[I'm sorry for how long this is. When I tell stories, I hate telling abridged versions that cut off context or detail.]
This story takes place while I was the only manager on duty at a pet store at the end of the night. I was trying to close the store and since we're usually dead empty at that hour on a weeknight, I only had one cashier left on the floor. The phone rang and my cashier answered it while she was finishing up a credit transaction with a customer at her till -- an ordinary occurrence when we're busy and no one's ever complained about a cashier multitasking before. Until now.
My cashier answered the previously-mentioned caller's question and was off the phone about the time the next customer in line stepped up but already he wasn't happy. I didn't hear what was being said but she said later that he started rudely asking if she was a manager over and over again.
She said no and he said he wanted to speak to one because he couldn't believe she was so rude to her customers. She asked why he would say that and he explained that he couldn't believe she had answered the phone while still in the middle of helping a customer. [Note: she was waiting for the customer to answer 900 different questions on our pin pad so it's not like she could address him anyway.]
My cashier paged for me to come to the front but at that very moment I was answering another phone call we had just received. My cashier tried to ring up the man's items while they waited (a tray of 12 dog food cans and a small 6lb bag of dog food) but the man was still berating her for being "unprofessional" even while she was trying to serve him.
I didn't know harassment was occurring (otherwise I would have been up front in a heartbeat) but when I heard her page me a second time, I popped my head out of a nearby aisle to make sure everything was alright. Apparently by then the customer decided he would wait to speak with a manager and the man (who looked like a 60 yr old Hitler wearing hipster glasses and a 1980's purple windbreaker) had stepped away from the till and appeared to be waiting patiently off to the side.
I began to approach them and was about to get off my phone when the customer saw me, sighed dramatically, said something about everyone being on "fucking phones" and fumed out of the store. My cashier had a good laugh at how mad the guy got when he saw me on the phone myself while waiting to complain about her being on the phone.
Not ten minutes later the guy came back. Apparently my cashier had seemed "distracted" while she was trying to ring him up and accidentally charged him for 24 cans of dog food instead of 12. I can't imagine what could have been distracting her while she was supposed to be paying attention to Hitler yelling at her. Still, I was willing to get him his refund but instead of just letting me press a couple keys on a till, he wanted me to follow him out to his car to show me he only had 12 cans. It was an odd demand but outside was where he decided to tell me how horrible it is for cashiers to help customers who aren't physically present inside the building.
That was when he began describing my cashier using vulgar sexual terms (that I won't be repeating here) in an attempt to further degrade her. While my cashier happens to be a well-endowed girl, that has no bearing on her intelligence and job capability and it took a lot of effort to not backhand the misogynistic troll right there onto the asphalt.
Instead I just interrupted his rant with my disinterested-yet-loud authoritative voice, a trick I learned from the military: "We value all customers but we can only help them in the order in which they are received."
My tone of voice made it clear it was no longer open for discussion. He shut up, having been interrupted and ignored but I guess the idea of equality only made him stew some more while we walked back to complete his refund.
Inside he demanded the name and phone number of my regional supervisor -- a person whose last name and phone number I don't know and wouldn't give out even if I did. I gave him the Customer Service Hotline number instead but the guy was absolutely appalled that I didn't know my boss's, boss's, boss's last name and home phone number. That I didn't have this information was simply astonishing to him for some reason. I completed the return and he tried one last time to insist that we shouldn't be on the phone when there's a customer in line.
His routine was getting old so I pulled my hand back that was about to give him his receipt back, turned sharply to face him and asked him point blank: "Was she taking a personal phone call?"
Maybe I turned too quickly because the sudden movement wasn't what he was expecting. "N-No, it sounded like she was talking to someone about those Bissel cleaners over there..." He pointed at the carpet cleaners along our back wall.
Me: "Was she on the phone while she was ringing you out?"
I held my hand up and started counting off on my fingers. "So it wasn't a personal phone call, she was actively handling company business by providing customer service to a potential customer, and she wasn't on the phone when she was ringing you up? I'm sorry but I really don't see a problem here."
I put his receipt down on the counter in front of him and crossed my arms.
Well that got him pissed and he started yelling, "She should have hung up on that person!"
Me: "No, we're not going to hang up on customers."
Him: "Face-to-face customers deserve priority over anyone else!"
Me: "No, not if someone was being helped before them."
Him: "I used to work retail! I know how this works!"
Me: "No, that's not how it works. I wouldn't hang up on you just because another customer walked up while I was on the phone."
He simply couldn't handle being told 'no' repeatedly and he became livid and started screaming, "I used to work in retail! I know how this is supposed to work! When I'm in the store, I'm the most important person! You're supposed to drop everything and wait on me!"
Those were words that he yelled! Out loud! To me! A fellow human being and TIME magazine's 2006 Person of the Year! I'm not sure what I expected him to say but those words left me completely dumbfounded. All I could do was roll his last sentence around in my head while repeating it to myself over and over again incredulously. I'd like to take a moment to say that yeah, I shouldn't have let this escalate so far. If you're having an argument with a customer in the first place, you've already failed as a manager. I don't really have an excuse for my behavior except to say that if I was ever going to be fired, I've always wanted it to be because I put a self-righteous misogynistic twat like this guy in his place. Completely worth it in my book.
Fuming, 1980's Hipster Hitler snatched the receipt from my hand, ordered me to return everything and then demanded that I call my regional supervisor myself. At roughly 8:45pm. On a weeknight. I said no but told him he could call the 800 number I had given him. Not good enough. He demanded that I call it for him. Now I had left the store phone in my office in the time between Hitler's departure and his return so I asked if he had his phone on him because I'd dial it for him.
At this point I guess he thought I was being deliberately belligerent and he just lost his shit completely. He threw the 12 cans of dog food onto the floor and then threw his 6lb bag of kibble at the store's giant glass front windows and leaves after declaring we'd lost a customer forever. Somehow the bag did not break and my cashier and I just sorta stared at each other for a couple seconds and then burst out laughing.
A great story if it ended there but the guy sat in his car for about thirty seconds, then came back to retrieve his goods and caught us laughing at him.
He screamed, "I'm glad you think this is so fucking funny!" as he tried to pick up his now scattered and dented dog food cans. I helped the poor guy pick up his cans and found his bag where he had thrown it, then I wished him a lovely evening as that purple windbreaker stormed outside and out of our lives forever.
Oh, and he almost hit a light pole trying to speed out of the parking lot.
We never heard back about this guy. The Customer Service Hotline phone number I gave him was essentially a line for callers to leave voicemails. I'm guessing that as entitled as the guy was, when he found out he wasn't talking to an actual person, he gave up completely and moved to South America.