Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Joe Schmoe

With back to school having calmed down and business pretty much back at its normal levels, this is about the time of year when the extra help we hired to help with the back to school rush starts wearing out their welcome. One guy in particular - we'll call him Joe Schmo - got on our nerves real quick. This is but one example.

It was the middle of the lunchtime rush when I was called to the front to help ring people up. When I got there, I saw that there was a line of five or six people waiting. Standing beside the line - not IN it - was Joe, holding a bag of beef jerky about five feet away. I assumed he was just waiting for the line to die down, as the general rule in retail is that customers get rung up before employees (unless the employee isn't working that day, in which case they wait in line like everyone else). Whatever the case, I called for next customer in line and walked around to my side of the register.

Joe runs over and drops the snack on the counter. Not only did he think he was going to make all the customers wait, he also seemed to think he was going to cut into a line he hadn't even been a part of. "Customers come first," I told him as the woman who had been next in line crowded in behind him. I pushed the beef jerky back toward him and motioned for the woman to come forward.

But Joe doesn't move. "I just want this," he says, pushing the bag back at me.

"You're not understanding me," I said, shaking my head. "All these people have been waiting and you weren't even in line. Customers come before employees. I'll gladly ring you up once these people are taken care of."

He stands there with this bewildered look on his face. "Technically, I am a customer."

"No, you're not. You're an employee. You can wait until the line dies down." Which usually doesn't take too long.

Finally, he shuffles aside with an assortment of grunts and complaints muttered under his breath that he seems to think I can't hear. The woman who'd been next starts giving me her items to check out, and as I'm bagging them, Joe walks around to the other side and gets in line behind her. Remember, there were another four or five people waiting in the big line that had been there when I walked up.

I didn't want to argue in front of the customer though, so I stayed quiet, checked her out, bagged her stuff, and sent her on her way. Joe comes up again and drops the bag on the counter. "You're not getting it, are you?" I asked. "Customers come before employees."

"I just want this," he says again.

"You have to wait until the line dies down!"

"It'll take two seconds."

He wouldn't move. He wouldn't step aside and let customers go first. He was being an impatient... well, customer.

Clenching my fists, I finally let him buy the stupid jerky only because I was well aware that the time I wasted arguing with him could've been saved if I'd just rung him up in the first place. I got dirty looks from the customers who had been waiting through all this, of course, but to stand there and continue arguing with him would've forced them to wait even longer.

It's ok, though, because Joe Schmoe has since been let go.

Shopping tip of the day for 9/22/09: We're fully aware that the phrase, "Any other store would let me return this!" is a total crock. We're humans too, and we shop too. I've never been to a store with as liberal a return policy as so many of you seem to think exists. We're not a rental outlet where you can pay for something, use it for a few years, and then return it - without receipt and package, of course - for a full refund.

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