RHU University 8: Line Jumper

RHU1ORAs RHU University cracks open our notebooks for yet another lesson, we reach the border between a Custy and a Crusty. It is here that our Custologists finish their lessons, and Crustologists begin. Today, we take a look at an annoying creature known for its quick, darting movements, coupled with a feigned lack of awareness to its surroundings. This sleazy creature has a competitive drive and an inflated sense of self importance that puts it on par to the Entitled Crusty. With a smirk and a sneer, it informs you that it is important enough to be able to bypass all social conventions. I am, of course, talking of the Line Jumper.

Family: Shopper

Genus: Custy/Crusty

Species: line jumper

Line Jumpers are the bane of any peaceful, stress free day. Even if Custys and Crustys should be absent, a Line Jumper will come out of the woodwork to make a nuisance of itself. Of interest is that this particular creature is very versatile on whether they are a Custy or a Crusty. It is difficult to classify their Genus without direct interaction, so we at RHU University wish to caution Custologists who many encounter this little beastie; consider taking the Crustology course just in case!

While most Customers, Custys and even most Crustys learned the proper way to stand in line every time they shopped with mommy or daddy, and re-learned this lesson in Preschool, Elementary, Junior and even High School in some cases...this lesson has somehow evaded the Line Jumper.

Instead, they will sprint forward and position themselves ahead of a line of any length to establish their position of "next." Line jumpers can sometimes be stealthy. Custys have been known to remain silent, expecting the Retail Slave to single out the Line Jumper on their own. Should the Slave fail, irate Custys will complain at the Slave, rather than defend their own standing in line. In order to avoid this unwelcome behavior, you are advised to remain aware of your surroundings, no matter how far into Retail Droidism you may have sunk into, so that you can catch the stealthy ones early.

SnotmonsterSome are more brazen and will even come directly to the register and bodily shove your current Customer, Custy or even a fellow Crusty out of the way. If you tell them that they need to go to the back of the line, there will be two responses...

The first response is to show an expression of herp-a-derp-surprise and proclaim, "Oh, I didn't see them!" Then they will meander to the back of the line, trying to pull off an Oscar worthy acting career of innocent misunderstanding. "Oh my, oh wowie wow, there's NO possible way I should have missed a line of ten people that I stepped in front of. Gosh and golly gee how did that happen? Oh me, oh my, how silly of me."

The urge may be strong to fake a sneeze while declaring, "Bullshit!" However, try to maintain your professional Custologist exterior and bite your tongue. The best response to this is no response, since this acting career is for sympathy and attention. The antidote for this type of Line Jumper is to give them no reaction at all.

The second response a Line Jumper may select is to become an angry, belligerent crusty who will go to great lengths to tell you how much more important they are than you. They will tell you how your job/career/life is over, and they will kick your dog/kill your god/give your mother cancer, and/or sue you for legal standings unknown. This antagonistic side often requires the presence of a Security Officer or even police intervention.

Do NOT attempt to handle this rabid little monster without a trained professional, a catch pole, and thick leather gloves to protect your hands!

Homework: Share with the class some of your most memorable Line Jumper stories!

Class dismissed,


RHU University 7: Bloodsuckers

RHU1NVThe time comes around once more for RHU University to attend their classes and expand their knowledge. Hello and welcome, class! Today, please gather up your garlic, your crosses and your wooden stakes... no Jason... sirloin is not the kind of stake we're talking about. No, we don't need to taste it to make sure it's sharp...

Today, we discuss Bloodsuckers!

Family: Shopper

Genus: Custy

Species: bloodsucker

These beasties are rare in the standard retail location. They require a special environment in which to flourish: namely commission oriented retail. Bloodsuckers are pale beings with withered looking skin and a very distinctive hunting method for their prey. A Bloodsucker on the hunt may appear to be friendly and attentive, oftentimes very eager to receive attention from the Retail Slave.

The lure of the bloodsucker is neigh on impossible to resist. First they may approach a Retail Slave or else be receptive to a proactive Slave who wishes to get those few extra dollars of commission for the day. From there, the lure has succeeded, and the Retail Slave is hooked. With his or her prey seized, the Bloodsucker begins sapping the Retail Slave's will to live.

Eager to draw precious lifeblood, the Bloodsucker begins to ask questions about the products in the store. They may seem ignorant, or intelligent, but it's always the endless questions that identify them. The questions are designed to take up a lot of time, preventing the Slave from assisting other customers and receiving more money. It is through this trickery that the Retail Slave may persist, hoping for a wondrous commission at the end when all questions are satisfied.

BloodsuckerThis is always an empty wish. Once the bloodsucker is satisfied, they release their prey and leave, having given nothing in return. The Retail Slave is left frustrated with nothing to show for their hard work and helpful attitude. That money that they should have earned on a sold product never existed in the first place, and they've lost several chances for a commission from someone else.

A similar lure begins the same way as the first, with the attentive Bloodsucker asking questions, and ending with a large purchase. However, the following day, some or all of the products bought by the Bloodsucker are returned for a refund. The end result still leaves the forlorn Retail Slave without his or her commission.

There isn't a lot a Custologist can do in defense against a Bloodsuker, as it is impossible to tell beforehand or sometimes even during a Bloodsucker's feeding session. The best defense is, unfortunately, to not work in a commission oriented retail environment. If a Custologist is paid by the hour, the effects of a feeding Bloodsucker is ineffective. If you happen to be trapped with a Bloodsucker your only defense is to remember their face and do your best to avoid them during future feedings. Alert coworkers (if they are worth it) to the tactics of the Bloodsucker and do your best to avoid them in the future.

Homework: Recall a time when you where attacked by a bloodsucker. Please share it with the class.

Class dismissed,


RHU University 6: The Elusive Fund Feuder

RHU1LBGreetings and welcome to RHU University. As usual, we are in the field, and today we shall examine the mysterious breed of Custy that will argue among themselves over paying; the somewhat elusive breed known as the Fund Feuder.

Family: Shopper

Genus: Custy

Species: fund feuder

Many species of Custy show off their colors and can often be identified by certain behaviors or a distinctive cry that Crustologists can learn through experience and interaction with these common creatures. Any amateur Crustologist can recognize the Discount Rat or the trail of the messy Piggy.

This particular breed is quite unusual and often impossible to identify at the distance. Such rare and elusive beings often go unnoticed, as their camouflage effectively disguises their true nature beneath the appearance of the Common Customer, whose docile nature ensures a quiet, quick and painless transaction in the hectic and often dangerous environment of the Registers. I will attempt to help hopeful Custologists, whether they be fresh faced and curious, or world weary and cynical, to identify this mysterious breed.

First, note that the Fund Feuder never hunts alone. However, also note that the Fund Feuder does not travel in large packs. Keep your eyes peeled for pairs and very rarely, trios.

Second, Fund Feuders tend to be female, and travel with another female, identified by top Crustologists as the Close Friend, or Family Member. This pair will be nearly inseparable during their hunt for items within their environment. They usually work as a close knit team, assisting one another for the duration of their hunt. One may read a list and push the cart while the other fetches the nearest object of desire. They will, at all times, communicate back and forth freely and come to decisions with minimal fuss or wasted time.

Third, the Fund Feuder will tend to appear docile and even friendly while waiting in line. Very little aggression, impatience or otherwise notable behaviors will be apparent while the items are brought up and lined up. It is only when payment is required that the Fund Feuder will show its true colors.

The Close Friend or Family Member will abruptly challenge the authority of her partner by uttering the call "I'll-pay-for-all-of-it."

Freddy and jason palsThis is where the close knit partnership between the two will take an abrupt turn for the worse. The offended half of the team with respond immediately with refusal and rebuttal, turning her attention alternately between the startled Retail Slave and her suddenly offensive partner. Sharp calls of "You-will-not!" at her partner and an ever sharper "Don't-take-her-money!" will be fired at the Retail Slave.

The two will immediately turn on one another and have a relatively brief fight as one challenges the dominance of the other. It is always wise to note that the characteristics of this fight, which will include both verbal arguments and low-level physical aggression, are generally minor and almost never result in injuries. The offended partner may wrestle slightly with the offender, and try to grab the Funds from her partner to prevent her from paying, or else grab her partner's wrist and try to force the hand holding the form of payment back.

It is at this point that the wise Retail Slave and budding Crustologist steps back and waits. Whatever the outcome, these mysterious creatures must be allowed to resolve their dispute without interference, lest an unfortunate Slave be caught between the growling, tussling Custies.

Eventually, the dispute will be resolved, and it will once again be safe to continue the transaction, accepting payment from the victor.

Homework: Think back on your history of encounters with the mysterious Fund Feuder and share stories with the class.

Class dismissed,


RHU University 5: Discount Rat

RHU1GROnce again, dear students, RHU University staff wishes to welcome you out in the field for your hands-on learning experience. Today we will be learning about a creature that is viewed as noxious, objectionable, or disgusting. They are very common and are often difficult to control; labeled "vermin" for short. Yes ladies and gentlemen, today we are going to learn about the Discount Rat!

Family: Shopper

Genus: Custy

Species: discount rat

Subspecies: tag togglers, vultures

Now I must ask ordinary discount seekers to hold onto their tempers. In these economic times, everyone is looking for a better deal. The difference is that someone who is looking for a better deal will most likely buy the cheaper brand, use a legitimate coupon, or approach during a sale. These are Customers, not Custies, and they want to save money, not cause trouble.

Discount Rats mimic harmless Customers in order to disguise their true nature. After all, the skulking, scurrying little beasts loathe nothing more than being outed for what they are. However, any amateur Crustologist can recognize the Discount Rat with it's distinctive cry of "Can-I-get-a-discount-on-that?" or the ever popular "The-sign-said-the-price-was..." and then chatter some ridiculous price that is most likely a lie or a deliberate misunderstanding.

Discount Rats are quick, sharp eyed and cunning; they can home in on a sale or perceived discount with the unerring accuracy of a smart bomb and are very tenacious about obtaining the coveted item at the price they feel is accurate.

Like the common four legged vermin, Discount Rats search for appealing items for their nests and spend an excessive amount of time going over their items inch by inch, seeking possible perceived flaws that could garner them the discount they seek. They also pay great attention to sale signs, hunting down prices that appeal to their need for saved money. They will then retain this knowledge for an impressive amount of time in order to take advantage of the cost. Some may retain this knowledge for days or even a week; coming in after a sale is finished in order to ask for the discount because they 'missed it' because they were 'unable to come while the sale was in progress.'

It is not that they are too stupid to know the difference between the price of Levis vs Riders, it's that they want the Riders price for their Levis, or vice-versa depending on the pricing at the time. They will openly lie to their opponents, the Retail Slaves, in an effort to get the price they want. They will claim confusion between the signs, when in fact they know perfectly well that they are wrong, and then try to get the Retail Slave to honor their own mistake. By laying the blame on the store for making the signs confusing, they hope a spineless employee will bow to their demands.

Discountrat1Discount Rats also make use of coupons. Unlike harmless Customers, Discount Rats will try to use expired coupons (the record lies in years, not days, expired) or coupons designed for another product or brand entirely. They may try to use a coupon on top of an already discounted item for an additional amount off, and then become angry when informed that they cannot do that. Even if it is clearly printed on the coupon, they will try to get the discount anyway due to not being their fault that they didn't understand.

There are a few subspecies of Discount Rats.

First, there are the Tag Togglers. These nasty little creatures will seize upon any item with a low price tag and seek to attach it to an item of higher value. You will find this particularly in bookstores, where a tag from a clearance book makes its way onto a massive hardcover book. Or in the case of REAL idiots, just the price off the sticker.

What Tag Togglers fail to understand is that a price will only be honored if such a sale is legitimate. If only the discount price torn from a full tag is attached, Retail Slaves will not honor it. Also, if the full tag is replaced, the name of the item will ring up in our system. So no, we will not let you purchase a jacket for the price of a skirt if a skirt is what is ringing up with the tag they switched it for. And no, a football book price will not fly on a baseball book.

Another subspecies is the Vulture. Discovered by the highly accredited Crustologist, Shywriter. To quote our esteemed colleague, "The Vulture is related to all coupon and discount rats but with a catch. They prey on stores that aren't doing so well for the liquidating closeout prices. ... Vultures, preening their feathers, lying in wait for the prices to drop, taking advantage of other people’s misfortune. They don’t care that many people will be relocated or lose their jobs, they just want cheap books." These creatures are hunch-shouldered beasts with a keen eye and nose for the scent of closing businesses, When the discounts appear, the beasts launch themselves into a circling pattern throughout the store, snatching their precious items and gathering them all together to a large, discounted purchase.

Homework: Consider a juicy story of a time when you encountered a particularly obnoxious Discount Rat, Tag Toggler or Vulture. If you have a good story, submit it to the class.

Class dismissed,


RHU University 4: Dumbass Custies

RHU1GNOnce again we head out into the field to get our hands-on training in Custology by identifying the many species of Custy that can be encountered in the Retail environment. Got your notebooks ready? Good. Last time we encountered the Piggy Shopper: a messy little beast determined to leave a trail in its wake. Today we're going to take on a bit more of a challenge. These beasts involve considerably more direct contact with Retail Slaves and Custologists alike.

Family: Shopper

Genus: Custy

Species: dumbass

Now, I wish to give you a fair warning: don't mistake a Customer with a mental disorder as being a part of this species. A customer born with, say, Down Syndrome has a medically defined cause for a slowed thought process or unusual expression, and I ask that you do not offend an innocent customer with the accusation or label of Dumbass Custy. They suffer from a condition that they cannot help.

Identifying this species of Custy can be difficult, as their true lack of intelligence usually only becomes apparent through either action or by vocalizations, which are countless. When interacting with a Dumbass Custy, the easiest way to identify them is by their inability, or faked inability, to grasp very simple subjects or very clear directions.

They may whine, like a two year old, that the directions are too hard for them to follow.

They may announce that they don't bother reading signs when they are shopping because they shouldn't have to read in order to shop.

They may insist that it is your job to find it, and they refuse to follow your directions.

They may be told, in ways that a two year old could understand, how to handle their problem and then they will promptly repeat their question.

On occasion, however, their appearance may give them away.

Dumbass 1Dumbass Custies are vapid, slack jawed creatures with no spark in their eyes to show that their tiny little brains are even engaged in the here-and-now. True Dumbass Custies are fully capable of high-level intelligence and posses no medically identifiable cause for their behavior. Let it also be noted that a Dumbass Custy will do stupid things, even when it is painfully obvious that what they are doing will result in their own pain or suffering.

An example of this would be hauling really hard on a heavy stack of products that have been tied together; no matter how much they yank and wrench on the one thing they want, there is no way for this to end except with a very large, very heavy pile landing on top of them. Their excuse would either be that they were unaware that the products were bound (difficult to believe, but it's a common excuse) or that they WERE aware that it was tied down, but they wanted this item and figured if they yanked hard enough, they could pull it free.

They are disruptive and argumentative, and their purpose in this behavior is largely a part of a self serving mentality that drives them to test a Retail Slave to see if their behavior will let them get away with anything. This of course, is the erroneous belief that if they act stupid enough, a Retail Slave will give them what they want just to shut them up and get rid of them.

Naturally, the best way to counter this behavior is to refuse to let them get away with anything. By letting them have their way, you are enforcing their bad behavior, thus encouraging them to do it more. Now, Dumbass Custies generally aren't easy to thwart. They can be stubborn in their faked stupidity. They want it to happen the way they feel that it should. Shame on you if you DARE say that it can't happen that way!

The trick is to refuse to get angry or buckle under. Keep your voice even and polite. Nothing frustrates a Dumbass Custy like a smiling, cheerful Retail Slave. Furthermore, by patiently explaining why they cannot have their way allows Retail Slaves and Custologists alike to demonstrate their superior intelligence without sinking to the level of the Dumbass.

Homework: Think back to your most memorable encounter with a Dumbass Custy and Submit it to the class.

Class dismissed,


RHU University 3: Piggy Shoppers

RHU1BLWelcome! Once again, RHU University students gather to absorb the knowledge we impart upon them in order to become Custologists or Crustologists. Today is our first day out in the field so please gather all your necessary belongings. Make sure your shoes are tied tightly, as the location we are traveling to may be boggy, messy or just all around unpleasant. We don't want to lose our boots in the morass now, do we? Got your safari helmet? Good. Exploring the unknown just isn't the same without it!

Keep a firm grip on your notebooks and pencils, and gather all your wits about you. Is everyone ready? Take a deep breath, as we are about to observe a very common species in the retail environment...

Ohh look there! It's the Piggy Shopper!

Family: Shopper

Genus: Custy

Species: piggy

Subspecies: Swine, Boar, or Piglet

This species of Custy is generally a nuisance rather than a dangerous Crusty. Custologists frequently encounter the leavings of the Piggy Shopper; if the Store is open, a Piggy will come rooting about. These creatures make a mess of their originally pristine environment. They will pick up an item, any item, and inspect it. From this point, they make either take it with them or just drop it on the floor. Sometimes they may shove it haphazardly into a random location or else pile it in a place considered hidden, such as a dressing room.

Dressing rooms are a particular favorite of Piggy Shoppers, who will pile their discards in alarmingly large stacks and abandon them. Many dressing room attendants find themselves victims of a Piggy attack, and can never keep up entirely no matter how swift or efficient they may be.

If you listen carefully, you can hear a Piggy's distinctive cry:

"It's-their-job-to-clean-it-up!"

This is either done in an ear-grating squeal or a guttural snorting noise, and any budding Custologist hearing it knows what they are in for. This cry is a sure sign of a Piggy instructing its young or its drove ('drove' being the name of a group of pigs) on the behaviors distinctive of its species.

Most Piggy Shoppers camouflage themselves particularly well; a survival trait that keeps them from attracting attention. If you turn loose a docile Customer and a Piggy Shopper loose in a store without knowing which is which, you'd never know by looking at them when they approach the registers.

PiggiesPiggies can only be identified by their distinctive cry, or by catching them in the act of rooting carelessly through merchandise. An amateur tracker can follow the trail of a single Piggy quite easily, but such trails become more complicated depending on the number of Piggies in a single area.

Keep a note also, that the trail of a Piggy has a cumulative effect and serves as a calling card for other Piggies. If one Piggy encounters the trail of another, your new Piggy will find the concept of marking their trail all the more enticing. Piggy trails stand out like a neon sign to other Piggies; "Come in and root about! There are many things to drop around here!"

Custologists, or unlucky Retail Slaves, find that the trail of a Piggy is a full time task to clear out. The mess, as stated before, is cumulative, and can sometimes alter the behavior of common Customers into Piggy behaviors. If things are already a mess in the wake of a Piggy, the normally harmless Customer may fall under the effect of "Good lord. It's such a mess, why bother trying to make MY trail look nice? I'll just shove it haphazardly back. It's not like I'm the first."

In some ways, a Custologist can view a Piggy's trail as having a viral effect. Once one Piggy has made a mess, the "mess effect" spreads like a disease throughout the whole store, resulting, at the end of the day, with everything on the floor. Many a Retail Slave has collapsed while sobbing at the sight of a Piggy Shopper's leavings: knowing that there's no way in hell to get all that cleaned up in the narrow time frame left to them after hours.

There are three Subspecies of Piggy Shoppers. The Swine, named after the female name for the common, four legged pig, is non-confrontational and leaves a wake of mess casually and on the sly. The Boar, named after the male version of the common, four legged pig, is blatant, brazen and more than willing to make a mess openly and without reservation in front of as many witnesses as they please. Piglets make up the third subspecies; junior versions of the adults. Please do not be confused by the typically gender-specific names. A male piggy can be a Swine, and a female piggy can be a Boar. The names define the behavior, not the gender of the Custy.

Well, I hope your first field trip has proved to be informative, as you will encounter Piggy Shoppers quite frequently over the course of your career as a Custologist. I wish to warn you, there are very few retail positions that are outside the territory of a Piggy Shopper. If your retail environment is open to Customers, it is also open to Piggy shoppers.

Homework: Try to remember the worst experience you've had with a Piggy Shopper. If you like, Submit it to the class.

Class dismissed,