Entitlement On Display

, , , | Right | February 2, 2021

I work in an art gallery, taking admissions and managing the gift shop. Last year, my predecessor in gift shop management ordered ten copies of three different books that are related to WWI and WWII, but, while nice little history books, aren’t really the kind of thing one usually gets from an art gallery gift shop.

I recommended books from the Canadian War Museum which had images from various artists focusing on WWI, especially Vimy. The timing would have been perfect since it had been a hundred years since the end of the war and many places were talking about it. Instead, she went with the three books from a local publisher; we only sold one.

The publisher gives retailers the option that one can return books for a refund, so long as it’s been no more than a year since they were ordered and they are still in sellable condition.

Since we are coming up on the end of the year since those ones were ordered, I make arrangements to return all but one copy of each to the publisher — keeping the single copies out for our Remembrance Day display — along with some other titles of theirs. Due to an upcoming expansion, the gallery gift shop will be moved to a different space in the building and reduced to about a quarter of its current space, so the more stuff I can move out of here, the better.

The books are in a box, taped shut, and ready for when the courier arrives.

A woman comes up to me and asks if I have more copies of one of the titles I have on display.

Me: “We do, but they’re in a box waiting to be returned.”

Woman: “Oh, I just know I won’t forgive myself if I don’t get a copy.”

I assume this means her friend is buying the other.

Me: “Oh, well, if you’re both getting one, I’ll gladly take one out for you.”

Woman: “Oh, thank you so much! I’m sorry for the trouble.”

Me: “No problem at all!”

I try to lift the tape in such a way that I can seal it again afterward, but it doesn’t work, so I just rip it off and trash it. After getting the book she wants, I grab the one on display and ring up the code in the computer. While this is going on, a man wearing a jacket with the courier company logo comes in, and I haven’t retaped the box shut yet. He waits while I finish with the two women.

Me: “Okay, who’s first?”

I look from one woman to the other:

Woman: “I’m buying.”

She holds out a 20$.

Me: “Oh, you’re buying both?”

Woman: “No, just one, dear.”

I look to her friend, confused.

Me: “So… are you buying one, as well?”

Her friend shakes her head.

Me: “So… just the one copy?”

Woman: “Yes, that’s right, dear.”

Me: “You could have taken the display copy.”

I say this in a “helpful” tone, trying to convey that I would have been fine with her taking our “last” copy.

Woman: “Oh, no, I never take items from the display.”

I maintained a smile, sold the book, put it in a paper bag, and handed it over along with her change and receipt. Then, I bid them a good day as they left. Then, I had to turn my attention to taping the box shut once more to hand over to the courier, all the while inwardly facepalming over the uselessness of having had to open the box in the first place, since she was only buying one copy, just because she didn’t want “the display copy.”

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You Can Trash Under My Umbrella… Ella… Ella

, , , , | Right | December 27, 2020

I work at the main admissions desk and gift shop in an art gallery.

Our entrance consists of two sets of double doors, leaving a small room, surrounded by glass. This room contains, among other things, an umbrella stand.

This umbrella stand comes up to just above my knees and is basically a metal can with disconnected line art making the image of an umbrella on it. People are constantly mistaking it for a trash receptacle, which is fair; I understand that unless you study it carefully, it is very easy to make that mistake.

I’ve tried printing out a sign with two bold black arrows on either side pointing down, an image of an umbrella, and the words “umbrella stand” between them, but I still have to dump out the odd coffee cup. Again, if you’re just walking through, I can see why people might make the mistake.

Last Monday, it was raining, so I brought my umbrella to work. This is a long, black umbrella. By long, I mean it comes up to my hip, so it’s definitely taller than the stand. I left it in the stand all day, without tying the strap around it, so that it could dry. At this point, with an umbrella sticking out of it, it should be pretty obvious that this is an umbrella stand, right?

When I got off the bus for home, it had started raining again, so I opened up my umbrella, and…

Someone’s used tissue fell out.

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Will Be Complaining For A Calendar Year

, , , | Right | April 30, 2020

I work in the admissions and gift shop in an art gallery. There is a university in the same city that has a restoration going on, and last year they were selling calendars to raise money for said project. Ours is one of the locations carrying them. I get a phone call:

Me: “[Gallery], how may I help you?”

Customer: “I saw on CBC that [University] is selling calendars to restore the building. Are you selling them?”

Me: “Yes, we are.”

Customer: “I live in [Other Province]. Would you be able to ship one to me?”

We have never done this before, and I have only been working there for a few months.

Me: “Um… I’ll have to check with my supervisor. May I have your name and number and I’ll call you back?”

Customer: “I don’t give out my phone number. How about you give me her number and I’ll call her?”

Me: “Okay, no problem!”

I give her the number, and after we hang up, I give my supervisor a heads-up about the call. Fast forward a few weeks; the following has taken place.

We do agree to send the calendar, but the payment has to be processed from my station upstairs. As we can’t call the customer to have her give us the credit card number in real time, she instead tells it to my supervisor, who writes it down, and then brings it up the next day to have it done. The card number is declined. We have no way of calling the customer, so we decide to wait it out. She eventually calls back.

Customer: “I ordered a [University] calendar some time ago. When should I be expecting it to arrive?”

Me: “Well, unfortunately, we couldn’t finish processing the payment as your card number was declined, and as we had no way of contacting you, we had no way of rectifying this.”

Customer: “You had my address! You could have sent me a letter!”

She is now clearly upset.

Customer: “This is the problem with [My Province]! You’re always dropping the ball when it comes to business! My family was from there and can be traced back!”

She went on for a bit about how it was all our fault and we should have sent her a letter, because, of course, WE were the ones dropping the ball. She was perfectly ready to give us her credit card number but not her phone number when nearly the whole world runs on phone lines and the Internet. But no, WE should have sent HER a letter.

I was eventually able to end the call with an apology and a “hope you have a nice day.” Once my supervisor came out of a meeting she was in, I told her what had happened, and both she and another office staffer agreed that the customer was probably trying to get a free calendar.

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Doesn’t Quite Get The Prints-iple

, , , , | Right | March 22, 2019

(I’m busy working on a painting in the back of my art gallery when an older woman comes in. My painting area is obvious, in full view of the front, so anyone coming in can see what’s going on between the two extremely wide aisles. The woman is somewhat shabbily dressed, but I have no judgments because I’ve previously sold pieces to people in all kinds of clothes, clean or dirty. She’s looking at the paintings on the walls and after giving her a while to look around, as is customary, I walk towards the front to ask if she has any questions or needs help with anything. The woman does not look at me once during the following conversation. Zero eye contact.)

Me: “Welcome to [Name] gallery. Is there anything I can help with?”

Customer: “Not really, but these are very nice prints.”

Me: “Well, actually they’re original paintings, not prints. I do have a couple of print bins at the end of the middle aisle if you are looking for a print.”

Customer: “Well, they look like prints to me. I should know.”

Me: “No, they’re original paintings, all done with brush and paint.”

Customer: “Right.” *smiles sweetly* “Well, you don’t really know. You’re just an employee, after all.”

Me: “Actually, ma’am, I know for a fact because I own the gallery and those are my paintings you’re looking at.”

Customer: “Well, how would I know if they’re not reproductions and you’re just trying to rip people off?”

Me: *trying to be patient and educate her* “For one thing, if you look closely, there are built-up areas of paint in different spots. As well, I can show you the back of the painting if you’d like, so you can see where the paint is on the sides of the canvas and some is actually on the back as well. I only sell prints on paper, not canvas. My originals are always in frames. I never frame the prints, they’re always in the bins so it’s easy to flip through them.”

Customer: “Oh, only originals are in the frames. Okay.”

Me: “That’s right, but if you’re looking for prints, the print bins are at the end, just down there.”

Customer: “Hmm, no, I don’t want any prints. I only buy originals.”

(I watch her for a couple of seconds more and then go back and keep working on the painting, but keep an eye on her. She never once goes to the bins to look at any of the prints or even glances my way while I’m obviously painting an original. As she’s leaving:)

Customer: “Well, thanks for the information. I really do like the prints you have up.”

Me: “… ”


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Art Always Gets A Pass

, , , , | Hopeless | September 4, 2017

(It is about seven pm and I have just walked into a museum in NYC that has my favorite painting in it. I did not know this previously, and found out after spending the day with my parents at another museum. We are tired, weary, and a tad short on funds. I approach the ticket desk to see how much it will be for one student and two seniors to enter.)

Employee: “Senior tickets are $17 each and students are $12.”

Me: *sullenly turns to my parents, who are sitting down*

Mom: “You go, we will sit here.”

Me: *turns to employee* “One student, please.”

Employee: *accepts my payment and looks thoughtful* “You know, I get free passes that I don’t use. Why don’t you all go?” *hands me three tickets*

Me: *tearfully and excitedly* “Thank you so much!”

(This was about five years ago, but I’ve never forgotten the act of kindness. I was able to see that painting with my family and take a photo with it. We really enjoyed the museum, all thanks to a kind employee!)


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