Tales from customer service

Three students recount their wackiest work stories

Not every customer is polite.
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When I was in high school, I made the unfortunate decision to take a job as one of Santa’s helpers at my local mall.

I expected the position to be fun, helping to carry out the magic of Christmas time to young kids. What I failed to consider was that parents around the holidays—especially parents who’ve waited an hour in line to see Santa—are a whole different breed of customer.

During one of my shifts, my manager told me Santa was going on his break “to feed the reindeer,” and that I should tell the long line of waiting customers he would be back in half an hour. I innocently informed the customers of this, only to be met with an onslaught of angry parents yelling and swearing at me, complaining that, given how expensive pictures with Santa were, waiting this long in line was a rip-off.

I was a 17-year-old making minimum wage and had no control over anything beyond how I greeted my customers. The angry parents either didn’t consider this or didn’t care, because the yelling quickly culminated in parents demanding that, if I couldn’t do anything to return Santa from his break myself, I should get them someone who could. I held off the hoard as long as I could—rather bravely, I think—before finally calling over my manager, who ultimately caved and cut our Santa’s break short. I’ve worked in customer service since then, but have yet to experience something like this anywhere else.

—Chloe Sarrazin, Editorials Editor

I’ve been told I’m the product of being raised on too much TV. I agree—I have unrealistic expectations and, admittedly, I’m a hopeless romantic.

I started working at Kingston’s Juniper Cafe in August. First doing dishes, then making sandwiches and salads, and then baking cookies and muffins. When I was moved to the front of house to start training as a barista, my Hallmark movie brain went into overdrive.

I’d be the cute and quirky barista at a quaint and vibrant cafe in a small city. A dashing young man from out of town would come in and ask the difference between a cappuccino and a cortado. I explain, and we’d laugh and run into the sunset. 

Or maybe I’d have a flirty rapport with one of the regulars. I’d jokingly call him his order and he’d insist I use his real name. After weeks of nervous laughter and stolen glances, I would finally take the plunge and ask him out and he’d regret not beating me to it. 

In reality, the Juniper’s clientele skews more to the over-60 crowd and the young people are usually women or people on dates—not really my type.

Cue Valentine’s Day. One of the regulars came in. The last time I served him, I made a mental note of his first name, because tips.

After taking his order, I politely said, “Your name’s Jerry, right?” Unexpectedly, he turns to my coworker and says, “Looks like someone has a crush on me.” I tried to play it cool and finish up the contact tracing, but in a sobering reality check, Jerry gave me his phone number and asked if I wanted his address, too. No, thank you.

The closest I got to a meet-cute in six months was a 65-year-old married man making me uncomfortable.

So, if you come into the Juniper and the ‘Lover/evermore/folklore’ playlist is on, feel free to say hi. 

—Eliza Wallace, Contributor

I worked at an EB Games in December of 2017, long before GameStop, its parent company, became an overnight stock market sensation.

Working as a sales associate toes the line between retail and customer service. During my time at EB Games, I did everything from selling customers the hottest new games to handling returns on damaged or defective products.

No two shifts are the same when you’re working in a store. Problems are like people: they’re all different shapes and sizes. On any given day, it’s impossible to predict who might walk through the front door—or what might crash through it.

None of us saw the pickup truck coming. Two robbers drove it into our store at night. They were long gone by the time I showed up for my shift, but we had the security footage to see what had happened: they’d turned their truck into a battering ram by attaching a wooden plank to its hood. Instead of picking the lock on the front door, they decided to run right through it. Even the would-be robbers seemed surprised their plan worked—they didn’t bring any tools to open the back inventory room. That door wouldn’t budge.

Eventually, the two geniuses got so frustrated that they left the store without stealing anything, ignoring some expensive game consoles and two cash registers on their way out. The ‘customers’ may always be right, but they aren’t always smart. 

—Ben Wrixon, Opinions Editor

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