Working in retail is always an adventure. And Saturdays can be the Indiana Jones style adventures around here. My father described it as "They come over the walls on Saturdays" and he was right. There is a HUGE difference between Saturdays and Sundays in our store. On Sundays everyone is pleasant, they are happy we're here, and Sundays are actually an enjoyable day to work.
Saturdays are a horse of a different color...
My sister and I have a notebook (inspired by the "Festivus" episode of Seinfeld) called "The Big Book of Grievances." Several of my entries in that book are written about Saturdays. I actually took a little break to go disappoint another cranky customer while I was trying to type that last sentence.
So I thought that while I'm trying to keep my blood pressure low, I would jot down a few thoughts that have occurred to me today.
For starters, why am I to blame for something that the customer did? I had a woman come in, of course in a hurry because she left something to the last minute. She says to me, "Where is your camping stuff?" I asked what she was looking for, since we don't have a camping stuff department and have only a few things that would qualify for that category. She replies, "Binoculars. I just called and was told that you have them." At this point I'm truly stumped because I don't carry binoculars in the store. So I radio to everyone else and ask, "Did anyone just take a phone call about binoculars?" Because I'm hoping that maybe someone else knows something that I don't and that maybe we have a pair of binoculars somewhere. No one answers my call. The woman starts to get aggravated and says, "I don't understand, I just phoned here and spoke to a girl, she went and checked and came back and said you have them!" She pulls out her phone and says, "What's your phone number?" Yeah, she called the Lynden True Value. She then proceeds to get angry with me because she called one store and went to another one. I'm still trying to figure out how that one's my fault.
Why do people think that if they keep repeating their request that the results will change? "I'm sorry ma'am, we don't sell binoculars." I thought that was a clear statement. She repeated no less than 15 times, and I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not, "I wish you had binoculars," or "I can't believe you don't have binoculars" as though hoping that I would finally tire of this cat and mouse game we were apparently playing, and say "Oh, you wanted binoculars?? I'm sorry, I thought you meant something else. Of course, right this way, I keep the binoculars in the back." Then, as I was bending over backwards to help her find something else that she could give an 8 year old boy for his birthday, she tells me (rather snappishly) "You need to bring in binoculars." At this point I was taking steady breaths and mentally replaying the Samuel L Jackson scene from Pulp Fiction, rewritten for my own purposes "Say binoculars one more time!!" bang bang bang.... but I digress. I calmly agreed that I should look into that (no pun intended.)
I also love it when customers insist they bought something here that they didn't. They get angry with me for saying that perhaps it was bought somewhere else. I realize that it's quite nervy of me to even suggest that the plumbing fitting that is made by a different manufacturer than the one we carry, with a barcode that doesn't scan, that they brought in in a Home Depot bag, or that has a Hardware Sales sticker on it might not have been purchased here. I've had people get so mad at me for not wanting to purchase something from them at full retail that I never sold to them. I had one man angrily insist that he would never return to our store because I wouldn't take back a can of bug spray that he didn't buy from us. How do I know that he didn't buy it from us? The can said "CHEVRON" on it. I pointed that out to him, he didn't see the problem. We're a True Value hardware store, Chevron is a gas station. Apparently that was not an important distinction for him.
For the most part, I go out of my way to help people. I even rented a helium tank fill valve from another company today because my helium tank got double booked and I found myself short a valve. I had no problem doing that because I wanted to make sure that both customers were taken care of. Last summer I sprayed Off mosquito repellant on my white tank top to make sure that it wouldn't stain the customers' white table cloths at the wedding they were setting up. I have literally taken the shirt off my back (after changing into a spare of course) to color match it for a customer who decided that my t-shirt was the precise shade they wanted for their room. I do these things and think nothing of them because I want to take care of my customers.
But then I get someone like Binocular Lady, or Bug Spray Man that I want to "take care of" in an entirely different manner.