When I work in a customer service capacity, like I do at the retail job I do a few days a week, I like to play a game I made up called “Take the Assholes’ Money.” Whenever a customer comes in and acts like an asshole (which is often, if you work retail), I challenge myself to convince them to spend money before they storm out of the store. The bigger the asshole, the stronger my need to take their money. If I get them to spend money in my store, I win, no matter what they say to me. My scores are pretty consistently high. In the following example, which happened in the store today, I only sold him a cup of coffee, but I still took his money and he didn’t ask for it back.
This is also an example of why working retail can turn a person bitter real fast.
CUSTOMER: What kind of coffee you got?
ME: We brew Guatemala coffee, which had a full body, rich flavor, and it’s fair trade and locally roasted.
CUSTOMER: Uh huh. I like it strong. I’ll take a cup.
[I pour coffee]
CUSTOMER: Woman! I didn’t tell you you could pour it yet!
[…the fuck did he just say to me?]
CUSTOMER: I don’t even know if you have the kind of sweeteners I want! I’m diabetic so I can’t use sugar!
ME: We have organic Stevia [gesturing to full container of Stevia packets]
CUSTOMER: What is Stevia? Where’s the Sweet N Low?
ME: We carry Stevia because it’s natural, made from plants. It tastes sweeter than sugar. Try it.
CUSTOMER: [opening and licking a handful of Stevia packets] I don’t like it. You got any hazelnut?
ME: Sorry, no, just the coffee, milk, Stevia, and sugar.
CUSTOMER: Are you kidding me? You must be new. You’ll be getting all the flavors and sweeteners soon, right?
ME: No actually, we just want to sell good, locally roasted coffee and support the local businesses that supply it.
CUSTOMER: FINE, I’ll use this Stevia crap. [opening every last packet I can find in the store and dumping it into his coffee] [sips coffee] It’s still not sweet enough. What else you got?
ME: Milk, sugar, and Stevia, which you just used the last of.
CUSTOMER: I can’t believe this. Do you understand that I have diabetes? I have to suffer every day of my life, and you are making me suffer even more right now because you’re not being considerate of people with different needs than yours! I’m from San Francisco, and they know how to do coffee. You could learn a thing or two from them.
[finally deciding on] Did you want milk with your coffee?
CUSTOMER: I’ll take some half and half.
ME: We have whole milk, is that okay?
CUSTOMER: I said half and half, they call it that because it’s half cream and…
ME: I know, but we only have whole milk.
CUSTOMER: Are you kidding me?
ME: [still not kidding him]
CUSTOMER: Gimme it, then.
ME: [handing him the container of milk] [again, not saying, “Half and half is way worse for your blood sugar than whole milk, which is also not great for your blood sugar.”] Just push the red button while you pour.
CUSTOMER: No! I’m not doing that! [oh, the suffering!!] This is outrageous! Where’s your sugar at?
ME: Right there in front of you.
[knocks over the milk container on purpose and storms out]