The Sixteen Types of Retail Patients

We’re going to break format here and discuss patients rather than diseases.  ONTYF has heretofore been aimed at patients, but I thought it might be helpful for other unwilling doctors out there, like myself, to have a manual of their own.  It is therefore my dubious pleasure to present to you…

The Sixteen Types of Retail Patients

#1.  Royalty

  • Usually on the phone, will not acknowledge you until they see you do something “wrong” (i.e., something not to their liking that you would have had no way of knowing because they didn’t bother to get off their fucking phone and tell you)
  • Will usually realize (not before they get to the register, of course) that they’ve forgotten an item or that there’s Something Wrong with one of their items (torn box, wilted lettuce, etc.) and then ASK you, to ASK someone else, to run along and fetch them another item of worthier stock (heaven forbid they do it themselves after failing to inspect their own items)
  • Another strange behavior: their propensity to ask you, “Can you check those eggs for me?”  SERIOUSLY.  THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.  When did it become my responsibility to make sure all your items are up to snuff??  And why would you wait until you’re AT THE FUCKING REGISTER?
  • Will mention they’re “pressed for time” while not bagging a single item
  • How to Deal: 
    • Don’t exchange words with them.
    • Throw the trash that they’ve inevitably left for you into their bags.
    • Crack one of their eggs when they’re not looking.  Make sure it gets all over their receipt.

#2. The Germaphobe/Control Freak

  • Puts everything in those fucking clear plastic bags (meat, produce, yogurt, milk, juice, eggs, pet treats, frozen items) so you have to take it out to scan it
  • Turns white if you cough or sneeze
  • On the plus side, they often bag their own shit
  • How to Deal:
    • If they get huffy about a sneeze or a cough, pump some sanitizer onto your hands in such a way that it splashes/mists all over them.  It’s what they would want, right? (But seriously, you’d better not be coughing or sneezing into your hands, do it into your shirt or your arm, that shit’s disgusting.)
    • Otherwise, just take your time.  And if they’re helping bag, then they’re not really creating much of a problem in my book.

#3.  The Backseat bagger

  • Considers each item as you’re putting it into a bag and then directs you to bag that item differently.
  • They seem to set records for how much of the Earth’s resources they can use in any given transaction – for instance : “double paper inside of a double plastic bag, with all the cold items inside plastic bags…. no no no, after you put the cold items in plastic bags, put THOSE plastic bags into a double paper bag inside a double plastic bag, and make sure they’re not heavy” (never mind that the purpose of a double bag is to hold heavy loads, not light ones)
  • Notice that they never actually stoop to bagging it themselves
  • How to Deal:
    • Hold up each and every item before you bag it and say, “Where would you like me to put this one?”  “How would you like me to bag this item?” “Do you have any special instructions for this item?”  Make sure to use complete sentences, it takes up more of their time.  Hopefully they’ll realize what they’re doing, shut the fuck up, and just let you do your job (since they’re so averse to addressing their own bizarre idiosyncracies.)

#4.  The Mute

  • Remains silent as you say things like, “Hi, how are you doing today?” and “Do you want paper around your wine bottles?” and “Thank you, have a good one.” Until they have a question or feel like criticizing you, obviously.  Often when you’ve already started ringing up the next customer.
  • How to Deal:
    • Ignore them.  Be so engaged in conversation with the next customer that they either have to shout or they just give up.  That’s the best you can do while still keeping your job, unfortunately.

#5.  The Shit-stirrer

  • Will occasionally be sleeper agents and surprise the fuck out of you, but most of the time, you can spot them by their telltale vinegar face
  • Wait for you to ring something wrong, or some other small thing to happen to give them an excuse to pick a fight.  These people are the absolute fucking worst, because if you don’t take their bait, you get shat all over while they win their precious little point, but if you do, they get indignant about your “poor customer service” and rat you out to the manager (who will definitely NOT have your back).  Either way, you lose (and they know it.)
  • Sometimes, the entire transaction will progress, the entire order will be bagged, and nothing goes awry, much to their dismay.  This is where they have to think fast—do they just take their receipt and “have a nice day,” or do they improvise?  “Excuse me, these bags weren’t doubled.”  Yep.  These are people that watch you bag their items like it’s a tennis match, not saying a word about their bagging preferences, and then mention it as soon as they’re about to leave.  And they will hold it against you.  This is what deferential customer service has wrought.
  • How to Deal:
    • Again, as with the Mute, there’s no real good or satisfying way to deal with the Shit-Stirrer.  I’d tell you to do the classic bagging of trash/egg cracking schtick, but these assholes generally watch your every move, so my best advice is to just be as silent and surly as possible without actually saying anything bitchy.

#6.  The Permissive parent

  • Just so you guys know, your kid can NOT push the cart around the store or scan your groceries, and are you planning on paying for all the cereal bars, string cheeses, and fruit jellies that your little shit crammed into hir mouth?  Oh, and thanks for all the banana peels, toys, and sippy cups that you left in the cart.  I get to keep those, right?
  • How to Deal:
    • Despite the temptation, do NOT apply a gentle-firm “Hey that needs to stop” to the kids.  Although they tend to respond well, you don’t need the parents all up on your dick for daring to discipline their children—you know, the thing that THEY refuse to do.  I personally feel better when I throw their half-full sippy cups back into the bags, but upside down.

#7.  The salesman

  • Always wants to give you a card for/orally advertise their nutrition/chiropractic/yoga practice (it’s usually health-minded motherfuckers)
  • You can usually tell something’s up with them from the get go, because they often have something very specific they want to talk about, but they don’t want to look solicitous, so they have to clunkily trick you into bringing it up in the conversation by saying something like, “It comes with loving what I do!”  Then you’re supposed to say, “Oh, what do you do?”
  • How to Deal:
    • Do not fall for it.  My general tack is to not grant attention to those who so clearly want to tease it out of you.  Plus it’s fucking hilarious to watch them get frustrated with your innocent stonewalling while trying to maintain the smiles that are always plastered on the faces of smug assholes who value things like “positivity” and “detox diets” and “not owning a microwave.”  So when they say, “It comes with loving what I do! (or whatever),” just smile and say, “Amen to that!” and continue the transaction. 

#8.  The Accountant

  • Watches the rolling total screen like a hawk.
  • Has a million questions about how much these items are, and are constantly adding and removing items if they’re too much
  • Gets mad when you accidentally ring something twice, like it was on purpose or something.  BECAUSE I TOTALLY STAND ANYTHING TO GAIN FROM ADDING AN EXTRA $2.99 TO YOUR BILL, MORON.
  • How to Deal:
    • Scan everything, but “forget” to bag one of their smaller items before they leave.  By the way…
      • Creative accountants are a sub-genus of The Accountant.  These douchebags will sometimes try to tell you that the sign for the item actually indicated a lower price – if this is the case, we sell the item at the price on the sign, since it’s not okay (or legal) to falsely advertise.  The trouble is, the name of the product on the sign has to match the name of the product on the label.  Just because someone put down a bottle of Stag’s Leap Merlot that costs $49.99 in the spot where the Boone’s Strawberry Hill for $4.99 goes, doesn’t mean that it’s false advertising.  Then they usually start with some bullshit like, “Well, you should stock your items more carefully.” Which is ridiculous, because it could have just as easily been some other idiot customer who “couldn’t remember” where they found said item.  (Do they think customers just pass in and out of the shop without altering the environment or something?  They’re not ghosts, idiots, they’re people.)  Of course, they probably knew or suspected that the price was too good to be true, they just weren’t counting on me holding up the line to go actually grab the sign from the shelf myself.  Which leads me to…
      • How to Deal: 
        • Go get the fucking sign (or have someone get it for you) and show them.  Normally, I’m against holding up lines, and to be honest, I really don’t give a fuck if our store loses a little money, but if you try to pull one over on me, I WILL make you squirm.

#9.  Assumed Familiarity

  • Thinks that their being a regular and your forced wearing of a nametag makes you guys BFFs, and they get to use your first name even if you’ve never rung them up before and be all chummy with you
  • Running into these fuckers outside of work is extra-irritating.  These assholes always remember your name, and proclaim loudly in front of passerby how they know you, the person who works at [Grocery Store], and try to chat you up while you’re trying to buy condoms at the drugstore or read a subway map. 
  • How to Deal:
    • While you’re at work, you probably don’t have much of a choice but to grin and bear it, unless they’re making you REALLY uncomfortable, then you can just ditch their ass and ask your manager to cover you for a second (be prepared to call HR on this one, managers rarely believe that a pure and holy customer was harassing you.)  Outside of work, things are different.  If you’re not in uniform or on the clock, you’re not being paid to kiss their ass, and you’re well within your rights to remind them of that (as long as you don’t mention your place of work).  I’ve historically just given a short side-eyed glare at their gross assumptions, but if they persist, I’m sure a simple, “Hey, man, I’m not your friend.  Fuck off,” will do nicely.  If they come into your store and try to give you shit about your off-the-clock behavior, you can just tell them that you didn’t remember them from the store (since their assumption that you WILL remember them is ridiculous, given that you deal with upwards of 200 people a day.)  Then you can remind them that what they’re doing is harassment and call for a manager.  Even the simple act of picking up the phone should send the little shit-stains scurrying.

#10.  Passive Aggressive

  • Will slyly point out errors (or slights, as they see them) but will stop short of actually asking you to change them (or doing it their goddam self, where appropriate).  These assholes feel so entitled to your groveling that they expect you follow orders from them that were not even expressly given.
    • Ex: “Those bags look heavy” instead of “Could you make the bags lighter?”
      • An even better option would be to tell me what the fuck it is you want before I even do anything.
      • The best option for those picky assholes, of course, would be to just DO IT THEIR GODDAM SELF.
      • How to Deal: 
        • As with the Salesman in #7, don’t respond to their ploys for attention.  Keep performing your job as you normally do.  If a grown adult does not know how to effectively use their words, that is hir problem.

#11.  The Preacher (aka the Lunatic)

  • You know them.  “Have you heard of Jesus/Kabbalah/David Icke/homeopathy/Knights Templar/compassionate conservatism?”
  • How to Deal:
    • If it’s something you’ve never heard of, just say “Yep, it’s my favorite!”  If it’s something obvious, like Jesus, say “Jesus Christ?  No, never heard of the guy.  Is he, like, in the President’s Cabinet, or something?  Or does he live around here?”
    • A note to the Jesus Freaks: don’t fucking ask if “[I’ve] heard of Jesus Christ.”  You KNOW I have.  This is AMERICA, I can’t go a day without hearing about him.  If you ask stupid questions, you’ll get stupid answers.

#12.  The Lingerer

  • Takes forever to put away their money while the next customer tries to jockey for position, they write down their transaction in their check-book, they’ll snottily re-bag their shit for five minutes (because it would have killed them to just do it themselves in the first place)
  • How to Deal:
    • Just ignore.  No dealing necessary.

#13.  Angostura Bitter

  • These people have much better jobs, houses, and livelihoods than you, but they had children they didn’t want with people they never loved, and they wonder how someone as “smart” as themselves could have screwed up their lives so badly.  They consequently harbor a smoldering, non-explosive anger, and they find opportunities to project it onto anyone but themselves.  Ex: “And you’re out of my garlic paste, and I couldn’t find the carts, and I didn’t like the free sample, and your sorbet’s hard to open, and I didn’t realize these energy bars had so much sugar, no I’ll still buy them…”
  • How to Deal:
    • Don’t apologize.  Just nod sympathetically, with a look in your eyes that says, “We all make mistakes.”

#14.  The Crisis

  • They can’t find a certain item, and whether or not they locate said item is a matter of life or death
  • Are running to get 20 more items as you’re ringing them up
  • Are upset that you finished bagging while they were gone because they brought their reusable bags, and were holding them the entire time they were running around the store
  • Technologically impaired – they can never figure out how to swipe their card correctly (if they don’t forget their wallet outright), don’t remember their pin, or try to run a credit card as government assistance
  • How to Deal:
    • Stay completely calm, exhibit no sense of urgency, and don’t make any sudden movements.

#15.  Observe and Report

  • These folks remind me of 5-year-olds.  They’ve gotten a good handle on language, but don’t have a ton of abstract thought under their belt, so they practice their newly-mastered skill by taking simple observations around them and forming them into words. 
    • “You guys are busy!  (accusatorily) The lines are so looooong!” You do realize that we’re busy because a bunch of other people are doing the exact same thing that YOU are, correct?  Or are you the Chosen One, the only one who magically isn’t part of the problem?  WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR YOUR CULT?
    • “You’re out of cucumbers.”  Yes.  We are.  Would you like a self-effacing long-winded explanation and apology for this egregious breach of your trust? Or would you rather I just treat you like an adult and cut the bullshit?
    • “Huh.  This frozen entrée has a lot of sodium.”  Yes.  It does.  Probably because it’s a frozen entrée.
    • “Hey, you guys got new register screens.”  Oh my god, SHUT UP.
    • How to Deal:
      • While bearing in mind that there’s a lot of overlap between these guys and the Passive Aggressives, just keep responding with a simple affirmative.  Don’t answer any questions until they’re explicitly asked.  Remember, with most of these types of customers, there’s a lot to be said for not taking the bait.

#16.  The Concerned Constituent

  • These crybabies are always telling you that “you guys” should take care of things over which the city has jurisdiction, like setting up another bike rack, or moving the designated canvasser zone further away from the store, or repainting the yellow zone on the curb outside.  They’ll voice their concerns to anyone other than politicians/mayors/congresspeople (i.e., the only ones who could ever do a damn thing about the situation).  Yep, it’s true.  Some people expect you to not only ring up and bag their shit, but to also be a proxy for their civic participation.  I sure hope my shift manager remembered to schedule time for me to travel to the mayor’s office with customers’ concerns regarding public property.  Holy shit, I’d better take my lunch an hour later, because city hall will be closed if I take it now.
  • How to Deal: 
    • Say, “Yeah, unfortunately, I don’t have our congressman’s address or phone number on hand currently, maybe try asking at the Post Office.  They’re actually government employees, so, they’ll probably be way more able and willing to help you out with this sort of thing.”

About OnlyNiceToYourFace

Sick of your bullshit.

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