If you enjoyed, empathized, and more importantly, agreed, with what I said in Part 1 of “The Customer Is (NOT) Always Right”, then here’s where I reward your literary bloodlust with a few examples from my retail days.
In this portion of the show I delve deeper into the “Confessions” portion of my blog title, “Kenny’s Camera, Cooking and Crazy Confessions”. So prepare to make that “wow” face again. And by the way, Welcome back!
For the life of me, I can’t understand it. If you haven’t seen the video by now, footage reveals an angry customer reaching across the counter at McDonald’s and grabbing the associate before catching an epic beatdown.
I found it particularly funny that he had the audacity to demand she be fired for the incident. Well, not only did she NOT lose her job, but HE was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of battery.
Dude grabbed her because he couldn’t find a straw at the condiment station. A STRAW?!?
[Too bad it wasn’t over fries, the judge could’ve charged him with “a SALT”! Ba-dum-PUM! ]
There’s another clip (passenger’s view) of an angry customer returning to the drive-through of a fast food restaurant and throwing his drink at the attendant. Apparently, his drink was not what he’d requested.
And then, there’s the footage of that ignorant fool walking behind the counter at Popeye’s and filling his own order.
And by the way, have you seen the video of the the woman going on a tirade in McDonald’s before throwing something at the people behind the counter? My understanding is that her order was wrong in the drive through so she entered to get it corrected. After waiting 25 minutes, unattended, she lost it. Sadly the boomerang was in full effect because after throwing the object it flew back at her face, but it came back as a BLENDER! Broke her cheekbone AND her nose.
Folks ain’t havin’ it!
A twitter follower asked me to not forget retail in Part 2 (here you go, bub)…
I worked at Service Merchandise back in 1987-88, then returned for seasonal work in 1990-91. I loved my job, processing orders at the central hub. Customers loved my sense of humor and often called management and corporate to give me praise. It was a great feeling. But ehhhhhhhvry now and then I had to get ghetto (see, this ain’t nothin’ new). Knowing full well that it was inappropriate, unprofessional and forbidden.
I still remember it like it was yesterday, the time I had to send a customer back to Merchandise Pickup to pick up a replacement order. Dude looked at me and said, “I ain’t walking over there to get my order. You messed it up. YOU fix it.”
(For the record) I didn’t “mess it up”. It was a sealed package order with a missing part.
Whether he meant “you” generally or specifically (I assume the former), I had a line of customers and his replacement item was literally a 10-second walk from my station. No, I wasn’t lazy, nor was it wrong to send him. Every customer knew the setup and the protocol: Order at the register, food goes on the grill, pick up your food at the end of the line. Happy grubbing, happy trails. Your item is at the next department waiting for you. Okay?
I looked at him, smiled and said, “Sir, I apologize for your order missing a part and we’ve got your replacement right over there at Merchandise Pickup. They’re waiting for you.”
“Get my order!” he demanded.
“Sir, I don’t think your tone is necessary. If you can hold a moment, I can call over and ask someone to bring it to you, if you’re unwilling to walk over. I can’t leave my station.”
“No, I want YOU to get my shit! You people are so damn lazy, I don’t know why they hire you!”
You people?!? Steeriiiiiiiike TWO!
“Sir,” I forced through my laugh, “I’m not going to ask you what you meant by that. Please… don’t make me walk around this terminal, because if you mean what I THINK you mean, I WILL lose my job. Happily.”
Silence and “Ohhhhh Shit” from the customers in line.
“Come on, honey” his wife(?) suggested or warned, grabbing his arm. “I think you’re upsetting the man.”
“No, he ’bout to get his ASS whooped!” someone else in line blurted out.
They were BOTH right.
I don’t know if it was her voice, the attentive crowd, my tone of voice, my words or my “Charlie Murphy” stare that diffused the situation…
…but he relented.
…and the beat goes on…
I also worked 3rd shift at Whataburger in Tallahassee back in the early 90s. Years before that, I worked opening shift and lunch rush at Hardee’s. But let’s talk about Whataburger. Being a college town for Florida State, Florida A&M and Tallahassee Community College, we at Whataburger had our hands full, being the “hangout” spot after midnight. Even worse, we were the ONLY restaurant open, so we entertained (I prefer “suffered”) the antics of the inebriated after the bars closed. It got so crazy that a police officer was assigned to us from midnight to 4 a.m. on weekends. Still, you know what? Being as wild as the customers were, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We were wild too. People came in with attitudes? We GAVE them attitudes. Hey, we had a ghetto crew.
Don’t get me wrong, we gave excellent customer service. But if you came at one of us, we wouldn’t hesitate to come around that counter, as a group, and get in your face.
And it did happen.
…and the beat goes on…
I’m laughing as I type this because I remember several episodes where we collectively threatened to re-enact a prison riot and shank a few people. One of my co-workers actually snatched one drunkard by his collar, lifted and made him tiptoe to the exit door and threw him out, to the pavement. True story and funny as hell.
I still laugh and shriek at the memory of the way a customer threatened my co-worker making burgers: “You better make my shit right or I’m gon’ come around there and kick your ass!”
Without hesitation, my buddy continued flipping patties as he replied, “Come on back here and see if I don’t dunk yo’ ass in this hot fry grease like a donut…”
God, I miss those days.
And don’t think people don’t mistakenly drop your burger and put it back on the bun if you give them fits. Yeah, it happens.
One time, when asked to run the register (about 6:30 a.m.) and after kindly greeting a still-intoxicated customer, I asked if I could take his order.
“KAAAAWWW-fy” he damn near regurgitated through his acrid cheeks.
You know your breath stinks if your teeth actually DUCK when you exhale.
“Pardon me?” I replied.
“COFFEE!” he repeated with clarity, bouncing on the counter, doing his bobble-head impression.
“And how would you like it, sir?”
“Just like EEYOOUUUU! Bwahhhhhhahahaha!!”
“Ok, black” I accepted loudly while looking to my co-worker and giving the familiar ‘we got us another one – take care of him’ head nod.
“That’s it, soul brutha!” he laughed as I gave him my greatest Cheshire Cat smile (cause “We aims ta please, suh!”).
Observation: You’ve got to be REALLY drunk, to enjoy a cup of coffee with light salt, instead of sugar. I told him it was a new flavor (Colombian Spice or something like that). I was even kind enough to suggest that he let me “keep the change”, even though he handed me a $10 bill for a .20 cup of coffee. Yes, I pocketed it. Turn me in if you want, you can’t prove it.
And please note. I’m in no way advocating food tampering or violence on any level, and definitely not in the workplace. Especially since people find it funny, putting bodily fluids in your food. For that, you deserve jail time AND a barrage of fists and feet. What we did was fun and arguably justified. Admittedly it was WRONG, but fun.
And the beat goes on…
I’ve even been threatened as a photographer on a few occasions and each time because people were captured in photos at a public event. I’ll never forget the religious event (in fairness, I won’t name the faith) where I spent every 3rd photo being told by some angry guest to delete the photo because said person was in the background (and it was quite a few). I eventually told my client that I couldn’t comfortably continue because I was too busy trying to memorize which people to exclude in the backgrounds of candid photos.
I was once hired for a networking event/party which saw over 1,500 people throughout the course of the night. One angry party-goer confronted me and told me to go back through my 800+ photos, find and delete every photo of him because as he said, “my wife doesn’t know I’m here”. He also told me to “Do it before I whoop your ass”.
To paraphrase, I told him (and I did number my replies while answering):
- It was advertised, prior to the event, that candid photographs would be taken.
- I wasn’t about to go through photos and look for pictures of him and that he should talk to the promoters about any of his so-called appearances.
- If he was hiding from his wife, that was his issue, not mine.
- Not to assume that since I was on assignment that I wouldn’t “defend myself” if he put his hands on me.
Again, I’m paraphrasing. I’m sure you know me well enough or HAVE learned enough about me to know some things were said a tad different. Just ask the people in the immediate vicinity who overheard…
Well, I need to bring this to a close and I hope I didn’t stray too far from the original point. But then again, I did warn that this segment was more of a confession, as opposed to a lesson.
…but there IS a lesson to be learned and I hope it was and is self-explanatory-
As I said in Part 1, we’re all human and we’re imperfect.
Many are called to serve, most are expected to accept and endure, but ALL have limits.
Simple as that.
So take a moment to inhale and exhale, if something’s not right, then talk. That’s it. Talk.
If the matter doesn’t get resolved, at least to your satisfaction, politely ask to speak with a supervisor or the manager.
Insults, threats, public displays of you, consumed with rage and/or physically assaulting someone are entirely unnecessary.
And if you DO decide to “go there”, please consider these final words (better yet, “warnings”):
1. Workers stick together.
2. Don’t let your mouth get you in trouble. The things those servers and cooks did in the 2005 restaurant movie, “Waiting” were NOT fiction.
3. Finally, and most important: Don’t START none, won’t BE none…
…cause employees ain’t havin’ it…
…and the beat(ing) goes on…