Makes You Want To Elbow Her In The Oboe

, , , , | Right | December 1, 2019

(I work part-time at a small mom-and-pop music store that sells, rents, and repairs musical instruments. I am only here when my boss is unable to come into the store. He takes an annual two-week trip in the summer every year. He is the only one who repairs clarinets, flutes, and oboes. A woman comes in with her shy, middle-school-aged daughter.)

Woman: “My daughter’s oboe isn’t working and I need it repaired by the end of the week.”

(The end of the week is tomorrow.)

Me: “I am sorry, but the man who fixes oboes is on vacation and will not be coming back for another week and a half. You can leave it with us and he will look at it as soon as he comes back, or you can bring it back in when he gets back on [date].”

(The woman turns to her daughter)

Woman: “When is your next practice session?”

Daughter: “Next Wednesday.”

Woman: “My daughter needs this done by next Wednesday. This is unacceptable. We have rented lots of instruments from you over the years and we cannot not have service. I will be coming back in as soon as your boss gets back to return the instrument. We will not be renting from you anymore.”

(The lady ushered her daughter out before I could say anything else. If she had stuck around for five more seconds I would have told her that I could give her a loaner oboe that her daughter could use while she waited for the instrument to be fixed, but I guess that would have taken too long for her.)

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You’re Not Quite On The Owner’s Tempo  

, , , , , | Working | September 25, 2019

(I work as a private guitar teacher with 30 to 40 students that I see for half-hour lessons once a week. I work as a contractor for a studio, which means I pay a portion of my lesson income to the studio to “rent” my room. My contract specifies that I am not an employee of the studio. It is springtime, which means that it’s time to re-enroll students for the fall semester of lessons. I have recently accepted a school teaching job and am reducing my hours at the studio to half. Naturally, this has caused some confusion and a parent has asked to spend the last five minutes of their kid’s lesson time discussing the new schedule with me.)

Customer: “I was wondering if you had any lesson times available in your schedule for a Wednesday next fall.”

Me: “Sure, let me check the book and see what I have available!”

(The studio owner refuses to give each of us a copy of our schedule and instead keeps a binder at the front desk of the studio which is extremely disorganized, constantly changing, and full of her personal notes. Everyone uses this binder every day, so it is in terrible condition.)

Me: “Okay, it looks like I have a Wednesday at five open. Would that work for you?”

Customer: “Yes, that’s perfect!”

Me: “Okay, let me just make a note here to reserve your spot. If you can just pay the $25 deposit, the time slot is yours.”

(The customer proceeds to get out cash and talk to the girl at the desk about the deposit. At this point, the owner of the studio — who was in the middle of teaching a lesson — comes out of her room and immediately stands between me and the customer.)

Studio Owner: “Can I help you with your re-enrollment?”

Customer: “No, we were just about to sign me up for a Wednesday because that works better for my schedule.”

Me: “Yeah, I thought since that spot is open in the schedule I could put her there.”

Studio Owner: *to me, like I should have known this already, apparently by reading her mind since this information was written down nowhere* “No. I’ve already scheduled someone in that spot.”

Me: “Oh, well, is there another spot available?”

(We proceed to go through each opening in the schedule, with the owner telling me each one is full, even though they are empty in the book.)

Me: “What about this one? You told me Friday this one is open.”

Studio Owner: “No. I don’t remember who’s there but someone is.”

Me: “Can we check?”

Studio Owner: “No.” *with a hint of nastiness to her voice, to the customer* “Look, I told you earlier when we talked about this, you can either have the spot you have now, or you can have no spot.”

Me: “But—”

Studio Owner: “Those are your options. Have a nice day!”

(The owner then sweeps off back to her lesson. I look at the customer. The customer looks at me. She mouths, “Wow,” and I just nod.)

Me: “So, I thought I had control over my schedule, seeing as I’m a contractor, but apparently not.”

Customer: “Yeah, I guess you don’t!”

Me: “Listen, I’ll give you my phone number. I may be able to arrange a Tuesday lesson if you are available.”

Customer: “Would you be able to come to our home?”

(I have a feeling that this is not encouraged at the studio, especially with the owner being who she is. But I nod to the customer and lower my voice, telling her to text me and we will talk about it. We quickly discuss a few details and she thanks me and leaves. During my next lesson, I get a text from another teacher at the studio saying she needs to speak to me urgently. So, between my next lessons, she pulls me aside in the hall.)

Coworker: “Don’t ever do that! Okay? Seriously. Never. You are not allowed!”

Me: “Oh, okay. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. I’m sorry.”

Coworker: “I mean it! Don’t ever do that. [Owner] can and will sue you! Why would you ever poach our students? That hurts everyone here! Have you done it before?”

(I am extremely done with being told off by someone who is not anywhere near my boss, but I am not the type to burn bridges, so I decide to try and get her on my side and cool the raging inferno.)

Me: “No, I haven’t done that before. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t do that. Thanks for looking out for me; you always do that and I appreciate that. I have to go teach my lesson now.”

Coworker: “I’ll look the other way this time, and I’m not trying to villainize you, but I would hate for you to lose all that income if you lose your job.” *implying that she will tell the owner*

(Now, first of all, I am a mind-your-own-business type of gal, so I don’t understand why this other teacher decided it was her business to threaten me with losing my job and being sued. But I take it all in grace because what can you really do? Later, I am chatting with the girl at the desk after everyone else has gone home. I usually teach late and am often left to lock up.)

Desk Girl: “That was crazy today.”

Me: *joking* “Yeah, I have no idea what I did, but apparently I messed up pretty bad. Let’s hope I still have a job tomorrow.”

Desk Girl: “Yeah, after you had that talk with [Coworker], she came out here and asked me if you’d ever done that before, then went through [Owner]’s desk to find the contract to show it to you.”

(Everything in this studio was extremely disorganized so, of course, she never found it. The desk girl was just a high schooler. How was she supposed to know what I do with my time outside the studio? This whole experience made me realize how crazy my coworkers are. Now I’m waiting for the text from the customer. I’ll have to explain that I can’t teach them because I was threatened by a lawsuit. I’m sure that’ll get them to resign. Now I’ve lost a customer and that income. Gotta love it.)

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When Social Media Is Unsocial

, , , , , | Working | August 30, 2019

(I am the business manager for a small music store. I am a young female in my early twenties. I am in charge of finances, hiring and firing, marketing, etc., along with being the second in command after the owner. It is a small company, so I know everyone in the store and sometimes work the retail portion during particularly busy days. We’re also a pretty close workplace, so it is not uncommon for us to hang out after work to grab drinks. One day, the general manager, the person below me in the chain of command and in charge of overseeing retail employees, comes to my office with an unusual situation.)

General Manager: “Could I talk to you about an issue I’m having?”

Me: “Of course; I’m happy to help.”

General Manager: “[Employee] came into work today wearing a slightly inappropriate outfit, and I’m not quite sure how to address it. I’m worried that me, a man in my mid-forties, trying to have a conversation about appropriate work attire with a 22-year-old female will come off as creepy and rude.”

Me: “I understand completely. Why don’t I go up to the register and check it out, and if I find what she’s wearing to be inappropriate for the workplace, I’ll have a conversation with her about it?”

General Manager: “Thank you. I thought it might be better coming from you, especially since you two go out for drinks together often.”

(I finish what I am working on and then go to the front of the store to check out the situation. As I am relatively good friends with this employee, I don’t expect her to wear anything truly inappropriate, and never by intention, so what I find is quite shocking. She literally looks like she is about to go to Coachella; she’s wearing a woven crop top that only covers a small portion of her chest and leaves nothing to the imagination, a bright, neon yellow bra underneath, and a pair of very short shorts. It’s more than a little too risqué for our work environment.)

Me: “Hey, [Employee], can I talk to you for a moment?”

Employee: “Yeah, sure!”

Me: “I want to start off with saying you are not in trouble.”

Employee: “Is everything okay? I’m not being fired, am I?”

Me: “No! Of course not! I just want to talk to you for a moment about what you’re wearing.”

Employee: “Isn’t it cute? I just got it the other day!”

Me: “It’s very cute, but it’s not appropriate for the workplace. Now, I’m not going to send you home today, but I need you to assure me you won’t dress like this again.”

Employee: “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we had a laid-back dress code here.”

Me: “We do, but that means jeans and a T-shirt are the most casual things you can dress in. We still need to maintain professionalism here. Also, we have music students of all ages coming in here, not to mention that you and I both know how inappropriate some of the male customers can be already. Bottom line, you’re not in trouble; I’m just going to need for you to agree to have your midriff and cleavage covered in the future. You’ve always followed the dress code up until today, so I don’t think it should be a problem.”

Employee: “Oh, okay. I’m so sorry. I just need to do laundry tonight and I wasn’t thinking about it and I didn’t think it would be a problem since we have a casual dress code. I guess I didn’t think about it. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. But out of curiosity, why are you the one telling me this? Isn’t it usually [General Manager]’s job to deal with little things like this?”

Me: “Normally, it is, but he felt a little uncomfortable trying to talk to a woman fifteen years his junior about what’s appropriate for her to wear, so I agreed to check it out and talk with you if I agreed with his initial thoughts.”

Employee: “Okay, that makes sense.” *laughs* “Yeah, that definitely would have felt a little creepy.”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve known him long enough to know he wouldn’t have meant anything by it, but you have only been here a few months, so we didn’t want to make it weird.”

(The rest of the quick conversation is uneventful; we happily discuss getting drinks the next day after work, and then we both go back to our respective tasks. Later that night, I’m scrolling through Facebook and see a post from the employee from earlier.)

Employee’s Post: “I’m so fed up with how working conditions are these days! Like, my creepy old male employer had the nerve to try to tell me how to dress today, and then tried to imply that if I dress in a way that he finds inappropriate that I’d be inviting men to harass me, which would then be my fault for my attire. I’m so tired of slut-shaming in today’s society and how we victim-blame. It’s disgusting and wrong. I should be able to dress however I want without being judged or having to worry I’ll be assaulted.”

(She has my store as her employment in her bio, so I’m immediately worried by the false implications she’s throwing against my store. I’m reading through the comments and I see a lot of outrage and people agreeing with her. Being her friend — and boss — I decide to comment myself:)

My Comment: “[Employee], I’m terribly sorry that the conversation you had with me, your 23-year-old female employer, went so negatively in your mind today. I was under the impression it had gone well since you and I agreed to get cocktails tomorrow night. I also know that your older male GM had to leave right before our conversation today, since he had to pick his son up from school. So, if you could just privately message me which employee had this conversation with you, I’d be happy to follow up on it, because what you described is not behavior we condone at [Store]. I agree with you that no woman should ever have to worry that what she wears could open men up to believing she is deserving of assault. I agree that society is not painting assault victims in a pretty color at the moment and that there needs to be a change in our society. However, we at [Store] do not condone slut-shaming, victim-shaming, or strict dress codes. We always stand up for our employees’ desire to express themselves through their unique attire, so long as it is workplace appropriate. Unfortunately, I have to say that your macrame crop top and neon yellow bra combination just didn’t feel workplace appropriate for our store. We did not send you home to change, we did not write you up for an infraction, and we did not in any way bully, shame, or punish you for your choice of outfit today. I simply asked that you not repeat this outfit or anything similarly revealing. I also wanted to remind you that last week when a customer got particularly brazen and started to cross the line with you, we had GM escort the man outside and wait with him until the police arrived, as we had every intention of having him arrested for harassment for how he acted and the things he said to you. We have always taken our employee’s sides when it comes to harassment and will never condone that kind of inappropriate behavior. I’m terribly sorry if you were given the wrong impression today during our conversation. Please reach out to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss anything further.” 

(When I woke up the next morning I had 15+ notifications from Facebook. When I checked, it was people either liking or commenting on my response. By the time I went in to work that morning, she had pulled down the post as the comments had all shifted from her side to mine.  She avoided me for her entire shift that day and we did not go out for drinks after work, either. She later apologized and we remained friendly during her time working for my store. It wasn’t until a few months later that she had to be fired for starting an affair with a married coworker — not the general manager! — trying to steal music students to teach privately, and for baiting customers into having heated arguments with her so that it would look like the customer was verbally attacking her and the general manager would escort them out. All of this happened during her final week, so I guess she wanted to go out with an eventful bang of a week.)

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Guitar Stringing You Along

, , , , , | Right | April 26, 2019

(We’ve had a new customer come into our guitar store three to four times a week, usually for around thirty minutes each time. He always goes directly into the room with the most expensive guitars, shuts the door, and starts playing one of the most expensive electric guitars we have. Keep in mind, this is around a $15,000 guitar he’s playing. He always plays the same expensive, vintage guitar. As would be expected in a retail store, either my coworker or I always go to check on the man and ask if he has any questions about the guitar. He is usually very polite and declines our help, before continuing to play again without waiting for our response. After five visits from this gentleman in less than two weeks, we genuinely believe he is very seriously contemplating purchasing this expensive guitar, so we attempt to be more proactive and check on him every five minutes to try to make the sale. However, rather than his usual polite response to our assistance, this time the gentleman cranks the amplifier as loud as it can possibly go and begins playing the guitar at deafening volume in response to our questions. Not wanting to also be rude, I leave the customer and close the door. After five minutes of this loud playing, we’ve had two calls from the stores next to us complaining about the noise, which we’ve never, ever had a complaint about before. I go into the room to calmly ask the customer to lower the volume, which I have to literally shout at the man. He glares at me and turns up the volume on the guitar itself, which raises the volume to levels so loud I cannot think. I quickly run over to the amplifier and turn it off.)

Customer: “What the h***? Why do you keep f****** bothering me?”

Me: “Sir, I’m sorry, but I cannot allow you to continue to play at this volume. We’ve had complaints from other stores, not to mention that we cannot hear the phone ring. You are more than welcome to keep playing this guitar, but you’ll need to keep the volume at a much lower setting.”

Customer: “Man, f*** that! I come in here all the time and this is the service I get?!”

Me: “Sir, again, I am very sorry, but we cannot have our customers playing the guitar so loud that it bothers other customers and the businesses next door.”

Customer: “I don’t give a f*** what those people think! You are offering a service here and I am using it! Screw what those other people think! I am having a bad day and I just wanted to come here and let out some steam without anyone f****** bothering me every five minutes.”

Me: “I’m sorry you’re having such a bad day. I know you’re really interested in this guitar, but the only situation in which you’ll be able to play it as loudly as you were is if you were to take the guitar home with you.”

Customer: “Seriously? I can take it home? Why didn’t you guys tell me that the first d*** time I came in here? This is horrible service!”

Me: “I’m so sorry about that, sir. I would have assumed that it would be a given that you can take our guitars home if you decide to purchase them.”

(The customer has already begun to gather his things and unplug the guitar, but stops when I finish my sentence, looking at me like I’m insane.)

Customer: “Purchase them?! What the f*** kind of place is this?!”

Me: “A guitar store…”

Customer: “No, it’s not! This is one of those places where you can go and play guitar as much as you want for free!”

(Now it’s my turn to look at him like he’s insane.)

Me: “Those places don’t exist.”

Customer: “Yes, they f****** do! That’s why I come here so much! You all let people play guitars without having to buy them!”

Me: “Well, while we do allow people to test out guitars here, our main goal is to sell them. That’s why each guitar has a price tag dangling off it.”

Customer: “No, those are to tell you information about the guitar.”

Me: “There’s a price on each tag, as well as a barcode.”

Customer: “That’s just so you know the value of the guitar. Dumb b****. I can’t believe they hire such idiots here.”

Me: “Sir, how do you think we stay in business if we don’t sell the guitars?”

Customer: “You sell s*** like strings and pedals and crap. Now, grab me the case for this f***er so I can take it home like you said.”

Me: “Sir, I’m sorry that you had the wrong idea about this place, but we are in fact a store. That guitar in your hand is for sale. I cannot let you leave with it without you paying for it first.”

Customer: “Fine, if it’ll get you to shut up! Jesus, how much can this piece of s*** guitar cost?”

(I show the customer the price tag, which reads $14,950; this causes the customer to go bug-eyed.)

Customer: “I am not paying that much for this piece-of-s*** guitar, you money grabbing w****! This guitar has been played! It isn’t new! See, it even has a scratch right here!”

(He points to the smallest scratch right behind the strings, which honestly wasn’t there before.)

Me: “Huh, I haven’t seen that scratch before. But since you’re the only one who has played this guitar since it came in three weeks ago, I cannot discount a guitar for any damage you may have personally done to it.”

Customer: “You f****** b****! How could you possibly know I’m the one who did this?! Maybe it was you with your fat fingers! I will pay you no more than $500 for this worthless junk.”

Me: “Well, sir, being that I’m the manager of this store, who is not only here every day we’re open, but also photographs every single guitar when it comes in so we can list them online, I’m pretty sure I have a fairly good idea of whether or not a guitar has a scratch on it.”

Customer: “Why, you little b****! No one would ever hire you as the manager. You’re just a stupid little girl. Now, you’ll give me this guitar for $400 or I’m walking out of here right now. Actually, f*** that. I’m leaving now, and you can’t stop me.”

(The customer pushes me aggressively hard onto the ground and takes off for the door. Luckily, one of our regulars, a decorated police officer, walks in the door right as the customer makes a break for the door with the guitar in his hand.)

Officer: “What’s going on here?”

Me: “Stop him!”

(The officer grabs the man by the collar with one hand and grabs the guitar out of his hand with the other. The officer has about seven inches and 75 pounds on the guy, so there is no issue when the customer tries to put up a struggle. The officer has him subdued in seconds. The officer hands me back the guitar as he cuffs the man, who all the while keeps yelling at the officer.)

Customer: “But the guitars are supposed to be free here!”

(The next time the officer came in, we had a box of donuts waiting for him. Apparently, the customer he arrested had tried this in several guitar shops throughout the region, refusing to believe that any of them actually SOLD the guitars in their shops. He had caused $4,500 worth of damage in one shop, which had caused a warrant for his arrest. We ended up filing a police report, as well, for a fair amount of money, as he put a huge ding on the front of the guitar when he tried to make a break for it, lowering the value of the guitar by about $3,000. It may seem insignificant, but the smallest of dings on an expensive, vintage guitar can lower the value drastically. The customer also broke my wrist when he threw me to the ground, so we filed for my medical bills. Thankfully, he was sentenced to three years in prison for a slew of charges, all of which seemed to involve guitar shops and assault.)

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Should Have Said A Million Dollars

, , , , | Right | April 15, 2019

(In the music store where I work, there is a bass hung up on the wall of one of our demo rooms. It’s a really random, oddball custom job that one of our former employees had put together for himself before moving away, and he never picked it up or had it sent to him. My boss has decided to hang it up simply for decoration with a sign that says, “NOT FOR SALE.” A couple of guys are demoing a guitar in the room, and when they come out, this exchange happens.)

Customer: “What’s the most expensive guitar you guys have?”

Me: “Probably the Taylor in the case, which is over $4000.”

Customer: “What about that bass in the room over there?”

Me: “Which one?”

Customer: “The one that says, ‘Not for sale.’”

Me: “Um… It isn’t for sale.”

Customer: “But how much is it?”

Me: “It has no price, because it’s not for sale.”

Customer: “Oh. Okay. Thanks.” *leaves*

Me: *turning to my coworker* “What exactly does ‘not for sale’ usually mean? Am I missing something?”

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