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Doesn’t She Know The Code Is More Guidelines Than Actual Rules?

, , , | Right | CREDIT: qatqaos | May 1, 2021

I was a bookseller for almost a decade but left for a high-paying Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five job. I loved my job. After I left, I still frequented the bookstores in the chain a lot, browsing shelves, checking out new titles, and catching up with old coworkers.

I’m in my old store. It’s in an area that has access to a number of posh neighborhoods. It’s been maybe three or four years since I left. The staff has gone through its sixth turnover, and only a small handful of employees that I worked with are still there. I’m in jeans and my university sweatshirt and I have my purse over my shoulder and my cell phone out with earbuds in, listening to metal music. I’m clearly a customer. There is no uniform here, just casual clothes with a lanyard that holds a name tag.

I’m perusing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section and one of the employees, one that I don’t know, comes up to ask if I need any help. I say that I do, that I used to work there, and that I am looking for a couple more books. I tell him what type of books I like, and he recommends a few good titles. We end up chatting more about the genre in general, about the classic authors, etc. I thank him and he goes on his way, and I’m two books richer.

I move on to the Mystery section, putting my earbuds back in, and I pick up an empty basket to put my books in, when I feel it. The finger. That hard few pokes executed by a boney digit tipped with a long acrylic nail. Then the words.

Customer: “Excuuuuse me!”

I take out an earbud.

Me: “What?”

Customer: “That’s not how you greet a customer! So rude!”

Me: “Look who’s talking.”

Customer: “What did you say to me?”

Me: “What do you want? And I don’t work here, by the way.”

Customer: “You do, I heard you chatting with that other employee over there. I need this book.”

She presents her iPhone that indeed has a picture of a book.

Me: “I don’t work here, lady. Back the h*** up.”

Customer: “What did you say to me?! How dare you?! You’re required to help me! I’m a paying customer!”

Me: “I’m not required to do anything!”

I turn my back on her and move farther down the aisle, hoping she’ll take the hint. NOPE! Instead, she grabs the back of my hoodie and yanks me back.

Me: “What the f*** is your problem, lady?! I don’t work here! I’m in jeans and a sweatshirt! I have my purse! I was listening to music, for f***’s sake!”

Customer: “I know you work here. I’ve seen you here before working!”

Me: “I used to work here, years ago, but I don’t anymore, so back up!”

Customer: “You’re still obligated to help me! It’s part of your code!”

Me: *Pauses* “Say what?”

Customer: “Your code! You have to help me, or I’ll speak to your manager and get you banned and fined!”

I’m staring now at this lunatic and then at her husband with an “Is she serious?” look. He can’t even look at me.

Me: “Fine, do it. I’ll get a manager. Let’s see who gets in trouble.”

I flag down an employee and ask for a manager. When they ask why, I tell them we just need a manager. The employee shrugs, gets on their portable store phone, and calls for a manager, who comes over. This manager was here when I worked here and is known for not taking any crap.

Manager: “Hi, what seems to be the problem?”

The woman, of course, starts her spewing, yammering on about how I insulted her, called her names, and refused to assist her. She plays no tears, just rage.

Manager: “Ma’am, please, there is no need for that kind of language or that level of volume.” *Turns to me* “Miss, can you tell me what happened?”

I give him my version, trying to hide my smirk. The manager is staring at the woman now like she’s an idiot.

Manager: “Ma’am, she doesn’t work here. I can help you find your book, but you can’t go around harassing people, be they employee or customer, even if they used to work here.”

The woman says some other foul things.

Manager: “Ma’am, you have three choices. One, pipe down and I’ll help you out. Two, keep going and I’ll have you removed and banned. Or three, just leave. Your choice.”

The woman and the manager had a staring match that lasted a good fifteen seconds. Then, the woman left with a scowl, and the manager and I shared a small high-five.

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Give Them To Me Before I Go Biblical On You

, , , , , | Right | April 29, 2021

I see a customer with an armful of Bibles. He’s heading towards the fiction section. I approach him.

Me: “Sir, please put those back.”

Customer: “Why? How do you know I’m not going to buy them?”

I hold up my hand.

Me: “Look, drop the act. We all know you’re going to put these in the fiction section because you think it’s funny. But you’re the fifth person to do it this month and it’s not funny; it’s just a lot more work for us to find them and put them back. If you’re going to actually buy them, then the checkout is in the opposite direction from where you’re walking. If not, please just hand them over so I can put them away correctly.”

To his credit, he looked defeated and handed them all over.

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“Help” Them Understand Their Entitlement

, , , , , | Right | April 25, 2021

I work in a store in a wealthy neighborhood. Three or four women come into the kids’ department with several children, all quite young. The women sit themselves down in the storytime area to chat and sip coffee. The children are running all around, completely ignored by the adults, and I am doing my best to straighten in their wake. One little girl who can’t be more than three has discovered the “Dora the Explorer” display.

Girl: “Dora!”

Me: “Yes, that’s Dora.”

Girl: *Grabs another toy* “Um…”

Me: “That’s Swiper.”

Girl: *Suddenly terrified and starting to sniffle* “SWIPER, NO SWIPING! SWIPER, NO SWIPING!”

Me: “Oh, honey, it’s okay. Swiper won’t swipe anything while I’m here.”

Woman: “Why are you talking to my daughter?”

Me: “She seemed upset, ma’am, so I was—”

Woman: “You don’t need to talk to my daughter. You’re the help.”

Me: “…”

Woman: “Just do your job and don’t bother us.”

So, I do. I go and begin shelving books, ignoring the children. In less than ten minutes, the noise is such that the adults can’t hear themselves think.

Woman: “You need to manage these children better.”

Me: “Ma’am, you’ve already directed me to ‘just do my job,’ and looking after the children is not it.”

Woman: “I spend a lot of money in this store!”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. The Dora doll your daughter is chewing on is $5, and the book she tore the cover off of is also $5. What else will you be purchasing today?”

The women gathered up their kids and left. I learned later that the woman complained about me to a manager, but the manager made it clear that my job was not to babysit. She was also apparently forced to buy the toy and book her daughter damaged.


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

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Depressing Little Fires Everywhere

, , , , , | Right | April 22, 2021

A customer comes up with “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera. 

Customer: “What’s this book about? Is it the same as the new TV show?”

I explain the plot.

Customer: “It sounds depressing. I don’t think you should stock this anymore.”

Me: “Well, it’s not up to me; it’s up to my boss. I read it myself and there are some sad parts, but overall, it’s a good book.”

Customer: “I still don’t like it. I wouldn’t approve of my daughter reading this, anyway.”

Me: “That’s completely up to you.”

Customer: “Yeah, I don’t know why she likes all these teen books. She just graduated college. She should be reading authors like Judy Blume or that one author with the book about fires. The one with the Asian name.”

She set down the book on the counter and purchased some romance novels.

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She Thinks She’s Soooo Bunny

, , , , | Right | April 8, 2021

I am restocking magazines. Two older women approach me.

Woman #1: “Excuse me, miss. Do you carry, um…”

Her voice trails off and she mumbles something.

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, I didn’t hear you.”

Woman #1: *Almost whispering* “I’m looking for Playboy.”

Woman #2: “Oh, for heaven’s sake, just say it!

Me:Playboy is kept up at the registers; just ask the cashier.”

Woman #2: *At full volume* “She’s getting a boob job!”

Woman #1: “Not so loud!”

Woman #2: “And she’s going to eyeball all the bunnies and pick out her new tits!”

The first woman almost ran away, her friend right behind her. I never did find out if she got up the courage to buy a “Playboy.”

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