I will be the first to admit it; working retail, serving the complete morons who patronized my stores, has broken me, and I am jaded. It’s gotten to the point that whenever someone enters the store, my shoulders fall and I groan. I shouldn’t, but I do. Customers are the lifeblood of the service industry, obviously, so I should be glad to see more of them on a daily basis. I’m not, because all customers have the capacity to be an ass, which is when they cease to be customers and morph into Shoppers.
The only reason I can find for my broken spirit is the fact that every time I deal with someone who is allowed to drive but can’t function in my store like an elementary schooler, let alone a fucking adult, I die a little inside. Every time I have to guide someone through an alphabetized store display, every time I have to explain the simplest of signage to someone, every time I have to explain the return policy clearly printed at the bottom of every receipt, I die a little inside.
“Oh, you’re just being dramatic.” Okay, fine. You come walk a grown, capable adult person through a shopping experience like they’re a kindergartner, then do it dozens of times more, and see how you feel at the end of the day. If you’re not ready to launch some of them on a rocket into the sun, you’re far stronger than I. (Of course, this is all cloud talk. I’d never want to harm any of them. Except for maybe Minivan Moron.)
Working at this new job has helped ease this somewhat. I still have to deal with some of the same nimrods I had to endure before (ahem, Minivan Moron), but by-and-large, my clientele here is more intelligent. That’s not to say they’re all bright bulbs, but the general IQ of this herd of Shoppers is far higher than that of the other shop.
Still, the stigma lingers. As soon as I see one of the other flight school students get out of their car and come to the door, I wince, I shudder, I sigh, then I stand up and do my job. I know, I should be patient with them since this is a foreign country to them, and English is a second language to them. Then, I remember that one of the top requirements to become a pilot in this country is you have to know and speak English. I don’t speak to any of them with big words at all, unless they’re aviation terms, which they should fucking know anyway, and I rarely talk with any speed, which is partially because I just assume they have the abilities of a five-year-old when they walk in. (Sorry. That was mean. I apologize for five-year-olds everywhere.) You think ATC has time for you to decipher their commands? Hell, no. Their job depends on them getting everyone arranged as quickly and safely as possible. Remember that scene in Breaking Bad? Yeah, that’s what can happen with a lack of good judgement and expediency.
I make no excuses for it. I have the thought processes of a complete jerk often. So very rarely do I act on them though. It is difficult to get me to react with any anger. It’s not impossible, just incredibly difficult. Even my boss says I’m too nice sometimes. This is my venting space. There is a community of miserable service workers who do the same. We all have to deal with customers who either don’t have the time to be nice (which is bullshit) or the patience (also, bullshit) or the manners (even bigger bullshit), but god forbid we treat them like anything worse than the VIP they feel they are. This king-peasant relationship is complete garbage that has been fostered throughout the previous century and exacerbated further by the internet. “The customer is always right,” is such a damaging mantra because its privileges have been abused for far too long.
I’m not saying a customer should not be treated with respect. They absolutely should, but that’s a two-way street. Give it to get it. We give it, but we don’t often get it. Many Shoppers tend to look at stores and employees as things that can be exploited in some way, either through discounts, freebies, or even a slight bending of the rules. Some think that we’re just out to get them and that we owe them something. And the really crappy part is, sometimes, the store gives it to them.
And that’s why we hate their stupid faces.
-The Retail Explorer