Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How To Be A Good Lil' Customer.

"Oh, no, honey - it's okay.  I know I'm in a public place where
I'm expected to talk to other human beings, but I'd rather be rude
and make this call to you to talk about inane, unimportant nonsense."
I've worked in a lot of places in my life, and all of them have had something to do with food.  A movie theater, a gas station, two pizza places, and now the deli at a local grocery store.  It is my firm belief that everybody should experience the food industry (and maybe some retail) before settling into a career.  Why?  So that everybody knows what it's like to get treated like human garbage.  If you've served people, or used a cash register, or made people food, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Twenty people can come in and be absolutely great, but then that one asshole walks through the door with a ten foot stick up his ass, demanding that you make him a pizza while he simultaneously beats the piss out of you.

And what's the golden rule?  "The customer is always right."
That's why everyone should spend some time at Wendy's or a pizza joint.  It makes it a lot easier to empathize with the person on the other side of the counter if you've been there yourself.  Unless they are doing something completely idiotic (e.g. picking their nose while they make your sandwich), cut them a little slack.  A lot of people are far too impatient these days.  It's mind-boggling.  Here's a list of things people do as customers that they should stop doing until forever times.
1.) Ordering Something While Talking On A Cell Phone
Please don't do this.  It's a gigantic no-no. I do not want to play the "Who are you Talking To!?!" game.  It's frustrating and I usually lose.  People would come up to the counter at Pizza Place I worked at so often with their cell phones out, that we eventually put up a sign that said, "You will not be served until you put the cell phone away."  It seems a bit extreme (and maybe bad for business), but a lot of people got the hint.  Those that didn't, well... it was a lot of fun pretending they weren't there and beckoning to the person behind them to come up to the counter to place their order.  

Want to know what's even worse?  When you're trying to take a person's order, and they are fighting with someone as to what should be ordered.  This happened to me just the other night.  I finally interjected and said, "Just let me know when you decide on something," so that I could get back to work, and you know what the son-of-a-bitch did?  He held up his index finger.  Wait, it said.  I'm not finished with you.  The only reason I stood there was because it made it easier for me to visualize choking him the fuck out.  
2.) Assuming That The Employee That Is Helping You Is Uneducated 
This hasn't happened to me personally, but I know plenty of people that have been treated like a neanderthal just because they are working at a job that others may consider to be "beneath them."  This is the very definition of unnecessary.  If you have an issue with the employee that is helping you, either find someone else or have them find someone else for you.  There is no need to start insulting people based on a two minute conversation with them.  Which brings me to my next point...
3.) Don't Take The Advantage Of "The Customer Is Always Right" Rule 
Is the customer always right?  No.  I know it and you know it.  That's just a model that 99% of businesses have adopted in order to kiss ass.  In a capitalist society, you're free to take your business somewhere else if you don't like the service at, say, Wal-Mart.  It doesn't matter if you're wrong because you are the one that plans on spending money.  Therefore, in the eyes of the business, you're right!
However, there is a huge gap between the higher ups at Wal-Mart and the cashiers ringing up your purchases.  Don't take your attitude out on them so that you can feel better about yourself.  Go home and kick your cat and/or dog like the rest of us (I am kidding, do not do this - call corporate or the store and file a complaint).  
It says "Retail," but it really applies to everywhere.
4.) If You're Having A Bad Day, Stay Home
This one is all about the chain reaction.  If you're in a super bad mood, then don't bring that shit to other people.  It travels and infects faster than the flu.  Nothing kills a good day better than a customer who barges into a store or restaurant ready to uppercut some innocent employee in the taint.  This one really gets me because I couldn't imagine being rude to a complete stranger who has done nothing to me except allow themselves to be in front of my piss stream.  Either pull the stick out of your ass, or order food to be delivered.
5.) Did I Mention The Cell Phone Thing? 
Seriously, put the fucking thing away for two seconds.  I won't even go through a cashier's line with a phone to my ear - ask my mother.  I've told her that I'd call her back in forty seconds before.
6.) Don't Hover

Admittedly, this one is a bit personal and probably hard for a lot of people to relate to.  At the deli I work at, it's customary for us to mark down "hot food" by 50% about 3/4 of the way through the day.  About two hours before closing, we go through and mark down the sandwiches in the well for the next day in order to sell them before their sell-by date.  I always have people hovering around me, watching me markdown the food.  One old woman was practically sitting on my shoulder the other night.

Worse, when I ask if I can help them or (better for me) move, they say, "No, you're good."  No.  No, I'm not good.  If I can smell your breath then you are way too fucking close to me.  If I can touch you with an outstretched arm without moving my torso then you're in my personal space, breathing my personal air.  Stop.  It's my air, I've laid claim to it.  Back off.

7.) Look First, Then Ask Questions

Working at a grocery store (and a relatively small one at that) has made me feel a bit more cynical about humanity.  We have eight aisles.  Eight.  Each aisle has a sign over it that lists the major items that can be found there.  Do not ask me -  a deli worker of all people - where the fucking bread is.  "Gee, I don't know, have you tried the aisle with the big ol' BREAD sign dangling above it?  Chances are you'll find bread there."

Or, better, "Do you guys carry Coca-Cola?"  What grocery store doesn't carry Coca-Cola?  Yes we carry Coca-Cola.  Try looking in the aisle marked SODA, you mouth-breather.  These examples are what I'm talking about.  If you're in a big store and you can't find the brand of microwave you are looking for than by all means, ask away.  But if you can't find something as common as bread or Coca-Cola, then there is no hope for you.
8.)  Recognize That The World Does Not Revolve Around You
Whether you are ordering food for take-out or eat-in, shopping at a grocery store, at a movie theater, at a gas station, or whatever, realize that you are not the center of the universe.  This is really an all-encompassing rule.  I'm sure that you are really important to someone.  Hell, some of you readers are really important to me (awwwwww).  But don't assume that total strangers are aware of the fact that you are, to quote my mother, "King/Queen Shit of Turd Island."
As an employee in food service/college student, I'll be honest about something: the people that treat me like a human being get remembered, respected, and served a lot better than the people that treat me like gum on the bottom of their foot.  So before you go taking advantage of the relationship that is customer-employee, just be aware of one thing...
...Karma is a huge, mean, and ugly bitch.         

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