Throwback Thursday: Wild Accusations; or, Why the Hell Would I Risk My Job to Swipe Twenty Bucks From You?

Interesting (Completed)

Yeah, because getting accused of theft is SO interesting.

Working in the service industry is…not fun. There are so many detractors: Poor pay, unstable schedules, lazy coworkers, useless managers, mind-numbing monotony, and so much more. Oh, and shitty customers. I don’t care where you work, you will find shitty customers. And it’s not just limited to retail and food service. If you deal with customers on a regular business, some of them will be assholes. It’s just the way it is. Some people are kind. Some are intelligent. Some are understanding. The rest are just jerks. Since it’s Throwback Thursday, let’s throw it back to that time I got accused by a customer of stealing twenty dollars from him.

That’s right, a whole twenty dollars. I don’t know why I thought about this the other day, but this event came flooding back to me. This was three years ago, and even today, it makes me angry.

It started innocently enough. He bought an item that ended up being under $10 with tax. I can’t remember what that item was, not that it matters. To pay for it, he pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to me. I had begun to punch it into the computer when he stopped me, having just found a ten dollar bill. Then, and I remember this vividly, I handed him the twenty and took the ten, gave him his change, and he left. End of story.



He comes back an hour or so later, trying, and failing, to avoid sounding like he was accusing me of theft. He said something along the lines of, “Yeah, you remember when I was in here earlier? Well, when I was here, I had two twenties and one ten, but now, I only have one twenty, and I haven’t been anywhere else but here.” When I heard that, I knew the road he was leading me down, and immediately, I was incensed.

Prior to this moment, I had never been accused of theft. I was incredulous, though I understand now that this moment was merely a product of the ego of the shopper, this massive I-can-do-no-wrong mentality, born out of the old “The customer is always right” philosophy. (Consequently, if I ever met the man who first thought that up, I’d kick him square in the family jewels, because he’s earned it.) More often than not, the customer is an idiot. They come to your store to buy a certain product, and along the way, they will need to have one or more of these things done for them: Led to the product, explained the product, explained the difference between similar products, shown the price tag, explained the return policy, told the hours of operation, shown how to operate the exit door, and that’s not even the full list.

(For the record, no one is impervious to this. I have made some of these errors before, personally. It happens. I’m speaking more about the people to whom these things happen constantly and repeatedly. Redundant? Maybe, but so is dear customer.)

So, when the customer is catered to in such a manner, they feel special, which is good, but that eventually leads to entitlement, which is bad. In this age of social media, it’s remarkably easy to smear the name of any given business for even the tiniest of infractions, real or imaginary; and lamentably, far too often to businesses acquiesce to these shitty shoppers who believe that every single pathway to their personal happiness should be exhausted by the store’s management team.

(As I always feel I must say, this is not to say that all customers are like this. This is the Shopper we’re discussing. You, comrade, may be one of the exceptions to this. You may be one of the good ones, and really, truly, I love you. But far too many customers are not good people but moronic, asshole Shoppers.)

Anyway, having explained this probably too much, you can see now why the thought that maybe he misplaced it along the way never even occurred to him and the thought that I as a thieving asshole was instantly and infinitely more plausible than him being a forgetful human being. So, my defense became my offense: I was going to make him make his intentions brutally clear and beat him back with complete, brutal honesty. I was going to turn the dial up to 11, because I was bitter, I was offended, and I was tired of dealing with their shit. All over twenty dollars.

He pressed his case, that when he had given me the ten, I did not return the twenty and pocketed it. “Excuse me?” I said in as incredulous of a tone as I could muster. And this is the only thing that makes me giggle about the incident: He insisted that he wasn’t accusing me of stealing…while accusing me of stealing. He said, “I’m not accusing you of anything,” three times, and every time, I responded with, “Yes, you are.”

So, dial fully to 11, I turned out my pockets. No twenty. I opened my wallet. No twenty. I counted out my fucking till. No twenty. (That last one was the cherry on top of my sundae of crazy. He had been my only cash sale to that point that day, so the total in my till came out to me $159 and whatever change was left from his transaction, and fuck, did that feel satisfying.)

Have you seen Ant Man, yet? Ya know how he is able to shrink himself to microscopic size? Yeah, that’s what happened to this Shopper. He nearly vanished from sight when he realized what he had done, which was somehow lose his own money and be a complete ass to another person who had done him no wrong. I didn’t even get a proper apology, merely a “Sorry” as he slinked on out the door. I shouldn’t have expected any less than that from a Shopper, but I expected better from a human. (But a good chunk of the people in this country are complete garbage anyway, so I shouldn’t be that surprised anyway.)

I think one of the things that still bothers me the most about it is the incredible stupidity of this Shopper in thinking that 1. I would risk my steady, decently paying job to swipe twenty bucks from him. Why. The fuck. Would I. Do that? Seriously? Why would anyone think that would work? Why would anyone think that would be worth the time and effort? If you’re going to do something that stupid, you don’t do it over twenty dollars. Unless you’re a kleptomaniac. Or just that bored. Honestly, I’d rather be bored, as long as there’s a steady paycheck involved.

It all reminds me of a maxim I learned in my childhood about giving cookies to mice that basically amounts to “If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.” Or something like that. Maybe I misunderstood that book. Regardless, that’s how Shoppers operate, at least. Show them the tiniest concession, and they’ll try to get every gimme they can. The worst of these gimmes is a discount. The second worst is a return or exchange. (More on that another time.)

It also reminds me of a more recent incident with a Shopper who would not let go of the fact that we would not accept a return on a chart and without a receipt, but that’s definitely a post for another day.

I’ll close with this: Check yourself before you wreck yourself, and as always, be kind to service industry workers. We’re remarkably creative at making your life much more annoying.

-The Retail Explorer




Always say “yes”. It makes a sale and moves them along sooner.

If there’s one item that causes me more headaches than any other, it would be the pilot uniform shirts. “Bane of my existence” really doesn’t begin to describe my loathing for this particular item. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked! It boils down to two basic aspects: 1. There are way too many varieties, and 2. The sizing always causes issues. I. Hate. Dealing. With. These. Shirts.

No one ever knows what they want, and no one ever knows what size they wear. And don’t get me wrong: I absolutely get it. If you’ve never worn an actual dress shirt, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a crash course. All of our shirts are by neck size, at half inch increments, unless they’re long sleeved shirts, which are both by neck size, but at one inch increments at the half inch, and sleeve length. There are three different styles, which have slightly different features and fits. Also, they’re available in tall sizes and tapered, but not both, and not in long sleeved. Confused? So am I.

When a customer asks about shirts in the store, my first question is always: “Short or long sleeved?” It really helps narrow it down more than you’d expect. Then comes the big question that never gets a straight answer: “Which size?” Deer in the headlights 90% of the time, and that’s no exaggeration. Really, in my experience, that’s par for the course with any item in my shop. Normally, the answer I receive is a prolonged “uhhhh…” but occasionally I’ll get some interesting ones. The other week, I had a customer come in looking for a shirt. I asked him which size he needed. His response? “My size.” Shoot me in the face with a bazooka. Please.

The eventual answer I get is, “I don’t know.” That’s fine, so I simplify: “What size do you normally wear in shirts? (Small, medium, etc.)” When you get an “uhhh” there, then you can begin worrying about that person and their ability to function properly as a human being. When you know the general shirt size, you can narrow it down from there. It just becomes a trial and error situation.

Minivan Moron was my most recent fly-in-the-ointment. He came in one week to try on some shirts and order a bunch of them. After going in circles for a few minutes, we finally land at a size 18.5. (He’s a big dude.) However, he feels the 18.5 is too baggy (because it is; that’s a lot of fabric), and the neck of the 18 is just a little bit too tight. So, we suggest the 18.5 tapered. We order them, and he returns to try them on. He thinks the tapered ones are too short (they’re half an inch shorter than the regular cut), and he’s worried about having to tuck in his tail all the time, while I’m honestly seeing no contest between tucking in my shirt constantly and looking like a fucking blimp all day long, but whatever, they’re not my shirts, and I no longer gave a crap.

So, we ordered the eleven shirts and told him that if they were here by Friday, they’d be waiting here for him to pick up on Sunday. Spoiler alert: They didn’t arrive by Friday. Come to find out Monday morning, he had raised a stink, saying he had an appointment with me for Sunday and a whole bunch of other nonsense. Go figure.

The bottom line is I get more trouble from these shirts, and I get more pushback from customers here than on anything else in the store. I mean, what do I know? I just stare at them all day and fit people in them and fold them (Oh, god, the folding!) and repackage them. Every. Single. Day.

What do I know? I just work here.

-The Retail Explorer


Happy 4th of July 2018; or, Don’t Tell Us You’re Sorry We’re Open Today

Phone Call #1 (Completed)

Usually, like 99.99% of the time, if we answer the phone, it means we’re open. Don’t ask the dumb question.

I’ve been busier recently than I’d hoped I would be, so there will be no holiday comic for the Fourth this year. Sorry about that, comrades. In lieu of that, here’s a throwback to the first Phone Call comic I published. Why this one, exactly?

Because there are many businesses open today, and that’s pretty shitty, honestly.

Thankfully, my job is not one of them, but I have had a job that has stayed open on the Fourth. When I used to sell liquor retail, we were open today. I spent two Fourths working the drive-thru, filling orders for thirsty revelers. Gas stations are also open today. I was saddened to find that my local pet supply store is open until 5 pm today. Even trash is being collected from my house today. It’s just kind of sad that, as a country, we don’t allow all of our citizens to celebrate one of the most important holidays on the calendar.

I understand that there’s a reason for this: There’s money to be made. That’s right; YOU are the reason they’re open. Not you specifically, but you, the public. If there’s a buck to be made, the store will be open. Thankfully, in recent years, there has been a sentiment of moving away from this type of rampant commercialism. Part of that is a direct result of online retailers, like Amazon, rising up and taking over the world, but that’s not the whole story. Unfortunately, family always comes second in retail and service industry work (and any company that says to you otherwise is lying to you), and there are many businesses who remain open today.

I’m not saying to avoid patronizing them. Hell, you may need more ground beef or beer or firecrackers or beer or sausages or beer, and need to go to one of these stores. If you need to or choose to, that’s your choice, and that’s fine. Just promise me one thing: Don’t say anything along the lines of: “It sucks that you’re open today.”

Seriously, don’t.

It’s a harmless enough thing that seemingly presents sympathy and concern. However, to a person who is ringing up your purchases, hearing I’m sorry that you’re open from the person who is a directly contributing factor to them being stuck there ringing up your purchases on a national holiday is like a slap in the face. We know you really don’t feel bad for us, because you’re in here buying from us. On the contrary, you’re glad we’re open on a national holiday to cover up for your poor planning skills. All of your words ring hollow in the ears of someone forced to work while everyone else is off and relaxing and celebrating. It’s salt in a wound. While it might soothe your conscience a little, it does the exact opposite to them. I  know this has become a more selfish world, and that needs to change, but have a little consideration for your service industry workers today.

People have been asking me this week what my plans are for today. I told them, “as little as humanly possible.” Because I’m afforded that incredible luxury. But just keep in mind as you’re avoiding blowing off your fingers with Black Cats or burning off your eyebrows over a grill, that not everyone is that lucky. So, please, don’t remind them that they’re stuck there for the day. It’s just mean.

Anyway, have a happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans at home and abroad. Don’t drown or blow yourself up.

-The Retail Explorer

P.S. Don’t anyone start with the tired, old “Well, they chose this profession, so…” That’s just as harmful and callous. More often than not, it’s not a matter of choosing, but more a matter of being stuck with it. This is a thing for a much longer post for a much different day. Thank you. Hugs and kisses.