The holiday season is when people are at their highest level of crazy. This is the time of year for the best people-watching if you’re not working in customer service. If you are, then I am so sorry. Here’s to the service industry for all they have to deal with during the last couple of months of the year. Here are a few of their stories from past holiday shopping seasons.
Where Are His Pants?!
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“I worked at a restaurant right across the street from the mall (And open black Friday) so naturally after people get great deals on whatever they come eat.
Anyway, I was sitting in back of the house Black Friday morning, waiting for my inevitably long shift to start. It was incredibly busy as it was but I wasn’t about to clock in early. I was joking around with one of the managers when I heard a hostess scream through the walkie ‘HELP HELP!’ So I immediately rush to the entrance to see two grown men on the ground fighting, one in nothing but his underwear, and my shift lead trying to pull them off each other while screaming, ‘STOP. THIS IS A FAMILY RESTAURANT. THERE ARE CHILDREN HERE!’
I jolted forward in an attempt to break up the fight. This is where it got weird. Everyone was gathered around this small area watching or trying to help when someone grabbed a fire extinguisher and started spraying us with it. So we had a bunch of people trying to break up a fight between a man in his underwear and some other dude and someone spraying us with a fire extinguisher while we have Christmas carols playing in the background. Finally we got the fight broken up. The cops showed up. The whole nine yards.
Turns out, Guy One had gotten the last TV/voucher from Best Buy and Guy Two was very angry about that. So he followed him over to the restaurant to try and buy the TV from him. Guy One told Guy Two to frick off so Guy Two took off his pants and started to fight Guy One.”
A Vicious Cycle
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“I worked at a store that had a service department. They couldn’t ring up anything at the service counter but they had a computer which made it look like a register. A guy was standing there patiently waiting to be rung up. Finally, somebody noticed him and asked what he needed. ‘I’d like to pay,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry this isn’t a register,’ replied the service tech.
The guy then proceeded to try and convince the service tech to let him pay because the line for the main registers is three hours long. Of course, the service tech couldn’t because he didn’t have a register. He just had a computer for making appointments and such. So after 15 minutes of argument, the guy moved off to find the line. Here’s the fun part.
While he was arguing somebody else saw him standing by something that looked like a register and so got in line behind him. Then people saw the shorter line and got in behind them. With nobody to control it, the line to nowhere grew quickly. 15 minutes was all it took for the not-line to snake all the way around the department. So when the doofus who started this whole fiasco went to find the right line he found the end of the line he had started. Then the guy behind him heard that there wasn’t a register so he followed the first guy. Then the next customer followed the second and so on. They walked around in a circle for an hour before somebody noticed them. We almost had a riot when a manager had to tell 100 people that they weren’t in line and had just waited an hour for nothing. That same year we had several scuffles at points where the register line had forked into two lines. From then on we marked off a huge register path and had several employees just manage the line.”
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“My store was absolutely packed, and a larger, trailer-trash-looking woman got up to the register with four coffee machines, about 30 different pieces of clothing (clearly none of which would fit her), a set of pots and pans, and a blender.
I was at the register serving a line of, at this point, probably 20 people. She got to my register, and I rang everything up. Total comes out to about $200, because most of the stuff she was getting was cheap stuff that we sell even cheaper on Black Friday.
Of course, as soon as I told her the total, I was wrong. So was the register, apparently.
‘You double scanned most of it! It should be half that price!’ she exclaimed.
Heck no I didn’t lady. Learn to count. I wish I could have said that to her, but my manager was literally right behind me on the other register and would chew me out like no tomorrow. So, in my nicest (read: most sarcastic) tone of voice, I replied:
‘I don’t believe I did, you can even see it right here on the register. If you really want me to, I can start over to make sure nothing scanned more than once, though.’
Of course, she ignored the whole thing and just tried to pay. She had clearly not been to the store before, because our old-as-frick register system required us to take your card and swipe it ourselves.
She spent a few seconds looking around for where she could scan her card, and I chimed in, ‘We have to scan it up here, ma’am. System is too old for us to have something where you scan the card. I’m so sorry about that.’
She was already upset enough and trying to fight with me about her scanning it herself. Finally, after spitting in my face for a few seconds while I was forced to smile like the brain dead monkey corporate thinks I am, she handed me the card. I checked the name because legally we have to, and we have to see ID as well.
Well, I saw the card and immediately expected a show because the first name on it was ‘David’ She handed me her ID, and lo-and-behold, her name wasn’t David.
‘I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t legally charge this card. Unless David is with you, in which case I’d need to see his ID,’ I said calmly.
‘Are you kidding me?! THIS IS MY SON’S CARD. HE’S LETTING ME USE IT. HE’S AT HOME WITH MY HUSBAND,’ she screamed.
‘I’m sorry, I can’t swipe this card unless it’s yours. Do you have a different card on you with your name on it?’ I said.
After grumbling for a bit, she handed over a different card. I went through the normal motions, the card declined. How could this get any worse?
‘Your card was declined, ma’am,’ I informed her.
Cue me getting screamed at in front of an ever-growing, impatient live audience.
‘LET ME TALK TO YOUR MANAGER,’ she shouted.
At this point, I could only pray that the ground itself would swallow this demon up, or at least end me so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
My manager turned around from her register, said, ‘Just a moment, ma’am, I’m finishing up this transaction, then I’ll be right with you.’
Of course, this little old lady ain’t got the time for that. At this point, I’m pretty sure my line at the register should be paying me for the entertainment they get out of this lady unloading all of her crazy on me.
My manager finally turned around and had me switch to her register for the time being, while she handled the crazy. I managed to get a few people through the register while I heard screaming coming from both sides, as my manager isn’t great with being yelled at (how did anyone think that was a good idea?). I got a few comments and looks from customers basically saying ‘I’m so, so sorry. We’re not ALL terrible.’
Finally, I heard the crazy lady over there yell that she’d put all her stuff back and go shop somewhere else.
Turns out that’s not what she did. Instead, she ended up going to the exit on the other side of our department and trying to walk out with everything in the cart. My manager saw this and calls local police, and so did the cashier on the register down there. The police sent some of their guys over to her, and they tried to stop her. Now, I didn’t get to leave the register because we were packed, but I was told she tried to fight a few of the people before the cops got there. Ended up with her getting arrested.
The rest of my day was bad anyway, but that made it a bit better.”
Throwing In The Towel
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“This happened Mother’s Day lunch- the restaurant industry’s equivalent of Black Friday.
People REALLY don’t like the old fashioned swipers because there is a paper record with all of their credit card info- totally understandable. We tried doing everything we could think of- turning it off and on, plugging in the backup machine, calling customer service (on a Sunday- yeah right!), pressing all kinds of combos of buttons. Nothing worked.
We called pseudo manager one. She berated us for daring to call her on Mother’s Day (ALL of us working that day were mothers or step mothers, it’s part of the restaurant industry). We called pseudo manager two. She’s not a mother but never worked Sundays so by two pm was completely trashed. She couldn’t put together a coherent sentence, let alone drive in to help with this absolute mess. All the while, customers were yelling at us for taking so long and using the insecure machines.
Finally, called the owner. He was on his boat for the day with his girlfriend and made it clear with his first comment that he was not cutting his fun day short to come in. At this point we just throw our hands up and tell the customers that there was truly nothing left that we could do. I mean, this guy’s restaurant was figuratively burning down and he wouldn’t come back from his boat?
After a couple more phone calls the owner realized how bad the situation was and came in to deal with it as I was leaving. I thought strongly about calling out my next shift. Actually only the second worst shift I’ve worked, believe it or not.”
I’m Not Leaving
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“Former GameStop manager. The worst one I ever worked was in 2006. Everyone wanted a freaking Wii. When I got to the store at 4:00 am to prep for the 5:00 am opening, there were people wrapped around the shopping center in a line for the freaking thing even though I had a sign on the door explicitly stating that we could only guarantee them for the first six people. When I made the announcement to the folks in line, I thought I was about to get my butt kicked by more than a couple ticked-off grandmas and soccer moms who had been waiting since midnight.
After opening, our systems were unbearably slow when processing credit cards, but they still worked. The rest of the day was busy, but not too terrible other than the rude people who couldn’t find a Wii.
Fast forward three days later, a lady walked in to the store with a bank statement and started laying in to me about her card being charged $200 four times (processing, not drafted yet). She insisted that she wouldn’t walk out until I gave her $600 cash from the register. It ended with her and I on speaker phone with my district manager who politely told her to frick off and call her bank. Cops were very nearly called during the ensuing screaming. This was with a store packed with customers. Fun stuff.
As it turned out, our credit card processor had been overwhelmed that day, and this turned out to be a wide issue. It was the explanation for the system slowdown on Black Friday. The charges dropped off after a couple days.
She had every reason to be upset. I would be too. This woman made it very personal, to the point where she was taking liberties with my own self and appearance. Be ticked off, but you can be angry without being a raging brat.”
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“I worked at the LEGO store in the mall. It was a really fancy mall. Anyways, we were all about interacting with the parents and especially making the kids feel special. It was probably the best place in retail to work, not gonna lie. If I could have had full time with benefits I’d have stayed.
Anyhow, early December a woman came into the store with her two children – probably aged five and seven, no older than that. I overheard her say, ‘I’ll be back, stay here,’ and she just left them.
Not a word to us, she just vanished. Within minutes it got busy, as in, 50 customers plus kids. There are only three employees in the store: two on the register, then there was me, the shift manager, supposed to be helping people shop.
There was no way I was taking my eyes off of these kids, but there were too many people here. Five minutes went by. Then ten. Then fifteen. I was checking in with these little dudes to see how they’re holding up. They were just fine, but I’m the type who takes 100% responsibility for children in my store. I called mall security because I was freaking out about the need to watch them. At this point, I had to make a return and do a bunch of customer maintenance. No way to keep track of the kids.
Turns out mall security called the cops. The officers show up about 25 minutes after this lady left her kids. The lady officer got down and made small talk with the boys while the man waited outside. Things slowed to a crawl im the store, so my fellow employees entertained the boys while I spoke with the officers. Apparently their mother had gone to THE OTHER MALL ACROSS THE EFFING FOUR-LANE STREET. At 7:30pm. During crazy-busy shopping time.
She eventually did come back for them, but it had been close to an hour. And in Ohio, that is way past what counts as child abandonment. I don’t know what happened to her/them, but all I remembered is the shock of ‘who the heck thinks that’s a good idea’ and ‘oh my gosh is she going to jail’ while I watched the officers take her and her children away.”
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“I worked at a big box store last year. I was in charge of answering the phone. Only, our cordless handsets were broken so I literally could not leave the fitting room counter because that’s where the landline was plugged in.
So of course it was super busy, and I found out right away that if I parked a call and walkied the proper department to take the call, that call would not be taken because all the other employees were too busy assisting customers who were in the store. Even if I asked a question about item availability over the walkie, nobody answered because they were too busy.
Yes, our store had little scanner devices that we could use to check on item availability. But not a single member of management in that store thought to reserve one for the telephone operator. After asking for one over the walkie three times and receiving no response, I gave up.
The end result of this was that customers would call to see if we had an item in stock, and I would have to tell them that, to be honest, I had no idea. As you can imagine, the customers did not like this at all. One of the managers installed new cordless handsets about an hour before my shift ended, but the eight hours prior had been absolute horror.
Oh, and a few days later, I got pulled aside by a supervisor who hasn’t even been in the store during my shift that day. She said that apparently, I wasn’t my usual cheery self on Black Friday and that I had told a customer over the phone that I didn’t know if we had an item in stock. The customer had actually called back and complained.
It took everything I had not to go off on her, and the only reason I didn’t was because she wasn’t there during my shift and none of it was her fault. But to the other members of management: OF COURSE, I TOLD THAT PERSON I DIDN’T KNOW IF HIS ITEM WAS IN STOCK. I HAD LITERALLY NO WAY OF KNOWING. You did not give me any of the tools I needed to do my job, and you ignored me when I asked for them. And then you wanna coach me on my customer service? OH HECK NO. That’s on you, frackers.
I am SO glad I no longer work there.”
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“My first Black Friday was gross. We were relatively calm and then suddenly a lady burst into the store with a cart from Target and headed to our bathroom. I shrugged it off. A few minutes later a customer asked where the bathroom is and I pointed her to it. She came back seconds later saying that someone used the bathroom on the floor.
It was my first job and my first Black Friday so I called a manager. My manager went in and rushed out. Apparently the lady who first rushed in took a poo but missed. Instead of in, she did it next to the toilet bowl. My manager ended up having to clean it up(thank god for not being certified in bodily fluid cleanup). I went outside the bathroom and saw cart tracks of poo making a little path through the store.
I have no clue how it got on the wheel. I mopped it up and later in the day I found another poo spot by/almost under one of the couches. I have no clue how that happened.
It was disgusting. Surprisingly I was still able to eat after that but my manager couldn’t. We haven’t had anything like that happen again and instead of Black Friday, it was known as Brown Friday.”
Never Going Back
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“When I was in school, I worked at Walmart for the holidays. They had a ‘fun agreement’ where if you worked Thanksgiving 6:00 pm until Black Friday morning 6:00 am, you didn’t have to come in Black Friday. (Fun, right?)
So after Thanksgiving lunch with my boyfriend’s family at 4:00 pm, I headed to work where I put on an oversized yellow smock with a blue sun on it. I was put in charge of 70-inch plasma screen television vouchers. I was given seven vouchers to distribute at 8:00 pm so customers could go to the register, pay for the television, and have it loaded into their car around back.
So problems arose very quickly. A line for the 70-inch television began as I started my shift at 6:00 pm. As soon as seven people formed a line, I had to turn people away. At 8:00 pm, the vouchers were distributed. Customers One and Two were husband and wife. They were an older couple who brought camping chairs to wait for their two vouchers. Here’s where the mess started. Customer Eight approached me for a voucher. I told him that they had all been distributed and he was free to come back within the hour to see if anyone surrendered their voucher. He then became visually distressed and angry, to which there was nothing I could do. In came customer One from before, the older man from the couple. He offered to sell his VOUCHER to customer Eight for what was close to the price of the on-sale television that had NOT BE PURCHASED. Customer Eight agreed reluctantly, pulled out the money in exchange for the television voucher. The older couple then walked off with not only Mrs. Customer Two’s television voucher but also THE NEWLY ACQUIRED CASH TO BUY SAID TELEVISION AT THE REGISTER.
In came customer Nine who addressed me VERY ANGRILY with ‘HEY YOU! Aren’t you going to do something about that!?’ while gesturing wildly at the older couple who totally scored and the poor guy who essentially paid double for a Black Friday television.
I had to let that customer know that what others did with the vouchers was their business. This guy got WAY to close to me and one of my coworkers noticed and came to help. The guy then TOOK OFF IN A HUFF and claimed Walmart ‘cheated him.’
Two months later, I quit to work in my licensed field and never looked back. Years later, still no regrets. I don’t even like going into the store I worked at.”
Never Looked Back (Almost)
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“We had this happen at McDonald’s when I was eighteen. This McDonald’s was smack dab in the middle of the mall, Menards, Target, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Best Buy. When I got there at 11:00 pm to help us open at midnight (we weren’t a 24-hour store due to everything around us closing) and there was already a line of cars wrapped around the drive-thru. As I tried to get in the employee door, I had to fight a woman off me who tried to squeeze in past me.
So they told me I was in the middle of three tills because I’m fast. That’s fine. But on my left is a 50 something-year-old woman who started two days prior and a sixteen-year-old who I had never seen before. They had just hired her the day before, it was her first day.
Doors opened and the computers crashed ten transactions in. We were given calculators and a pen and paper. The manager was shouting back orders Gordan Ramsey style and I was having to teach two cashiers tax. It took them ten minutes to even find prices on the boards behind them. Customers realized I was the only one pushing people out and started migrating to my line.
Then the sixteen-year-old said the one thing to me that will stay with me for the rest of my life. ‘How do you make the numbers after the period?’
‘What??’ I asked.
‘You know, what numbers are all the little metal pieces?’ She said.
‘You don’t know what coins are? Do you not know how to make change?’ I asked incredulously.
She looked at me with her big dumb eyes and I just took my hat and shirt off, left them at that register, and never looked back.
Except when I had to bring back my pants and belt in because they wouldn’t give me my paycheck.”
Taking It Personally
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“I only ever worked one Black Friday in my life. It was during my time at a craft store. There were two things that were constant during my year working there: the fact that every day was extremely slow because we were never too busy and the fact that for some reason, 90% of the customers that came in were more rude than anywhere else I’ve ever worked. So I was thinking I’d have the typical rudeness, but it won’t be too bad because we’re always so slow. I couldn’t be more wrong. For the first time ever, I couldn’t spend thanksgiving with my family because I had to work at 8:00 pm so I was already in a bad mood. That night, I had things thrown at me multiple times, was screamed at much more than usual, and was trampled by a gang of old ladies as I was attempting to head back to the break room.
But the worst moment came when a customer tried to buy a pack of scrapbook page protectors. The customer was attempting to buy a pack of 25 but was convinced the price was wrong because she was looking at the sticker for the pack of 10. She screamed at me for a good five minutes while I calmly tried to explain the price. Finally, it ended with the quote, ‘You’re ruining my Thanksgiving, you stupid brat.’
Trying not to scream back after that comment, I replied with ‘I’m sorry to hear that, but unfortunately, I cannot give you the lower price as it was not mislabeled.’
She responded to that by throwing a punch, which I ducked. My manager saw the whole thing and the customer was dragged out and banned from our store.”