Content edited for clarity. There are moments when you just can't hold back any longer. These workers reached the end of their ropes during a work shift. And they don't regret a thing. At the end of the day, if they would lose their job or not, it was worth seeing the look on the customer's faces.
“I was in sales with a multinational, was asked to entertain the MD(maximum demand) of a customer to a weekend of skiing together with my boss. I did not like the customer but in my early 20s did not feel I could say no. I did take the precaution of booking myself the last room in a different hotel to limit the time I had to spend with him.
At the last minute, my boss bailed on me, leaving me, a young woman, to deal with this man for two whole days alone.
So we met and skied the first day, during which he continually tried to ‘teach me to ski’. I am a pretty good skier, but he was the customer, so I swallowed my wrath and said nothing. By the end of the day, I had had a bellyful.
We had arranged to have dinner together that evening. His patronizing and egotistical personality continued grating on me and I was literally biting my tongue. Until the moment that somehow the conversation turned to a disabled skier, we had seen on the slopes that day. I mentioned how inspiring I found such folks, truly demonstrating ‘where there is a will there is a way.’ He looked me in the eye and said he thought anyone who was ‘less than perfect’ should be euthanized at birth. My blood literally boiled. I told him that far from being ‘perfect’ some people might think he was an ignorant arrogant b-d but no one euthanized him. I could not tolerate sitting there one second longer and left.
The following day we met as prearranged, but I still could not tolerate this moron, and I knew the ski resort. So I led him down the first run, allowed him (the master skier) to overtake me, and then carefully took the right-hand fork where he had skied left. I skied alone for the rest of the day, remembering all the lovely people who have crossed my path and who happen to have different abilities to mine. And smiling at the joy of those friendships.
Fast-forward one month (I was waiting for him to file a complaint and to be fired – but I truly did not care), and I was asked to drive to their factory to meet their CEO. I was nervous as I had never met such a VIP before (I was 23), and asked a kind-hearted colleague to come with me, having told her about the nightmare weekend. We arrived, were taken out to lunch by the CEO, the finance director, and the horrible customer. And nothing happened. There was a tiny bit of conversation about our business but for the most part just polite chat. On the way home I told my colleague I had no idea what that was about. The following day, the CEO called me to tell me he had fired the horrible customer whose attitude the CEO felt did not embrace the values of his organization, but could not do so until he found a way to be able to get in touch with me, as their factory was dependent on our product.
Fast forward again, this time more than 20 years, I am now a member of the senior management of my company. And now I know that, had I been brave enough to tell my organization what had happened, they would have backed me to the hilt, not fired me. So I use the story to help our folks know that standing up for what you believe is right will never be perceived badly in our organization.”
“When I was fifteen, I worked at a grocery store for a couple of years. And I was constantly made fun of and talked down to by customers because of my name, Tyler, which is apparently unusual for a female.
I’d heard everything from ‘that’s a man’s name, have you considered changing it?’ to ‘wow, your mother sure didn’t want you, did she?’ One particularly tough day after only three hours of sleep followed by eight-and-a-half hours of school and my nearly completed five-hour shift, I was on edge, to say the least.
A man came through my check-out and began with the usual, ‘Is that really your name?’ And followed up with many snide remarks about how it’s a man’s name and my parents obviously wanted a boy.
I snapped and said to him, ‘All the male Tyler’s I’ve ever met have been fricken weak hoo-hahs,’ (except I added some more flavorful words).
The man turned red in the face and immediately became very visibly angry, but stayed silent as the machine printed his receipt. Our membership card printed a nice message to each cardholder that stated, ‘Thank you for choosing (store name) so-and-so!’ I glanced at his receipt as all cashiers were expected to thank each customer by name. I couldn’t even contain my smile when I got to say to him, ‘Have a great evening, Tyler!’
I immediately felt prepared and happy to accept any punishment I may receive. My customer went immediately to my manager and told him that I had called him an ‘f – ing p—y.’ My lineup of new customers and I were all smirking and stifling laughs while he yelled at my manager about ten feet away from me. My manager motioned me to close my till. I put out the closed sign. And happily rung through the rest of my customers wishing them all a great evening.
My manager called me into his office, with two assistant managers, and shut the door. I was nervous but not ashamed as I waited for someone to yell at me, but instead, they burst out laughing and said to me that I will be getting off with a warning but only because of how well I had handled the constant bullying for the last couple of years and that they’ve never had any problems with me before and besides this incident, I had been a model employee. This was my only free pass and it came with a few high-fives. I left the office with a smile on my face and got to go home a few minutes early with pay.
Obviously, my manager handled the angry customer very professionally, saying that he didn’t tolerate that behavior from any of his employees and that I would be dealt with. I never had another outburst again and continued working at the store until well after my high school graduation.”
Above His Pay Grade
“Long ago and far away, I used to work for the local newspaper. Part of my job was ‘running kicks’ as they called it or, in plain words, delivering missed papers. Somehow, this new customer was signed up for a subscription and somehow, they kept getting missed. My supervisor made every effort to ensure they got their paper, but somehow it kept coming up missing- likely theft.
One morning I was out doing my usual address checks and yes their address was on the list, yes the paper was at the end of their driveway and yes I left another one just in case. But a few hours later, their address came across my pager (I told you this was long ago). So I drove over there and pulled up the driveway to the house even though there was a sign not to and they didn’t want their paper left on the porch which we could have done. There was a woman in the yard and she immediately started to scream at me, seemingly for everything wrong in her world.
She hadn’t even let me get out of my car and I was trying to explain to her that there was a paper left by her carrier, I had left another and if she wouldn’t mind us driving even halfway up the drive to leave the paper since the house was set back off the road a piece, she would be more likely to actually get it every day. Somehow this sent her into a rage and she started screaming at me again. She paused to take a breath and I took my shot.
I told her politely and in a calm voice, ‘Look, lady. I’m trying to help you. Do you want the paper or not? Because I don’t have all day to sit here and listen to you scream at me for something I didn’t do or have any control over. I have other customers who may have been missed or had their paper stolen too and they’re waiting on me to bring them one.’
She started screaming at me again and at that point, I had enough. I told her, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t get paid nearly enough to take stuff like this from people like you. And by the way, since you have been so incredibly rude to me if you miss your paper on any given day from here on out you had better hope and pray that I’m not working that day because I won’t be bringing you one.’
Now she was really set off. She threatened that she would be calling my supervisor. I replied, ‘Go ahead. I’ll have her on the radio before you make it to your front door.’
Since she was already headed across the yard to the house, I tossed her paper out the window into the dirt driveway/yard and drove away. Yes, I had the supervisor on the radio before I reached the end of the drive. I told her what was going on and how rude this person is and was to me. Since it was the walkie-type radio, everybody in our office in the neighboring districts and the dispatchers all heard what was going on and how rude the woman was. I let dispatch know she would likely be calling in to complain and that her paper is in the yard, she just needed to march her crabby self out there and pick it up.
Yes, I did get fired over this incident, but I was already looking for something else because I could feel a change coming and figured I wouldn’t be at this job much longer. Within a week I had something else lined up and had moved on. From what I heard later, my supervisor told the woman that unless she allowed the route driver to come up the drive and leave the paper halfway or even on her porch as a convenience- there was nothing else she could or would do and once her paid subscription ran out, she would advise sales not to renew.”
That Woman Should Not Have A Pet
“Back in the day, I was working at a local animal shelter while putting myself through college. The job did not pay much, and there were no benefits, but at least at the end of the day, I felt I was helping a life or two. Most of them were Lab crosses, and most of them ended up dead. Maybe some of them remembered being treated decently before they were put down.
Anyway, I was one of the few employees there that were not doing community service. The community service employees did not always come in with the best attitude, but they did work as hard as the rest of us, and almost all of them ended up caring about the dogs and cats we took care of.
One day a woman was there to find a little Shih-Tzu-type dog and was allowed to go back to the cages and look around. One of the community service workers was down on her knees cleaning out one of the bottom-tier cages. The woman wanted to look at a dog and told the worker to help her. Now.
‘I am busy. You can wait until I am done or call someone else,’ the worker said.
‘Get off your butt now,’ the woman yelled, ‘You lazy people are only here because you do not know how to treat a customer at a real business,’ and she just kept going on about this.
I was at another bank of cages when I heard the woman tear into the poor worker. I walked over to her and yelled in her face, telling her that the people working at the shelter were doing a lot more for pets than she ever would. The nasty woman walked out, but stopped and complained to the manager about me.
No, I was not fired. The manager asked me why I yelled at the customer, and I explained myself. They gave me a written reprimand, something that I have always been proud of. I wish I could have a copy of that reprimand so that I could frame it and hang it in my office!”
Do It Now!
“I was working in a paint and wallpaper store. A woman had come in the week before asking me to match a stain for her, as she was adding on to her kitchen and needed the new part to match the old. The color was a dark black-brown-green color that used to be called ‘Spanish Oak’ and was no longer made. I tried explaining to the customer that the color was a factory-made color and probably couldn’t be matched with universal tint colors. She told me to try anyway. I did, and it looked close on the piece of wood I used from our stock. She approved it, I mixed up a gallon, and off she went.
On this particular Saturday, I was just getting ready to walk out the door to go to lunch when the woman and her daughter came in. The woman was upset. She had her painter at the house to stain her wood, and as she would point out numerous times, he was getting paid by the hour. Apparently, the stain wasn’t matching on the new work in her kitchen. She had the stain can in one hand and an actual door from a new cabinet in the other. She wasn’t going to wait until my lunch break was over. She wanted the stain matched now. I explained once more that the color she needed was no longer made and we could only do so much with the materials at hand. She insisted I fix the color.
I took the can in the back and tried adding more colorant to it, but it just wasn’t going to get any darker or closer in tone to the original. I brought the new sample out. She looked at it and said it wasn’t good enough. Again she told me her painter was waiting at her house and he was getting paid by the hour. I told her there was nothing more I could do with the stain. Then she asked me, rather angrily, ‘Well, what do you suggest I do?’
I told her, ‘I suggest you go home, burn down your kitchen, collect the insurance, rebuild your kitchen, and stain it in an attractive color!’
Needless to say, she wasn’t humored by the comment (although I remember hearing a couple of customers snickering). She demanded to speak with the manager. My manager had witnessed the entire exchange, and she defended me, saying that I had explained the difficulty of matching the stain, I had done the best match I could with the tools we had, and that if the customer wanted a refund she could have one. After the refund was given, I finally got to take my lunch.”
No Patience Left
“My sister was a manager for a membership warehouse and they had this one woman that would come in once a month, demand a one-day pass, do her shopping and then pitch a fit when she couldn’t use her credit card (it was cash or debit card only). And she did this every month. Well, she demanded to speak with a manager and since my sister was on duty, she got to deal with her. Once again, my sister explained the rules to her and offered to take care of setting up a membership right then and there.
The woman didn’t want to pay the $55 and began to berate my sister who was waiting her out. Finally, the woman shouts at her to go to h-e-double hockey sticks to which my sister responded, ‘Ma’am, I’m already there.’
Could have heard a pin drop in the membership areas as all the employees turned to stare at her. The customer had nothing further to say, so my sister calmly turned and left. The woman never came back to that warehouse. My sister wasn’t fired (for that) although her boss had a good laugh about it.”
She Wasn’t Wrong
“It didn’t occur to me that I might get fired at the time. This customer was extremely obtuse when I finally talked to him. Years ago I worked in a bank. The teller who already had a lengthy conversation with him finally sent him to my desk because she couldn’t get through to him. He was incensed because his account was negative. He just returned from Las Vegas and would call the Telephone Banking line to get his balance while there.
I asked him if there were any outstanding checks or automatic payments such as utilities, car payments, insurance, etc, that came out of his account for it to go negative.
He kept repeating, ‘What difference does it make? Telephone Banking said there is money in the account.’
After going around and around with him, and asking if he kept a check register (I finally figured he didn’t), I became exasperated with his lack of understanding of how a checking account works, among other things.
As he was leaving, still angry that his account was negative, I blurted out loudly, ‘You do not deserve a checking account!'”
Bless Her Heart
“Working retail on a Sunday in the Bible Belt was always just getting bullied by church folk who always come in after their services to buy their Sunday dinner (rather than cook it themselves), and usually manage to complain that those of us who were working should be at church. I’m not a believer, and this attitude bugged me.
Mrs. UberChristian came to my lane with her family and their two rotisserie chickens, Bob Evans side dishes, and a pan of bakery rolls and proceeded to talk about how it was so sad that I and my unfortunate fellow wage slaves were at the Grocery Ranch and not being saved.
I looked her dead in the eye and said, ‘Ma’am, instead of telling me that I should be at church, you should be on your knees thanking me for being here so that you can buy your dinner instead of having to make it yourself.’
That horrible woman never went through my check stand again.”
Retail Was Not Worth It
“A few years ago I was a manager for a convenience store. A customer came in and tried to use the atm. For whatever reason, it didn’t dispense his money and it didn’t charge him for the transaction. He demanded I give him his money because he thought he was cheated. I explained the atm is serviced by a bank and they merely pay us to rent for the floor space. I had no control over it.
This continued for several minutes and he then stated that he was going to his truck to get something and he guaranteed I would give him his money then. Without thinking, I told him that if he returned with anything other than empty hands, he’d leave in a bag. I was always armed. In the heat of the moment, it just hit me full force. I felt that he was going to pull a piece on me for his money. The company wasn’t really happy with what I said, but they didn’t fire me. I’ve since moved on because I realized retail just wasn’t for me.”
Sir, You Should See A Doctor
“Early this century, I was working in a call center at a law firm which handled asbestos litigation. I got off at 5:00 PM, and the time was 4:55 PM on a Friday. I was ready to jet!
The phone rang, darn it. I answered, and instead of the caller being a typical elderly individual who had spent his career pipe fitting, welding, insulating, etc. it was some young guy, probably 30-something. The conversation went something like this:
He said, ‘Hi, I saw your ad about mesothelioma and I think that’s what I’ve got.’
I asked, ‘Have you obtained a formal diagnosis?’
‘Well, from reading about the symptoms online I think that’s what I have,’ he replied.
Bewildered, I said, ‘Simply to confirm, no pathology has been performed at this point?’
He responded with, ‘No, but I’ve got all the symptoms!’
I don’t have time for this! I thought to myself before saying, ‘Sir, mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is typically fatal within six months (this was true at that time). Are you telling me that’s what you have?’
He replied, ‘Well, I, uh, er, maybe I should look into it on my own a little further. Goodbye!’
I ended the call by saying, ‘Thank you for calling, sir.’
Was it terrible on my part, and could it have gotten me fired? Perhaps. Did I feel guilty about it? Not particularly.”
She Had Enough
“About a year ago when I was working at Starbucks, I was positioned in the drive-thru window during peak time. It was fairly early in the morning and I was about halfway done with my shift. The line in the drive-thru was really long, and some customers were irritated, but, for the most part, they’d pay for their coffee and go.
Since I had been dealing with some snarky comments all morning, I was feeling tired of the window and ready for a position change when this one customer comes up. It was a beat-up old truck with two dusty middle-aged men who had ordered a plain coffee and a latte.
The driver immediately handed over an old free drink coupon that we no longer accept. It had been standard to not accept those coupons for months now, almost a year, so I told him as much. Corporate wouldn’t allow it. The guy started getting angry and demanded I take it. I told him I could ask my manager to see what she says.
Sure enough, she said no.
He was raising his voice at this point, waving the coupon in my face telling me to use it and I repeated multiple times that we couldn’t accept it and I was sorry but there was nothing I could do. Even my manager had told me not to take it. He asked in a snobby tone, ‘Is there an expiration on it?’
I turned it all around, no expiration. Well, then I have to use it according to him.
‘I’m sorry, but I can’t accept this. The system won’t even allow it anymore.’
He then yelled at me, ‘Stop telling me that.’
To which, after having him hold up my line for five-plus minutes and yelling at me the whole time, I replied, ‘Then stop asking.’
He went beet red and demanded my manager, calling me vulgar names, and I headed into the backroom to let them talk and give myself a breather. He had yelled at her too and told her what happened.
When he left finally and it slowed down, I asked my manager what happened. Apparently, he was saying rude things to her too and told her I had a ‘poor attitude.’ She ended up giving him both drinks for free and banned him from the store.
Everyone there didn’t believe what he said about me and said my attitude was way too nice and that it seemed out of character for me to say something like that. They asked if I was okay and that was the end of it.”