8 Hours in Retail: The Awkward, Flirty Customer

So last week, I’m at work and this guy came into my store and was trying to talk to me. Insert sigh and eye roll. I know what you’re thinking. “How’d he look? Was he cute? How’d he approach you?” Etc. To answer some of your questions, the guy wasn’t bad looking and he was very nice. He even started telling me he was looking into grad schools in the area. All good qualities you’d look for in a potential partner. He just came at a very inopportune moment and couldn’t seem to process that I had no time for him.

I had just gotten back from break. My store was experiencing a rush, so I come out to help my coworker handle everything. For anyone who’s never worked retail, a rush is when your store is full of customers and they all need to be helped at the same time. I walked up to this guy to see if he needed any help and he responded no. But, he then proceeded to treat me to an on the spot interrogation. Asking me every question that popped in his head. From “Where do you live?” to “Where did you go to school?” to “Are you from Chicago?” He asked each question one after the other, like he was reading from some list on a sheet of paper. In between all that, he’s telling me why he was downtown, how he’s looking into graduate school for social work, and some other stuff I didn’t ask for.

I’m giving this dude one word answers and bouncing around helping other people. Hoping he would get the hint, that this was not the time or the place and that I obviously wasn’t interested. When I’m in the middle of a rush in my store, I have 0% of time for you. If you’re not buying, you’re wasting my time.

So, I wa what made it weird was that after everyone else left the store he stayed behind. I knew he didn’t want to buy anything, but he still insisted I tell him about the jewelry I was selling. Then informed me he was just wasting time until rush hour ended. At this point, I just start ignoring this man hoping he would just leave. My coworker chats with him a bit, but it’s so awkward. He would stand by one of our cases in silence for like a minute, attempt to start another conversation, before lapsing into silence again. Eventually, he decides to leave and informs us that he would be back. Unfortunately.

At this point my coworker is like, “You have to kick him out. He can’t just be in here.” I’m like, “I was trying to be nice and hoped he would get the hint. But, you’re right.” So when he strolled back in 20 minutes later I asked him point blank, “Are you going to buy anything?” He looked startled. But, he looked around for a quick second and then said he’s come back for something for his mom before exiting the store.

The moral to the story here is that if someone’s making you uncomfortable or getting in the way of you doing your job, don’t be afraid to be blunt with them. Don’t be afraid to tell them to leave or call security. I could have ended that whole exchange earlier, if I wasn’t so nice. It’s OK to think about yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable. You don’t have to bend over over backwards for a creepy customer, because you need to deliver excellent customer service to everyone. You are the most important person in your life, so act like it.

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