The Fishy Customers Are The Most Interesting

, , , , | Right | February 17, 2018

(I’m finishing ringing up a customer and what appears to be his grandson.)

Me: *giving them their order* “Enjoy your movie!”

Customer: “Want to see something cool?”

Me: *curious* “Um… Okay.”

Customer: *holds up a picture on his cell phone of himself holding what looks like a very large fish* “I caught that myself, back in the creek over there!”

Me: *not knowing what to say* “Oh. Nice!”

Customer: “He took the picture!” *gesturing to his grandson*

Me: “Good job!”

(They took their order and left. I’m still slightly confused as to why he would want to show me that. It made for an interesting story, though!)

Looks Like There Were Some Side Effects

, , , , | Right | February 16, 2018

(I am working as the cashier in the drive-thru.)

Me: “That will be $9.37, please.”

Customer: *hands me a rolled up ten* “This is how we used to roll our cocaine straws back in the day.”

(I just took the money, laughed uncomfortably, and shut the window. The girl in the passenger seat looked mortified.)

Kids These Days… Waiting Their Turn!

, , , , , | Friendly | February 16, 2018

(My husband and I have just settled in at an RV park for vacation and I realize we are out of bread for sandwiches. As it is almost lunch time, I quickly run to the grocery store across the street. I grab a bag of bread and head to the check out. A woman is currently in the process of checking out, with a massive amount of items on the conveyor belt. The two ladies in front of me also have a cart that is piled high with food. An elderly couple bring their cart into line behind me, which is about half full. One of the women in front of me speaks up.)

Younger Woman: “Excuse me, would you like to cut in front of me?”

(I look up from looking at the snacks, thinking she might be speaking to me. Instead, she is leaning around me to speak to the elderly couple behind me. I’m a little shocked, but quietly stand between them as they talk.)

Elderly Man: “Oh, were you speaking to me?”

Younger Woman: “Yes. Would you like to cut ahead of us, sir? Since you don’t have as many items.” *pointing at his cart*

Elderly Man: “That’s all right. We don’t mind waiting. Thank you for your offer.”

(The elderly man’s wife leans in and has a hurried whispering conversation with him, gesturing towards the ladies’ cart. At that moment, a manager walks up.)

Manager: “Hi, I can take whoever is next on this register over here in a minute!”

(I’m about to respond, when the two women ahead of me start arguing about if they should pack up what few items they already have on the belt and move over to the other line. The elderly customers behind me start beaming and immediately respond.)

Elderly Man: “Why, thank you very much!” *to his wife* “We’ll move to that line, sweetie.”

Me: *meekly* “Um… I think I was next… and all I have is one item, so…”

(All of them suddenly look at me like I just popped up out of thin air! The elderly couple give me a sour look as I scurry over to the open register and put my one bag of bread on the belt. The wife makes a big show of huffing and sighing the whole time. The manager then walks away, and we wait several moments, with the elderly woman glaring daggers the whole time. A cashier comes hurrying behind the register and quickly checks me out in less than a minute. As I stuff my bread into my shopping bag and quickly leave, I hear a parting shot:)

Elderly Woman: “Kids these days! No respect for their elders!”

(I didn’t realize that by politely waiting in line with my one item, I had been so disrespectful!)

Saying Nothing Really Tells You A Lot

, , , , | Right | February 16, 2018

(An older gentleman walks into the store. He looks extremely sour.)

Me: “Hi—”

Customer: *interrupting* “Pump three.”

Me: “Interesting way of saying, ‘Hello,’ but we’ll roll with that! So, pump three, $[amount] on… the card today?”

(The customer stares at card terminal.)

Me: “Okay, no worries.” *pause as transaction goes through* “…and that’s approved! You have a great day!”

(I turn to my screen to bring up the next customer, and then turn back to find the man still standing there.)

Me: “Do… you need a receipt?”

(He confirms this with a five-degree inclined nod.)

Me: “No worries. Sorry about that. I didn’t realise, because you didn’t say anything.”

Customer: *shouting* “Look: there’s no need to be a f****** smarta**!”

Me: “Um, I wasn’t. I was just–“

Customer: “I don’t want to hear it!”

(He proceeds to go on a rant as he walks out the door, leaning back to hurl more abuse as I calmly try to apologise for obvious miscommunication. Suddenly, he screams that he’ll never shop here again. It is at this point that my boyfriend, who works in the office, steps in.)

Boyfriend: *jumping out of office and running to service area* “Good! F*** off, then. We don’t want f****** a**holes like you here!”

(The man gets in his car and screeches off.)

Boyfriend: “Only I’m allowed to yell at you.”

Pace Yourself For This One

, , , , , | Working | February 16, 2018

I worked at a restaurant in my college town for several years. There were many colorful characters that I worked with in that time, but one in particular was the middle-aged dishwasher whom I’ll call “Ed.”

Ed was an enigma. He was the most frustrating person in the world to deal with because you could never really be sure if he was always messing with everyone around him, or if he was incompetent. He worked only dishes, despite every other dishwasher on staff being cross-trained on multiple stations. He worked at his own pace and did things his way, regardless of what anyone said, how nice or mean people were with him, or how busy it got. Ed would refuse to run silverware through the washer until he felt like it. It was most frustrating when we servers got to the end of our shift and couldn’t leave until we rolled all the silverware. But he wouldn’t argue with us or gripe or stomp his feet. He’d just respond to pleas to get moving with, “Oh, sure!” or, “You bet!” and then get to it when he wanted to — sometimes as much as 45 or 60 minutes after he was first asked, or after a manager finally stepped in. We were all sure that asking too often or pushing the issue would only cause further delays, so we got by the best we could. A few servers tried going around him and doing it themselves, but I know it couldn’t have worked, because no one ever tried that more than once.

No one was sure how long Ed had been around, either. He was well past the age of 40. Some of my coworkers had been there for going on seven or eight years at that point, and he was there when they started. Our management turned over three times in my tenure there, so anybody in leadership that saw him start was long gone. We asked him at different times how long he’d worked there, and we always got imprecise answers. “A few years.” “A while.” “Oh, I dunno.” There were all kinds of rumors going around about where he lived and what else he did. I heard that he lived with his mom in the middle of town, but I also heard that he lived in a crappy studio apartment. I heard that he was a PhD candidate at the university, but I also heard that he was an eternal undergrad, and even still I heard that he was only minimally involved with volunteer community committees at the university. (I never saw him on campus, for the record, but I did see his name listed in committee charters in the school paper.) The way he carried himself made me think that we were just little social experiments to him. But we could never be sure because, if that was the case, he never cracked.

I would always see him walking down the main thoroughfare through town to work. Once, I decided to give him a ride — it was dreadfully hot — and I hoped it would be a chance for the shell to crack a little. Like the naïve, liberal college student I was, I thought that all he needed was some understanding. Instead, he treated my offer of a ride with heavy disdain, though he did not turn it down, and responded to my attempts to start conversation with his typical, shallow, one- and two-word replies. I never bothered to offer a ride again after that; it was clear he didn’t want it.

After a few years there, I quit and moved away, but I still have friends and family in that town, so over the last decade I’ve made periodic visits. I often try to swing by that restaurant for a bite to eat. I had been gone seven or eight years at the time of this particular visit. All of the people with whom I worked had moved on years before. That night, I spent a lot of time at my table just looking around, noticing what had changed and what hadn’t, wondering how many people had come and gone through employment there who had no connection to anyone I had known. But at one point I glanced up at the server station and saw Ed bring up some freshly-washed glasses and then head back to the back. My jaw hit the floor.

At the register, I was paying my bill; I was being helped by my server. I had not brought up my status as a former employee to her or to anyone working there and hadn’t intended to, but after seeing Ed I couldn’t resist.

I asked the server, “So… is it still like pulling teeth to get [Ed] to wash silverware?”

The server responded without missing a beat, as she slammed the register shut, “More like a root canal. Do not get me started.” Then, in a very friendly tone, as she handed me my receipt, she asked, “When did you work here?”

I responded, “I started about ten years ago; I was here for over three years.”

“When did [Ed] start?”

“Couldn’t tell you. He was old-school when I started.”

She glanced over her shoulder with a clear look of wonder in her eyes. We exchanged pleasantries and went our separate ways. The mystery of “Ed” the dishwasher lives on, I guess.

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