When I encounter a customer, like I did today, who is so mean that it makes me hate my job and nearly pisses me off for the rest of the day I wonder if it is worth writing about them. Does such a person deserve a keystroke? The touch of pen to paper? A lingering thought? Most would say no. I would too, but it is worth recording just how mean someone can be every once in a while. Maybe I’ll be writing a story down the road and I’ll want someone to be really mean, but since I can, at best, be only half as mean as the woman today was (even in my imagination), it will be advantageous for me to have a recording of just how rude someone can be.
Necessary background information:
We sell these wonderful things called travelers. Travelers are 96-ounce containers that we can fill with coffee, hot chocolate, chai, and other stuff sometimes. Travelers are in fact not wonderful. When you’re in the middle of a rush, they are your worst enemy. When it is slow, they are at best a nuisance. The thing about travelers is that they take about ten minutes to prepare. A traveler takes almost a full batch of coffee. This usually means brewing a whole new batch. One also needs to prepare sugars, stir sticks, cups, napkins, and some half and half to go for the customer. In the process of putting one together you will undoubtedly have to walk all over the floor and grab trinkets here and there that are necessary to complete the traveler. Just because you might have a traveler to prepare doesn’t mean that you can ignore customers either. You have to keep taking orders and making sure drinks are being made. You know? The usual. You probably don’t know, but you can imagine.
Since travelers take some time to prepare we encourage customers to call ahead with their traveler orders. If they do not it is a major inconvenience.
A woman called this morning and ordered a traveler and a dozen pastries. She was coming in 20 minutes. No sweat.
A co-worker got the traveler together. I selected a dozen pastries in pairs. I wrote on each box what was inside so when it came time to ring them up it would be easy.
Twenty minutes later a woman walks up to the register. She hands me a 1 lb-bag of beans and says she would like to buy them and needs them ground for a paper cone filter. “I would also like a medium non-fat latte. I also had the traveler.” She adds, with no smile.
“With the twelve pastries?” I ask just to make sure because she didn’t say anything about them.
“Yes.” She replies with brevity and a flare of annoyance.
“Okay.” I punch in the drink. I punch in the coffee. I remember off the top of my head a few of the selections that I made from the pastry case, but I need to walk about five feet to where the boxes are to get the names off of a couple of the boxes. When I do so I can see her shake her head and turn around to complain to the growing line of customers behind her that “usually they have all this rung up and put together for me”.
I come back to the register and am making sure I have the order right when I hear this out of her.
“You still need to grind this.”
“I know.” I wish I could provide video evidence of how this woman was acting. The dialogue doesn’t do her justice. Not yet.
I didn’t look up when I said I know. I was very fed up by this point because I’ve seen this all too many times and the company I work for is helping to foster this kind of attitude in customers, but that is a much bigger post.
“Your total is fifty-two bucks.” I thought that seemed a little high, but that was right. I sort of was hoping it was way too high and she wasn’t noticing, but it wasn’t.
She handed me her card. I swiped it. I handed her the receipt. She needed to sign it, but I didn’t have a pen right there. She needed to wait five seconds for me to grab one elsewhere.
I stepped away.
She sighed and shook her head. I was back with a pen. She signed the receipt and walked over to where she was picking her drink up.
My co-worker carried the traveler and pastries out to her and said, “Would you like help out to your car?”
She had this to say:
“No! I’ve been to a lot of other stores and done this before. They usually have everything rung up and ready for me right by the register. You need to get your shit together.”
She walked out and loaded her stuff into her Chrysler 300 and I caught one last glare from her. I stared back and narrowed my eyes like I was Clint Eastwood in some Western, but I didn’t think saw.
All in all, she was in the store for no more than five minutes. She got a good drink, got her pound of coffee ground, and her traveler of freshly brewed coffee. The funny thing about her complaint is that we can’t ring up a customer that is not there because there exists, unbeknownst to her, other customers that want to order. It’s a first come, first serve basis.
A customer like this lingers in my mind for several reasons. 1) It shocks me how; in the most basic of circumstances, people can be so rude. 2) Why are people this way? Is our environment breeding humans to treat humans like this? 3) Am I ever this mean to strangers, to friends or acquaintances? To strangers, I would say definitely not. To the latter, yes, I have, on occasion, been very mean in the past. 4) How can I aim to never treat anyone like that again?
And how can we forget this one…
5) Crap, this job sucks. I need a new one.