So for a while I worked at an office supply store. The interesting part is that I worked in the tech support area of this store. This meant that while younger people knew to go to an actual tech store for their problem, older people often came to our store because they didn't know better.
This is important because that means 90% of our customers are computer illiterate. Having worked there for a couple years, I had developed a good way of wording most computer issues in a way the customer could understand without having any computer knowledge. It turns out that there is a point where you can go too far. Especially when the customer decides to start taking things literally.
M: me; C: customer
So it's opening shift on a Sunday. I had been there for about and hour to open our computer department and look over the computers that the previous associate had left overnight.
I hear the sound of our doors opening and look up to see an irritated, elderly woman marching toward me with something in her hand.
M: Hello ma'am! What can I do for you-
C: My phone don't ring enough!
As she says this she throws the handset of her wireless landline phone that she brought in from her house onto the counter.
I just stared at her for a second, trying to find where to start.
M: Um... I... I'm very sorry, but that's not something I can actually fix here for you. That's actually something that your landline provider-
C: NO! I've called them once before about this! All they did was come in and charge me money to punch a bunch of numbers in on my phone! You're going to do this for free!
Again, a second passes where I'm trying to figure out the best way to move forward with our conversation.
M: So... You've called your provider once before to have this done, which they did, but they charged you. So now you need it done again, but you've come here to get it done for free?
She stares at me a second, probably realizing how awful that sounds.
By this point I'm thinking, "Good! Now she sees she's being a horrible person and maybe she'll calm down and listen!"
M: Well, like I said, that's actually not something I can do for you. Different providers use different ways to change how many times your phone rings. He probably had to call a specific number in order to change that setting. Even if I did have that number, I couldn't even call because this is a landline phone that you have brought here without the base. So it can't even connect to your phone service.
The phone is still on, so I show her the message on the screen that says, "Base out of range."
She stares at the screen a second before looking back up at me.
C: NO! He didn't call no number! He just grabbed the phone and did it! And I know you can do it here!
At this point I go into the phone's settings and show her every single setting. There's ringer volume, change ringer, speed dial, etc. but sure enough, no setting for changing the amount of rings.
Nevertheless, she insisted that I could change the setting if I wanted to.
We went back and forth for a while. I even showed her the website for her phone provider that told her she needed to call them to have that setting changed.
Eventually, I decided I needed to leave. I was going to make one last plea in the simplest terms I could manage to try and get her to leave without me having to call a manager.
M: Ma'am, I promise you, there is no way I can change that setting for you. I would if I could. The phone does decide what ringer to use and how loud to be, but there is actually nothing in that phone that decides how many times it's going to ring-
And what I had failed to consider, was that she would take that sentence literally.
I think something in her broke at that point.
C: "NOTHING IN MY PHONE THAT DECIDES?!" OH, SO PHONES ARE MAKING DECISIONS NOW?! IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME?! PHONES ARE THINKING NOW?!
M: What? No! I-
C: You're telling me that phones are making decisions for me?! What is this world coming to-
It was 10:30 AM on a Sunday. I was tired, annoyed, and had at least 10 more hours ahead of me before I could go home. I was in no way mentally prepared to handle that at that time. So at that moment I started laughing uncontrollably. I tried hard to hold it back, but from beginning to end this interaction had just been so strange that I just couldn't help it.
I decided it would just be best to walk away. So I started nodding along with her insane rantings on phones making decisions for her while choking back laughter and making my way out from around the counter and toward the back of the store.
C: Oh I see! Laugh at the old customer! You don't want to help me! Just smile and nod and eventually she'll leave!
I know I shouldn't have, but I reflexively yelled back.
Before I got myself fired, I made a dash for the back room so I could finally stop laughing. She was gone by the time I came out.