Now I'm usually a very polite, conflict-averse person, but on this particular day I was sleep-deprived and had a horrible day at the office, drank way too much coffee to compensate and as a result was kinda on edge. It was freezing outside so on my way home I decided to finally buy a portable heater for my bedroom. I stopped at a hardware store and was crouched down in one of the aisles looking at the various heaters on the bottom shelf.
"Hey I need to find the bathroom fittings" came a voice from behind me. I clearly heard what the woman said, but assumed she was talking to a shop employee somewhere behind me.
"Uhh (clears throat) hello bathroom fittings..." she repeated, using that entitled princess-gets-what-she-wants tone.
I was dressed in suit and tie, so surely, SURELY she wouldn't be confusing me for a hardware store employee. I kept looking at the heater in my hands.
"HEY" she tapped me heavily on the shoulder twice, so I looked back over my shoulder at her. I saw a mid-thirties mother, dressed like she's going to meet the president, inch-thick layer of make-up covering her face, holding her two-year-old on her hip. And she looked pissed.
"Yes?" was all I got out, not expecting the physical contact.
"Are you goddamn deaf? Where are the bathroom fittings?"
Like I said, I'm always polite and would never purposefully start a fight with a stranger, but her words, tone and face instantly annoyed the hell out of me. Being already in a bad mood from dealing with people at work I immediately decided for some reason that there was no way I was going to tell her I didn't work here. I don't know why, but I seemed to think she didn't deserve to know it if she wasn't going to treat someone with basic human respect.
That pushed her over the edge. She started yelling, "What's goddamn rude is you goddamn ignoring me when it's your goddamn JOB to help me! Are you going to tell me where the bathroom fittings are or do I need to go find someone who isn't retarded?" And she stared, hand on hip, as if I somehow didn't realize that she actually does deserve anything she demands.
"Why would I help someone who's screaming at me? You have no idea how to treat people properly do you?" I said, getting annoyed.
After more yelling, she threatened to get "my goddamn manager" onto me and that I'll "lose my goddamn job" not helping a customer. People around were starting to stare.
I gotta admit, something in my head snapped and I upped my volume about 10x. "Hey be my guest idiot, get the manager, see if I care. Just piss off, seriously stop yelling at me! GO AWAY!"
She stood there silent for a couple seconds in disbelief that I said that, then stormed off yelling and cursing that I'll be fired, etc. All the while her child was visibly stressing out at all the yelling happening right in his ear.
So I go back to looking at heaters, trying to get my adrenaline levels back to normal. I choose one, and after browsing for another few minutes I head to the cashier at the front. And standing there in line is Mrs. Moron and her kid. There's nobody behind her, and I walk up and take the next place in line, wondering if she'll notice me. When it's her turn, she goes up to the cashier and unloads her stuff, but it's fairly noisy in the shop so she can't hear the cashier ask her if she was paying by cash or card. She got flustered and told him twice to repeat.
I couldn't help myself.
I leaned over and said "CASH OR CARD, ARE YOU GODDAMN DEAF."
She got startled, looked over and recognized that it was me, the "unhelpful employee" and started yelling at the cashier that I was the worst store assistant she's ever met, that I should be fired for giving this store a bad name etc.
The cashier looked at me, standing in line with heater and wallet in hand, and said "Ma'am he's a customer...?"
"NO NO HE WORKS HERE AND HE REFUSED TO HELP ME..." she trailed off, realising that everything about me indicated my doesn't-work-here status.
She swiped her card, grabbed her stuff and left without another word. I had a laugh with the cashier after explaining what had happened.
Sorry there's no big climax to this story - I just felt like venting!