This story was originally posted on: November 17, 2009
One rather normally warm June afternoon I had a customer walk into my little branch of Retail Hell. At this time I was working in a local electronics store in a strip mall. The worst part about this job was that it was just a mile down the road from the “well to do” housing areas.
This customer was obviously one of them. She came in and wandered around the store for a while finally deciding that she wanted a cell phone. The carrier she picked required a credit check and a small stack of paper work to be filled out by the customer. It was painfully obvious after about two minutes that she did not want to continue with this and became fidgety.
She kept asking if she just couldn’t take the phone and we could just make some information up for the paper work. I tried to assure her that we didn’t have that much longer to go, but it was obvious that she did not want to be there. I should mention at this time that we had about five other customers in the store, and only one other person helping them. Every time my co worker asked me a question the customer would yell out, “I don’t have time for this! Work on my phone! I have to get going!”
After telling the customer that I was going to need to call in for the credit check, she finally lets out a loud and annoyed sigh into the air and stated in a voice loud enough for all to hear, “My KIDS are out there in my car just so you know! If anything happens to them out there it will be your fault! You know how bad it is to leave kids in a hot car in the summer time don’t you? Do you know how hot it is out there?”
I have no idea if this was just an idle threat, or if she actually had left her kids in her car for the last thirty minutes while she was shopping for a cell phone. Obviously it was meant to get me moving faster, but for her it back fired.
As the other customers and my co-worker stood looking at her with their mouths hanging open I just put the phone down and stared down the customer. “Your children have been in the car this whole time?”
“Yes, and you had better hurry up or I will sue if anything happens to them out there!”
I am not someone who responds well to threats so I just laid it out for her.
“Ok, this sale is over. You need to go out there and get your kids and either bring them in here or take them home. Do not use your kids as a bargaining tool.”
She started off with a how dare you speech, but I cut that off as I raised the phone to her eye level.
“Let me make this easy for you. You go out and get your kids, or I call the cops and report you for child endangerment. Your call.”
I lost the sale, as she never came back, but one of the customers did say she left the parking lot with three kids in her car, and was fairly sure that she was heading to the Cell Phone store across the street.
I can only pray that after all these years, the kids are still alive.