Tag Archives: crazy customer

One Blanket to Rule Them All

12 Aug

I will be the first to admit that I often intentionally prolong conversations with customers, while on the sales floor, because I really would rather avoid my work and gather material for this blog . Lucky for me, my lack of ambition seems to be paying off.

Halfway through putting up sales signs for the week, I was approached by what appeared to be a normal, slightly balding 40-something woman out shopping and avoiding the summer heat. She stopped me as I was entering the body care aisle and asked me about a particular body wash. Lucky for my customers, I am a shopaholic and have pretty much tried every product in my store (sans the Fleet Enemas and hemorrhoid cream) so I was able to give her an accurate description of a body wash that she was considering. She then decided to slowly stroll by the other body washes and ask my opinion of those. Looking for a way to avoid my work, I gladly volunteered my superb knowledge of overly-priced bath products.

She was everything I wanted in a customer: kind, soft spoken, a good listener, not overly demanding and not smelling of urine or that horrible bath powder stuff that elderly people use in place of real showers. Despite what appeared to be a perfect customer, I found myself once again being tricked by my failure to recognize crazy even if it’s right under my nose–a trait that allows me to become attracted to paranoid, neurotic or slightly mentally challenged men without fail. While I was talking to this woman, you see, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she was delicately and subtly stroking something that was folded up and resting on her right arm. Was it a small dog? A baby? A rabbit foot for good luck? Nope. It was a blanket.

That’s right, a blanket. 

The sequal to this book is called "Hello, Snuggie!"

This woman, I realized, was standing next to me and talking very normally about body wash all while stroking a blanket (which was very neatly folded, I might add) with such an amazing amount of tenderness. After noticing that, it took everything in me to not mention what appeared to be a very serious Linus Complex. What would happen, I wondered, if I grabbed the blanket from her and started running? I could see it playing before my eyes: the remains of hair on her balding head would be swept away by a violent gust of wind as she dropped to the ground and began crawling, in Gollum fashion, towards me while hissing “My precioussss!”

In all honesty, the woman was very nice and most likely had an anxiety problem that I can only hope is lessened by her blanket-stroking technique. It went down, however, in the list of the craziest and most random things I have ever seen customers do. If anything, I bet she totally invented the first Invisibility Cloak and she’s been shoplifting in our store, snatching up every body wash, for years. We may never know–that is a secret to be kept between her and that special cotton/poly blend of fibers.

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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.

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