This afternoon was a relatively slow one. I was covering a break on front register, a few customers were lazily shopping around, and all was as right with the world as it gets in retail. An older middle-aged lady walked up with a few sundries, and made pleasant conversation as I rang up her stuff and bagged it.
Then the co-worker I was covering walked in the front door. I say hello and ask how her break went, she jokes about it, and continues on her way toward the break room to punch back in.
"She's an employee here?" asks the customer.
Me: "Yep, she's been here longer than I have."
Customer: "Oh. Can I please speak to your manager?"
Me: "I'm sorry, is something wrong?"
Customer: "You can't do anything about it. Call him please. Now."
Trying to keep all the what-the-fucks running through my head from spilling across my face, I page my manager, who comes quickly. "Hi, ma'am, how can I help you today?" he asks.
The lady turns and points toward the back, where my co-worker has since disappeared. "I saw that lady last weekend downtown while I was leaving a restaurant. She was loud and obnoxious, and more importantly, she was NECKING with another girl!"
And with that, my poker face fell away as I tried to catch up. I didn't doubt the story; my coworker is distinctive, as she has a shock of multi-colored hair that's hard to miss, and she also has a tendency to go out and drink heavily. And she's an open, unrepentant lesbian, with a very nice girlfriend who comes in fairly often.
Customer: "Well, aren't you going to do something about her... her behavior?"
Manager: "Ma'am, we can't discipline our employees for how they act when they aren't here at work, as long as they aren't doing anything illegal."
Customer: "But she was being obscene, and both my friends and I were seriously offended! You shouldn't let people like that work here!"
Manager: "Once again, was she doing anything illegal?"
Customer: "Well, it was certainly immoral! And disgusting!"
Manager: "I don't know what to tell you, ma'am. I can't and wouldn't fire someone for being a lesbian. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"
Customer: "You people are unbelievable! I'm going to call your CEO right now and tell him exactly what kind of people he has working for him!" She left her would-be purchases in her bag and stormed out.
My co-worker walked up to resume her shift. "What was that all about?" she asked, bewildered.
I shrugged. "We have no freakin' idea," said my manager, as we both walked off, shaking our heads.