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‘Tis The Season To Give Well

, , , , , , , | Right | December 12, 2022

I am handling customer service in early December for one of the larger department stores. When it’s her turn, a woman comes up and starts putting several bags of clothes and toys up on my counter; all of it looks appropriate for a child roughly twelve to fourteen years old.

Customer: “I know it’s asking a lot, but is it possible to return all of these and get it all credited back to my credit card? The receipts are in the bags.”

It’s our policy to accept returns so long as they have a receipt, though I’m slightly hesitant to accept that much back at one time.

Me: “Was there something wrong with these items?”

Customer: “Nothing’s wrong. They were supposed to be Christmas presents for my son, but apparently, he isn’t getting presents this year, so I’m hoping I can return it all.”

Me: “Oh, no. I hope he didn’t do anything too bad.”

Customer: “No, no, nothing bad! He’s the one that asked us not to buy him presents.”

Me: “Really?”

Customer: “Yep. He wants us to take the money we would spend on presents and donate it to charity, instead.”

Me: “Oh, wow! that’s really generous of him. For such a good cause, I’m sure we’re able to get you credit back on all of this.”

I start the process of crediting everything back, but since there are a few bags of items and we have to hunt through the bags for receipts, we have plenty of time for small talk.

Customer: “Yeah, we were shocked by it, but he was really adamant about it. He even picked which charities we could donate the money to.”

Me: “What lucky charity is getting the money?”

Customer: “Apparently, he got the idea after one of his teachers told him about a website that looks at other charities and decides which ones are the most effective to donate to, so he said we could donate to any charity they recommend. I think we’ll be donating it to this one that immunizes newborns in third-world countries.”

Me: “That’s really great. You have a very generous son, though it’s too bad he won’t get anything for Christmas.”

Customer: “Well, he did say we could still put some money in his college fund like we usually do, and, if we insisted on it, we could get him one present. My husband and I are going to stretch his rules a bit by putting extra in his college fund and getting him one present from each of us. And his sister is still making him something, so he can’t be upset that she wasted money buying him anything. I think that’s the most we can get away with without risking offending him by not respecting his wishes.”

Me: “I’m glad he gets something, at least. It sounds like you have a really amazing son.”

Customer: “Oh, yes, we do. He’s definitely a unique child; he does his own thing and marches to his own drum, and he keeps coming up with strange situations like this that we never thought we would have to deal with as parents, but in the end, we’re both very proud of him.”

My break is coming up around this time, so not long after I finish helping her, I catch my manager to tell her about the woman and her son. She is also impressed by the story.

Manager: “Did she say if she was going to be staying to do any shopping afterward?”

Me: “I think she said she was waiting on a prescription to be filled.”

Manager: “Great! Quick, let’s look her name up so I can get to the pharmacy before her.”

My manager apparently made some sort of arrangement with the pharmacist to catch the woman when she came to fill her prescription. My manager explained how impressed she was with her son and offered to donate some money in his name to the charity just as a way to say thank you to him. She even got the son’s email address so she could send a short email thanking him. The story slowly spread through the rest of the staff of the store — I may have had a little to do with that — and a number of other employees, including me, offered to add some money to my manager’s donation.

Ultimately, we managed to collect what I consider a small but quite decent amount of money, given the impromptu nature of the collection, to donate to the kid’s charity. It turned out that you could donate the money directly to the charity site and have them grant it to the appropriate charities, and if you did that, they had an option to send a short customizable email to someone telling them that a donation was made in their name. My manager did that and customized the email they would send to thank the son from all the staff at our store for putting others’ needs ahead of his own.

It’s been a long while since I worked at that store, but still, every December, I remember that generous kid fondly. To me, he sort of represents the spirit of giving that Christmas is supposed to be about.

Fighting Crazy With Crazy, Part 3

, , , , , , , , , | Right | December 9, 2022

I work in a pharmacy in a large grocery store. I am speaking to one of my coworkers about how uncomfortable some of the men who come to the pharmacy counter make me feel. They often call me pretty, try to touch me, or ask me when I’m leaving. 

Coworker: “You know, you’re pretty small, but if you can’t physically beat a man, you can always out-crazy him.”

Later, I am taking the trash out. In order to do so, I have to go into the back of the store which is usually empty of people. As I’m putting the trash into the bins, a man approaches me.

Creepy Guy: “What’s a girl like you doing back here all by yourself? You know there’s no camera back here, right?”

Remembering my coworker’s advice, I put my hands up like a cat and hissed at him. 

He didn’t seem scared, but he did back up. He also now refuses service from me. 

“If you can’t physically beat a man, you can always out-crazy him” was and still is some of the best advice I have ever received.

Fighting Crazy With Crazy, Part 2
Fighting Crazy With Crazy

Really Maid Him Live Up To His Word

, , , , , , | Working | December 7, 2022

A few years ago, we had a new developer who had been with us for a few months and frequently joked about how he was “too cheap” to do things. During one of our standups (brief daily status meetings), the subject of Halloween came up.

New Guy: “So, are we all going to dress up for Halloween?”

Manager: “No.”

New Guy: “Aww, you’re no fun.”

Manager: “Let me rephrase. I have no intent to dress up. If you want to look ridiculous, you’re welcome to come in whatever costume you want.”

New Guy: “I’d totally do that if I wasn’t too cheap to buy a costume.”

Manager: “Really? You make it sound like we don’t pay you anything.”

New Guy: “Hey, if costumes are so cheap, you’re welcome to buy me one.”

Coworker: “You know what? If you promise to actually wear whatever I get you, I’d be more than happy to find a costume for you.”

New Guy: “You know what? Sure. I have no pride, so bring it on. Let’s see what terrible costume you can find for me to wear.”

We took him up on it, and he actually got not one but two different costumes brought in by different coworkers. One was a dress worn by one of the characters from Frozen. The other was a sexy maid outfit, with an emphasis on sexy — even by our work’s non-existent dress code, it was rather questionable whether he could have gotten away with showing up at work dressed in that thing.

He wasn’t daunted, and on Halloween, he showed up wearing both costumes, with the majority of the maid outfit put on over top of the dress.

Me: “You look ridiculous. I can’t believe you actually wore them.”

New Guy: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ll have you know I feel pretty and witty and gay!”

We spent the next year joking about what terrible outfit we could force him to wear the subsequent Halloween, but sadly, that’s when the global health crisis hit, and none of us was working in person for Halloween. [New Guy] did post a photo of himself in the princess dress on our work chatroom to cheer us up a little that Halloween, though he claimed to have “mysteriously” lost the sexy maid outfit.

Not Mushroom Left For This Fun Guy

, , , , , , | Learning | October 17, 2022

I’m taking a test in my Biology 102 class. The last question is an essay question on fungi. I’ve been fascinated by mushrooms since I was a kid, and I know A LOT about them. I fill the space provided and then the back of the page. Finding no more space in which I can write, I go up to the professor and ask for a sheet of paper.

Professor: “Why do you need some paper?”

Me: “I’m not done writing my answer to the last question.”

Professor: “Yes, you are.”

Getting The Call Back Flack

, , , , | Right | October 10, 2022

I’m training our new evening cashier. Service and parts close at 7:00 pm and the sales department closes at 9:00 pm. It’s not unusual for service customers to pick up their vehicles after service closes. One evening, around 7:15, a woman calls us and asks us if her car is ready to pick up from service. We say it is. She comes at 8:45 when we’re in the middle of closing out. She’s huffy, but the cashier gets her paperwork and tells her the total.

Customer: “No. This is ridiculous. I never got a call saying my car was ready. You need to comp my service.”

The cashier looks at me.

Me: “Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone here right now who can authorize that.”

Customer: “There’s not a manager?”

Me: “There’s one sales manager right now, but he can’t give us permission to comp service. We can have one of the service managers call you tomorrow morning.”

Customer: “There’s not a general manager who oversees both departments?”

Me: “Not at this hour, no.”

Again, the store closes in fifteen minutes. Most of the employees are already gone for the day.

Customer: “But I never got a call, so you need to comp my service.”

I try to page the sales manager to the cash register, but he doesn’t come. I leave the customer with the cashier while I go find him. He’s currently with the one finance person on duty. When he’s done, I explain the situation and ask him to come help.

Manager: “Hello, ma’am. I understand there’s a problem with the service you received?”

Customer: “Yes. I never got a call and want it comped. This is completely unacceptable.”

Manager: “I understand, but unfortunately, I can’t do that for you because I don’t work in service. I’m the sales manager. I can definitely have the service manager or service director give you a call tomorrow morning and you can talk about it with them. I’ll email them right now.”

Customer: *Sarcastically* “Yeah, sure. I know how it goes. I work in Human Resources. You always say you’ll call the customer back, but that never happens.”

The manager pulls out his phone and begins composing the email right in front of her.

Manager: “What’s a good number to reach you at?”

Customer: *Rolls her eyes* “It’s [number].”

The manager shows her the email and then sends it.

Customer: “And who is the service manager?”

Manager: “There are two: [Service Director] and [Service Manager].”

Customer: “They’re not going to call me.”

Manager: “Yes, they will.”

Customer: “No, they won’t. I know how it goes. You always say whatever it takes to get the customer to go away. I’m in HR; I know how it is.”

Manager: “I can’t tell them to not charge you for the service. All I can do is have the service director or the service manager call you tomorrow, and you can discuss this with them.”

This went back and forth for a bit longer before the customer finally relented and paid her ticket, at which point I let the cashier take over.

Once she was gone, I got out my phone and texted the office manager — my direct boss — to ask them to please make sure the service director called the customer the next day. By the time all was said and done, it was 9:05. Everyone else had left already, but it took us another fifteen minutes to finish closing out and leave, and the manager had to wait for us to finish before he could leave.

And the service director did call her as soon as he got into work the next day, and her advisor called her later in the day to personally apologize. The reason she wasn’t called in the first place was that just as service finished her car, a salesperson totaled one of our vehicles. The salesperson broke their leg in the accident, though it could have been much worse. In all of the chaos, the woman’s pick-up call was forgotten.