Horror Stories from Heritage Retail/Food Service Workers

By: Jo Rochelle

Many high school- and college-age people find jobs in food service or retail. These kinds of jobs set employees up for future success by increasing patience and interpersonal skills. Still, almost anyone working in those fields will tell you that they are seriously underpaid for the work they have to do–and the people with which they have to deal. A few Huskies shared their stories with the Herald, telling us about particularly rude or ridiculous customers they encountered on the job.

  1. Corporate America and the Randomly Flushing Toilets

“A customer went to the restroom, and there was a toilet that was randomly flushing all the time. So he comes out of the bathroom and comes to the front to complain. But he’s not just complaining, he’s yelling and cursing at us about how awful corporate America is. He said that if we can’t fix something as little as a toilet, then we can’t fix anything and won’t make anything of ourselves.”

  1. The Tea-cident

“A lady ordered a large tea with her food, so I gave her a large tea. After a few minutes, she comes back through saying that I didn’t give her a large tea. I know that I did, but she insisted that I didn’t and demanded I give her one. I had no choice but to give her another because she had it on the receipt and, to be honest, she kinda scared me.”

  1. Movie Madness

“I work in a movie theater, and there’s this guy who comes in all the time. He’s always mad about something or other. So he came in this particular time to see Arrival. He sat through the entire movie, came out, and asked to speak to a manager. He said to the manager, ‘I’m 71 years old, and I’ve never seen a movie this bad.’ He demanded a refund, but he didn’t understand that our policy doesn’t allow for refunds just because you didn’t like the movie you sat through. Boy, was he angry.”

  1. Lock Your Doors

“It was 10:30 on a Friday night, and my register was the only one open. There was an ex-husband and an ex-wife in my line, apparently still arguing over custody of the kids. It all started out really passive aggressive; the dad came first with a lot of junk food. Like, I wish my mom had let me have that much junk food when I was a kid. But I digress. I asked if he was having a party or something, to which he replied, ‘No, this is for my kids.’ And the woman snorts from behind him. So the man turns to his ex-wife like, ‘You got a problem?’ They get into an argument, saying things like ‘My kids will like my house better than yours’ and ‘They like me better than you.’ I finish checking the guy out, and the woman comes next. But her ex is just standing there, waiting for her to finish. And they’re still arguing! I’m thinking to myself at this point, ‘If there’s a fight in the parking lot, I want no part of it.’ So I look to my manager, and I’m like ‘I might need some help.’ He looks me dead in the eye, walks into his office, and shuts the door. I’m pretty sure I heard the lock click.”

  1. Customer Service Complaints

“I’m behind the desk, and this woman comes up with her son who’s maybe four or five, and you can tell she spoils him. So she says, ‘Excuse me, I’d like to file a complaint.’ I asked what happened, since filing a complaint is a pretty big and lengthy process. The lady tells me, ‘The cashier was counting money, and my son started calling out random numbers to mess with them. But then they got angry with him.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, cashiers have to count how much money is in the till, it’s important. She gets loud, ‘Are you saying that my son was wrong?’ I couldn’t exactly say yes, so I just said, ‘No, ma’am. But maybe the cashier just had a really long, emotional day…’ I tell you, man, I had definitely had a long, emotional day.”

Tales like these aren’t hard to come by. Anyone working in the service sector, especially for minimum-wage jobs, will deal with difficult customers from time to time. We should all be more conscious of the fact that food service and retail employees are still people and deserve the same measure of respect. Thinking before we speak and act is a useful practice, and it can help us make other people’s lives–and jobs–a little easier.