Slowly Disappear Into The Night  

, , , | Right | January 21, 2020

In the early 2000s, I worked at a donut and coffee shop to pay for college. It was an easy job with good management and coworkers. It was in a small town so I knew most of the patrons and it wasn’t really far from home. I worked the “night shift” from six to midnight all by myself — which, in retrospect, was not the safest work environment for a sixteen-or-so-year-old student but what do you know, I was naive and needed the money. I loved that shift because, after the dinner rush, it was basically dead for the rest of the night and I could do my homework in the back while getting paid. The owner was also pretty laid back and, as long as everything was clean and done, he could not care less about what we did with our time. Pretty sweet deal.

This particular night started like any other: slow and uneventful. I had already cleaned the bathroom and kitchen when, maybe an hour before closing, I had a small rush at the drive-thru. It was nothing I couldn’t manage and everything calmed down with enough time to finish my closing duties. So, off I went doing just that: emptying the garbage cans, throwing out the remaining donuts and coffee, cleaning the prep area, sweeping and mopping, and closing the lights in the bathroom.

I was almost done when I remembered I’d forgotten to get the garbage bag in the bathroom so I opened the door, held it open with one foot so I could see what I was doing because it was dark. Then, I got a phone call from my boyfriend. He had just finished work and was on his way home, not too far from my workplace. He asked me to spend the night and, not having anything to do except another shift at work the next night, I said yes. At the time, not many people had cell phones. My dad and I had those old flip-phones and we rarely used SMS because it was quite expensive. This time, I decided to send one to my dad to tell them I was staying at my boyfriend’s — not a problem for my parents as long as I warn them — since it was late and I didn’t want to wake them up with a regular phone call. I also decided to leave my work clothes in the back because I would not have time to wash them before my next shift.

Finally, I was done. I clocked out, locked the back door, turned off the remaining lights, set the alarm system, and locked the front door. I left, got to my boyfriend’s, watched the beginning of a movie, and went to sleep. 

I’d been asleep for only a few minutes when we heard the phone ringing in the house. My boyfriend’s mother came to tell me it was for me. Weird. It was my dad and he says he was relieved to see I was okay. I told him I’d left him a text to avoid waking him. He hadn’t thought of checking his phone, but he asked me to please call my boss right away. I started to panic a little, wondering what the heck had happened.

When I reached my boss, he really seemed happy to know I was okay and simply told me that we’d talk tomorrow when I came in. As you can imagine, I was not able to sleep that night, wondering what that was all about.

The next day, I came in and everyone laughed when they saw me. They put me in the office in front of the security cameras and told me to watch yesterday’s footage. I saw myself work, and then the rush, and myself leaving. I was perplexed. I didn’t understand what the problem is. My boss said, “Wait for it.” Another hour went by on the tape and we saw a frail old man exiting the bathroom. Yes… someone was still in the shop when I closed!

We could actually see him coming through the door during the rush hour, an hour before closing, and walking to the bathroom. Even during the closing, and after I turned off the lights in the bathroom, no sign of him. No sign when I went back for the garbage can, either! So, yeah, that guy stayed two hours in the bathroom, doing God knows what — everything was clean when we checked — in the dark. Then, we could see him exit the bathroom and sloooooowly walk in the direction of the front door. He was so slow, it was painful. We saw the alarm system being triggered and the lights flashing but the man did not seem to care. He finally got to the doors and tried opening them. They were closed. He shrugged. He then walked back — oh-so-slowly — to the counter, got behind it — without touching anything — and went to the door to the kitchen. We then followed him on the camera through the kitchen, then the back storeroom, and finally to the back door. He removed the metal bar blocking the door — how he managed to raise it with such ease is beyond me — and off he went, never to be seen again.

When the police got there, they found the back door open and my clothes still in the back, and they feared for me. Once they saw the footage, they were left with a lot of questions. We never heard from the guy, and nobody knew him. Maybe it was a ghost…

Since then, the employee book has mentioned, in bold letters, to check every stall in the bathroom before closing and the boss always takes the time to explain to every new employee why, laughing at me the whole time.

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Wish You Could Shelve That Conversation Away

, , , | Right | January 21, 2020

(I am on book-shelving duty in between very tall shelves. My book cart is a few feet away. Right when I have a large armful of heavy books, a customer comes up behind me and startles me into nearly dropping everything. The customer, a man around thirty, doesn’t seem to notice me fumbling desperately and just barely managing to keep the stack of books in my arms, but immediately starts rambling in my direction without waiting for me to acknowledge him.)

Customer: “Hello! I’m looking for children’s books! The children’s books I’d like are—” *blah, blah, blah*

(He goes on rambling extensively and at very high speed, while I try to keep my books from falling.)

Customer: “Yes, I’m looking for children’s books because–” *much rambling* “—and the children’s books I’m looking for are meant for my [Relative]… And the children’s books I’m looking for should preferably be about musical instruments! Because—” *long and convoluted explanation of why*

(I really want to put my books down, as they are getting heavier by the second, but it seems unacceptably rude to turn my back on a customer or step several feet away to the cart. But I think, “Surely he’ll stop speaking soon! A person can’t really ramble non-stop this way for much longer!”)

Customer: “And the children’s books I’m looking for, which should preferably be about musical instruments, should preferably be about guitars! Or pianos! And the children’s books I’m looking for, which should preferably be about musical instruments, and preferably be about guitars! Or pianos! These books should preferably be of [length]! Or [other length]! And they should preferably be [size]! Or [other size]! And I need these books for [Relative]! And I need these books about musical instruments, preferably about guitars! Or pianos, because—” *several minutes more of rambling about the details of the irrelevant reasons why he decided on these types of books as a gift*

(I am quietly boggling at him in shock while my arms have turned to lead, about to fall off from the strain. I try to open my mouth to interrupt him several times, but it’s clear he’s paying me no actual attention and it would be impossible to get a single word in without raising my voice – which I’m not willing to do with a customer.)

Customer: “And I need these books about musical instruments; preferably about guitars! Or pianos, to be preferably with [type of font], or maybe [other type of font], and I’d prefer them to have [amount] of illustration!”

(As I continue to stand staring at him in bafflement and despair, my arms now hurt so much I feel I’m just shy of having sweat falling down my face.)

Customer: “…and so I need these kinds of books! Children’s books! About musical instruments! Preferably guitars! Or pianos!”

(He’s finally wound down and has now deigned to look me properly in the face. Through great effort, I don’t make any overt expressions or say anything nasty to him. Silently, I step a foot away and find a space on a shelf to finally set down my armful of books, then unobtrusively take a deep breath to calm down and turn back to him.)

Me: *with a stony expression and voice* “Sir, you can go right over there, to the front counter, and ask one of the employees at the registers for help. They can assist you with finding the books you’re looking for.” 

(I point at the registers about twenty feet away, around the corner from the bookshelves. The very large, square register counter is in the front of the store, next to the entrance doors, with multiple other employees behind and around it. The customer has to have passed right by it when coming in, chosen not to ask anyone there for help, and instead hunted me down deep among the bookshelves, where I was very clearly performing shelving duty, and proceeded to rant at me for nearly ten minutes. And no, I’m not even really retaliating or just getting rid of him; I know nothing about books in the kids’ section and one of my coworkers up front is an expert.)

Me: *staring at him while standing very still and blank-faced* 

Customer: “Oh. Right.” *looks at me for a beat, then goes off to the front*

(I saw him a few minutes later going toward the children’s section with my coworker and rambling the same endless spiel at her.)

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Don’t Bank On Them Coming Back  

, , , , , | Right | January 21, 2020

(My coworker has just finished scanning and bagging a customer’s groceries, which have all been stacked into his trolley. The customer goes to pay, but it doesn’t work. At first, he seems quite nice about it. I am watching from the register opposite.)

Customer: “This is a new card. Maybe it hasn’t been activated yet. I’ll just run down to the bank and check.”

(The bank chain in question has a location in the same shopping centre as my store, and is about a two-minute walk away. It’s not unheard of for cards to not work and for customers to run down to the bank to sort it out. They’re rarely gone longer than 15 or 20 minutes before they come back and pay.)

Coworker: “No worries. I can save your transaction and you can pay when you get back. You are coming back, right?”

Customer: *suddenly very stern and angry* “No!”

(And with that, he marched out of the store, leaving my coworker speechless and with a trolley stacked high with groceries to deal with.)

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Crazy Data Hater

, , , | Right | January 21, 2020

(We sell software at the store I work in — basic stuff like Office, antivirus, OS, and the like. Now, one thing to note is that the boxes don’t contain disks anymore, just a single code that you register on a website. During a normal day, I’m working the register with a coworker. While I’m busy with another customer, I notice a couple entering and coming up to the register that my coworker is manning. This is the conversation that follows:)

Customer: “Hi, I want to buy a copy of [antivirus software]. But can I see the code first?”

Coworker: “Sorry, I can’t show you the code until you buy it.”

Customer: “But I want to compare it to the previous code; I want to make sure it’s a 2018 version and not a 2017.”

(Mind you, the software doesn’t come in a yearly version; as long as you have a subscription it stays up-to-date.)

Coworker: “I can assure you, it’s unique. Barring misprints, they have to be unique to confirm that the customer bought one.”

Customer: “I WANT TO SEE THE CODE!”

Coworker: *calmly* “And I said I can’t show you until you buy it. Tell you what; if by some miracle it doesn’t work, I’ll give you a refund.”

Customer: “Fine, I’ll take it.”

Coworker: *cheerful* “Lovely! Can I have your name, please?”

Customer: “It’s [Customer].”

(Like most systems, you can enter a few letters in our system and get a list of all the names that match.)

Coworker: “Right, I got a [Customer] living in [Street #1] and a [Customer] in [Street #2]. Which one were we?”

Customer: *basically smashes her finger in the screen* “WHO’S THAT? WHY IS SHE ON MY SCREEN!” *yes, her exact words*

Coworker: *taken aback* “Uh, that’s someone who just shares the first three letters of your name.”

(At this point, I have to go in the back, so I don’t get the rest. I do hear agitated voices, so I can only imagine what’s happening. An hour or so later, the store phone rings and I pick up.)

Me: “Hi, this is [My Name] at [Store]. How can I help?”

Customer: *angrily* “Who was that on my screen?”

Me: “I’m sorry, is your screen broken or…?”

Customer: “NO! I WANT TO KNOW WHO’S ON MY SCREEN!”

Me: “I… wha…. OH! Yeah, I get what you mean. You were in the store about an hour ago, right? Yeah, like my coworker said, it’s just someone who shares the first three letters of your name. Nothing to worr—”

Customer: “Where do they live?!”

Me: “I… I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that due to privacy reasons.”

Customer: “THEN DELETE THEM!”

Me: *getting slightly ticked off at this point* “Again, I can’t do that without their permission. Anything else?”

Customer: “GOD D*** IT! DO IT NOW OR I WILL CALL THE GDPR RIGHT NOW!”

(Yes, she is going to call a regulation. Not an office, but a rule.)

Me: “No, goodbye.”

(A day or two later:)

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] at [Store]. What can I do for you?”

Customer: “I want you to remove my name from the GDPR.”

Me: *recognising the voice* “Oh. Right. You’ll have to call—”

Customer: “Because you guys are from the FBI and are selling the info to the CIA!”

Me: “Okay, look. I’m getting tired of this. If you want to rescind your GDPR approval, contact [Boss’s email]. Unless there is anything else, I’m hanging up.”

Customer: “I’M NEVER SHOPPING THERE AGAIN!”

Me: “Glad to hear that, ma’am. You have a lovely day!” *hangs up*

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Occupied With Entitlement

, , , , | Friendly | January 20, 2020

(I am scheduled for a late flight, and I decide to use the restroom while waiting for the flight to board. When I get into the restroom, it is empty except for one stall on the far end. So, I head into the nearest stall. As I am closing the door, a man speaks up from the stall on the far end.)

Man: “Occupied!”

(I figured that me closing the door must have shaken his door or something, so I don’t think more on it and sit down to do my business. A few moments later, he speaks up again.)

Man: “I said occupied!”

(I’m kind of confused, thinking maybe he wants an apology? That would be too awkward for me, so I just decide to ignore him. After a couple more moments, I hear a loud grunt, and the sound of his stall door banging open. He stomps over and pounds on my stall’s door.)

Man: “I said occupied!

Me: *shouting a bit in surprise* “Well, this one wasn’t!”

(The man gave an odd, gargling growl, and then ended up stomping out of the restroom. No sound of him washing his hands. I’m sorry that you have “performance anxiety” or whatever was your problem, but you don’t get to expect to have a public restroom with four stalls all to yourself.)

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