The Hands of a Clock


Didn’t think this was that hard to figure out, yet here we are.

I work, therefore I stare at a clock all day. In retail, I’m sure we do it more often than other occupations, often to our own doom. It’s a widely recognized fact that observing the clock instantaneously slows down the rate of the passage of time, causing the following hour to last three times its normal rate.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, we often sell clocks. Not every store does, but many do. Mine does. Ours are all aviation-themed, from clocks with warbirds on them to clocks designed to look like avionics. The other day, I sold one such clock, which resembled an airspeed indicator (ASI). These types of clocks are the most popular among our shoppers, and I completely understand why. The idea is intriguing, the design is sharp, and the colors are bold. They’re attractive clocks, and they really grab the attention of a pilot.

The shopper in question was only there to buy novelty items. He walked out with two t-shirts and the ASI clock. However, he was concerned that it would function properly as it had no battery and only two hands. I put a AA battery in the clock and watched as it slowly ticked. Yet, his concern persisted.

“But what if it doesn’t work?” he asked, clearly having never dealt with a retail store before. I then briskly explained how return policies work. Two hours later, I receive a phone call from that same shopper:

Him: The long hand, yeah, it’s not a minute hand; it’s a second hand.

Me: Huh?

Him: Yeah, it’s a second hand. It ticks every second.

Me: Yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Since it only has two hands, it’s a minute hand that advances every second.

Him: That’s a second hand.

Me: No, sir. It performs both functions since there is no second hand.

Him: There is a second hand. There isn’t a minute hand, though.

Me: (phone muted) The hell is this guy on about? (phone unmuted) No, sir. There is a minute hand and an hour hand.

Him: Umm, well, I don’t think that’s right. I think I’m just going to bring it back.

Me: Okay, sir.

Honestly, I don’t care if he returns it or not. Returning it only proves him to be the fool I know he already is, and we’re out a sale. Here’s the thing, though: Someone else will buy it. That’s the thing about retail. There will always be another buyer. Unless you’ve priced something too high, someone else will always be interested.

But beyond anything else, this is a perfect example of one of the most constant and strong of shopper tendencies: Stubbornness. The shopper has a tendency to ignore the informed opinions of those who work around these products and just go with their original preconceived ideas regarding the products they seek. If it looks like two hands when it should have three, anything less than three will feel incorrect, despite the fact that the reality of the situation is actually different from what they have secured in their minds. Why listen to us? We just work here in constant contact with these products every day. I mean, what do we know anyway?

Which brings me to another customer I had come to me recently. He was preparing for a check ride. For any comrades out there unfamiliar with aviation training, each certificate and type rating for airmen generally consists of three parts: written exam, oral exam, and practical exam. There are prep books geared toward each portion. The check ride is when an FAA-approved examiner administers the oral and practical exams to an applicant.

So, I showed this shopper to the two books he would need: the oral exam guide and the airman certification standards. He opened up the latter and began flipping through it. It’s all written basically in codes which are explained in the first few pages of the book, which he ignored, despite my insistence that they would provide the information he needed. Instead, he just said: “Nah, I don’t think I need that. I’ll pass.”

No need to listen to me. I’ve only been in the aviation field for five years now. What do I know?

-The Retail Explorer

Shopper Profiles: Broseph McMoron

Here’s the second in our series on regulars. Meet Broseph McMoron.

Broseph McMoron

Broseph, as I touched on ever so briefly in our first post, is named so because, well, he is a moron and calls me “bro” every time. If you recall what I said about pet names, we don’t like them. “Bro” is right up there at the top of the list.

not your buddy

I’m not your bro, buddy.

Shall I list the reasons why?I Hate You (Elzar, Futurama).gif

Okay, maybe only that second reason is accurate. When you use a pet name, we instantly move you over to the bad side of the board. We don’t care if that’s just your personality. We don’t know you, nor do we really care to all that much, and we don’t feel any attachment to you. There are very few of my regulars that I actually like. They don’t even call me names, so why do these other shoppers feel that they have the invitation to do so? Thing is they don’t. We don’t welcome it. We barely like it when you know our actual names. If you must call us by anything, try “sir” or “miss”. (Hell, I’ll even accept “man”.)

So, Broseph got up on the wrong side of the bed to begin with. Not a great start. From there, he just kept digging his hole bigger through general stupidity and laziness, which is par for the course for most of my customers. Honestly, nothing really egregious sticks out in my mind; “Bro” is just what brands him for me.

That, and he would always walk right up to the counter and shake my hand with the most miserable limp handshake. It’s weird enough that you go out of your way to shake the hand of a retail sales associate who’s really not doing much to help you with any major purchase, but to do it with such an awful handshake? That’s a whole new level of blech. That’s almost as bad as sweaty money. Almost. (We’ll touch on that another time.)



Oh, Pete, so hopeful.

Those are a couple of my favorite strips. Dell is a rockstar in these. And as usual, both of these things have actually happened in the shop. I don’t recall if Broseph was actually the instigator or not, but I absolutely buy him as having been the inspiration behind these.

Bottom line is this: Don’t call us by pet names. Just treat us with the same level of respect that we extend to you. And as always, don’t be a moron. Use your head. We’ll love you forever.

-The Retail Explorer

Shopper Profiles: Hasty McTweed

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m so creative when it comes to naming my regulars. So creative. Minivan Moron (drives a minivan and is a moron), Big Boss (always calls me “Big Boss”), Broseph McMoron (always calls me “bro” and is a moron). Yeah, super creative.

Anyway, meet Hasty McTweed.

Hasty McTweed

He rushes me, and he always wears a tweed sport coat. Really thought outside the box on this one.

Hasty has been around the shop for almost two years. I remember when he first came in. Short, grinning, curly-headed, he was pleasant enough at first, but he quickly cemented himself on the wrong side of the ledger.

There are many things that a Shopper can do to irk a retail associate, such as making us repeat ourselves, asking our advice and ignoring it, trying to pay for a small total of items with a $100 bill. You get the idea. These are relatively small things, but what makes them irritating is that they are common sense/courtesy lapses. If you’re at a small business, don’t use a $100 bill for a $5 purchase; it wrecks our cash reserves. If you don’t really care which product we think is the best for your money, don’t ask us. If you ask us a question, listen to our answer; it’s discourteous to make us repeat our answer to your question because you suddenly had an A.D.D. flareup.

Hasty’s sin was rushing me. He would place two or three items on the counter, and then immediately, before I even had a chance to pick up my scanner, he would ask for his total. Chill. Out. Seriously, just wait a few seconds for me to do my actual job before hassling me.

This was not an isolated incident, either. This happened every single time. It still happens to this day. The only difference is about six or eight months ago, he traded in his blazer for a hoodie. And it wasn’t as though he was even in that big of a rush really. I don’t know why he does it, but my goodness is it ever annoying. I’m not going to leave you hanging without telling you the total. I’m not going do anything mean to you. I might slow down a little bit, though (and I absolutely do).

This is right up there with the flight students who when buying a single item always question if I gave them their 10% discount. Simple math there, kiddo. If your total is less than the item’s price, yeah, I gave you your discount. Equally as annoying are the flight students who come in wearing a flight school polo and/or hat and tell me they’re a flight student. I know you are. You’re the only ones who wear that.

Yes, my list of grievances is long, but really, it’s not difficult to stay away from that list. We are all guilty of some infraction on that list from time to time. Hell, I have my own oopsies from time to time, but I’ll admit it when they happen and move on from there. My customers don’t, and that’s why they live forever in infamy in my mind and in comic form.



Remember to explain things slowly to a Shopper. It gives you a higher percentage chance of any minuscule amount of comprehension.

By the way, that actually happened.

-The Retail Explorer