Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sometimes People Suck.
Not all the time, but sometimes. I'll give you a good long blog about all the scrambling about I've been doing over the past week, but for now I just want to vent a little. That's what the internet is for, right? Right.
Now that we're all on the same page let me start by saying that I'm sure none of you people suck. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know most of you reading this and I don't purposely associate myself with suckiness, lameness, fakery, egotism, or jerk-titude. And yes, according to spell-check I made up 60% of those words.
Don't get me wrong, we all have our days. I can be downright unpleasant to be around sometimes, but I don't think I'm mean, or at least I don't try to be.
If you're wondering if I'm just babbling, let me explain. As most of you know, I work in retail bookstore as a necessary side project to keep me in yarn and felt. Working retail comes with the understanding that sometimes the people you run into are having bad days and don't want to talk to you. Fine with me. I've been in the same boat. These aren't the people that concern me. Usually they say "No thanks" and are on their way.
However, there's a special place in hell for the small percentage of the population who feel it's their God-given right to treat people like crap and expect to be rewarded for it. The truly awful part is that they very often are. Everyone's heard the saying, "The customer's always right." Oh, how that saying is the bane of my working life. If that phrase comes into play it usually means the exact opposite: the customer is completely wrong but wants what they want and thinks that screaming at enough peons will do the job, and it usually does.
Let me tell you why I'm ranting about this. Today I had a woman accuse me/the company I work for of emailing customers coupons that don't work just to get them into the store to buy something. When I explained to her that the coupon would work if she could just give me the proper phone number associated with the account so the register would accept the coupon she told me to stop talking and to "wipe that look off [my] face". I'm assuming the look she meant was me biting my lip to stop myself from saying something I'd regret.
Let's pause here for a minute to evaluate the situation from this woman's point of view. You're in a store, talking to a complete stranger, you're getting a little frustrated, and before pausing to even think that the person you're talking to has no control over the policies of a huge corporation, you start verbally bitch-slapping them.
Okay, let's pick it back up. It's at this point in the conversation that I've decided to stop trying to placate this person and start defending myself. I say in a very direct, firm tone, "please don't speak to me like that." I'm not screaming at her, I'm not accusing her of anything, I just want her to treat me like a human being and not the grime under her finger-nails. In my experience, the direct honest approach works about 75% of the time. Perhaps the customer is taken aback by your bluntness and obvious unwilling-ness to take crap from them. Perhaps they even realize that they've been a total ass and are only making themselves look bad. Whatever the reasons, it did not work in this case.
While violently slamming her credit card on the counter she screams, "I told you to stop talking. Now just ring up the damn book".
I repeat, "Ma'am, there's no reason to speak to me that way."
Then, here it comes, the inevitable, "What's the name of your supervisor, JENNY?!" As if my daring to ask her to speak in the tone, volume, and level of sanity of a normal human being were breaking some unspoken retail barrier where you, the worker, are meant to assume that every word out of their, the shopper's, mouth was ordained by God and must be obeyed accordingly lest you be smote by the molten fires of His wrath.
What most people don't know is that it's almost impossible for a customer to get an employee fired or even reprimanded beyond a light, "Maybe next time you should just pass it off to a manager." I've never seen anyone lose a job this way. A manager/supervisor has likely been working in retail for quite a while and has seen their share of crazies. They know it's part of the business and are far more likely to believe an employee they've known for a while than stranger whose raving like a banshee at them.
Anyway, you have to take it in stride, and it won't have any long-term effects. I just felt like getting it out of my system. Also, although I know none of you are jerks, if you're ever in a situation at a retail store where you can feel yourself becoming frustrated about something, stop and think about what you're doing and who you're talking to. More likely than not the store clerk has no power and yelling at them for something beyond their control will only make you look like an ass. If you feel strongly enough about the situation, politely ask to see a manager who will probably give you what you want because that's what they're paid to do.
That's my rant.
Tip your servers.