Number 672 gets a Retail Balls Award for having the courage to speak up to a mom swearing in front of her child:
Number 672 here!
So, it's been a while since I've written, but believe it or not, working the PetShart has been mostly uneventful. This doesn't mean I don't hate it, but there's nothing extra-special awful that stands out. Certainly, nearly every single customer I meet is ignorant, and the chemicals have been giving me skin problems, but other than that, it's not so bad.
I write today for one reason: I hate Christmas.
Christmas brings out the very worst in people, and I've been catching a good dose of that at work. At a job where, though stupid, the customers are generally polite, I've had to deal with pissy, swearing customers more in the past week and a half than in the rest of my time there. My boyfriend compares me to a rabbit in temperament, and I get anxious quickly, so dealing with customer intimidation is an issue for me. Three times have customers felt the need to drop the F-bomb at me or someone else, and so I have to ask: how do you deal with customers who feel the need to swear?
The first time, it wasn't even remotely my fault. A manager told a customer we would have a certain item the next day, but the item sold. Why no, the manager didn't put it on hold for him or anything. Yes, my manager was wrong. No excuse for the guy to go off with, "You've gotta be fucking kidding me!"
The second time, well, this one may have been on me. Our live animal return policy is that you need to have the animal, whether alive or dead, (and the contract you received with the animal, except for fish which don't get a contract) and the receipt.
A man comes in with three fish he purchased that seem to have a skin fungus, and he's already in a foul mood about it, saying we sold him "rotten fish."
My coworker and I are trying to deal with him, but he says he doesn't have one of the receipts for the fish. We look at the receipt he does have- three fish listed. We look at the three fish- they seem to match the ones on the receipt.
Confused, I ask the man, "Okay, where's the fish you don't have a receipt for?"
He replied, "I'm telling you, I don't have the receipt!"
This quickly devolves. To quote Full Metal Jacket, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." He gets it in his head that I'm refusing to do the return, and finally explodes with, "Bitch, it's a fuckin' dollar!"
Every word I say in attempts to explain end with, "It's a fuckin' dollar!"
This guy is loud, so the manager has heard him and approaches. As the man tries to explain what's happening, I offer the manager my side of the story, only to be cut off with, "Fucking bitch, I'm talking to him!"
That's about when I walked away. The manager gets his situation worked out (after threatening to kick the guy out of the store, but not following through) and the guy apologizes before he leaves, but it doesn't change the fact.
Last, it was a lady and her six or seven year old son. It's past nine on a Tuesday night, and she's letting the kid pick a fish for his fishbowl. He doesn't like the bettas (which are the only fish who can live in a fishbowl. No. The only ones. Nothing else will survive. Nobody listens to me when I say this.) She is clearly impatient with him, and finally says, "Hurry the fuck up! I've got to get somewhere!"
Was it aimed at me? No. But I'm a teacher at heart, and I can't stand to see kids treated like that. I find the guts to say, "Ma'am, that kind of language is inappropriate, I'm going to have to ask you to refrain."
She looks at me and says, "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to my son. MY son."
I can only fire back, "Yeah, but still." (Oh, insufferable staircase wit!) Listen, lady, I'm not trying to parent your child, but the fact is that she wouldn't be happy if he started repeating it. (Also, where could she possibly have to be past nine on a weeknight?)
So, I posit this question- what is the appropriate way to handle a customer swearing?
Peace, love, and candy,
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