Right Working Romantic Related Learning Friendly Healthy Legal Inspirational Unfiltered

The Nightmare Before X. M. A. S.

, , , , , , | Right | December 21, 2020

I’m working holiday retail in a fancy-shmancy accessory and “lifestyle” store in lower Manhattan. 

One of our services is that if you buy a journal, we will imprint three — and no more! — characters on it for free, using an old-fashioned, hand-operated imprinting press. Once a journal has been imprinted, it cannot be changed, and if the customer rejects it, we have to mark it as “damaged” and make them a new one. The imprint doesn’t take very long to do, but given that there are six journal covers, two font sizes, and eight color options, and the imprint can be made anywhere on the cover, it’s one of those things that are best done in person.

The following call happens thirty minutes before we close.

Customer: “Hello? I’d like to purchase three journals and have them imprinted. I’ll come by at 6:45 and pick them up.”

Me: “All right, ma’am, but I should inform you that we close at seven, and the journals are best selected in person to be sure that you get exactly what you want.”

Customer: “I don’t care about that. Get me three journals.”

Me: “Do you want regular or large, and grid paper, plain paper, or ruled?”

Customer: “Regular and ruled.”

Me: “All right.”

I rattle off the color options for the journals.

Customer: “Just… black! Make them black!”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. Now, about the color of the imprint—”

I list the colors we have available, none of which are true white.

Customer: “White. I want true white.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but we don’t carry true white. The closest we have is a cream color.”

Customer: “What color is that?”

Me: *Pause* “Like an off-white, or an ivory.”

Customer: “Ugh, fine.”

Me: “Now, what letters do you want on the journals? We only take three characters, including punctuation and spacing.”

Customer: “I want ‘ABC,’ ‘A.B,’ and ‘X.Y’. Do the first two in gold and the last one in white.”

Me: “I’ve written it down. Now, where would you like the imprints to be made?”

Customer: “Why so many questions? Can’t you just do it?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, I’m just trying to make sure you get what you want. If it helps, most people put the imprint on the bottom right corner or in the dead center of the journal.”

Customer: “Put the first two in the bottom right corner and the last one in the center.”

Me: “The dead center?”

Customer: “Yes, the dead center.”

Me: “Thank you for your patience, ma’am; that’s all I need.”

I ring her up via the phone and then take my written notes on the items she wants over to the imprinting machine, and I quickly make sure all of the imprints are completed. Then, at 6:50, she comes bustling in and demands to see the journals, which I take out of their decorative bag to show her.

Customer: “These two are okay, but this last one is all wrong. I said I wanted true white!”

Me: “We don’t carry true white, I’m afraid. We carry cream, which is what I put, because it’s the closest to white.”

Customer: “I also told you I wanted it to say, ‘X.Y.’!”

Me: “Ma’am, we don’t typically go beyond three characters for our imprinting because we’ve found it damages the journals, but I’ll make an exception just this once.”

I redo the impression, which requires a whole new journal and for me to reload the press. Around me, my colleagues are sweeping up and closing the shop for the night. I finish and hand over the completed journal.

Customer: “No, this is still wrong! People like you are why Christmas is always a nightmare. I’m trying to get gifts for everyone at my office, and this one is supposed to be for the head creative director! I had all of them done at [Other Location] except these three, and this one is the most important! I just forgot about it until now!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but what’s wrong with this one?”

Customer: “I said I wanted this in the center! You put it here in the middle!”

I have put the initialing exactly where we agreed, in the dead center of the journal. She indignantly jabs her finger into the center… at the bottom of the cover.

During this time, my colleagues are walking out the door for the night, which has already locked because it’s past seven. My manager turns out the lights in the back and closes down the registers, leaving just me and this customer and the imprinting machine, which I will have to clean and turn off by myself. She seems to notice absolutely none of this and continues to rant.

Me: “Let me get another one, and I’ll redo it.”

Customer: *Sniffy voice* “I don’t know what’s so hard about three letters.”

At this point, this was technically four characters, but I bit my tongue.

I grabbed another journal from the dark back area, came back, unwrapped it, and re-pressed it to her satisfaction. Rather than letting me put these journals back in their decorative bag with a bow, she shoved them all into her purse and stormed out… or would have, if I hadn’t had to go and unlock the door for her.

Despite the fact that I had told her this was best done in person, had worked after closing for her, had to go through three separate journals because of her miscommunication, and was ultimately making up for her forgetfulness and saving her face to her boss, she never once said thanks. Lady, people like you are why Christmas is a nightmare.