Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bad Customers

I work retail.  Ace Hardware, to be specific.  And I hate it.  There are a lot of reasons for that, and many of them are very specific to my own situation, though many are likewise very common to retail work anywhere and anywhen.  However, the angle I want to show you folks is one that only sometimes (as in the case of Not Always Right) gets much real attention.  Bad customers.

Now I know from long experience that the worst of the bad customers will always, always fail to realize that they are a bad customer.  This is common sense.  But what you don't realize is that there are no good customers.  Anywhere.  There are bad customers you don't like, and there are bad customers that you do, but there are no good customers.

No matter what store a person walks into, if it is a retail outlet in any form, there is a magical force field of some kind that with no warning whatsoever turns even the kindest and most courteous of human beings into the slavering horrid beast that is the customer.  I haven't yet worked out just why this is.  The force field or pixie dust or whatever it is doesn't work on employees -- they still see all the ugly and all the crazy and all the rude that customers have to offer.  I've been on both sides of this plenty of times.  One of the things that makes me dread going to work is that I know I'll be faced with an apparently-endless stream of irritating, rude, and frankly insane people to help (or at least put up with) until I'm allowed to leave.  There are all kinds of idiosyncrasies that people have that bother me -- not reading the instructions on our electronic pinpads, paying sufficiently and then searching around for exact change, leading the employees on a massive wild goose chase all over the store... and yet, for all the suffering I go through at the hands of people like that, I have caught myself doing each and every item on that list at some point or another to other unsuspecting employees in other unsuspecting stores.

In short, when I go shopping, I turn into THAT GUY.  And then, upon walking out the door with my merchandise, I turn back into the nice, caring, more-employee-like person that I am.  And so does everyone else.  Well, almost everyone.  Some people are just rude in general, and I'm sorry to say that they don't turn nice whenever they leave a store.  But still, the majority of our customers actually aren't bad people.  They're just bad people to us.  And on those occasions where I'm out shopping and see someone working that I know as a customer, I dread it a little, because I know I'm being a bad person to them, even though I'm not a bad person.

There's some idiosyncrasy that I have that drives them nuts.  I don't know what it is, because in many cases they're actually being paid to overlook those annoyances, as I am.  But it's there.  I'm a bad customer, just like everyone else.  And if you've ever been in a store, so are you.

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