Back in 2006 I left the retail world and promised never to return. Like the Godfather said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.” Several months ago my old manager got in touch with me and offered me a position. The timing was strange because I was contemplating whether I should pick up a second job or not. As for pay he offered me exactly what I was looking for before I even mentioned it. He was also willing to give me whatever hours I wanted. He offered me a management position so I’d get paid more and not have to deal with anyone on a power trip. It seemed like one of those things that was just meant to happen, like losing your virginity or something of that nature. I took the job and was quickly reminded of the folks that make in-store retail possible, the customers. I have a lot retail experience under my belt and have seen all kinds of customers. Here are the types that have stood out to me the most over the years.
1. Brats accompanied by Mom
I’m surprised working in retail hasn’t made me completely and utterly despise children. I had to stop wearing a belt to work because I was often tempted to take disciplinary actions into my own hands. I’m not sure what makes these children feel empowered to act like fools, but they drive me mad. The worse ones are never alone. They’re either with their angry (and usually unattractive) mother who is as nasty as they are. If not, then they’re with their overly timid mother who you want to just shake for letting them run all over her. Fortunately I’m yet again leaving the retail world, otherwise I’d be forced to carry and use a taser.
2. Customers with empty pockets
They aren’t going to buy anything. They know it, you know, and the registers know it. However, due to the wonderful customer service policies that are posted in the back room, you must treat this customer like everyone else. This includes answering all their dumb questions, providing in-depth product explanation, price checks, and sometimes even carrying the merchandise to the register only to be told one of the following lines:
“I forgot my wallet.”
“My wife is in labor, gotta run.”
“I think I can get it cheaper somewhere else.”
“Can you hold this for me? I’ll be RIGHT back.”
“Oh, I just remembered this state has tax. Never mind.”
“I think I’m going to hold off, I need to research it more.”
“Wait, I didn’t really want to buy it, but thanks for your help.”
3. Customers with a “Jesus” complex
These customers truly feel that God put them here for a greater purpose. People like this believe they can walk on water. Although they think they are Jesus, they’re actually the complete opposite. They’re more like Satan and are evil for no reason (well, probably a lack of sex). They will curse your name for handing them their purchase in a plastic bag, although your store only issues plastic bags. No matter what they will find some reason to make a scene and demand to speak with your manager. Like most people with grand delusions of power, they prey on the weak. In other words, if you stand up to them long enough they will surrender or retreat. In some cases they will threaten to call the corporate office first. Don’t feel intimated. With a polite voice encourage them to do so, in fact just hand them the store phone. Watch how fast they exit the store.
4. Sexy female customers accompanied by thug boyfriend
This customer is very attractive and flaunts her expensive jewelry. She comes in two forms: one that does most of the talking or one doesn’t say a word at all. Regardless, trailing behind her is her thug boyfriend. He’s wearing a wife-beater and long gold chain in the middle of winter. If his girl does most of the talking then he doesn’t say much, but when he does it’s either very profound or very stupid. Usually if his girl is a prop, then he talks way too much and doesn’t say anything useful. He questions society and the purpose of Yoshi. He will tell you that Duck Hunt was his game back in the day and he was “the shit” at it. For either type of thug in this scenario, money is no object to him and when it’s time to pay he pulls out a wad of cash. He might be a cool guy and all, but it’s clear to me that he sells drugs. You’re allowed to call it profiling, but I’m allowed to think what I want. From my behind-the-register view, a drug dealer he is.
5. Know-it-all male customer accompanied by his offspring
This is the guy who won’t shut up. He will not listen to a single thing you say because he knows it all. He’s some sort of engineer and designs important things like paper-weights and handkerchiefs. Civilization would cease to exist without him and he knows it. To make matters worse, he brought along his kids. It’s clear he is teaching them to be just like him because you find yourself asking the question, “Who should I smack first, the father or one of the kids?”
6. Customers with a language barrier
I don’t have an issue with people who can’t speak English. Quite frankly, some Americans can’t speak the language properly so why would I expect anything more from a foreigner? I do, however, have a problem with customers that can’t speak English, then get mad at me because I don’t understand them. How is that my fault? Do I look like R2D2? The only reason to get frustrated with a person over a language barrier in their own country, Mexico for example, is if you have explosive diarrhea and repeat “el bano” over and over again, but they laugh and pretend they don’t understand.
7. Happy Customer
For a second, just for a second, these people will actually make you enjoy retail. They are polite and treat you like you’re the best thing that ever happened to them. Unfortunately they are rare. Depending on your specific retail environment, your chances of spotting them are slightly higher than that of spotting a unicorn or slaying a dragon. The high feeling they provide is as brief as an orgasm. It quickly goes away because as soon as they leave, the customer wheel starts back at 1.
– Vic Louis