see on the road.

  • Lord Circe

    I’m sorry that company has moved along with the times, and hasn’t ossified in the past like you so obviously have.

    • Dawn

      CLEARLY you should use the card catalog. With actual cards.

      • Worldwalker

        Whatever happened to card catalogs? Not the concept, the physical cabinets?

        I’ve been looking for one for several years–it could be converted into a nice set of small drawers–and found exactly one, in use behind the counter at an antique store (for precisely that purpose) and they were keeping it. Libraries unloaded hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of them. A lot more obscure stuff turns up in antique stores. They seem to have just evaporated.

        • Dawn

          You know, I’ve no clue. My mother was a librarian my whole life, but we never talked about that beyond her relief that the new, digital card catalog made her job faster than ever.

          Semi related: What kills me in antique shops is seeing type cases sold or used as knick knack shelves.

          • Celoptra

            for me (who only time I ever used a card catolgue was in my early years of elementary school) the digtal ones are really confusing because sometimes a book will not be under the title search but will appear if you’re do an author search. I mean wouldn’t it be simplier to do one or the other and not both?

        • Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark

          It’s been so long since the changeover that by now, most have found good homes or ended up in landfills. Unless there’s a secret warehouse somewhere, which wouldn’t surprise me.

          My parents have a big card catalog (used to store buttons and such) but it’s been at least 10 years since they found it.

          • Moo

            A secret warehouse of card catalogues would be like my holy land.

          • Lord Retro

            Warehouse 13?

        • sakasiru

          At least two libraries I know still have the card catalogs in addition to computers.

        • Nightshade1972

          I’ve seen some on ebay, over the years. Check it out (no pun intended).

        • Anne

          One of my libraries uses card catalog cabinets to store seeds that patrons can “check out” and grow in their gardens.

        • Connie McFadden

          eBay would be a good place to check, as would etsy & craigslist.

        • Laren Dowling

          When my mom was a girl, the drug store in her town was renovating and updating their systems. So she bought one of their old apothecary cabinets (has something like 25 drawers) with the money from her first babysitting job. I still have that cabinet, and it’s perfect for organizing my crafting materials. Each row of drawers is a slightly different size, but the ones on the far right are exactly the right size for sewing patterns. I can stick at least 50 in that drawer.

      • Vulpis

        …I used to do that as a library patron, actually.

      • I miss card catalogs. :'( I would often open a drawer at random and sort through the cards until I found something interesting. That doesn’t work so well with computerized catalogs.

        • Bonnie L

          Me too. The computerized catalog is faster if you know what you’re looking for, but not if you’re just browsing. Or if you misspell part of the title. The library computer isn’t as forgiving as google.

  • Katherine Alice Thompson

    Oh for the love of…

  • Darian Sabisch

    I love I it when old people bit** at me for being on my “iPhone.” I do not own a cell phone. That is my insulin pump.

    • Phil Peligroso

      How dare you monitor your blood sugar when there are customers waiting to be served!

      • Kitty

        Shh, shh. Don’t yell at me. My insulin pump has a very sharp needle. =D

    • Dawn

      A teacher friend made a similar mistake. She worked at a well-off private school when personal phones were just taking off. The kids nearly all had them, but were not permitted to carry them, and it had been a bit of a problem all year. She told her classes that she would confiscate any phones, if there wasn’t a justified reason for them to carry them in class.

      One day, during a dead silent testing period, a muffled beeping started. Some kids giggled, so she assumed there was someone cheating by texting, and said “whose is it? You know the rules.”

      Girl in the class went very red in the face, while fumbling with her shirt. Beeping stopped. My friend realised it was her insulin pump. She apologised, then asked the girl privately if she needed to go to the nurse or bathroom to check the pump. But she apparently felt like sh*t for embarrassing that kid with that mistake.

      • Sal

        That teacher actually sounds like a very decent person. She made an understandable mistake, but then apologized, tried to make it right, and felt bad about embarrassing the student.

        • Agreed, though I’m a bit concerned that your friend hadn’t been advised that she had an insulin-dependent student in her class. Especially one using an insulin pump. That’s an important piece of information in emergency situations.

          Not sure whether it’s the school administration’s fault or a choice on the part of the student/her parents (as in they didn’t disclose to the school at all).

          • Me

            Unless there’s an IEP attached, a student’s disability can’t be spread willy nilly among a school’s staff. It’s part of the IDEA and strengthened by HIPAA. There’s no sense in letting the teachers gossip and double no sense in risking students overhearing the teachers’ gossip. The insulin pump was not an impediment in the girl’s learning so the teacher was in the “doesn’t need to know” category. And frankly I find it a bit scary that you think it’s appropriate for a child’s chronic medical condition to be talked about by people not involved in her medical care. Would you want your latest prostate check talked about by your employer and coworkers? Give her the same privacy over her own body that you would want.

          • If I pass out in a large group of people and emegency medical personnel need to be called, they don’t care about the results of my last prostate exam. However, they will be very interested in the fact that I’m a diabetic, especially an insulin dependent diabetic. Especially if helps them to realize that my glucose levels are about to drop low enough to cause instantaneous brain damage or death

            I agree that it is the girl’s right to keep that information private, even from school officials. However, as someone who is insulin dependent, I’d personally rather anyone who may have to talk to an EMT on my behalf know that important information up front.

          • ShadeTail

            And if there’s an emergency, what then? Teachers are in parental locus while students are in their class. If they don’t know what’s going on, then they might react poorly when something goes wrong. When I was teaching, I knew precisely which students in my classes had serious allergies they carried epipens for, which were likely to have seizures, etc., because *I needed to know*. And that info was given to me with the very clear understanding that it was private and I was legally bound to keep it confidential.

          • I wonder if part of the problem is that most people don’t realize that diabetes can be immediately life-threatening in some situations. They get that about allergies (or though getting that realization to go mainstream has been a long battle) and seizures. But most people are only aware of the potential long-term consequences of diabetes, such as eventual organ failure, neuropathy, and loss of extremities. The immediate, catastrophic consequences of blood glucose falling too low (and often the fact that this can even happen to diabetic patients) are less well known.

          • Laren Dowling

            Yes, I am aware of that, but an insulin pump helps prevent such issues. If it’s beeping, the student should check it, but the pump helps a person avoid such catastrophic lows and highs.

          • An insulin pump has one function: To inject insulin, which always lowers blood glucose levels. If your blood glucose is low, the only thing an insulin pump can potentially do is make it worse when it delivers more insulin.

          • Laren Dowling

            An epipen and an insulin pump are two very different things, however. With epipens, seconds matter. You don’t have time to send the kid to the nurse. You need to whip that bad boy out right then and there, and then get them further help. Epinephrine only stays in the system for 5-15 minutes, depending on the dosage and the patient’s metabolism, and then the reaction will start right back up again.
            If an insulin pump starts beeping, that’s not something that needs to be handled by the teacher. The student should have plenty of time to seek more qualified help, or at least be given some privacy to check the readings herself. But that doesn’t require the teacher to be privy to her medical details.
            In fact, that’s rather the whole point of having an insulin pump in the first place; to give a person the chance to function normally, without needing to constantly stab themselves.

          • Some diabetics have passed out from low blood glucose before they had a chance to even check their readings, let alone react to what they find.

            Yes, an insulin pump (at least one coupled with a constant blood glucose monitor, because not all pumps offer that feature as far as I know) make that less likely, but such things can still happen.

          • Heather Wells

            She probably was informed of the student’s insulin-dependent status. Otherwise, she probably would have assumed the girl was hiding a cell phone. Because she knew the girl had an insulin pump, she realized it was that when she realized the beeping was coming from the girl. Unless the pump tends to go off a lot in this class, it is understandable that the teacher would not recognize the sound of the pump.

    • Nerdman51

      Thank you for that 5 minute laughing fit! (Is that the right word?)

      • Darian Sabisch

        Yes, that is the right word

        • Nerdman51


  • Nightshade1972

    About twenty years ago, I worked at a music store. One day, I was standing at a terminal, inputting data. An older woman approached me to ask me a question. I smiled brightly and said, “Sure! Let me look that up for you.” I proceeded to do just that. When I looked up, the woman was gone.

    Later that day, the store manager approached me to ask me what had happened. I told her. She said the older woman had approached her, claiming that I’d been “rude” to her, and “refused” to help her. She had to explain to the older woman that it was very likely I wasn’t “ignoring” her, I was actually looking up the information she’d asked for. I actually did *not* get written up for that, since the store manager believed my version of events.

    • Adam Woods

      I’ve had similar. I never received a code for the registers, though I asked several times. A customer wanted to be rung up. Stated I needed to borrow a code real quick. When I got back, they were gone and had complained I refused them service. Explained that to the person who came to yell at me that maybe someone else should do their job so I can do mine.

  • Yohannes Setiadji

    How old is this customer ? She might be the typical old person who refuse to move on with time, and still expect everything to be done by pencil and paper. And to her, computer is this “new” techonological thingamajig that is only used for “playing video games”, not for work.

    • beacon80

      Pencil and paper? Them’s the devil’s tools! All work should be done like God intended! On a piece of slate with a charcoal stick! Everything started going downhill with people started using those fancy “quills” and “ink” and now I’ve heard they’re making these pencils mechanical, as if they weren’t bad enough already!

      • ahnation

        You whippersnapper. In my day we scratched it out in the dirt in front of our caves! Now get off my lawn.

    • I had a relative who owned a 1000 acre apple orchard plus several rental properties in Washington State and up until she passed away about 5 years ago refused to use a computer or even a calculator for her business, EVERYTHING was done in ledger books with pen

      • Lord Retro

        My grandparents have had multiple computers since the late 80’s as they run multiple businesses out of their home. As kids we weren’t supposed to play in the “office” which had at least 3, probably more computers for as long as I can recall.

        Edit: My grandma has passed now and my grandpa is in his 90’s.

  • Souless night

    Ma’am a computer isn’t made just to play games it’s been around for 70 years most of which it was used for military and company work mostly due to the sheer size and cost of one not everyone’s playing games on it especially when working

  • sackes

    Cust: “You can start by dragging your eyes away from that screen you seem so glued to.”

    Me: “Lady, I’m DON’T USE my computer for anything else than work related items, like to enter data THAT CUSTOMERS REQUIRE!. So what’s your problem?”

    • Worldwalker

      You may be on to something. The fact that the OP didn’t explain what she was doing, and apologized for doing it, led the customer to believe that she was correct about the OP playing games. “Sorry, just checking in the books that just arrived” might have been better.

      • kris

        Wouldn’t have mattered given the customer’s response when OP said they were going to look it up.

      • Holly

        Not sure explanations are in order. Most reasonable people see bookstore employees in front of a computer and assume they are doing something to do with the books at the store – ordering, checking inventory, etc.

        • Vulpis

          …And then those of us who know how some ‘workers’ slack off, particularly college students, wouldn’t necessarily presume that. OTOH, I would presume that they were putting the game window aside to bring up the actual search program, not that they’d go right back to the game instead of dealing with a customer.

          • Chris Blahblahblah

            I don’t know about where you shop, but the computers at checkout typically don’t even have a way to play games. They’re usually systems designed for the job and that’s it, not like a regular computer.

    • Lord Retro

      I had a customer give me the “are you coming or not” hand wave with a dirty look when I didn’t hop out of the truck the instant I put it in park because my boss had called me as I was pulling into her driveway. Same customer was also one of those who just “knew” what was wrong with their system. “well, the guy who delivered my new tv said X part was bad.” I started troubleshooting and found some corroded connectors, fixed them and then went to where the tv was and saw it was now displaying a picture. Before I could verify anything else, she grabbed the remote out of my hand and found that only some channels came in. She got snotty about how “it’s still not fixed”. In the end it really WAS the piece that she was told that was bad, but it wasn’t the ONLY thing wrong with her system.

  • Nancy Marshall

    Her idea of help was for the OP to walk her directly to the thing she needed. People don’t seem to understand that “looking it up” will shorten the search time. Oh wait…you should know exactly what and where everything is, in the store. SMH

    • Michelle Chartrand

      Way too many of the customers of the bookstore I used to work in (upwards of 1 million titles in stock at any given moment) expected me to know what was in stock, and where everything was on the spot. Sure, I’m psychic and know exactly what’s going through the cashes right now even!

    • ladypalutena

      When I worked at a bookstore, for simple stuff, I knew exactly where it was (like school reading books/popular authors, etc.). But if it was something relatively obscure or something I wasn’t familiar with, I had to look it up.

      I did get a few people who rolled their eyes and huffed and puffed with, “Why don’t you know where it is?! You knew where that person’s book was!” when the person in front of them had wanted a Junie B. Jones book and they’re wanting something by some dude I’ve never even heard of.

    • Not exactly a card catalog but I love this product (shame its no longer available)

  • Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark

    Good grief. Major chain bookstores have had computerized catalogs for more than 20 years now. (Probably a lot more, since what I’m remembering is when Borders started putting computers on the floor for customers to search on our own.)

    That’s more than enough time to notice the newfangled technology and figure out what it does.

    • Moo

      Aside: Oh how I miss Borders.

      • Kelly Luper

        I was cleaning out an old box the other day and find a Borders gift card, with $25 written on it. Sad for so many reasons…

        • Moo

          I used to go there for “date nights” with one of my best friends. We’d walk in together, say “Bye,” and wander off to our own sections for some reading time. Meet up again at checkout, and go get dinner!

          • Kumajiro

            Oh I miss Boarders. The closest one was where I got the last HP book, the only one I went to the midnight release of. It’s been turned into an outdoorsy place for rich young people.

        • Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark

          Used to go hang out there in several cities, usually binge-browsing decorating books…

          The cafes were good for a late breakfast on cranky mornings.

          • I’d to the same at Media Play, and later Barnes and Noble, would browse the classics, trade paperback comics and humor books.

            Luckily there’s still a local book store here where you can do that, and its 7 stories tall


      • EJ Nauls-Poland


    • Lauren

      Libraries have little kiosks so you can locate/reserve books they’re really nice when you want a book with a specific subject.

      • Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark

        I love library technology.

        The memory is still vivid and real, of when I moved on from my undergrad, where the university library used card catalogs, to grad school at a university where the catalog was on a computer. The search system was incredibly primitive by today’s standards, but it was so much easier than rummaging through physical cards.

  • Hachimaro

    It’s puzzling how some people refuse to keep up with technology. Mind that it often has nothing to do with one’s age: my boss is 85, she’s a very classy elderly lady, and she’s using the computer all the time.

  • Kevin Longino

    Don’t apologise for doing what you are paid to do. Educate them. If they refuse to learn, evict them from the premises.

  • Max

    Grab a set of playing cards and start playing Patience in front of her.

    • Kitty

      I don’t know that game. Let’s play solitaire! (Oh, how that game played manually led to losing or blocking myself so many times)

  • Kitty

    “You’re doing it AGAIN!”
    Let’s look it up the old-fashioned way; come with me. *stops at first shelf* Um… Book by Author… *slowly drags finger across the book backs and reading titles* Mhhh, nope. Not here. Let’s move on. *steps to next bookshelf and looks* Ho, boy, it’d be so much easier if I had been allowed to use a digitized system that can look all of the titles up within seconds!

    • John L

      She’s supposed to remember the inventory. She shouldn’t need to look it up. That’s customer service!

  • Matt Westwood

    Customer: *huffs and puffs and heaves a big sigh* “I’m looking for [Book] by [Author]. I can’t seem to find it on the shelves. Do you have it in stock?”

    OP: “Nope.” (whether you have it or not, they don’t deserve your help.)

  • emax4

    “You mean like it’s rude for a customer to assume what a worker can and cannot do, without knowing anything about their job and what it entails? Much like the way you’re behaving right now? Because my ‘video game’ has the necessary information to help you, I’m no longer required to provide assistance. Good luck finding that book…”

  • Dana Corby

    I used to love the gigantic old Books In Print volume every major book store had at the service desk. But of course, by the time it was printed it was out of date. Computer look-up isn’t as lovely but it’s vastly more useful.

  • Linda Spitsyna

    Computers are only for games and ignoring customers, duhh! Don’t you people know anything?!

  • nejg_1988

    I can’t stand when people do stuff like that. I had someone approach me while I was one the phone, and let them know I would be with them in a minute. When I got off the phone they asked about some obscure test and if we preformed it, or they had to go to a different hospital, well I had to call back to the correct department to get the answer. The patient lost their mind, demanding I call my supervisor, the patient advocate, or anyone else who might be able to take administrative action against me, because I tried to get their answer. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I would have walked to the back to find the person I was trying to call.