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, , , , | Right | September 28, 2017

(I work at a restaurant across from a large college campus. When school isn’t in session, it’s common for us to shorten our normal hours and sometimes close early. It’s winter break, and with most of the students out of town, business is completely dead. The manager has left for the night, but told us to close an hour early if we haven’t made a certain amount in sales by then. When that time comes, our numbers aren’t even close, so we lock up and start shutting things down while the last two customers finish up their meal. We’ve been closed for about half an hour, and I’m mopping the floor near the front of the store, when a young man starts pounding on the front door.)

Me: *shouting* “We’re closed! Sorry!”

(He continues pounding on the glass and violently yanking the door handle.)

Me: “Sorry; we’re CLOSED!”

(He gives me a dirty look while still assaulting our door. Finally, I go over and open the door to talk to him.)

Me: “I’m really sorry, but we aren’t open right now.”

Customer: “You’re open until ten, right?”

Me: “Normally. It’s actually eight over winter break, but we had to close a little early tonight since business was so slow.”

Customer: “What are you talking about?” *points at the lettering on the door, listing our hours* “It says ten right there!”

Me: *pointing to the sign taped directly above it* “And it says right there that our winter break hours have us close at eight. I’m really sorry we closed early tonight.” *trying to be helpful* “That actually happens a lot over break when we don’t get much business during the day. If you come in before six or seven, you should be safe.”

Customer: “Then why does the sign say eight?”

Me: “If we aren’t making enough money to cover the cost of running the place, it’s not worth it to keep paying the employees to stand around in case one or two customers finally come in. I am really sorry that you did come in now and we can’t help you, but that’s how business works.”

Customer: “Oh, wow. Okay…” *starts to back out of the doorway*

(Just then, the last two customers leave through the same door, reigniting this man’s anger.)

Customer: “I thought you said you were closed!”

Me: “We are; they were just finishing their meal.”

Customer: “Is your manager here?”

Me: “No, he’s already left for the night.”


Me: “He does. In fact, he was the one that made the decision.”

Customer: “I don’t believe you. Let me talk to him.” *aggressively steps through the doorway, forcing me to take a step back*

Me: “He isn’t here right now. Seriously. He’ll be in tomorrow, if you’d like to speak with him.”

Customer: “Then just give me his phone number. I’ll call him. There’s no way he let you guys do this.”

Me: “I can give you the store number, if you’d like to call tomorrow.”

Customer: “Yeah. Fine. Do that.”

(I fetch a business card from the counter and bring it to him, even circling the specific number to call for the manager.)

Me: “Here you go.”

Customer: “Okay, thanks.”

(He starts to turn away, defeated, then suddenly turns back around.)

Customer: *condescendingly* “I’m sorry; it’s one thing if the manager is here. But when he leaves, and you guys just decide you want to go home early, your manager needs to know about this.”

Me: *grinning wide* “Oh, he does. I’m sure he’d be happy to discuss it with you tomorrow. He should be in around nine.”

Customer: “Okay, thanks.”

(He finally leaves, and I text the manager to let him know to expect the call. There is no word yet from the angry customer when I go in the next morning. I spend my entire shift jumping every time the phone rings, excited to hear how his call to rat on us goes. Eventually I come back from my lunch break to find out I have only just missed it. Upon realizing he was wrong, the customer used the same condescending tone to say he wasn’t upset that we had to close early, but that I had treated him so rudely that we lost him as a customer. His account is wildly different from mine, and the manager and I have a good laugh about it. Then, less than 15 minutes later, the customer comes through our line while I’m at the register.)

Me: *as cheerful as I can be* “Hi! Will that be all for you?”

Customer: “Yeah.”

Me: “Okay, that will be $6.45.”

(The manager is standing right behind me, no doubt having noticed my unusually friendly tone, but doesn’t realize who the customer is.)

Me: “Sorry again about last night! Glad you were able to get your burrito today!”

Customer: *blank stare at me, then at the manager, then takes his tray and walks away quietly*

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