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Does “Closed” Have No Meaning For ANYONE?

, , , , , , | Working | February 12, 2021

I’m about seventeen or eighteen and have just started my first “real” job in a supermarket deli. I have not yet experienced any rude or entitled customers. We have a sign-in and sign-out sheet in the deli as well as a machine in the employee break room to clock in and out; we are expected to use both. It is 10:00 pm and everything is shut down and closed; I go to sign out on the sign-out sheet but there isn’t a pen. No worries, I think to myself. I’ll go clock out, borrow a pen from the break room, and come back to sign the sheet. 

I come back and see a well-dressed customer standing in front of the deli counter, looking expectantly at me as I come through the deli gate. My hair is down, I have no apron or hat, and my handbag is slung over my shoulder. The lights in every deli case are off, half of our stock has been put away in the back room and everything else — the products, the slicers, you name it — is covered in large plastic sheets. By every indication, the deli has shut for the night.

Me: *Cheerfully* “Hi, just letting you know we are closed tonight! I’m just—”

Customer: “No, you’re not.”

I don’t know what I was expecting, but the customer’s response comes from so far out of left field that I am honestly taken aback for a moment.

Me: “Er…”

Customer: “Are you not going to serve me?”

Me: “Um, I’ve already clocked off. It’s past 10:00. The deli closes at 10:00 pm—”

Customer: *Firmly* “No, it doesn’t. It closes when the rest of the store closes.”

I stare at him for a moment, not sure how to proceed with his complete denial. I open my mouth to suggest calling a manager over, but he beats me to it.

Customer: “I see how it is. That’s fine; I’ll go get your manager.”

Frowning, I go to the drawer to sign the sheet. As I’m leaving, the customer comes back with one of the night managers in tow. The customer complains to the manager that I won’t serve him, and the manager goes behind the counter, lifts the plastic sheet off the slicer I just spent twenty minutes cleaning, and starts slicing the customer’s ham for him.

Me: *Quietly, to the manager* “Just for future reference, can you tell me what the protocol is when a customer asks for something after the deli is closed and the usual deli workers are clocked out? Do you come into the deli to serve the late-night customers? Do you also clean the slicer afterward? Because [Deli Manager] gets upset when things aren’t clean in the morning.”

Manager: “Don’t worry about it.”

Me: “Well, I need to know because if this happens again, I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Is what you’re doing now standard procedure here?”

The manager just waves a hand dismissively.

I see I’m not going to get an answer, so I give up and go to walk away. The customer stops me on my way out and asks for my name. Without thinking, I give it to him. Like I said, this is my first Not Always Right customer in my first-ever job; I am not very smart yet. 

Customer: “Okay, [My Name]. I work for [My Supermarket] and I’m going to see what the head office thinks about your work ethic.”

I never got a proper answer — from anyone — on what store policy was if a customer wanted deli products after the deli was closed. Thankfully, there were no repeat incidents where the issue came up again, and I also never heard anything from that customer. I have no idea if he actually contacted anyone or not. But thanks to his parting words, I did spend a good few days anxiously stressing that I’d lost my job almost as soon as it had begun. What a jerk.

Makes You Sand-wish You’d Gotten Pizza

, , , , , , | Working | January 29, 2021

I’m coordinating lunches for an event coming up on a Saturday. There will be thirty-one teenagers to feed, so I’m shopping online for the best options at the lowest prices. I find that the best deal is a four-foot sub sandwich in the deli section of the local big box store. It says it serves sixteen to twenty, so I figure two of those will be just what we need.

On Tuesday, I try all day to call the deli to place the order, since there’s no way to place the order online. The phone just rings and rings with no answer. I finally decide to just stop in after work and place the order in person. The young woman behind the counter seems to be totally confused, having no idea what I’m talking about.

Employee #1: “We need twenty-four hours’ notice for special orders.”

Me: “Oh, there’s plenty of time. I just need them on Saturday.”

She eventually goes and gets a laminated menu card and I show her what I want to order. She goes into the back for a minute, I assume to retrieve an order pad. She comes back with a little notebook from which she tears a piece of paper. She writes down the kind of sandwich I want. I remind her, twice, that I need two of them, so she finally writes the number two with an arrow pointing to the name of the sandwich.

Me: “I would like to pick them up at noon on Saturday.”

She writes, “Saturday 12:00.” She acts like we’re all done.

Me: “Don’t you want my name or phone number?”

I finally insist that she write my name and number on the order.

By Friday, I’m worried that the order has been lost since I have absolutely no faith in the employee who took the order, so I try to call the deli again to confirm the order. Again, I try calling all day and get no answer. Finally, I go into the store in person. I see that [Employee #1] is there, and I’m not looking forward to dealing with her again, but she helps another customer who came in just ahead of me and [Employee #2] steps up to help me.

Me: “Hi. I’ve already placed an order for tomorrow and I just want to confirm it.”

Not wanting to directly insult his coworker, I tell a little white lie.

Me: “I’ve had a previous special order get lost, so I just need to confirm that you have the order and that I’ll be here tomorrow at noon to pick it up. My boss will have my head if I mess this up!” 

[Employee #2] goes into the back and comes back with the scrap of paper on which [Employee #1] had written the order.

Employee #2: “Yes, it’s here. We’ll make the sandwiches in the morning and see you at noon.”

You can guess where this is going, right? I arrived at the deli counter promptly at noon on Saturday to encounter [Employee #3], who had no idea what I was talking about, and absolutely no sandwiches made. She offered to do the only thing possible at this point: make the sandwiches as fast as she could. I agreed to come back in forty minutes, hoping my group wasn’t starving to death waiting for lunch, and she agreed to a discount for the trouble.

I picked up the sandwiches forty minutes later and headed back to our event with them. It was then that I noticed that the sandwich that was supposed to feed sixteen to twenty people had been cut into twelve pieces, so now I had twenty-four sandwiches to feed thirty-one people. Fortunately, our group was pretty cooperative about sharing, and with the other snacks and sides we had on hand, we managed to work it out.

I followed up by contacting the store manager, who replied, “I’m sorry we fell short,” and, “I hope you’ll give us another chance.” Not likely! A different big box store just a couple of miles away has the same sandwiches for just $2 more. Next time, I’ll spend the $2.

Scratch That Customer Complaint

, , , , , | Right | December 19, 2020

I work in a deli in a grocery store. A customer comes up to the sub counter and orders two unusual subs: baloney and provolone. But that’s not the weird part of the story.

Coworker: “All right, I can make those subs for you.”

Customer: “Actually, can you get the other person to do it?”

That other person is me. My coworker is taken aback by this but agrees. As I’m making the subs:

Customer: “How would you like it if I scratched my a** and make you a sandwich?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “Because that’s what [Coworker] did.”

This time, I am taken aback. I was watching [Coworker] the entire time and not once did I see her do that. Rather than argue, I apologized and finished her order. When I spoke to [Coworker] about it, she was slightly embarrassed but swore she never did so. We never saw that customer again.

A Quarter-Pound For A Whole Jerk

, , , | Right | November 28, 2020

A customer asks for a quarter-pound of sliced turkey — 0.25 on the deli scales — which is easy enough. I slice 0.28 pounds.

Customer: *Angry* “That’s not a quarter-pound! Don’t you know what you’re doing?!”

I take a slice off, which weighs 0.27 pounds.

Customer: “NO!”

I keep reslicing it until it comes out to 0.26 pounds, which I guess is okay for him. He takes his turkey and storms off.

One of the cashiers approached me later and told me that this guy called me an idiot for not knowing what a quarter-pound was.

I’ll Never Look At Jerky The Same Way

, , , , , , , | Working | November 26, 2020

It’s early afternoon in our deli and we’re swapping out the morning hot food, which is now old and dried-out, for fresh new food. One of the closing shift guys is particularly put off by the appearance of the morning food.

Coworker: “This food looks like it was cooked in King Tut’s sarcophagus.”

Me: “Yeah, I know. Wait… In King Tut’s sarcophagus? Like they buried him with a hotplate in case he gets the royal munchies in the afterlife?”

Coworker: “Yes. Exactly.”

Me: *Shrugging* “That’s as good an explanation as any, I guess.”

After that, the employees in our department started referring to any item of old and dried-out food as an “ancient Egyptian special.”