Are You Being Served? Part 2

“What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it. ” -Mark Twain


I survived Black Friday and Christmas.  Wait, where did my hours go?

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Me: “I need more money for my till!  There are no $20s!”

(Puts in for $20 bills for the till)

(Customer then appears and his/her items are totaled.)

Customer: “I have 100 $20s! Here you go!”

(Manager appears with money)

Manager: “Ripberger, why’d you put in for $20s when you have all these $20s?  Don’t ask for money you don’t need.”

You can never win this “game” during high shopping days.  Somedays, you are only one bill away from being tapped out completely by customers.

Manager 1: “Why is that girl waving at you from her register?”

Manager 2: “She wants to work at the Service Desk, but she has no patience and neglects her duties already.  Oh, she thinks she’s going to advance!  She thinks she’s moving on to the desk!  Well, she won’t…”

(Girl cashier waves and smiles at Manager 2)

Manager 2: “…and she never will!

Not long after that, I noticed that girl was working at the Service Desk.  Manager 2 still gives sideways glares to her, I believe.  However, Manager 2 does that to others, too, now that I think about it…

Customer: “Want change for bike!”

Me: “Pardon me?”

Customer: “Change for bike! Change for bike! (Spanish intermingled)”

(My rudimentary Spanish cannot decipher the meaning.)

Manager: “What is going on here?”

Customer: “Change for bike! Change for bike!”

(Manager looks at me surprised and then turns to the customer.)

Manager: “You have to exchange at the Service Desk.”

Customer: “Change for bike! Change for bike! (Spanish intermingled)”

Senior Manager: “I think we need a Spanish-speaking member here.”

Even when the Spanish-speaking worker came, I’m not sure between all us we could solve the issue.  I… I think he got the bike he wanted?

Me: “Your total is X, sir/ma’am.”

Customer: “I have no money.”

(Customer walks away dejected and leaves me shocked with a dropped jaw and a myriad of unpaid items I or a co-worker has to take to Claims.)

This happens more often than you’d think.

Customer: “I have many items, but only X amount of money.”

Me: “We’ve reached your limit with these items.”

Customer: “Gah! Wait, no, yes, no, yes… yes… no!  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

(This goes on for so long, we’ve all lost.  Somehow, she finally wants to pay.)

Customer: “Here is money.”

Me: “Ok.”

(Customer tries to finish transaction with card, but the card is a weird, esoteric card that the register’s card reader continues to reject. A senior cashier tries to help, but all is in vain.)

Customer: “Gah! I cannot pay with the card!?  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

(Again, this goes on for so long, we’ve all lost.)

Customer: “Ok, you have money in your hand and it should pay for what I want now.”

Me: “Ma’am, the money I have has already gone towards your purchase.  The total left is what you tried to pay on your card which will not go through.  You still have to pay for the total remaining.”

Customer: “No, you have money in your hand and it should pay for what I want now.”

(Senior cashier and I try to explain, but all is in vain.  I call for a manager to resolve the issue.)

Grand Manager: “What is going on here?”

(Grand Manager hears the tale and manually checks to confirm what we’ve all been saying… that the total remaining still has to be paid.  The customer either understands or simply acquiesces, but then wants another exchange.)

Customer: “Gah! I cannot pay that!  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

Grand Manager: “Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Let’s start all over.  Let me abort the transaction and let’s take this one thing at a time.”

(Grand Manager mainly deals with Customer at this point.  My brain is shot.)

Customer: “Gah! I cannot pay that!  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

(Finally, it seems resolved until customer returns one last time to do another exchange.  At last, she leaves.)

Me: “Thank you for you help.”

Grand Manager: “That was infuriating.  I… Ripberger!  Those kids destroyed the register aisle.  And what is this cart full of items she left behind!?”

Me: “She only had $50 and those in the cart are what she could not afford.”

Grand Manager: “WHHAAAA…..?”

This, so far, remains the strangest episode I have encountered in retail.  I imagine it will usurped by something else in due time.

Public Address (PA): “All register-trained members to the front registers.”

Colleague: “No!  I must finish my work!”

Me: “They know you are working and that you are register-trained.  They will find you and make you go, you know.”

Colleague: “No, I will not go!  I have so many things to do.  There is no time!”

20 minutes later, I see him at the register.  They found him and conscripted him to the front.

Manager 1: “You cannot leave.”

Me: “But it is time for me to leave.”

Manager 1: “There’s inclement weather expected and management wants everyone to stay overnight so we have coverage.”

(I look sad and confused, thinking about my employee rights and wondering how on earth I was going to get out of this.)

Manager 2: “Ha! Ya got him!  You should have seen So-and-so’s face when we told her the same thing!”

Manager 1: “You can go home, Ripberger.  Stay safe.”

Customer: “Oh, what a day!”

(Customer reaches out and I assume to shake my hand.)

Customer: “No!  Give me back my credit card!  You are holding it in your hand!”

PA: “Easter Bunny, report to the Photo Center.  Easter Bunny, report to the Photo Center.”

I saw the Easter Bunny later on.  He looked pretty sad.  I think he needed more food… or fluff.

(Santa Claus comes behind a Customer at my register.  Customer has beer.)

Santa Claus: “Can I go home with you?”

Customer: “Well, sure!”

Both: “Hahaha!”

Me (thinking): “Perhaps my rudimentary Spanish can be put to good use here.  Perhaps, I could even develop it further and get better at this!”

(Customers appear every day speaking Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, and a myriad of languages I cannot comprehend!)

Me (thinking): “Oh, I can barely hold two languages in my head and now they throw the whole United Nations at me!”

There are workers here who do know most of those languages, but they never seem to be working at the same time a non-English-speaking customer needs help.

Manager: “Ripberger, do you speak Spanish?”

Me: “I speak a little.”

Colleague: “Juanita knows Spanish!”

Manager: “Juanita, can you tell the customer about X?”

Juanita: “Just because I have a Spanish-sounding name does not mean I speak Spanish!”

(A cashier became a manager.  It has been mixed results.)

Me: “There’s a price discrepancy between the customer and the register. I need a price check.”

New Manager: “Everyone’s busy.  The customer will have to wait.”

Customer: “What’s going on with the price check?”

Me: “I’m afraid you’ll have wait.  There’s no one to check.”

Customer: “I’ve been waiting 20 minutes! What the H–l am I supposed to do!?”

(Experienced cashier Colleague Y watches this whole situation in stunned fury.)

Colleague Y: “New Manager, you wanted the duties and responsibilities of being a manager and yet you will not do them!  You were one of us and you know the pressures we face.  When we need help with something like a price check, you as a manager are responsible in figuring it out.  Now you have an angry customer and left poor Ripberger in the cold.  You wanted this and you need to do your job!”

New Manager gives the item at the customer’s preferred price and leaves.  I doubt that customer will come back after that whole exchange.

Husband Customer: “This cheese you bought is too expensive!  What… it fell out of the bag!”

Wife Customer: “Don’t blame the poor lady cashier!  She couldn’t see the bag was unzipped!”

Me (Thinking): “Man!  I’m a man! I have the beard and everything!  Am I like Dennis the Peasant!?  I even have a name tag with a manly name!”

More stories next time!  Note: Names and some situations modified/exaggerated to preserve my and others anonymity.

Are You Being Served? Part 1

“What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it. ” -Mark Twain


I’ve found a job!  It’s in retail… before Black Friday… and Christmas… oh my.

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It’s not what I planned to do, but I look forward to learning new skills and seeing where this goes.  I enjoy having a job, and I may find I thoroughly enjoy this job.  I’m open-minded and giving it a chance.  I’m finally getting out of the house away from job applications and job boards I can now safely ignore without worrying about missing something.  There’s always some misery with any job, but the misery of unemployment far outweighs the misery I believe that come with this job and commute.  I know I can handle it, even on the bad days.

So far, one concept that has come up in my training is loss prevention.  This can be best summed up with:

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Don’t steal from the store!  For the love of all that good in the world, don’t steal!  It isn’t worth it.  It’s a felony in the United States to steal from an employer.  They know what comes in, what comes out, and what is missing.  You may evade suspicion for a time, but they will find you.  Most are not even smart enough to try to evade.  They think they can just get away with it without consequence.  They will be found in time.

Oh, and if you do find money lying around in the store, that money belongs to the store unless it can be traced to a particular individual.  The store likely won’t care if you are a customer picking up small change you find, but they will care if they find store employees picking it up without turning it in.  To be honest, an employee picking up small change may not be challenged, but the risk is too great.  Whether a customer or employee, please turn in money to the main customer service desk.  Remove the temptation!  The loss prevention officer is watching… always watching!

All I ask is that when you see a retail worker, be kind.  You don’t know his/her life story and I know from looking online that people have bad impressions of retail workers.  It’s an honest job with honest work for honest money.  It’s odd hours and hard work to keep a store functioning.  We’ll work our best to make you happy and find what you need.  The customer is the ultimate boss and his/her decision to buy or not buy decides the fate of the store.  Customer service may not be like the way it was back in Harry Selfridge’s day, but we all know it is essential.  If I don’t know how to help you, I will find someone who will.  I was trained as a librarian and customer service in a library is no different than in a store.

Another piece of advice: order online.  My store will hold online orders for you and you can come pick up item with no shipping charges or worries of the delivery person leaving your package out in the rain.  You can avoid the crush of the crowd during the Black Friday and holiday madness for November and December.  Oh, and the retail workers get to live while the store gets a profit.  It’s a win-win-win!

Good luck to you all this holiday season.