Adventures in pet store retail:
My first day I knew that my trainer, who is nice but very talkative, was diabetic, on her period, and a recovering alcoholic, all within just 30 minutes.
In a failed attempt at small talk with a customer, I scanned their cat litter and simply said, "Cats."
A chihuahua or something was put on the checkout counter, and after I petted her a bit, she put her teeny tiny paw in my hand to shake.
A pair of teenage twin boys came in with a two-day-old kitten they found in their attic, and spent half an hour learning how to take care of it. The next day they came in to buy more formula and another nursing bottle, because their dog had gotten into the formula they bought the day before, and also they found the kitten's sibling.
A cat in a special cat backpack.
I'm not very good at catching crickets to sell to customers with reptiles. The lid of the cricket cage fell on my head.
I hate using the intercom.
My manager sings along or whistles with all of the music played in the store. He seems to know all the words.
I work with a very motivated 17- or 18-year old who is working towards an associate's degree while still in high school because he wants to be a marine biologist, so I had to tell him about the meme:
A customer told me I "seem brighter than just working at a pet store," and asked me what I used to do. I didn't tell him he was being insulting, but I did give him my proofreading business card.
A kid signed up for our member rewards program (he was translating for his mom so he put the account in his name), and when he told me his email address, "noits[name]@gmail" and I laughed, he said, "I know, it's kinda cringe."
I asked a mom of two kids if she wanted her receipt and she said no, but her son said, "I want MY receipt" so I gave it to him, and then when he reached the automatic doors he turned around to face me and shouted, "I LOVE YOUR STORE!"
I work with at least one anti-vaxxer.
A customer who thought he was funny (said he did stand-up, in fact) asked if I was wearing a mask so I could make faces at him without him knowing, so I said, "Yeah, I've actually been cursing you out this whole time" and he laughed. After he left one of my coworkers said something about liking certain comedians, and I said, "Maybe if one comes in I'll laugh" and she laughed because, yeah, that guy wasn't telling any new or particularly good jokes.
My towel-folding skills from the yoga studio came in handy.
My retail skills from the bookstore I worked at 10 plus years ago came back.
My trainer said I was doing really well on my first day.
The motivated marine biologist teenager said, "This is your first day? You're really good." And that meant a lot, because he wasn't training me and had no motive to compliment me.
A manager (who sadly went to manage another store) told me on my fourth day that I was doing really well, and she wouldn't be surprised if I was made shift leader before too long.
A bulldog lay flat on the floor yesterday while his owner was checking out, and was very reluctant to get up off of the cool tile when it was time for him to go.
It is the year of our lord 2022. I told a customer I liked her shoelaces. Not as a tumblr reference, as a genuine compliment. I had forgotten about the meme altogether, and her shoelaces were a pastel ombré of various pinks and oranges, with bronze aglets.
She smirked. I had fallen into her trap. She would later tell me at the register that she bought fancy shoelaces for every pair of her sneakers, for this very reason.
“Thanks.” she said, mischievously grinning, “I stole them from the president.”
I burst out laughing. She smiled triumphantly, and then the snort in my laugh made her laugh. My coworker looked at us like we were from mars.
Work in retail long enough, and you’ll eventually realize the rules for dealing with Customers are exactly the same as for dealing with the Fae:
- Avoid eye contact.
- Never reveal your full name.
- Accept nothing They offer to you.
- Never verbally agree or disagree with anything They might happen to say.
- To apologize is to acknowledge a debt owed.
- Under no circumstances are you ever to thank Them.
- Remember that They are incapable of reading signs in human languages.
Favorite moments from working telephone customer service:
•customer: (currently putting in a bulk order for reusable menstrual cups to give to refugee camps) Have you ever been to Africa?
Customer: Can I rant to you for a bit about giraffes?
Me: Sure, why not
Customer: ok so this asshole decided to wake me up this morning by sticking his head through my window-
•Customer (a sweet little old lady with a strong New Orleans accent): Ohh sweetie, have you ever been classically trained in opera?
Me: I've been trained in singing but I can't say I've ever done opera.
Customer: Well you should. Your voice is like butter and that's your speaking voice! Hon, if you're ever in New Orleans you find me and I am gonna get you a spot on stage!
(I later found out she was a singer for the New Orleans Opera Association when she was younger)
(Sadly I've still never been there)
•Customer is calling in from Hawaii
Me: So just to confirm, your shipping address is 123 Ka-... *quietly* Oh no...
Customer, in barely restrained glee: Say it. Say it out loud.
Me, knowing approximately nothing of the Hawaiian language but have seen Dragon Ball Z: 123 kame... hame... ha? boulevard?
Customer: (fucking dying of laughter on the phone)
Edit: for those who don't get the joke (like I did until the guy explained it to me when he could breathe) it's pronounced ka-meha-meha. Dragon Ball Z murdered the pronunciation.
Americans: It's not reasonable to expect people to miss spending holidays with their families, even for a greater social good! Family comes first, always!
Retail workers, who have a time-off request blackout for all of November and December: