Crook’d Hearts, Tight Wallets: another day in retail hell


Jason 011

From Benjamin Kissell:


Picture it: Autumn 2015 …


“Boy! Boy, c’mere!”

I look up from my crouch, a box-cutter in my hand; it’s 9:04am on a Monday morning – we’ve barely been open long enough to clear the boxes we’re stocking from the truck into a passable path for shoppers and now? This?


               A tall, inelegantly draped woman in polyester and rayon – her wish-it-were-ash-blonde hair thrown into the laziest of chignons – snaps her fingers impatiently from eight aisles (some forty feet) away. You have got to be shitting me.

               “Ma’am?” I slip the cutter into my vest pocket and stand up. I’m also trying to keep my tone neutrally audible, non-confrontational but hearable from SUCH A DISTANCE as I begin to pick my way towards her. I’m also trying to avoid the natural impulse to snarkily raise an eyebrow and lower my lips into a disapproving scowl. It’s not easy right now. There isn’t enough coffee coursing through my veins to cope with this for long today.

“Boy,” she continues, snapping again, as I cautiously approach. Custys, and especially entitled ones, in the wild are easily spooked and tend to go immediately on the offensive. Also – ‘boy’? Really?  I’m a dark-haired (usually kempt, but not always), bearded gay man very obviously in his 30’s (despite my best efforts to appear otherwise), and not (generally) easily confused with a diminutive form of a tow-headed youth … even from ruddy forty feet away.

Bless this entitled wannabe rich bitch’s heart.

Jason 009               “What can I help you with?” I ask, as placidly kind as I can muster, approaching her as she stands in the middle of our Fall Seasonal Valley which is filled with faux pumpkins and maple leaves in bright oranges, muted reds and brown-toned golds.

               “Do you have any more of these,” she thrusts an ad copy in my face – our Sunday ads often vie with magazines for their heft and abundance – and points to the Christmas trees display. The photo features a large, pre-lit and flocked tree photoshopped into absolute (unachievable) Winter Wonderland perfection. It also has a bright red-and-white bubble declaring ‘Introducing our newest tree, coming November 1st:  today is October 19th.

               “No, ma’am – I’m sorry,” I try and have a kind tone and apologetic smile as I look her in the (obviously contacts-because-that’s-not-a-natural-shade-of-blue) eyes. “We don’t have those trees in yet – we’re expecting them on one of the coming trucks; either next Monday or the Monday after.” I pause, then continue, “I’m sorry about that,” just to drive home the retail-politeness they brow-beat into us.

               You’d think, from her expression and shift in demeanor, that I’d just slapped her or stabbed her firstborn in front of her before bathing in its blood.

               “Ex. Cuse. Me?”

                “Ma’am?” I’m reeeeeeeally hoping that my irritation bubbling beneath the surface isn’t readable because this woman is working my nerve.

“It’s right here – in. Print. – That you have this tree. Why would you advertise it if you don’t. Have. It?” She speaks in clipped, slow tones as if I were an errant toddler who had just soiled the rug with a mud pie.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but if you look closely at the ad,” I try to keep a non-toothy smile pasted on my face as I meet her steely, rather inhuman gaze. An old manager drilled into our heads that ‘showing teeth is a form of aggression in the wild; always smile with your whole face, instead’, so I try to smile with my eyes and the freckles and dimples above my beard.

“See, here? There’s an announcement bubble,” I point to the bright spot of color hoping the heat in my cheeks aren’t two more bright spots of color for her to see. “Coming November 1st. We won’t be putting up the Tree Forest until at least next week – we still have so much Fall around,” I gesture to our surroundings with a deferential – and hopefully amused, not irritated – look on my face. “But don’t worry, Christmas is coming.”

She makes a sound that can only be described as a strangled, bitchy sigh.

Excuse me?

What in gay hell? Really?

Jason 008Did this Soccer Mom Custy in wish-it-were-Pashmina with badly-dyed hair (yeah, I said it, so what?) just roll her gotdayum eyes at me? SMIZE Benjamin – like Tyra says. SMIZE.

“Ma’am?” I try and edge concern into my voice, as if I truly care about what’s bothering her; instead of mentally shoving her rude ass off a cliff in my imagination. See, if you aren’t abruptly rude for no reason, retail workers don’t have to fake caring/being nice to you; we actually will be. Instead, we have to fake it for so many, many rude Custys like this – air quotes – ‘kind soul’.

“Let me speak with your manager. This is some false advertising bullshit.”


So that’s how this is going to be, is it? Okay.

“I’m so sorry you feel like that. Let me see if our store AGM, Ms. August, is free,” don’t show teeth. Don’t show teeth. Don’t show teeth. Don’t show teeth even if you want to yell at her dumb ass so loudly she cries and curls into the fetal position. Don’t. Show. Teeth.

“August,” I press the microphone on the radio earpiece I’m wearing. “Would you be able to meet a customer at the Fall Seasonal Valley? She has some …” I pause, searching for the right word. “She has some concerns regarding the promotional ad and our Christmas trees.”

“She does know that they don’t go out for another two weeks, right?” August’s sensible and naturally polite voice, thankfully, can’t be heard outside of the crackling earpiece by the Custy.

“I do believe that that may be the root of her concerns – she wanted to speak with you.”

Despite the years of training and her generally sweet nature, I can picture August rolling her eyes with exasperation – I’m pretty sure I can hear the eye roll, actually.

“A-and it’s already one of those days, isn’t it? Of course it is. Let her know that I’m on my way,” her voice takes on that strained, false chipperness retail workers have ingrained and branded onto our souls.

“Ma’am, Ms. August is on her way; I’m sure that she’ll be able to answer your concerns,” I smile and turn away. I’m pretty sure I bared my teeth just as I said that, despite my best efforts, but my giveafuck is suddenly broken.

And it’s not even 9:15 in the morning.

“Well, that was a giant timesuck,” August quietly mutters as she joins me in the Floral Department almost ten minutes later; I’ve done my best to be as far-as-possible from Can I Speak to Your Manager in the vain hope I won’t slip up and tell her to sod off.

“That fun, eh?”

Jason 026“How hard is it to read the bold print superimposed over the picture you’re obsessed with?”

“Judging from that wonderful Custy’s demeanor, I’d say selective literacy is her superpower.”

“With a bonus talent for being both condescending and incredibly obstinate.”

“Wow – we hit the jackpot with her, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, totally,” August starts as our earpieces vibrate.

“I need a sign check,” the nervous voice of our morning cashier carries over the radio, Lily is sweet, but oh-so-young (I guessed her at 12 her first morning – I was only 5 years off) and still easily intimidated by the hellacious attitudes of the Custys. “A customer says that Fall Baskets are supposed to be 50% off, but, it doesn’t ring that way when I scanned it.”

Both August and I turn and look down the adjacent aisle at the display of Fall Baskets.

“Want me to answer or do you?”

“I got the last one, it’s your turn.”

I stick my tongue out, cheekily, at her before answering (as August stifles a giggle).

“I’m over here and the signs say ‘Buy One Get One 50% Off’ – did she get two or just one basket?”

“Okay, hold on,” she’s still holding her mike button down as I hear a tinny, angry voice declare that ‘that isn’t what the sign said’.

“If you want, I can grab a second, cheap, basket and bring it and the sign up to you?”

“Um,” I can hear the indistinct voice of the Custy in the background being abrasive and impatient.

“Just to be safe, I’m on my way,” I roll my eyes to August as we exchange a world-weary look. Okay, not so much world-weary as Custy-weary; asshat-weary; rude-as-all-get-out-people-weary.

 In other words, retail-weary.

I pass several milling customers as I make my way up to the front of the store, all smiles and determined shopping; they’re in their own worlds and happy to be there. Although, I almost stopped in my tracks when I saw the sticky-with-candy toddler holding one of our foam model kid displays – the Haunted Mansion – his mother had pulled down for him to drool and possibly chew on.

Eww. Just plain eww.

Jason 034“Here you go, Lily.” I set down both a small basket and the sign at her register as I pass behind her doing my best to not catch her rude Custy’s eye.

“Oh, of course you’d be the one.”

The way she said ‘you’d’ makes me look up – oh.

That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Don’t show teeth.

“Hullo again.”

It’s the only thing that comes to mind that isn’t a biting retort or scathingly-delivered, profanity-laced rip. So, I continue on past Lily, offering a quick (and hopefully reassuring) shoulder squeeze as I step up to the counter to type my codes into a register.

“I’ll help the next guest on five,” I loudly proclaim and get lost in the queue and shuffle.

If I can ignore her, and the other rude Custys who seem to emerge from the circles of Retail Hell, today, perhaps I’ll make it through this morning and escape without snapping. I’m on autopilot; smiling, scanning, smiling, faux small-talk, smiling, bagging, smiling, and wishing customers a good day out there in the real world when a sharp intake of breath breaks my lack-of-concentration as the last of my customers walks away.

“Excuse me,” a woman with hair the color of sallow dishwater and a sour expression on her face – like she constantly was getting whiffs of sour milk or burnt hair on her upper lip – suddenly stood in front of me. She appeared, like a badly mimeographed apparition.

“Yes, ma’am? What can I help you with?”

That young lady,” she pointed at Lily. “I want to complain that that young lady said these copic markers weren’t on sale, and yet,” she pauses and suddenly glares, all beady eyes and pursed lips, to gesture emphatically with the tin in her hand. “When I went back there, the sign clearly said that the packs were indeed eight dollars and not seventeen.”

She thrusts the package at me.

“Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am – let me scan it and see what’s going on,” I pull the scanner and watch my screen to see what it says.

Jason 028“Ahh, here we go,” I point to the large screen above her head where the results are displayed. “On our side of the screen, until we hit ‘TOTAL’ it won’t show the sale price, but if you look at the price as it shows on your side, it has the sale pri-.”

“Well, why doesn’t it say that on my receipt?” She interrupts. “Eight dollars really is a huge difference in price. It really is – I don’t know why it wouldn’t; that’s such a difference.”

“Well, let me see – we can scan the receipt and return it so that-“


Her frozen movement reminds me of a computer locking up – she was halfway to handing me the receipt when she simply stops.

“Well then,” she reboots. “It says right here on the receipt the sale price.”

Of course it does.

I really must not show teeth.

“As I was saying, she probably could only see the screen on our side of the register which shows the-“

“See, you were wrong,” she interrupts (again); this time waving the receipt at Lily – her hand inches from Lily’s shocked face. “You said it was full price and it wasn’t. You were wrong.”

“Ma’am, as I was trying to tell you-“

“She really doesn’t know what she’s doing,” she turns back to me, her beady gaze boring into me. “She needs a LOT more training.” If her puckered face could look more like an angry dog’s behind, I don’t want to know.

“As I was saying, she could only see-“

“Eight dollars is really a big difference,” she waves the receipt at both of us as she turns towards the doors.

The line gone, and the queue empty of customers, all we can do, Lily and I, is stare at her as she triumphantly waves the receipt while she walks out into the parking lot. Neither an acknowledgment nor an apology would ever pass those puckered lips.


“You have that right, Lily – just another fun day in Retail Hell.”



 read more tales from Benjamin Kissell here












Entitled Bitch Encounter at a McDonald's Drive-Thru


McHell From Screaming Off Key, January 2013

Today I worked a short shift at my own slice of McHell. I'm one of the very few people who speak English as a first language and without an accent (I sound very flat with and I don't use slang, it's irrelevant but just telling you) so I get put in back cash for drive thru a lot. My restaurant has a rule that you can only have one order per vehicle in the drive thru, if we do otherwise we could be potentially written up.

Incoming Miss Bitch. It had been about an hour since I got there, no one has really annoyed me yet which is a good thing because I get annoyed easily in drive thru. I live up in the more northern part of Canada, I am full blood native/first nation/indian whatever you want to call it. My "people" still annoy the SHIT out of me because they're stupid and expect everyone to kiss their asses.

Suddenly there's a beep in my ear, que "Hi! Welcome to McHells can I take your order?"

I don't get a response, just some muffled talking into a cell phone for a good minute and a half. I don't know if there's a line and I can't tell if she's ever going to order.

Finally I hear "Hold on I'm getting food," and she places an order. And then she says "That's one order and now I'm going to place another one." I turn off the mic for a breath and say, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience but I can only take one order per vehicle in the drive thru."

And the screeching. Miss Bitch takes it upon herself to tell me how ridiculous that notion is, that she NEEDED to place two orders and how I was inconveniencing her and eating up her precious time.

At this point, my manager who is on the other end tells her, "The crew members do not make the rules we just have to follow them and if you need to make multiple orders come inside or go around again because there is nothing we can do." She decides to just make one order, after racking up our drive thru time to seven minutes and leaves.

I sighed and got ready to put on my fake smile for the next person to come thru, I hate working drive thru. May all your custies be intelligent.

--Screaming Off Key



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Retail Balls Awards: Mostrous Old Lady Gets Told




From Cosmetics Hellhound, June, 2011:

I had an older lady come into my store the other day looking for Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Deodorant (Which by the way smells fucking awful).

I had a poke around before I remembered that our store had pulled it from the shelves because it doesn't sell very well at all.

I went over and apologized profusely explaining that I had forgotten that our store did not carry it anymore but I did have a couple other prestige deodorants that I could show her if she liked ... this was when she went from sweet little old lady to demonic bitchcunt in all of .3seconds.


Me: "I'm sorry? I can call a couple other stores nearby to see if th--"

Bitchcunt: "So you are basically telling me that not only is your fucking barsoap sold out, but everything else too? I HAVE HALF A MIND TO CALL YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFFICE TO TELL THEM HOW THIS FUCKING STORE IS RUN."

**Turns out she was looking for Irish Spring Bar Soap in the front too, as I explained before my store is set up with an area cut off with a wall that is brightly lit (think department store almost) with prestige cosmetics such as Lancome, Guerlain, SMASHBOX, etc and then "Front Store" which is the drug store area and mass cosmetics such as L'Oreal, Covergirl, etc**

MonsterMe: "I am sorry you feel that way but there is honestly no reason to be swearing right now we have other clients around here that do not need to be hearing this language"

**INCLUDING a poor little girl no more than 9 or 10 who looked horrified by this decaying, screaming, corpse-like woman in front of us**

Bitchcunt: "I will do what I WANT, sonny, this is a fucking free country isn't it?"

At this point I am about done with her fucking attitude and I am seeing sparks and shaking like a leaf. I ended up doing something that I am so surprised did not get me into heaps of trouble because I am about 9000% sure I am not allowed to do this without managerial permission but you know what? She was a fucking bitch. I would like to think she deserved it.

Me: "I think it's about time you leave, get out of my store."



I started hustling this old bat out the front door but she was still pushing one of our shopping carts, I grabbed it and pulled it away from her and she protested with a "I am not gonna steal your stupid cart" I told her I honestly don't care what she was going to do with it but it is NOT leaving my store and I wrested it from her death-grip.

hen shit got a little weird, she laughed (manically, not haha funny) and stated "I'm just a crazy old biddy I will do what I want" and left the store .... I still don't know how to take that, honestly.

--Cosmetics Hellhound


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Disneyland Hell: Dumbass Customer Invasion


From Mouse, Mastered, April, 2011


Mouse masteredOkay, so, whoa. MouseMastered here, and today's the western movie of guests: the crazy, the stupid, and the spaced-y to talk about today.

First off, the Spaced:

I was over behind the tea cups and having a decently good time. A lady walked up, and asked me an innocently enough where Pirates of the Caribbean is. Okay, no problem.

So here's what follows:

MM: "No problem! It's over in Adventureland." *points towards Adventureland and is about
to say more when...*

SL(Spaced Lady):"Oh, so it's not in the Magic Kingdom?"

I was literally dumbfounded at that and merely responded "No ma'am, it's here. Adventureland is just another section of the park."

I don't remember if she had a first time visit button on, but I've seriously NEVER had someone think that Adventureland is not in the park.

Secondly... Let's go with the Stupid:

I'm at our stand that now sells chicken nuggets amongst other things and one of our new menu options is a kid's meal PBJ. The kid's meal comes with: two sides (grapes, apple slices, cookies, or jell-o) and a drink. OH, and a side note: we only sell potato chips, NOT FRENCH FRIES.

I had a couple come up and begin to order, two chicken nuggets, whatever. But then the Dumb Lady (DL) and her significant other add a PBJ to the order. Enter scene:

MM: "Okay, would you like the meal or the sandwich?"

DL: "The meal. Can I get that with fries?"

Jason 027MM: "No ma'am. There aren't any fries. You get two sides: apples, grapes, cookie, or jell-o."

DL: "Okay." *ponders menu* "How about carrot cake?" *note: the cake and chips alone are listed directly beneath the PBJ*

MM: "No ma'am. You get two sides: apples, grapes, cookie, or jell-o."

DL: "OH! Two sides!" *my thoughts: about time you get it!* "Then can I get carrot cake and chips?"

MM: *HEADREGISTER* "No ma'am. Apples, grapes, cookie, or jell-o."



Also, I had some dude order, and he has change, but it's not enough to cover the change on the order. But he has a ten.

He asks me if I can cover his change from my till. He isn't going to get a mountain of change, so I say no and go to give him the change.

And I swear, he has aviators on and he gives me the BIGGEST FUCKING STINK EYE as I give him his bills and TWO COINS worth of change.

Seriously, why do some people act as if getting change is a sin against God/FSM/Lady Gaga? It's part of my job, as a cashier, to GET YOU QUICK CHANGE. Deal with it.


Thankfully this story did NOT happen to me, but the result is awesome, and the manager that this happens to deserves an RBA. (Note: They get one!)

It was at the nugget stand. One lady orders from this older guy. She gets the order, pays him, gets the change, all is well and good.

Well, obviously not, or I wouldn't be writing about it. She comes back, ranting and raving, that the cashier guy didn't give her the change.

Cashier guy, calmly, gets AwesomeManager, who comes by and does and audit on the spot.

The till comes out PERFECT TO THE PENNY.

End of story, right?

WRONG! THIS FUCKING LADY starts SCREAMING and SWEARING in the middle of fucking fantasyland that she didn't get her goddamn change and takes her water bottle and shakes it at CashierGuy and AwesomeManager, gets water everywhere, trashes the counter, and throws her water bottle to the ground and stomps out.

One of my supervisors wound up trailing her so that she could be found. Disney Security
showed up to the stand, I direct her to AwesomeManager, and the two disappear.

I wound up finding out that AwesomeManager and the security guard wound up EJECTING THAT CRAZY BITCH FROM THE MAGIC KINGDOM. She was escorted from property, and miraculously went along with it without much of a struggle.

All in all, it was an interesting spring break/pre-Easter week at the Kingdom. Summer's coming though, and from the looks of things, I'll be getting a LOT more stories to share.

Until next time, be safe, may your lines be free of crustys, and have a magical day!

--Mouse Mastered

  Magic Kingdom Hell

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and for more bitches like the one above checkout Bitch Encounters!









Retail Balls Awards: Monstrous Clothing Store Customer Gets Told



From Jessica, July, 2008:

"I used to work at a Trendy Clothing Store that was considered the largest in out district. It was a busy night and I was managing the adult and kids and Baby stores by myself with three associates...after Christmas. Oh, and surprise surprise I was the only one able to ring!

Well this bitch called and complained to me, stating that she had bought something a couple of days ago and she never had the item placed in her bag.

I apologized and said I would look up the item number for her and let her know if we even had it in stock. We didn't. Now, our policy states that customers have 24 hours to call back and get a reimbursement.

I didn't feel like having to deal with telling her that cause i knew this fucking WASP would let me have it. I told her I would call her back once I  found it at another store and have it shipped to her. I also stated that I was the only ringer for two stores so I might not be able to get back to her until after we closed. I was being very nice, and went out of my way.

Well, this bitch decided to come in to my store no more that half an hour later while I had a line of six people deep. Fucking cunt decided to scream "Are you Jessica".

I said, "Yes, but you are going to have to wait in line if you need to talk to me".

I knew exactly who it was. She didn't want to wait. She began taunting me! I mean saying things like "Hurry up, Jessica. What's taking so long...Jessica" over and over.

Clothingstoremonster1I started shaking because I wanted to keep my composure in front of my employees and my customers. She kept it up.

All of a sudden she screamed out, "YOU LITTLE FUCKING PRINCESS!!!"

I snapped. I fucking snapped. I slammed the scanner down on the counter turned around to face her and yelled "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH."

The minute those words escaped my mouth her jaw dropped! I was shaking so bad...I picked up the phone, apologized to customers in line (They didn't seem to mind - one of them actually thought I did the right thing) and told the woman I was calling security.

She started crying, apologizing that she was taking her anger out on me, she had a newborn at home and an incompetent husband blah blah blah....and then she hugged me.

It was so fucking surreal. I told her she needed to leave and that I accepted her apology. She then told me to go home and have a glass of wine. WTF???? I MEAN SERIOUSLY WTF....It was bizarre. I have never been called a fucking princess..hahahahaaa..."



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Pet Store Hell: Encounters with Bitches - of the Human Kind



From PetShart Stevie, March, 2010:

Hey RHUers! Long time reader, first time poster, and so on.

I live in Pasadena, California and have been a Retail Slave since I was 15. My retail experience spans many many years. From Hollyweird Video to Noah's BagHELLs to some roofing company to all things under the goddamn sun.

Anyway, now I am a slave at a petstore that sounds like PetShart. My tale of woe is but a small sampling of what I have to deal with in this "upscale" neighborhood with its rich bitchy customers.

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand spoiling your pet and the fact that they're like your children (especially to the ladies that come through the line with 637 cans of individual cat food that I have to scan...individually) but really...sometimes it just goes too far.

Let me set the scene for you.

It's my first day on the registers...second day in the company. My manager just trained me on the registers (which, after so many retail jobs...and not being an idiot...takes me like 3 seconds to learn) then left to do something else.

The first lady I help on my own is paying with a check...and he didn't train me on how to do checks yet, of course...

It's suddenly gotten busy (as we all know customers see one person in line and decide that THIS is the time to swarm to the registers like the infestation they are).

There are TWO registers open, but the lady behind the lady I am helping, who is being very sweet about the whole thing, decides that I and ONLY I am going to check her out with the aforementioned amount of cat food cans.

My coworker for some reason refuses to call my manager over (only she had a phone that could page on the overhead). I obviously can't just leave the register to wander the store looking for him so I'm stuck begging her to call him over while the whole time this lady who's next in line keeps repeating, "What am I waiting for? Can you tell me what i'm waiting for???" while I AND the lady I'm helping keep repeating something along the lines of, "I'm just waiting for the manager."

PethellOf course I wanted to say something much, MUCH different.

FINALLY coworker pages him and he meanders over. We get it figured out and Bitchy McGee comes to the register with her bazillion cans of individual cat food. She continues to bitch at me while I scan each and every one of these cans and bag them, put them in her cart and continue. She finally leaves and I'm once again happy...for a while.

THEN this self-entitled Rich Bitch comes in telling me that her dog "will only sleep on sheepskin blankets" and how she "has much nicer stuff and can afford better than what we have in here, but she needs something to take to her boyfriend's penthouse when she visits" and whatnot.

I show her all of the beds we have and she proceeds to pull every one of them off the shelves and have her dog "try them out."

I don't know how many of you have ever been to L.A., but people are kind of...well...batshit crazy. She proceeds to tell me that "Spike doesn't dig the vibe of this one." and "He's not feelin' this." and whatever the crazy hell else she said.

I FINALLY get her to the register carrying not only her new dog bed, (Yeah, Spike eventually "dug one"), but also a bag of food, some treats, and HER DOG.

I get no kudos for selling stuff to her, no commission, no "Hey, good job!"...NOTHING. ...Except a "why did you spend so long on one customer, we have other people to help in here!"


Anyway, that's a minor annoyance compared to everything else I've suffered, as I am also a bather in the grooming department, reception for the grooming department, cashier, and the Doggie Day Camp area.

-- PetShart Stevie 


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