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Yes! Flex That Beautiful Authority!

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Hysterical_Realist | July 30, 2021

In my day job, I’ve been working from home for the entire health crisis period. We are in the planning stages to finally move back into the office soon. To that end, I was tasked — along with a couple of management-type people — to head over to our local grocery store to price out supplies for a “welcome back” social event at the office — cleaning supplies plus food-type things that we could put together in a grab-and-go-style conference room function.

The dress code for workers at this store incorporated a white dress shirt, black khaki pants, and a black nametag on the chest. Those who were still masked wore black masks with the store logo prominently displayed on the cheek. None of us office workers were dressed in any way remotely resembling this.

But we were all carrying clipboards to take notes for later when we were ready to come back and buy the stuff. Hence the confusion, I suppose. A customer approached us, and, without even a greeting, started up with her demands.

Customer: “You guys are out of [product]. I need you to go get some from the back.”

Me: “Oh, sorry, I know I’m carrying a clipboard, but I don’t actually work here. You can tell any employee from how they’re dressed; I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you.”

Customer: “I do not find this acceptable. You either help me this instant or go get your manager who will fire you and then help me.”

I flagged over one of my bosses.

Me: “You want to talk to my manager? Here she is.”

And I stepped aside. The customer laid into my boss.

Customer: “You really need to train your employees better. This man—” *jabs a finger to my chest* “—is refusing to help me! You need to review his employment status, and then GET ME WHAT I NEED!”

My boss half-ignored the customer.

Boss #1: “Hey, [My Name], did you get a second job at the store without telling me?”

Me: “Nope. I still work for you, not for them!”

Boss #1: “Okay then, carry on. I’m sure this lady can find a store worker to help her.”

One unfortunate aspect of the culture we live in is that a woman in authority is not always taken as seriously as she should be. It’s doubly true for [Boss #1], who, in addition to her gregarious personality, is also on the smaller size physically. Additionally, although she’s in her mid-thirties, she happens to look legitimately twelve years old.

The customer, on the other hand, had reached red hot status and had now found herself a second target.

Customer: “*UN. F******. BELIEVABLE. I CAN’T BELIEVE THE DISRESPECTFUL LITTLE CHILDREN THEY LET INTO THIS STORE! YOU ARE GOING TO HELP ME NOW OR I WILL REPORT YOU DIRECTLY TO THE OWNER, WHO GOES TO MY CHURCH!”

That’s when [Boss #2] rounded the corner, witnessed the situation, and immediately figured out what was going on. [Boss #2] is pretty much the opposite of [Boss #1]. She’s six feet tall. She’s very solidly built physically; she doesn’t walk so much as she lumbers. She’s ex-military and is fully trained to take charge in a wartime situation. Short version, this woman KNOWS how to effectively take up the ample space she’s been given. Bonus points: she’s British and her accent gives her an extra weight of authority when she wants to flex it.

She wanted to flex her authority. She walked up behind the customer and asked in her best command voice:

Boss #2: “Is there a problem here?”

The customer took on a smug facial expression as if to say, “Finally, I found somebody competent.” Then, she turned around and took a look at [Boss #2] in her mountainous position directly behind her. I saw her face lose its smugness, and the only sound she could manage was a half-surprised, half-terrified squeak.

Boss #2: “THESE PEOPLE HAVE TOLD YOU ALREADY THEY DON’T WORK HERE. I SUGGEST YOU WALK AWAY RIGHT NOW, PERHAPS LEAVE THE STORE, BEFORE THINGS GET A LITTLE MORE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR YOU. ARE WE IN AGREEMENT HERE?”

The customer started moving away rapidly in a manner I can only describe as “scampering.” I suspect she actually did leave the store, because her face suggested she was unable to co-exist in the same space as her abject embarrassment. And the three of us office-types were able to finish our party planning and make it out of the store without further incident.

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