Conversations My Customers Should Avoid

5 Jan
gingerbread house

Where the lunch lady lives!

Working in retail has always allowed me to indulge in two of my guiltiest pleasures: eavesdropping and people-watching. Actually, I was trying to find a single word that would describe that, and as always Urban Dictionary came to the rescue with “earhustling”…couldn’t have said it better myself. I am a naturally curious person, and I’m constantly on the lookout for people who are so crazy, messed up, or so unlucky that they make my life look amazing. Let’s take, for example, a regular at my store who I will call Lunch Lady. No, she doesn’t walk around with an endless supply of cold cuts at her disposal along with jewish rye bread and mayo and, no, she isn’t even a lunch lady at a school. But to me, she kind of looks like a lunch lady that would be in the movie Matilda: stocky, hair with a bad dye-job pulled back into a greasy slick, constantly hunched over with a look on her face that is a mix of anger and disillusionment.

Lunch Lady ranks pretty high on the list of the craziest customers I have seen. She usually comes into our store to buy wine, which I have to triple-bag because she rides her bike. On the days when she is actually shopping for other things, she goes to the extreme and buys the most random assortment of items all at one time. A few days ago, for example, she called me and asked me to set aside five gingerbread house kits. She was freaking out about them and told me to keep a close eye on them because other customers might try to take them away. Right she is! Gingerbread houses are always in high demand. I instantly got a mental image of her drunk on the two bottles of cheap wine she always gets and attempting to glue together a gingerbread house, and I laughed quite a bit.

Before Lunch Lady came to buy her various goods, I noticed her pick up her phone and a look of sheer terror appeared on her face as she screamed “Stop calling me!” and hung up. She then proceeded to scream “Why won’t they leave me alone!?!” and started arguing/talking to herself. She ran out of the door and started yelling more. Then, a few minutes later, she came back in and acted as if nothing had happened. Maybe she is planning to build a giant gingerbread house for herself so that she can hide inside it and escape the people that are after her?

But there are customers who, well, make me feel less normal and glamorous. I hate them because it seems as if they are able to look directly into my mind and pick out exactly what is bothering me, and then bring it up. In one week, I had two customers touch on the tenderest of topics for me (and for many others, I’m sure) as of late: love and a career. One customer was an older man, and I’m sure he was trying to be nice, but he looked at me and said “What, no ring?” and I said “Hah! Married? Me? I’m only 21!” and he just looked at me and said “Well I am surprised a girl like you isn’t married yet. But you still have some time.” Another old man came up to me and asked if I was in school, and I told him what university I went to and how I am graduating after this semester, and he asked if I knew what I wanted to do with my marketing degree. I always stay really positive when people ask me this, so I said “No, not really! I am open for just about anything!” and he said, “Well, you should really try to pinpoint it and do something that you love.” Huh.

I do admit that sometimes I take what people say too seriously, but really? Why bring up such annoying topics? Next time someone mentions love or work, I am going to flip. In terms of career, I have no idea what I want to do because all I ever do is work, go to school, or study and any time I have left over is used to relax, and thinking about what I want to do for a career just makes me have mini panic attacks. And with love, well, let’s just say that my male friends have already labeled me a “mindfuck”: I dress like a prep, I sound like a prep, but I also play video games, am a closet nerd, and lack many typical girly stereotypes such as collecting obscene amounts of shoes, gossiping, and constantly being caught in a whirlwind of ridiculous drama. Try finding love and a career in the midst of all that!

Sad to say, but I miss the days when all customers wouldn’t mention such personal topics and would instead inform me  about how they just asked the pharmacist how to get rid of a huge, leaking boil on their back or asking me if there is a difference between “chunk” and “chunk light” tuna.

Advertisements

4 Responses to “Conversations My Customers Should Avoid”

  1. Denim January 5, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    What a wonderful well told story!

    Fabulous insight, observation and writing…pleased to have stumbled in the door!

    Cheers,

    • Denim January 5, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      oh and funny too!~

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Corporate World, the Retail World, and Why I’m Turning into Liz Lemon « Retail Robot - February 6, 2011

    […] When I told my retail co-workers that I was going to have to severely cut down my hours in order to work at a company temporarily to gain some field experience for my major, I received a mixture of shock and praise. One of my co-workers, a 40 year-old surfer dude who has sympathized with me in the fact that I sometimes want to run away to Vancouver and just become a waitress and people-watch for the rest of my life, seemed to be the most shocked. “I just can’t picture you going over to the dark side,” he said while shaking his long hair, which has more highlights in it than my own, from side to side. Another co-worker told me that she admired the fact that I was trying to get out into the real world and away from constantly juggling twenty things at once, helping customers “shop” (in other words, going to fetch items for them while they stand there), and dealing with women who are obsessed with gingerbread houses. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: