Saturday, 30 January 2016

Shock 'Till You Drop!....

I know in past posts I've ranted on about the decline of good customer service BUT there's no denying it, customers can be a right pain in the arse too!

And, having spent a large part of my working life in retail, I feel more than qualified to say this!

Actually, I'm surprised I CAN say it 'cos the weight of scar tissue on my tongue from having to bite back a retort in response to some inanity one of the members of the darling public has chucked at me, has a tendency to hinder speech!

Ohh the shit I've had to put up with over the years. Yes, there's been good stuff too...but who wants to read about that? Exactly! 

One noteworthy encounter came about when I was but a naive, young teenager (oh yes I was!!). During the school summer holidays, after sitting my exams,  I had a summer job in the office of a local department store.

As part of that job I had to skim the cash registers of money every now and then, to make room for MORE money in the till. I was doing just that one busy Saturday, as the shop floor was in the midst of a shopping frenzy, and that's when it happened!

Some guy I'd never met before suddenly stopped right in front of me and whilst stabbing an aggressive finger at me SHOUTED...

"How DARE you say things about my mother!! My mother was a good woman!! Stop it!! STOP IT!!! And keep away from my house!!!" 

All eyes glared at me accusingly. And because the area which housed the cash register was elevated upon a platform, placing me in a higher position than every one was as if I was in the dock!

Panicking, I tried to covertly get the attention for the deputy manager BUT...

The deputy manager, a scrawny, gangly, unfortunate looking fellow, had an obvious eye problem. That is, one eye went one way, the other eye went the other way. Neither eyes worked in unison to allow him to see forward from a frontal position, so despite the fact that he was facing me and I was trying to catch his...erm...eye...the entire mad scene was invisible to him!

Yes, he could hear the guy but he couldn't quite pin down the source of the rantings and so he dashed about, from side to side between the aisles, seemingly having subscribed to the Ministry of Silly Walks!

Anyway, by the time he DID manage to find focus the man had scooted off out of the store, leaving me to stand there, bright red in the face, under the judgemental gaze of the jury before me!

Embarrassed, I managed to quickly scuttle off back to the office, all the while feeling the heated glare of my audience stabbing into my back! I was not to know then that this kind of crazy stuff would accompany me for most of my working life in retail!

But there lie tales for other times.

One of the most entertaining happenings regarding customer behaviour was a tale relayed to me by a pal who worked in a local cafe, some years ago.

The cafe was a popular haunt for shoppers and workers alike and thus enjoyed the nuance (compared to these days) of being frequently busy. It was during one of these busy periods, when the local town was in the grip of a particular cold spell, that the cafe door flew open one day and in breezed a well dressed, middle aged woman.

She had the kind of presence that turned heads and the eloquent manner with which she ordered her beverage, did not go unnoticed by those seated before her as she began to make her way to the only unoccupied table at the rear of the shop.

However, before reaching her destination, she paused to do two things.

A large, bald gentleman was enthusiastically employed devouring a hearty breakfast when the woman stopped directly behind him. Standing there, as his head dipped to scoop a generous spoonful of beans into his mouth, she took it upon herself to place her hands upon his scalp.......which she slowly began to massage!

Her ministrations completed, leaving the man with mouth agape, beans hovering on a trembling spoon, in a state of shock and quite speechless, she moved on and that's when the second thing occurred.

An elderly woman sat bent, over a mug of tea. Wrinkled, arthritic hands gripped the cup for warmth as a reddened nose sniffed to accommodate the running stream her cold was obviously providing.

Upon hearing the old dear snivel, our Mistress of Ministrations paused, once again, and, bending to level with the old ladies ear loudly and in a most articulate fashion, provided the following advice:

"What you need to halt a nasty cold like that, is a.......good....stiff.....cock!"

And with that said, she resumed the walk to her table where she proceeded to sit down gracefully....before being asked to leave by the member of staff whose trembling features made it quite apparent that he had drawn the short straw!

Retail work, eh? Gotta love it!!

© Copyright Lynn Gerrard


  1. That's the way to start a Sunday morning. Coffee and adventures in customer service.

  2. Hahaha. Priceless!! Every job has its dangerous risks, even retail! I worked as a customer service bod in medical insurance for years, and had a few dicey moments myself. One charming man threatened to string me up from the highest lamp post if I didn't get his claim paid immediately. Nice huh?

    1. Indeed, Val...there are some ...erm...charming people out there! I too was threatened by a customer one Christmas...when the ring he had arranged to be altered wasn't quite ready, so he offered to punch my face in if I didn't hurry up an sort it!! Season of good will an' all that haha!

    2. Ahh yes, I as well worked in various types of retail. From irate customers to incompetent management (yes they exist)held my breath and tongue many a times!

  3. Customers! I used to work in Waitrose/John Lewis so know this exactly. It was ALWAYS my fault that the bacon had been moved. MY FAULT that a pan they'd bought had a mark on it. MY FAULT that something wasn't where it should have been. Mind, it does stand you in good stead: I'm sure it was working in retail that led me to be a crime writer....

  4. Haha! Yes, working in retail does provide a plethora of material for case studies...if only from the perspective of psychiatry!

  5. That gave me a laugh. The threat of embarrassment is a real phobia I find hard to shake off

    1. Me too, Sydney! Good to see you and glad it gave you a laugh.... :)

  6. Ahh yes, I as well worked in various types of retail. From irate customers to incompetent management (yes they exist)held my breath and tongue many a times!

    1. No wonder they call it Retail Therapy.....'cos those who work in retail certainly need the therapy lol