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Some People Are Incompetent At Just Being Human Beings

, , , | Right | May 16, 2022


My Nana had recently passed away, which would have been bad enough, but less than a week after her funeral my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so I’m in a bad state.

It was a busy day at the store. I was the only senior member of staff working, excluding the manager, and we had about four newer kids, high-school-aged, all working together with me. And by working what I really mean is running around the store, smacking each other with flyswatters that had just arrived in the product loading bay.  

I had a line-up snaking halfway around the store, had been serving non-stop for about five hours, and was hitting the assistance bell more times per transaction than items being scanned, and no one was coming up to help. The manager even popped his head out at one point to yell about the noise I was making with the bell and then slammed the office door shut. So no help there.

I’m stressing out, alone with increasingly annoyed customers, and seriously concerned about killing the electronics in the assistance bell when SHE arrives.

SHE was a regular customer. Always brash, never patient and for some reason seemed to believe we existed only to burden her life with incompetence, which also seemed to be her favourite word.

She’s huffing, rolling her eyes, tapping her feet, and grumbling the whole way through the line up.

When she was about five customers away from being served she started the running commentary: nit-picking every move I made, exclaiming in mock shock at the fact I could in fact walk more than a few steps when retrieving requested behind-the-counter items, and verbally abusing me every time I rang the d*** bell. 

I was over it.

Once she was my current customer, I had resolved to simply scan everything, accept whatever money she decided to hand over and simply cover anything she was short by out of my own wallet just to yeet her out the doors as quickly as possible. But no, I couldn’t even do that.

She outright refuses to let me touch her products to scan them and instead clutched them to her chest and screamed at me. 

I finally broke.

I started crying, ugly crying, and tried to explain the situation I was in with being the only one serving between sobs and globs of mucus now strangling my windpipe. She wasn’t having any of it. Other customers in the line at least had the decency to look sheepishly at the floor when they heard that the other workers are goofing off and I’m trying my best alone. Not HER, she just went in for the kill instead.

Customer: “Your best isn’t good enough. Surely you can’t blame your entire incompetence on your workmates? What else had you so d*** stupid today? Huh?! Huh?!”

So I told her…

Me: “No, that’s not all. My mum has cancer and is dying… that combined with today’s roster of idiots has led to this stupid situation. I’m sorry it has taken so long but I really am just trying my best, I can’t do everything alone but I’m trying.”

Other customers have awkwardly left, or muttered condolences, or otherwise shut their complaining mouths after listening to my broken tale of woe, but not HER…

Customer: “If you can’t handle your job or your emotions then you shouldn’t even be here. F*** off out of here and bring someone actually competent up to the service desk.”

Me: “I can’t… this bell you keep hearing me ring is meant to call up coworkers to assist me but they’re all ignoring it. I’m not ringing it for the fun of it, you do realise that, right?”

Customer: “Then maybe your mum deserves to die then. Gets rid of the shame of having you for a daughter at least.”

I don’t really remember what happened next. Apparently, a couple of customers violently escorted her out the doors while the rest swarmed the desk to hug or otherwise assist me. I don’t remember sitting down, or having a mug of tea made but suddenly it was in my hands and all these random customers are asking if I’m okay.

I wish the story ended there with me surrounded by the support and love of total strangers but this is the real world and instead we were all written up for playing with flyswatters, yes me included, and the customer wrote a lovely letter to corporate telling them I was “abusive to customers, throwing things around and laughing at how much time I was wasting and then had the audacity to taunt her when it was her turn to be served”.

I was written up twice and then had to defend my right to remain employed for about a month while corporate conducted their investigation. I think I still have a photocopy of that damning letter somewhere in my moving boxes, I was given the copy to read and “make adjustments to my attitude” during the write up.

So yeah… f*** you customer. The rudest customer to ever disgrace my area.

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