Retail Woes

Customers From Outer Space

Part I

As per corporate customer service for the company I work for, employees throughout our store are encouraged to engage with customers to upsell products and stand out from other grocery chains. This is especially drilled into the poor cashiers who often have to take the brunt of self entitled people all while forcing themselves to smile throughout the entire transaction. Well—almost all the cashiers.


"Hi, how are you?"


"Doing fine, thanks. And you?"


"I asked you how you were. Are you tired?"


"No. I'm fine, thanks."


"Well, you're not smiling. Everyone at The Chain smiles."


"Yes. Everyone except for me."

Needless to say, she gave me a dirty look as I handed her a receipt. On a "normal" day, regardless of whether I'm at work or not, I typically have one of three expressions plastered on like an unfavorable tattoo: I look mad. I look tired. I look sad. Blame it on my genetics, I just have a particular resting face and personality... a sarcastic personality that is as fit for the world of retail as a caged lion.

After four long and excruciating years, my time as a cashier (which for simplicity's sake we'll call The Chain) is slowly coming to an end but not without reminiscing the worst, most hilarious moments as a customer service desk representative; fancy title for a cashier who is allowed to do returns.

Just a few years ago, I used to at least tolerate what I do—somewhat. In the past, I'd done other kinds of jobs that didn't involve directly dealing with people, but you can't always get what you want and I desperately needed a new job that would provide. Like many other people, I chose to first apply for The Chain because I used to be a loyal shopper and figured it would be easier to work in a place that I was already familiar with. 

I didn't catch the invisible sign above my head that spelled, R-U-N.

To be fair, the position itself is easy as cake. I greet, scan, bag, and start again. 10,000 times. Everyone knows that it's ultimately customers who make or break the bank, though in my case it's the bank and also my brain as it's embedded somewhere in my store's policy that employees aren't allowed to defend themselves. A customer is a customer.

"The Chain" is an upscale-ish grocery store that is located right at the border of the richest towns in my area. Naturally, the customers that barge in the store at all hours of the day and well into the evening demand to be treated like royalty despite their sour attitudes. And by royalty, I'm referring to the company's ever so lenient policy to give customers almost everything for free, giving way for guests to step all over employees who are just trying to do their job.

A year into my position, I was promoted and now I currently work the grand customer service desk... which is none other than the complaint box of the entire store. Regardless of which department the customer is whining about, each complaint first goes through whoever is working the station and from there it makes way to the head supervisors. 

I spend the majority of my shift accepting rotting vegetables that have long been forgotten in someone's refrigerator, the remaining molding fruit that was left of an old package, several empty containers of food that "was bad" and were "thrown out" (not that the imprint of your fingers on the bottom of the container show that it was licked clean or anything), slimy packets of meat with half the contents missing, dead flowers, fish that smelled too fishy, that bra you tried on and the now used deodorant you bought with it. You name it, I've most likely returned it at some point.

Unfortunately for me, it's also the same customers who keep making the same ungodly returns on a daily basis. The regulars, seasonals, the crazies, the cheap, the stupid ones, the actually pleasant guests, the rude, the super rude, the disgusting, and the scammers make up the majority of The Chain's daily awful clientele.