Dec 072006

Even after all my years working in retail, I still can’t handle some of the ignorance and stupidity that customers dish out to me on a daily basis.

Imagine this situation, which I have exaggerated and dramatized for added emphasis, and to better illustrate to you, the reader, to what extent this frustrates me.

It is 2:00 pm on a Thursday, and I am working alone. Unexpectedly, we are very busy. At this very moment, I am operating two registers simultaneously, and there are about three people on the sales floor waiting to be helped. Some woman I don’t know wanders behind me as I am putting cash in the till to check out our Crocs display.

“Excuse me, do you work here?” she asks me with a vacant expression in her eyes. I can see a piece of breast meat from a Chik-Fil-A sandwich lodged between her two front incisors as she speaks. A small amount of vomit tries to force its way into my mouth when I notice the chunk of flesh in her teeth, but my years of training and self-discipline help me keep my stomach at bay.

“Nope, begins my imaginary reply to her. “I wear this stupid lanyard, operate the register, and sell things to the people who come in here out of the goodness of my freaking heart.”

“I sure do!” is my artificially cheery reply. “What can I help you with?”

“How much is these rubber shoes here?” As I’m sure you can understand, I am momentarily stunned by her superior command of the English language.

“$29.99, plus tax.”

“Damn! You know Payless has the same shoes for ten bucks?”

“Well ma’am, Payless may sell shoes styled like these, but I can assure you that, unlike the shoes you saw at Payless, the shoes you’re looking at carry the Croc brand and are far superior in both comfort and durability.”

“I’m sure there ain’t too many ways to make a rubber shoe.”

“They’re actually not made of rubber. Crocs are made of a proprietary material…”

“Proprietary?” The confused scowl on my customer’s face indicated that I had exceeded the boundaries of her vocabulary. Her expression lightened quickly, and then she left without another word.

Once she is gone, I turn my attention to the sales floor, which is now teeming with people starving for footwear that teeters on the edge of fashion. I start to approach someone who is clutching a display shoe of a pair of men’s’ Steve Maddens we carried three years ago. After spending two of those three years in our backroom, the final pair (size 7) has been marked down to $19.99. I sigh quietly as I inspect my customer’s feet — I estimate their shoe size to be roughly a 12.

“Do you want to try that on,” I twitter at them cheerfully as I grin from ear to ear.

“Yeah…size 12 please.”

“Damn, I’m good,” I think to myself. Aloud, I reply, “That is the only pair of those we have left. It’s a size 7.”

“What about a 10 1/2,” my customer asks hopefully.

I curtly reply, “Nope, only a 7.”

“I could probably even wear an 11 1/2.” It is now obvious to me he hasn’t heard a word I’ve said to him thus far.

“We. Only. Have. That. Size. Left.” I paused after each word to give the information I was relaying time to sink in through his thick skull.

“Oh…so no 12 then, huh?”

That officially takes me to the point of being fed up. In order to save this customer’s life I walk away quietly and hide in the backroom.

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