RHU has been one of my daily reads for quite a while now, and I've left a few comments under several aliases, the most recent of which has been Reliable Slave. So I guess you can call me that. I've been a Retail Slave for over two years now as a drone for a Major Supermarket Chain. Specifically, I work in the Deli Department of our store, which shall be referred to from here on out as "Location M."
Now the way Location M is designed, the deli shares its back room and walk-in cooler with the Cheese Department. Deli is a traditional supermarket counter, so our entrance to the back room is behind the counter, but Cheese is laid out as a sort of free-standing island in the middle of the aisle, so its entrance is readily accessible to the public.
Can you see where this is going?
Anyway, it was maybe ten minutes after I'd clocked in for the day and arrived behind the counter. It was the weekend, so naturally the counter had been crazy for the last several hours, which meant our back wall full of product was seriously depleted. Fortunately, we had a momentary lull in customer traffic, so I volunteered to start re-stocking the wall. I grab a cart and head into the back room.
There was a guy walking around in there. Which isn't unusual, since between Deli and Cheese, the back room sees a lot of employee foot traffic. Only I'd never seen this guy before, he wasn't wearing a MSC uniform or nametag that I could see, he didn't have a hat on (which is required if you're in a food-prep area), and he was talking not on one of the store's cordless phones, but on what appeared to be his own personal smartphone.
Puzzled, I returned to the deli counter and asked one of the assistant managers (who shall henceforth be referred to as Sweetie), "Who's that guy in the back room?" Sweetie gave me a confused look.
"There's a guy in the back room talking on his cell phone. I've never seen him before."
Sweetie, our other assistant manager (I'll call him Jag), and our brand-new manager (Codename: Joker) all crowd around the door to the back room and start peering through the window at the mystery man. They're soon joined by several of our coworkers. Nobody recognizes the man or knows what he's doing there, though there is speculation he might be the new Cheese Department hire we've been hearing rumors about.
After a minute, our new Assistant Manager (call-sign Nemo, he's going to be Sweetie's replacement) returns from stocking our pre-packaged case and asks what's going on. We tell him about the mystery man and our suspicions that he's a new employee. Nemo takes one look, and his eyes get really big.
"Holy crap!" he exclaimed, "That's [NAME]!"
"Who?" we all asked.
"Wait..." Sweetie said, "You mean he's a customer?"
"Yeah! He doesn't work here!"
No sooner had the words left his mouth than Sweetie marched into the back room and approached the crusty.
"Excuse me, sir," she said, politely but firmly, "You can't be back here."
Crusty gave Sweetie the stink-eye, cupped his hand over his phone's mouthpiece, and huffs, "I'm on the phone!"
"Sir," Sweetie replied, "This is an employees-only area. You are not allowed back here."
"It's too loud out there!" Crusty complained, "I can't hear my phone!"
"Sir, you're not wearing a hat," Sweetie explained, "That's a health-code violation. Now you need to leave this area right now."
Crusty gave a very big, dramatic sigh, flipped Sweetie the bird, and stormed out of the back room, griping to whoever was on the other end of his call about how rude the employees were.
Now, like I said, the Cheese Department's door to the back room is accessible to the public, but there is a HUGE "Employees Only" sign on the door, and a second one at eye level right next to the door. They are all but impossible to miss. And the back room is filled with prep-tables, sinks, cabinets, and shelves. It's obviously not part of the sales floor. Anyone with half a brain can tell that customers are not supposed to be back there.
And while I do sympathize with Crusty because the store does get very loud, especially during the weekends, for the love of all that is good and holy on this Earth, if you can't hear whoever is on the other end of your phone conversation, call them back after you're done shopping! Which you should do regardless of the noise level in the store, but that's a rant for another submission. And if the call really is that vital that you can't hang up (and from what I overheard of Crusty's conversation, his wasn't by a long shot), then step into one of the store's restrooms. There's plenty of them, and they're all over the store.
I thought I'd seen everything a Crusty could do, but this guy proved me wrong. And not just me: Nobody had ever seen a Crusty deliberately walk into a back area of the store before. And I don't just mean my department, either. We actually had employees and managers from other departments (even the Front End!) come by and ask us if we'd really had to chase a customer out of our back room.
*sigh* May none of your crusties ever find their way into your back rooms.