Out Of Africa

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2019

This is when I was working on the sales floor of a large bookstore. I got along with my coworkers pretty well and we tended to chat during slow moments of the day. As it is with retail, we would abruptly stop those conversations when customers approached us needing something, and then we would continue it later on when we had another slow moment.

I had been discussing with my coworker her most recent — of many — trips to Tanzania and how she was eager to return, but we got busy and had to put the conversation on hold. After twenty or thirty minutes it died down again, and I happened to be walking by her and said, “So, when are you going back to Africa?” Then the phone rang and she turned her back to answer it before she had a chance to respond to me.

I turned around and saw a customer glaring at me. I asked if she needed any help and she very curtly said, “No, I don’t!”

It took me a moment to realize that the customer had just witnessed me — a white man — go up to my coworker — a black woman — for apparently no reason and ask her when she was going back to Africa without any other context. I’m sure she thought I was being a complete a**hole bigot!

I felt so embarrassed! But the woman left the store before I had a chance to explain it to her.

I later told my coworker about it and she thought it was funny. But she suggested I make sure to reference Tanzania directly in our future conversations about her trips.

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Unfiltered Story #108191

, , | Unfiltered | April 2, 2018

(I am a female in my early twenties. This customer is a man who looks to be in his fifties or so; older than my dad.)

Customer: “Hi, could I just get a bag from you?”

Me: *confused since he’s not actually buying anything* “Um, sure… Here you go.”

Customer: “Oh, that’s great! Thank you. You see, I’m buying my wife an iPad for Christmas but I don’t want her to guess what it is, so I’m gonna put it in here.”

Me: “Oh, in that case, here…”

(Our bags are pretty see-through, but we have tissue paper we use to wrap things, so I grab a sheet of that and put it in the bag for him.)

Customer: “You’re just wonderful! Thank you! If I wasn’t already married, I’d marry you!”

Me: “… Thanks… have a nice day.”

(He leaves.)

Me: *to coworker who was close enough to hear the exchange* “Yay for inappropriate compliments.”

Coworker: “Yeah. Thanks for making me totally uncomfortable after I helped you!”

Me: “Really though.”

([Coworker #2] walks over, and sees what must still be a confused/weirded out look on my face.)

Coworker #2: “You okay?”

Me: “Oh, yeah. Some old guy just said he wanted to marry me…”

Coworker #2: “What? Why?”

Me: “Well I gave him a bag.”

Coworker #2: “…of course.”

Coworker #3: “What happened?”

Coworker #2: “[My Name] just got proposed to!”

Coworker #3: “What?”

Coworker #2: “Yeah, because she gave him a bag.”

Coworker #3: “Well, sure…”

Me: “I mean, that’s just what you do, right? Totally normal.”

(I love that everyone I work with can just go along with something crazy like it’s no big deal! Some stranger wants to marry you over a plastic bag? Why not?)

Don’t Discount The Customer’s Ability To Discount, Part 10

, , , , , | Right | March 20, 2018

(It’s around the end of my shift when a customer approaches my coworker with his books. I’m not part of the conversation, but I overhear everything.)

Customer: “Discount.”

Coworker: *blinks, but scans books silently*

Customer: “Discount.”

Coworker: “Um…”

Customer: “Discount!”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, I don’t know—”

Customer: “Discount! For buying so many books. I should get a discount.”

(Everyone looks at his purchase. He only has three books.)

Coworker: “Sadly, no.”

Don’t Discount The Customer’s Ability To Discount, Part 8
Don’t Discount The Customer’s Ability To Discount, Part 7
Don’t Discount The Customer’s Ability To Discount, Part 6

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No Business Of Mein

, , , , , | Right | March 5, 2018

(On my first day of training at a major bookstore, this happens.)

Customer: *sets down “Mein Kampf”* “Don’t ask.”

Me: “…”

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We’ll Always Have The Thought Of Paris

, , , | Romantic | February 6, 2018

(I am about eight months pregnant. I’m carrying small, and from the back, if you can’t see my belly, I don’t look pregnant at all. Plus, my body is giving me a pregnancy advantage: cleavage. To top it all off, my hair and skin have never looked better. I’m sitting behind my desk, working Friday evening store hours, when another bookstore owner, who is also a customer of ours, comes in. I haven’t met him before, but my store owner tells me he’s recently divorced — and a big flirt, which is one of the things that led to his divorce.)

Customer: “I’m going to fly to Paris next weekend!”

Me: “That sounds terrific! Have a wonderful time.”

Customer: “Have you ever been to Paris?”

Me: “No, I haven’t.”

Customer: “You should come to Paris with me! I’ve been several times. I’ll show you all the sights! It’s a beautiful city; very romantic. We’ll have a fabulous time.” *sits on the front edge of my desk, leaning in suggestively*

Me: “Oh, I don’t think so. My doctor says it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to fly. I’m not even able to go to Israel later this month with my husband.”

(I push my chair back to get some space from him and stand up.)

Customer: *awkward pause, and then turns to my boss* “Are the bindings still up on the second floor?”

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