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Talking Turkey And Hamming It Up

, , , | Right | March 23, 2023

At our deli, we have a wide variety of lunchmeats and cheeses. The prices of the current sales are displayed with yellow stickers with the current price on them over the regular prices, in large font. All of the products are displayed prominently in the front of our case. A seasoned regular will ask for [amount] of [flavor] [lunchmeat], please. Some people need a bit more hand-holding when it comes to ordering.

And some people… Well, I had this ridiculous level of neediness twice in one day.

Me: “Hello, how may I help you?”

Customer #1: “Ham.”

Me: “Is there a particular brand you would like?”

Customer #1: “What do you have on sale?”

Me: “[Store Brand].”

Customer #1: “I want [Store Brand] ham.”

She stares at me expectantly instead of providing any more information.

Me: “Did you want something smokier or sweeter?”

I finally get it narrowed down to a couple of options. She chooses one and I pull out a chub of it that was opened yesterday. It is only half gone. Think of a piece of meat that a deli clerk cuts on the slicer; that is a “chub”.

Customer #1: “Do you have anything fresher?”

Our boss, rightly, doesn’t like when we have multiple chubs open as that winds up costing us a lot of waste. So, instead of opening another one or arguing, I just show her the other ham option and she accepts that. She also finally tells me the amount she wants, and we go on our way.

A few hours later, I step up to another customer.

Me: “Hello, how may I help you?”

Customer #2: “Turkey.”

I stutter for a second and stare at her as my brain has short-circuited.

Customer #2: “I said I want turkey.”

Me: “Ah… we… ah…”

I gesture my arms wide to show we have a lot of options.

Me: “Can you, ah… narrow it down a little?”

Customer #2: “What do you have on sale?”

My brain finally fully reengages.

Me: “[Store Brand].”

Customer #2: “No, I don’t want that. I will have [flavor] [different brand].”

Me: *Internally* “And you couldn’t have said that to begin with?” *Outwardly* “And how much would you like?”

And we were finally able to get her meat cut.

Trying To Make (Gas)Light Of It

, , , , , | Working | March 7, 2023


I work in a deli inside a 24-hour grocery store. The deli closes at 10 PM and I stay on after to clean everything. I am down on my knees and scrubbing the back of something when I notice a customer just staring at me.

Me: “Sorry, sir, the deli closed at ten. We’ll be open again tomorrow at six.”

The customer just nods slightly but doesn’t move. I go back to my cleaning and when I emerge from the corner, I see that not only is the customer still there, but he has gotten closer. He is also, from what it looks like, touching himself.

Immediately freaked out and grossed out in equal measure, I run to the back and find my manager.

Me: “There’s a guy out there touching himself while is he looking at me!”

Manager: “What? What do you mean?”

Me: “He is enjoying himself watching me bend over to clean stuff.”

Manager: “Oh… Oh! Is this on camera?”

Me: “It’s at the deli.”

Manager: “Okay, I’ll check it. You go back to cleaning.”

Me: “I am not going back out there if he’s still standing there!”

Manager: *Sighs.* “Fine, I’ll check with you.”

He comes out to the deli, and we can both see that the customer has gone. I know this was a bad idea, but I agree to finish cleaning and my manager leaves. When I am close to finishing, I see the customer again, standing further away in an aisle, but sticking his head around and continuing to stare at me. He doesn’t look away when he sees me notice him.

I run back to my manager to tell him. He rolls his eyes and says I am overreacting.

Me: “Women are killed every day for being gaslit into thinking they’re overreacting. That’s not gonna be me! I am being followed!”

My manager finally agrees to check the footage (I think he was hoping I would forget about it) and we can clearly see the man pleasuring himself while staring at me.

Manager: “I’ll walk you to your car.”

Me: “Are we going to call the police?”

Manager: “That’s… a lot of paperwork.”

Me: “Are you serious?”

Manager: “Look, I’ll walk you to your car. If he comes back I will have a word with him.”

Me: “You will call the police or I am not coming back.”

Manager: “Seriously?”

Me: “Try me.”

He tried me.

I quit.

When I explained to HR why I didn’t hand in my two-week notice, they agreed with me, although I am sure they were just grateful I didn’t take any legal action against the store.

I contacted the police myself, who saw the video and traced the customer via his car registration from the parking lot cameras, which helped me file a restraining order. Some may say I overreacted, but I am still alive and I do not care.

Running Out Of Ways To Put This Deli-cately, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | February 7, 2023

I am at the deli counter in the grocery store. It’s the middle of the day, and it’s not very busy, but I am in a bit of a hurry since I am trying to buy sandwich stuff for the week on my lunch break on Monday. My boss doesn’t usually notice when I leave, so the risk of being gone too long is minimal but still on my mind

The guy ahead of me is being served by someone who is currently cutting part of his order. Another deli person comes out from their little side room and looks at me.

Deli Guy: “Are you being helped?”

Me: “Hi, not yet. Can—”

The customer ahead of me speaks up.

Customer: “No! I was here first; he’s going to serve me!

Me: “Uh, that lady is currently helping you, and you don’t need both workers for one order. I really just need one thing, so can I please just order?”

Customer: “I need both people! It’ll be faster!”

At this point, the woman serving him is done with his first item and has very obviously heard him. She comes up with his meat and asks what else he wants.

The deli guy and I move a bit further down the case, and I give him my very short order of one pound of turkey. He goes to slice it, and the other customer sees and stares at me the entire time it’s being sliced.

At this point, a woman comes up and joins him, putting some dry goods in their cart.

Customer: “We would be done by now, but some young people don’t know how to wait their turn.”

He glares at me. I let out a short laugh and almost did the whole “Okay, boomer” meme, but instead, I stop, not wanting to lean into what he thinks I am, and just say:

Me: “Okay, buh… Whatever.”

I left to check out. For a second, I was wondering if I had done something wrong, but no, that’s not how delis work, at least not in Brooklyn: you get one worker, and the other worker is for another customer.

Running Out Of Ways To Put This Deli-cately

Bad Interpretation, Worse Management

, , , , , , , | Working | January 27, 2023

I work in a large grocery store deli, which is right next to the produce department. While I’ve had experience stocking dry food and other general merchandise, right now, I’m almost completely new to the fresh food section of the store.

Customer: “I’m looking for a certain brand of white grape, and I can’t seem to find it here. Do you know if there are any in the back?”

I don’t know the first thing about how the produce department stores their product or even where specific items may be. I’ve only been told that they need to keep track of everything that goes in and out of it in a very specific way that’s different from how I’m used to tracking product in the system. The produce employees have already left for the day, and since the deli is extremely busy, I decide it would be best to direct this customer to someone who already has an idea of what they’re doing.

Me: “I apologize, ma’am, but the usual produce employees have already left for the day. However, if you go to the front desk, someone there would be happy to call someone on the walkie who would be able to properly assist you!”

Customer: “Okay, thank you.”

I think nothing of this until about three or four days later when I’m called into the office.

Manager: “[My Name], do you remember a customer who asked you for some help getting some grapes in the produce department?”

Me: “Hmm? Oh, yes, I do. Why? Was there something wrong?”

Manager: “Yes, she came to me and specifically pointed you out. She told me that when she asked you about the grapes, you said, ‘Well, the produce people went home, so we can’t help you today. Go home and try again tomorrow.’”

Me: *Momentarily stunned* “That’s… not what I said at all.”

Manager: “Well, that’s what the customer perceived.”

Me: “I’m not really sure why she said that, because what I’d actually told her is that, while the produce associates had gone home, she could go to the front desk, the nearest place I knew that had a walkie, so that they could quickly get a hold of someone in the building who knew about the produce backroom.”

Manager: “Why didn’t you just go in the backroom and get her some grapes?”

Me: “I thought of that, but not only do I not know where anything is stored in the produce backroom, but I also know that they’re really strict about how they keep track of what goes in and out of it, and I didn’t want to accidentally foul up their inventory. Maybe I could have figured it out with some time in their backroom, but since the deli was extremely busy and had a ton of cleaning left to do on top of that, I didn’t feel like that was the best time to try to figure out an area I knew nothing about, so I thought it would probably be better to direct her to someone who would already know what they were doing.”

Manager: “So, you chose to clean instead of help the customer?”

Me: “No, that’s… not quite what I meant. I thought the best way to help her at that moment was to tell her where to get a hold of people that would be able to help her far quicker than I could.”

Manager: “Well, she told me that you told her to go home and try again tomorrow.”

Me: “I’m really not sure what I can say about that, because that’s absolutely not what I said.”

Manager: “But that’s what she heard! When you’re talking to someone, what matters is what they perceive. What do you think I should do with one of my employees who told a customer, ‘Can’t help you today; go home!’?”

Me: “I… I honestly don’t know how to answer that, because that’s not what I said.”

Manager: *Throwing his hands up* “What did I just say about perception? I’m going to have to write you up for this. Next time, just go get the grapes!”

I didn’t have much else to say that wouldn’t have come off as argumentative or disrespectful, so I more or less stayed quiet and just let the situation move on. To this day, it still feels rather bizarre that a manager found it reasonable to hold an employee responsible for whatever a random customer decided they’d heard rather than what the employee actually said.

Dipping In And Out Of Attention

, , , , , | Right | January 15, 2023

I’m putting bagged lunchmeat in our grab-and-go section when a customer walks over and leans over me. When he speaks, it’s with a foreign accent I can’t place.

Customer: *Cheerfully* “Vegetable dip? It is not where it is supposed to be. Is it moved?”

He points toward the produce area. Deli and produce are two different areas with different workers, but since they do kind of bleed into each other, it’s not unusual for someone to ask a produce worker about something in the deli area or vice versa. I nod to a coworker that I’m going to the other department with the customer.

Me: “Let’s see if we can find it.”

I start to walk toward the produce area, just to have the customer charge right past me to another of the deli coolers.

Customer: “Maybe it is there?”

I completely blank at this point. My coworker gives me a confused look.

Me: “He’s not even listening…”

My brain starts to catch up, and I think maybe the customer is looking for spinach dip, which is something totally different than the produce vegetable dip, but at least, in that case, he’s headed in the right direction. I start to walk over just to have him charge toward me again.

Customer: “Not there!”

He finally followed me to the area where I thought the vegetable dip was. Right as I got there, I saw a produce worker stocking product. By the looks of things, he’d been there longer than the customer had been talking to me, meaning the customer had to pass him to talk to me. Since the worker would know more about the missing vegetable dip than I would, I handed the customer off and went back to the deli, just shaking my head at my now rather amused coworker. I didn’t see the customer again.