When you work in retail, you realize that every shift is a losing a battle. A struggle to maintain optimism. A fight between the powers of good and the forces of evil. You and everyone else respectively. If my job was in middle earth I would be Aragon, my co-workers would be The Host of the West, customers would be the forces of Mordor, corporate would be Sauron, and the check out line would be my black gate.
All the odds are against you making it through the day with your moral intact and hope for humanity unscathed. You’re left with two choices: you can either give up and except your fate, give in to the demands of the entitled and eternally miserable, or you can strive for some small justice in this jaundiced corporate world of selling people over priced shit they don’t need.
Most days I can’t leave behind my young, misguided ideals and have to take solace in the small victories like denying the wrongly enraged petty returns of clearance items, and charging smug assholes 5cents for a plastic bag.
This past weekend I endured one of the most feared and destructive events in the world of retail. A day when all the crazies and unconsolable jerk-offs come to shop. The One Day Sale.
The One Day Sale is exactly what it sounds like, for one day only jars of kraft peanut butter are $2.99, the cost of cold medication is cut in half, cosmetics are two for one, and bulk purchases are discounted up the cheap, clenched anus.
As I’ve mentioned before I work at a drug store. One link in a corporate chain. As any store with multiple locations we have a loyalty card that rewards points for dollars spent. Every once in a while we’re burdened with a 20x the points event which I assure you is a gloomy day for us all, but this past Saturday the company decided it would be a brilliant idea to have this months 20x the points even take place on our special One Day Sale.
I had the closing shift, and let me tell you shit was crazy and people were douche-bags right until midnight when we closed up.
My shift started with having to jump on as second cash. I was stocking when I noticed a man walk towards the registers and immediately begin to yell and cuss at what I at that moment could only assume was a line of people. I made my way the check out to help my co-worker and before I could even get to my register was bitched out by this forty-something porn-stached man.
Porn-stache: “Does anybody even work here? Where the fuck is everyone?”
Me: “We do happen to be particularly busy at the moment and are undergoing a shift change.”
Porn-stache: “You’re ‘particularly busy’? You have one cashier!”
Me: “We are currently in the middle of a shift change. People are coming on and off so we don’t have as many people on the floor as we’d like.”
I then walked over to my till where he immediately followed despite not begining the next in line. I rang him through while he grumbled and then stormed off before the machine could print his receipt.
My day continued pretty much like that. Me trying to stock shelves and finish the list of tasks I’d been given by management and being interrupted by difficult and unfoundedly irritated customers. Like this one woman who the pharmacist called me to help. In her mid to late 20s this woman embodied the image of the yoga pants clad, all natural, uppity Vancouverite. She was looking for oregano oil. Whatever the fuck that is.
Me: “Oregano oil?”
Yoga Pants: “Yeah, oregano oil. It’s really popular. Everyone knows what that is.”
I held my tongue and didn’t point out that obviously the pharmacist didn’t if he called me and we went to the vitamin aisle. After no luck locating anything with oregano, I sent her to another near by store more prone to “all natural” remedies. I then had to ask three co-workers before I found out what oregano oil was, or what it did. Evidently not everyone knows what that is.
After dealing with the third middle aged woman who expected me to produce sold out products out of thin air, I found any reason to do work in the back. These trials included one woman who really liked this one pair of sunglasses that had a scratch and she didn’t want to pick another pair. She repeatedly asked me “What can you do?” as if I wasn’t a drug store clerk but an optometrist, or a glass blower, or a fucking wizard.
Then there are those people who show up and buy a fuck ton of shit. Shit they could never hope to carry, and insist on being allowed to leave their purchases at the counter until they can come and pick them up the next day. One of the chicks that pulled this on Saturday mentioned multiple times she lived “just up stairs” which begs the question of why don’t you just make two trips? Or better yet, don’t buy more things than you’re able to transport.
But all the bitching about us being out of stock, bullshit returns (who returns a bag of peanuts?), points discrepancies, false price checks, and break interruptions I dealt with all day were nothing compared to the sheer volume of cluster fuck customer nonsense I had to deal with in the last 40min before closing.
It seemed to have slowed down. It was nearly 11:30 after all. Surely people had better ways to spend their Saturday night than by shopping at their local drug store? I was wrong. Of course I was wrong.
My reckoning came in the form of an old lady in a wheelchair. I know this won’t be a very popular opinion, but if you can’t do things for yourself than for the love of puppies bring someone with you to help. I work in a store, not a nursing home.
I know that sounds bad, but hear me out. This lady rolled up with eggs, 2 jars of peanut butter, detergent, toilet paper, aspirin, and a couple boxes of cookies. As I’m ringing her through she tells me she’s gonna need help putting her things in her wheelchair. Ok, Fair enough. I get that. I can do that. I tell her “Sure thing” and continue scanning. Once I’m done I hand her the debit machine while I go around to help her. There’s no compartment for anything on the back of her chair as I assumed. She has a backpack hanging off the back and she tells me I’m gonna have to pull a shopping bag out of the backpack.
So far, everything is fine. No big deal. She then tells me that she’s blind and can’t read the debit machine so I have to read it out to her, which I do. Still cool. She then insists I put the detergent, two jars of peanut butter and the eggs in her backpack. Her backpack, wasn’t exactly made for survival supplies.
Me: “I can’t fit the eggs in with everything else. I can just put them in the shopping bag.”
Crone: “No, put them in the backpack.”
Me: “I tried, and they can’t all fit in there properly.”
Crone: “Put them in the backpack.”
Customer behind her: “They aren’t gonna fit–”
Crone: “In the backpack!”
At this point there’s a line of four people behind her and I’m the only employee with a register as we’re closing in 25min and my supervisor is trying to close up. One of the men in line takes off in a huff.
Jerk: “I can’t do this, I have to catch my bus!” He drops his shit, and leaves fuming.
Frustrated I zip up her bag with her eggs half way out. I don’t have time to argue with the old bag.
I call for my supervisor to help me out at cash. She shows up and announces to the line that she can take them if they’re paying “debit or credit” as she has no till. This is important.
The Crone then tells me the debit machine isn’t working which is funny because it’s been fine the whole night and I have to set it up for her again and read it out to her again while I place her boxes of cookies in her shopping bag. The transaction goes through and I try to hand her bag so she can leave.
Crone: “Put in on my lap.”
Me: “I can just hand it too you.”
Crone: “No, you have to put it in my lap.”
Bitch’s arms work fine, there’s no reason I can’t hand it to her, but at this point I just want her to get the fuck out so I do.
Crone: “Toilet paper too.”
This shit is ridiculous. At this point I notice my supervisor’s line is also stalled as her first customer thought that “debit or credit” means she can pay cash and my supervisor has to go get her change from the back.
I go hand the irritated wheelchair bound old hag her receipt and loyalty card which she tells me I need to put in her purse. The one sitting in her lap. I unzip her purse and but her shit in grinding my teeth all the while. Once she’s sorted out she then has the audacity to ask me one last thing.
Crone: “Can you move my feet on my chair.”
Directly after narrowly avoiding charges of second degree murder I then had the pleasure of a 10min long dialog with a heavily accented asian couple who insisted on getting all $31 in lotto winnings in scratch in win tickets which I did not have on display as we’re closing in 15min. All the while two angry old ladies waited behind them.
Boyfriend: “$5 Bingo?”
Me: “No, I only have two $5 crosswords and two $5 monopolies.”
Boyfriend: “No $5 Bingo?”
Me: ” I only have two $5 crosswords and two $5 monopolies.”
And so went the rest of the conversation.
And the best part about all of this, I’d just agreed to train to supervise two days earlier. FML.