I have recently found out that Not Always Right (as in “the customer is not always right”) is a delightful way to spend a few hours. Originally dedicated to tales from The Retail Wars, it later expanded to include stories about people being absolutely awesome (such as the story about the child who had never had fresh fruit or the miniature Batman keeping Gotham safe) and sometimes it’s about people being the exact opposite of awesome (such as the teacher who bullied a sixth-grader for being good at math).
Sometimes you get a story like this one, where there’s one person being not awesome, and another person being completely awesome and also completely anonymous. I have worked retail quite a bit in the past and have seen some really egregious behavior on the part of customers. (And yes, I’ve kicked people out, and yes, I’ve watched the police drag people out. I don’t know what it is about walking into a store that gives some people such a tremendous sense of privilege.)
Here we go…
(I am cashier at a pet store. I see a man walk into the store, pick up a large and expensive coffee table book on show dogs, and get in my line. My manager has warned me, and shown me a picture of this man. He tries to convince cashiers to give him a refund for items he has just stolen. I immediately page my manager, who, unbeknownst to me, is tied up with a minor medical emergency in the back of the store.)
Thief: “I want to return this item.”
Me: “Do you have a receipt?”
Me: “I’m very sorry, sir. Without a receipt, I cannot give you a refund.”
Thief: “Give me a refund.”
Me: “Sir, I watched you pick that book up when you came in. I know you did not buy it.”
Thief: “Give me the f****** money, or I’ll kick your a**.”
(Most of the customers in my line start backing away.)
Me: “Sir, I cannot give you any money, and if you leave with that item I will call the police. Please leave the store.”
Thief: “You little a**-hole!”
(The thief grabs the front of my shirt, and rears his arm back to punch me. I throw my arms up to shield my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of movement. The next thing I see is a spatter of blood on my counter, and the man out cold on the floor with a bloody nose. My manager, with a paramedic from the earlier emergency, walks up.)
Manager: “What just happened?”
(As I tell my story, an assistant manager calls the police, opens another line, and checks out the waiting customers. The paramedic starts checking on the man, who has a clearly broken nose. The man slowly regains consciousness, and points to me.)
Thief: “She assaulted me! I’m going to sue!”
(I talk to the police.)
Me: “He grabbed me, but I never hit him. I don’t know how he got hurt!”
(The man, a known criminal, is handcuffed and put in the police car. The officers and my manager go to review the security cameras. About ten minutes later, I get called to come back to the office.)
Manager: “You have got to watch this!”
(The camera footage clearly showed the man getting the book, getting in line, arguing with me, and then grabbing my shirt. At that moment, the customer in line after him, a tiny, middle-aged Asian woman, leaped up, grabbed the hair on the back of his head, slammed his face into my counter, and then calmly stepped back to where she had been standing. She did it so quickly that we have to run the footage back on slow to see exactly what she had done. After the thief was out cold, she walked over to the new line that the assistant manager opened, bought her bag of cat food with cash, and left without a word. Apparently, the other customers either didn’t see what she did, or decided to keep their mouths shut. We have no idea who she was, and we never saw her again. The thief was charged with assault on me, and arrested. Wherever you are, lady, thanks! You’re my personal superhero!)
You can read the entire story here.
A word of caution, however: You can easily spend hours reading (and, if you’re anything like me, laughing hysterically) story after story on that site. You have been warned.