8 Hours in Retail: Chicago’s Most Hated Customer

Recently, I got a new job at a trendy jewelry store. It’s a nice mix of my last job, but busier and a little more satisfying personally and financially. I like it. Anyway, I was talking to one of my co-workers last week and she asks me if I’d run into “E.” yet. (I don’t want to get sued. So we shall call her “E.”.) I replied, “I haven’t. But, I know exactly who your talking about. Is she black with a British accent?” My co-worker nodded and was like, “I don’t think that accent is real. She’s a pathological liar.” I nod my head in agreement and chime in, “Yeah. She has a reputation.” And, she really does.

I’ve only had one run in with E. when I worked at that resale shop. I remember her coming coming in to sell clothes and one of my managers that she liked did her buy. I knew from previous employee gossip about this character and the special treatment she got for being a very unpleasant individual (Insert 5 letter explicit word here.). Anyway, I got the very unfortunate task of ringing this lady out. Now I can’t remember exactly what she asked for that I denied. But, I remember clearly how she narrowed her eyes at me and raised her voice in the faux British accent to try to intimidate me into doing her bidding. In a dry voice I was like, “I need to ask my manager.” Every associates response to questions beyond “Cash or Credit?”. Said manager glanced over and just told me to do it. They did not want the hassle and low key neither did I. E. left the store very happy and jumped into her cab she had waiting outside for probably an hour at least and went about her merry way to terrorize the next retail associate.

It wasn’t just the resale shop that had issues with this customer. I had a few friends that worked at HM and during a photo shoot for a magazine I copy edit for they brought E. up. I remember laughing in disbelief, because how likely is it that one of your evil regulars is known at another store and brought up in conversation? Very likely after last week. There story was the same as my co-workers. E. would come into the store and make ridiculous demands, get very angry when they weren’t met leading to the managers to bend over backwards to accommodate her, and then claim that everyone loved her and were her friends once her needs were met. She’s one of those people that constantly tells associates that they had the store managers permission to do X,Y, and Z, but that’s never the case. My co-worker even went on to tell me she goes into another one of our locations just to use the mirror and walks out. It happens enough that she doesn’t even greet her anymore. Why she doesn’t just go into the Sephora next door, I will never know.

The moral to the story is to never be E. Do not go around harassing the staff at the stores you frequent to get your way. You’ll only end up with a horrible reputation around a city as large as Chicago and a blog post written about your naughty behavior.




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.

8 Hours in Retail: I Found a Bag of Pee Once


Retail. Whether you’re flipping burgers or folding a mountain of polos, you’re in the business of dealing with customers. Most customers are standard, they’ll be in and out with little to no fuss. Then there are the select few who come out of nowhere just to create havoc in your work environment. From messing up the store to cussing you out, you hate them and they know it. And, then there are those customers who do or say the craziest things that’ll either have you giggling fondling in remembrance or rolling your eyes in annoyance at their stupidity. This segment will explore a little bit of all of the above. Now let’s get to how I found that bag of pee.

It was a typical late summer day in 2012. I was working at a trendy resale shop at the time in a faux bougie area in Chicago. Most of the customers wore Lululemon workout apparel or Tory Burch with a Michael Kors or Marc Jacobs bag, but walked around like they were wearing head to toe current season Alexander Wang with a Birkin bag on their arm. You could feel the entitlement emanating off some of these folks.

Anyway, I was working the fitting rooms that day. I went back to do my usual fitting room check, closing doors and making sure no one left any clothing or sensors behind, when I see it. A plastic bag with this liquid inside siting in the corner of one the stalls. I take a closer look. The liquid appeared to be a clear, pale yellowish color. I was taken aback. I remember just staring at it, trying to figure out what it was, why it was there, and who left this? Who carried around a bag of mysterious liquid? I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but at least it wasn’t all over the fitting room floor. There had been a pickle juice incident a month or two prior, so I lucked out.

I grabbed a paper towel, picked it up, and went show it to two of my managers in the back room. I’m like, “Look what I found.” Their response was to bust out laughing. Hilarity and dramatics ensue from that point forward. One of my managers paraded it around to everyone working that day. She called people from the front of the store to the back just to look at it and laugh hysterically. Oh, the fun we used to have back then. The bag of pee has since been immortalized in a photo taken from that managers Facebook page, with the caption “In case you’re confused, that is a bag of urine found in the fitting rooms at work. In case you’re still confused, we’re on the same page.”

That’s not the last weird item I’ve found working at that store, but it’s the most memorable and least disgusting bodily fluid story I have.

Retail MeRetail Me Circa 2013