The Phone Is On But Nobody’s Home

, , , , , , | Right | June 12, 2017

(A customer comes up to my till, places her items on the counter, and immediately takes out her phone.)

Me: “Who was helping you pick your items out today?”

(I work at a boutique that gives employees bonuses based on the sales they make. Thus, I need to know who was helping each customer so I can enter it into the register.)

Customer: *doesn’t react*

Me: *a little louder* “Was anyone helping you pick out your items today?”

Customer: “Huh? Oh, no, I didn’t even try them on. I’m in a big hurry.”

Me: “Okay, no problem.”

(I’m relatively new to the job, and still trying to get the hang of the cashiering process, but hearing that she’s in a hurry, I do my best to get her checked out quickly. However:)

Me: “May I have your phone number so you can get your membership discount?”

Customer: *no reaction, still looking at her phone*

Me: “Ma’am, what’s your phone number?”

Customer: “Hm? Oh, it’s [Number]”

(This continued for the entire rest of the transaction. She’d immediately go back to her phone after answering my questions, and she was so absorbed in whatever she was doing that I’d have to ask twice. Every. Single. Time. This effectively doubled the time she spent at the register. Pro tip: if you’re in a “big hurry,” maybe pay enough attention to the transaction that I can actually get you out quickly?)

Cut From The Mouth Of Babes

, , , | Right | June 12, 2017

(I’m quite short and petite, so many customers mistake me for a teenager and patronise me even though I’m actually 20. This isn’t helped by the fact that it’s currently school holidays.)

Customer: “I need three metres of this fabric. But I need you to cut it straight.”

Me: “Of course, ma’am. We make an effort to ensure that every cut has been measured currently and is straight.”

(I measure out the fabric and take normal precautions to ensure it is properly lined up with the ruler so the cut will be straight. The customer apparently doesn’t think I’ve done this correctly, and moves the fabric. I firmly move it back and begin to cut. She starts to move the fabric while I’m cutting.)

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but it’s impossible for me to cut the fabric straight if you keep moving it.”

Customer: “But it’s not straight!”

(She keeps moving the fabric.)

Me: “I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave the measuring and cutting to me. I’ve been working here for over two years and I can assure you that you will receive three metres of correctly cut fabric. After I’ve finished cutting you’re welcome to measure the piece for yourself. If it’s incorrect I’ll happily cut you a new one.”

(She went red and kept quiet after that. To add icing to the cake, my colleague in her mid-40s approached me while I was processing the transaction and asked me how to place a complicated order. Never assume that someone who looks young is inexperienced.)

Foot In Mouth 101

, , , | Virginia, USA | Learning | November 16, 2012

(Note: I am a criminal justice major at a college in rural Virginia. The head of our department is notoriously sexist and racist but nothing has even been done about various claims filed against him. I see him walking by with a family, giving a tour.)

Department Head: “Oh, and as you can see, we also promote diversity on our campus by giving scholarships to a few less privileged students. Most of them, like these ladies, are in the nursing program because it’s fairly easy and there is a thriving work force.”

(He gestures at two female African-American students. Both are wearing business attire. One of the women, obviously having overheard him, calmly walks over.)

Female Student: “Hello, [Head of Department], I see you are leading a tour around campus. My name is Jessica [Last Name of Major University Benefactor], granddaughter of [Major University Benefactor]. I am a criminal justice major and have been in your classes the past two terms. I used to think you ignored me because the classes were so large and I am still only in my second year, but now I realize you are a racist, sexist chauvinist. I wish you the best of luck in your future job because once I speak with [Major University Benefactor], you will be needing a new one.”

(She then walked away with her friend. Sure enough, the next term we had a new department head — a former US Congresswoman!)

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Don’t Bite The Hand That Shreds You

, | USA | Learning | October 31, 2012

(At the school where I teach, there’s a new teacher who seems to have a habit of talking down to people: students, custodians, and most notably, the school secretary. One day, the new teacher storms in and slams a paper down on the secretary’s desk.)

Teacher: “Listen, you lazy b****! This is the third work order I’ve put in about a broken desk. It’s been two weeks. Why isn’t it fixed?”

Secretary: “I just file the paperwork. You’d have to talk to the custodians.”

Teacher: “I don’t to talk to a dumba** janitor! I shouldn’t have to! I went to college!”

Secretary: “You’ll have to take it up with [Custodian].”

Teacher: “Did you just talk back to me?! I can have you fired for that! I’m a teacher; you’re just a secretary. You’re here to serve me!” *storms out*

Me: *to the secretary* “Wow, did that really just happen?”

Secretary: “Yep. He’s cussed me out twice this year already.”

(I watch as she calmly picks up his work order and slides it into the shredder.)

Secretary: “I have no idea why they haven’t fixed that desk yet.”

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Chauvinists To The Right Of Them, Chauvinists To The Left Of Them

, , , | USA | Learning | August 28, 2012

(I’m in a college bookstore looking for used textbooks. I’ve already got one textbook when I’m approached by another customer. Note: I’m female, and the other customer is male.)

Customer: “Hey! You took the book I need!”

Me: “Oh, there are other copies on the shelf.”

Customer: “That’s the cheapest used copy! I saw it earlier and I was coming back for it!”

Me: “Umm… well, I’m sorry if I seem unsympathetic, but why didn’t you just buy it earlier?”

Customer: “Because, I was running late for class! Now, give it!” *holds out his hand*

Me: “Umm… no. I’m sorry, but I’m purchasing this book because I need it for my own classes. There are other copies, so…”

Customer: *stomps his foot* “You give me that book and you give it right now! No girl can ever understand that subject, anyway!”

(Overhearing the commotion, an employee walks up.)

Employee: “Is there a problem?”

Me: “It’s no big deal. I just grabbed this copy of the textbook, and for some reason he doesn’t want to grab one of the other ones on the shelf.”

Employee: “I wasn’t asking you.” *to the male customer* “What’s going on?”

Customer: “She took the cheapest used copy of that textbook. Girls are too r*****ed to understand that subject, so she can’t have that book! Tell her to give it to me NOW!”

Employee: *to me* “He’s right. That subject is awfully hard, you know. Much too hard for girls. Shouldn’t you take the intro class?”

Me: “First, I already have taken the intro class. Second, I don’t find it that difficult to understand, just fascinating. Third, I want to talk to your manager!”

Employee: “No. Just hand over the book, little girl.”

Me: *rolling eyes* “Toodles, boys. You’re not worth my time…”

(I went to the register and was rung through by another young man who was much more polite. He *did* call the manager for me, and I explained the situation. The manager called the employee over and fired him on the spot. When he saw the other customer, it turned out that guy worked in the store, too, and he was also fired.)

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