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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two Cents

Dear World At Large,

Don't assume you know anybody. When you do, you hurt people who don't deserve it.

I'll explain.

Today, someone gave me his two cents worth. Literally. It wasn't asked for, and it wasn't even correct.

A man in a Queensland State of Origin Maroons polo shirt came to the desk with an envelope loaded with $100 notes. He asked to make a payment on his credit card. I said certainly and asked him for either his card or his statement from which I could take the account. He produced the latter. I took him to the register and proceeded to make the payment.

The amount owing on his account was exactly $3,618.18.

I remember this exact amount because of what happened next.

Following standard procedure with large cash payments, I had another employee double check the amount with me. He produced thirty-seven $100 notes. I asked him if he wanted to pay "this amount" while pointing at the emboldened numerical print of his account statement of $3,618.18. He confirmed 'yes'. I entered '$3,618.18' into the register, then entered $3,700.00 + CASH as the tender. The register opened, I inserted the tender and retrieved $81.80 in cash change which I handed over. I stapled his receipt to his statement and returned it to him.

He stood there for a moment checking the receipt. I asked was there anything else he needed? He didn't respond for several moments.

Finally he asked... "Why didn't you round it up?"

'I beg your pardon?'

'You didn't round it up to twenty.'

'... sorry?'

He then proceeded to argue with me that I should have rounded up the amount he was paying to $3,618.20 instead of the $3,618.18 printed on his statement which he had visually confirmed for me moments ago that which was the amount he wished to pay off.

I assured him it made no difference - his account was paid off, to the final cent. But he insisted I hadn't done my job right and I hadn't followed common sense. I replied and said that that's how it's done.

He replied - and this is the bit that sticks with me - 'No, it's not how it's done. It's common sense to round it up. But you don't have common sense, do you. That's why you're working at Coles.'

I walked away. He said nothing. I said nothing. After he left, I asked my manager to be excused for a few minutes.

I've never been more insulted in my life by this absolute arsehole.

Who did he think he was and how did he find time in his busy schedule performing brain surgery for tumour-ridden friends of the Sultan of Brunei to come down to Kmart on a Wednesday afternoon and insult some poor schmuck over nothing?

To make an assumption that I'm some kind of fuckwit, even when I articulately explained what had happened? Even though I had asked for his confirmation on the amount to the cent and he gave it?

Who the fuck do you people think you are to go out of your way to personally insult someone doing their job correctly, just because they have more money than them?

Who the FUCK did he think he was to verbalize his insulting thoughts and prejudices and to deeply hurt someone over two cents?

You don't know a goddamn thing about me. You've known me for a matter of seconds. For all you know, I'm not even wearing my real name badge.

I often don't let incidents at work with moron customers get to me but today really struck a nerve. This was the first time (that I can recall at least) where a customer made a assumptive judgment about me and my abilities, based on my job, and said it to my face.

If it were any other point in my life where I wasn't emotionally sensitive about the state of my employment and financial situation, it wouldn't have affected me as much. But the maroon wearing fuckbag hit a nerve over something that he didn't need to or have a right to, considering I did my job as usual.

Prior to this, this was the most insulting thing that had happened to me at work: I had a woman flip at me and demand to see my manager because I calmly refused to give her a refund on an item three months old that she changed her mind on. This was despite the policy clearly saying she wasn't entitled to one after that long. She spoke down to me like I didn't matter, like I didn't know what I was talking about. It's only my job, after all. After a back and forth, I told her "I'll give you your refund, but I really don't appreciate you talking to me like that." She responded with "Well, I don't appreciate my mother being in hospital." I said "I'm sorry to hear that, that's unfortunate, but that still gives you no right to speak to anybody like that." She apologized, and got her refund and left.

Prior to that, the most insulting thing that happened was when a woman came specifically to my checkout to ask me my opinion on floppy disks (remember those) because I "looked like someone who knew a lot about computers". I suppressed the offence and put it through. But I faked scanning her Fly Buys card. So, you know... snap, bitch.

But all of these are linked to the same point, World At Large: don't assume you know a person because of their job. Especially if it's someone in retail. Since when in the history world has anybody known everything about anyone?

Don't insult the little guys, World At Large. They're just in transit. The people working retail now are on their way to bigger and better things. Like brain surgery for the Sultan of Brunei's friends.

Thanks for listening and letting me have my two cents worth.

Although, it is only two cents.


Frazer Ruddick said...

Dude, never ever let them get to you.
Easier said than done, I know.
But just remember that they don't know shit about you, you don't know shit about them, and that's the way you like it! If they're going to be an asshole and belittle you because of your job title, fuck 'em!
At least you're not a miserable fuck who gets hostile over 2 cents!
But you know you're far better than that job anyway.. you're an awesome comedian, and when you're famous, you'll know the right way to treat a cashier!

Andy Thompson said...

JT, let it wash over you. You were a wee lad when GST came in but I was a manager of a bottle shop. I had, and I'm not trying to one up you here, easily 50-60 people say the same thing to me. Customers, generally, are fuckwits who think their self-importance gives them the right to abuse others.

One day we shall have a beer and compare war stories. Then I'll tell you of the time a man urinated in my shop while waiting to be served.


James said...

Thanks man. I figured you would sympathize. :)

James said...

Funny you mention the pissing. I can remember a kid taking a shit in the store and then some poor guy (not me) having to clean it up.

A kid pulled down his pants and laid a chocolate-coated sausage on the floor of childrens' books. And then the parent/s left it there without telling anyone.

Metaphors, man.