Tag Archives: customer

5 Things Retail Taught Me This Week

12 Jul
Baby drool

That's right, kiddo, slobber all over that candy bar your mom isn't going to let you buy.

I firmly believe that you can learn a lot every day if you just stop and pay attention. For example, I learned what an ascot was thanks to a straight man (or is he?) making fun of one on an older man. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I might have completely lost out on learning such an important word in the fashion world. The only fashion-related words in my vocabulary are “Forever” and “21”.

Yesterday, as I was ringing out customers who seriously had the most coupons I’ve ever seen at one time (I blame it on that stupid “Extreme Couponing” show), I started thinking about how many useful and sometimes random things I had learned about life, the universe and everything thanks to working in Retail Robot land. I’ve decided to be super generous today and share some of these wonderful gems:

  1. There’s always someone crazier, dumber or just plain worse off than you are. Walked out of the house with your shirt inside out? Added numbers incorrectly in your head? Had a ninja steal something from you while you weren’t looking? It’s okay because there’s someone out there who’s had to deal with a lot more.
  2. People are more good than bad. Yes, I’ve had a lot of customers throw money at me, yell at me and accuse me of stealing their Tums (did not!) but the majority of customers I have come into contact with are pleasant and willing to help others. Within the past week I witnessed a customer buying a complete stranger their items because they had forgotten their money and another woman helping a man with crippled arms put the items from his cart onto the counter. Most customers who appear to be rude are usually lost in their own little worlds and simply not paying attention to their actions.
  3. Good Parenting Skills Do Exist One of the most outstanding mommy-tricks I have seen while working involves a mother of three very rowdy boys picking up her bag of groceries after being rung out and yelling, “Okay who wants to be mommy’s helper?” I’ve never seen hyperactive children act so well-behaved in order to earn such a coveted title. On the flip side,
  4. So Do Bad Parenting Skills Talking on your iPhone about your baby daddy not paying child support while your infant pulls his own five finger discount and starts munching on a candy bar, walking out of  the store and leaving your kids staring up at me with confused and often sad looks on their faces, letting your child slobber over an item so much that the soggy barcode doesn’t even scan anymore. It’s a shame one of our store coupons can’t be a free sterilization voucher.
  5. Old people are awesome And the ones that aren’t awesome are just grouchy because they don’t have anyone to talk to. If you see an old person in line with you at a store, try making small talk with them. I’ve seen it brighten a lot of elderly customer’s days when this happens. Smile as they stop in front of doors while searching their pockets for their Jitterbug cell phones to tell their assisted living to pick them up, bask yourself in the aroma of mildew and cheap cologne that so heavily clings to elderly men, and don’t speak loudly to them unless you’ve verified that they are, in fact, hard of hearing (they totally hate this and I don’t blame them).
Learn anything new about life while in your local store of choice? Disagree with me about the old people? Let me know!

Employees get just as crazy as their customers!

20 Jun

After almost two months of being a college grad, I must admit that life has become more enjoyable. After four years of intense studying, club joining, and sorority dropping out-ing, I finally have had the time to do whatever I want to without worrying about working through a balance sheet from hell (fuck you, accounting) or speed-walking across the library in order to snag a spot at the coveted table in the library that is hidden away among ancient micro-fiches and yellowing copies of The New York Times. Now, I am spending time doing things that I thoroughly enjoy, including learning how to juggle, feeding the homeless downtown every Friday and blasting Beirut while walking around my neighborhood. Heck, I even baked brownies at midnight yesterday after sweating my ass off in yoga just because I could!

Check out my balls, yo

While my personal life has become simple and enjoyable, Retail Robot land has increased in sheer craziness. Our store has been spitting out 20-30% off coupons left and right, and it seems like for each coupon corporate sends out, one more batshit crazy customer appears out of nowhere. The most enjoyable part about working in such a hectic environment is the fact that the employees, myself included, start to get a little loopy when things get too busy.

Last weekend, for example, I barely survived my eight hour shift. I came to work only to discover that the air conditioning in our store wasn’t working. Combined with the fact that I was dizzy from the antibiotics I was on (gotta love sinus infections!), I was sweating, trying to keep my balance which is hard enough for me to normally do and ringing up customers who seriously had the weirdest questions I’d ever heard. Luckily I was working with my favorite co-worker, and we basically lost it after a particularly old lady strolled up to the counter and…

Old Lady: How far can I take this cart?

Me: Oh, you can take it outside as long as you–

Co-worker: Twenty-five feet. You can only take it twenty-five feet.

Me: Yep, after that it–

In unison: EXPLODES.

As we gripped the counter in order to keep ourselves from rolling around the floor and crying with laughter, the old lady simply looked at us, stroked her fully-whiskered chin, and walked away. Yes, we were that loopy.

Other exciting highlights included a man walking around with what appeared to be either very short patterned shorts or just boxers, an entire family who walked into a window thinking that there was an automatic door there, and me doing the yearly employee satisfaction survey for my old store number without realizing it until a few days later.

In the midst of all the craziness, both from employees and customers, life seems a lot better lately. Heck, even the amount of shoplifted items seems to have gone down!

The only shoplifted thing I found this week. It was most likely hidden in between the fat folds of a larger customer. I know.. I'm mean.

After two weeks, I return to retail. Chaos ensues.

14 Mar

Oh crazy customers, how I missed you

In the past two weeks, I had a temporary vacation from the world of retail. And, while I did enjoy experiencing what not working during the weekend felt like, I also felt terribly bored. All I could really think about during my weekends was what I was missing. How could I live a week without the drama of crazy customers? How was I going to function without witnessing a shoplifter or getting yelled at by super rich women who get kicks out of using coupons even though they probably cut them up with kitchen shears from Williams-Sonoma? I realized that after working in retail for almost six years, I have been somewhat conditioned to expect a certain percentage of drama and craziness in my life. And without it, well, life just seems so boring.

Last weekend, I was finally called into work. As I walked into the store, I breathed a sigh of relief: employees were standing off to the side bitching out customers under their breath, my boss was walking around and emmiting the typical American Psycho aura that he always seems to give off, and customers were setting off security alarms. In the words of J.K. Rowling‘s oh-so-profound last sentence in the Harry Potter series, all was well.

For like ten minutes, at least.

After that, it was as if our store had been punished for letting me back in. In a matter of an hour, the paper in our digital photo kiosk ran out, two people were caught shoplifting (one of which was a particularly gutsy customer who power-walked out of our store with a gift bag full of items), there was a consistent line of at least six customers at any given minute, and as I was running to the back of the store to grab a can of tuna for an elderly customer, I was asked by two different people to let them into the restroom. After I came back to the register and dealt with the line of customers, I turned to my co-worker and said, “Jeez, why is it so busy?” He gave me a weird look and replied, “Um, it’s always busy on Sundays. Remember?”

It seems that I really had forgotten what working in the store was like. After having a wealthy customer throw money at me and then ask me if I had counted it correctly, I realized that customers weren’t as kind and kooky as I had remembered them to be. At the end of that Sunday, my forgetfulness also caused me to scan in the magazine credits and seal them up into the envelope without putting the shipping label on. After telling my co-worker that I needed to open up the sealed package in order to get the shipping label still in there, she began cutting it open. As I was ringing up a customer, I heard her laughing. Not only had I managed to seal up the envelope with the shipping label still inside, but I had also managed to put fifty sheets of price adjustments in the envelope as well. I wonder what the magazine company would have thought if they had received those in the mail! My co-worker then turned to the customer I was ringing up and said, “Better count your money when you get it back. She’s not all here tonight.” She then proceeded to run off, still laughing, to tell our shift supervisor. I was not taken seriously for the rest of the night.

All in all, being back at work after the two-week respite allowed me to sink my teeth back into the healthy dose of chaos and craziness that I had been missing–even if a portion of it was entirely my fault.

Cracks in the Foundation

28 Aug

Since I will be going back to my university in the following week, I figured I would try and attempt to make another post. It’s crazy to think that maybe one day, if I am lucky, I will be working on marketing for the exact same kinds of products that I ring up at my job every day. Working part-time and taking senior-level business classes is going to be tough, but I am going to try my best to continue updating this blog.

I haven’t had as many crazy customers come into my store lately. Either that, or I am just becoming used to being around weirdos all day. About a week ago I had a customer do something that I have NEVER seen done before. She was a cute little old lady, probably into her late eighties, and she came up to my counter looking very disoriented. She bought a bottle of foundation that, I may add, was very Lindsay Lohen-esque in the fact that it was five shades darker than her skin tone and very orange looking.

Side note: I am truly terrified to become an elderly person just because of the many cosmetic horrors a lack of good eyesight can do to you. I’ve often felt compelled to keep industrial-strength tweezers near my register just so i can help pluck the million wiry, grey hairs sticking out of so many women’s faces. I’m seriously starting to wonder what kind of hormones are in the foods we eat considering the general abundance of facial hair that seems to be appearing on everyone now. Bleh!

Anyway…back to the crazy old lady. So she buys the foundation and she leans in and whispers (well, I figured she was trying to whisper but it seemed pretty loud to me) “I don’t know what’s wrong with me today…I’ve never felt like this before.” I smiled my token “retail smile” and gave one of my token general responses which probably went along the lines of “Hmm, I wonder why!” And she stands off to the side and begins twisting the top off of the foundation, and she pours a generous amount into the palms of her hands and just starts smothering her whole face in cheap, orange foundation while I am ringing up other customers. I even asked her if she wanted me to let her into the restroom so she could see a mirror, but she insisted that she was fine. After putting on what seemed to be half of the bottle, she turned to me and asked if it all looked okay, and I just smiled and nodded. Poor woman. When I was little, my mother always told me that it was in bad taste to put on lipstick or even look in a mirror while in public. Putting on foundation in public, however, is taking that piece of social etiquette to a whole new level!

Our loyal blind customer also walked into a wall outside our store a week ago as well. He lives really close and assumes that he can get along just fine without someone assisting him. He has a great sense of humor and was laughing about the whole thing, but the customers who witnessed the fall were very concerned. They seemed to be even more concerned when they noticed that all he bought was three bottles of cheap vodka. So, did he walk into a wall because he is perpetually drunk, or did he walk into a wall because he is blind? Or both? The world may never know.

I think it’s really amazing, by the way, that so many people with handicaps are able to shop on their own. I love the fact that our store is home to so many of these people and how we all go out of our way to make sure they have the most comfortable shopping experience ever. I remember the first time I ever rang out a person in a wheelchair by themselves and I asked them if they needed a bag, and they just gave me a dirty look. Whoops!

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