I work in retail, meaning I spend about 25 hours a week folding clothes, smiling at babies, dressing mannequins, and telling lies about how good people look in too little t-shirts. My primary responsibility is running the cash register, and let me tell you, some customers are real assholes. If you’re one of these assholes, you’re going to be mad at me. That’s totally fine, though, because I’m only telling the truth. You can direct all your concerns to management.

I’m sure most of y’all are polite and courteous, so please try to contain your judgment.

I don’t want to be too hard on our rude counterparts, because we all have bad days. However, it seems the worst of the worst always come through my line! They’re usually mad at their spouse, late for a meeting, shopping during lunch break, chasing children around the store, talking on the phone/texting, or generally just too busy to wait in line. So by the time they reach the register, they’re ready for war! I put on my fake smile & attempt to make the experience positive for all those involved, but these people always make things more difficult than they have to be. They argue about signs & prices, telling me how wrong I am for charging them too much. Which, might I add, is not my fault, because I’m only scanning barcodes; it’s the system’s fault. After I change the prices, I’m then wrong because I agreed to meet their needs. But the worst thing I can possibly do is deny them discounts! Wanna see a soccer mom pissed off? Tell her she can’t use a coupon.

Here’s how it goes…

The customer gets to the end of the transaction and says, “Oh, I have a coupon I want to use.” I already know that the coupon is either expired or invalid, but because I’m such a great employee, I pretend to review the thing anyway. Now, I’ve already prepped my statement, and I can pretty much predict how the conversation will proceed. I’ll politely tell my customer, “I’m sorry, we can’t use your coupon because it expired yesterday,” and she will say, “You’re sure? (I nod yes.) Awww! Ok.” But you know what my customers do? They completely catch me off guard and say, “What do you mean I can’t use my coupon?” I repeat myself like a dumbass, thinking that if I say it again or differently, I’ll elicit a different reaction. I have no idea what I’m supposed to say in return, because I wasn’t prepared for this line of questioning, you jerk. So not only do I stand there looking stupid, I also try to bounce back & figure out how to proceed. (This is where you should press pause.)

“What do YOU mean questioning me?! My job isn’t to subjectively decide when I can override policies & honor your damn discounts! I am to pass the information to you directly from upper management. No interpretations, no flexibility. And guess what, ma’am? If I did have the power to make that decision (and sometimes I do), your stank ass attitude just helped me decide to say no!” I’ve always wanted to say that, but I’d definitely lose my job. Here’s how I handle this awkward situation, instead.

I try to troubleshoot on my own, looking for the best way to appease my customer without violating any store policies. I convey a sympathetic and understanding apology, and restate why I can’t honor the coupon. This usually works, restoring the balance of power. When it doesn’t work, I step aside and allow my manager to handle the situation. By the end of the transaction, the customer saves her money & I can scratch 20 more minutes from my shift. Ironically, the 10% they waste their time fighting for only saves them a few dollars… Idiots. (Insert evil villain laugh)

My advice to you, dear friends, is to believe what your cashier tells you. If the person in front of you seems sketchy, politely ask for an explanation or a manager; in this business, pleasantries really do go a long way. Try your best to understand the stress of retail, and be a good customer.

Above all else, don’t come through my line with that kind of bullshit, because you won’t get your way.

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