I’m sorry (I guess)

Yesterday was a weird day. I go through a myriad of moods and emotions as most humans do but yesterday was a weird day. When you work in customer service, you have to have this facade of being a very happy and amiable person. Problem is with me, I am very sensitive to those around me. So if your attitude is prevalent my attitude becomes a shield. Now it doesn’t happen very often ( thank god for that) but sometimes I can always tell when people just are having an issue and the universe smiles upon you. Yesterday was my day.

I was ringing up a customer who was with her son. They were bringing a piece of luggage with them. Now in the store I work at we put sensors and tags on almost everything. Being in retail long enough, we know people steal and we have had people steal big pieces of luggage. So she comes up and ring up her other items. She looks at me and I look at the luggage. She doesn’t move so i proceed lean over and pick up the luggage. Now I am mumbling under my breathe that of course she would leave it there. I wasn’t really listening to her. It seems she was trying to help but because of the way I lifted it, the luggage smushed her finger against the counter. She goes excuse but you smushed my finger. I said ” I am sorry ma’am. I didn’t realize you were going to help. I am used to people not helping.” She gets her tone and voice higher and says my finger is cut. I said I am really sorry ma’am. Would you like a bandaid?

It isn’t cut she states sharply. She then proceeds to berate me and says other stores can usually just scan it from where it is. I tell her we can’t here and then she goes on to say ” you could have asked me to help. Instead you handle it roughly and smushed my finger. Once again I apologize but because I didn’t beg her forgiveness, She continues to go on talking about I have an attitude and I have never been treated like this by any cashier from any store in my life.

This is when I state again I’m sorry ma’am but I’m very used to people not helping. She goes well I’m not other people yet you just compared us to other stores. I didn’t say that last part but best believe I thought it. Now there was a part of me that really wanted to tell her off and just walk off my job. Again, I have worked in retail for almost 20 years and it’s seems to deteriorate every year because as CEOs get bigger paychecks, the average worker gets berated and abused.

But I just kept my face like a stonewall. I stayed quiet and let her voice be the only one be heard. It was during that time that all my co workers and a few customers just started watching her and her alone.

It is sometimes so surreal when you see something happening. Almost as of time is slowing down. One of my co workers comes over and says Ma’am, she apologized and she didn’t mean to hurt your finger.

She then says well you know what? I’m not going to take this luggage. You really need to change your attitude and I am going to spare you by not telling your manager. She then proceeded to pay for her other things and leave. I stayed quiet and handed her the receipt.

I walked away from the counter and as I write this, I realized where I went wrong and where the customer went wrong.

See this retail climate of the past fifteen years has had companies dependent on satisfaction surveys. Customers then have all this power to behave badly knowing we can’t really say anything or it is truly our jobs. Bad behavior is so prevalent now that the things people get away with is how some deal with toddlers. Just give them what they want till you can distract with something shiny and they leave.

Where I went wrong was not begging for her forgiveness. See I say sorry I actually mean it. My tone of voice was calm but not begging. I’m not begging for your forgiveness for an honest mistake and while telling you that I am used to others not helping and not treating her like and individual yet she proceeded to act just like every other customer. Where she went wrong was harping the point. Say it once to get it across. If it continues, you sounds like you scolding a child and believe this woman is not my parent.

Moral of the story: give customers the illusion they are special. Kiss their feet and let them feel like gods because at the end of the day, Retail companies will believe a customer over an associate any day of any given week.

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