Saturday, December 24, 2005

Customer Cream of the Crop

I wouldn't want to think of myself as a close-minded person that pigeon holes people into labels or cliches, but sometimes I simply cannot help myself. When a person works in the retail world at this time of the year, she gets to not only participate in this madness, but also observe. Little do these frantic shoppers know that they are being used to amuse me when I am knee deep in DVDs. For those of you who have little experience in the retail heaven, let me educate on the breeds of folks that seem to come to my store. For those of you who live and breath the retail hell, you can relate and probably add to this list.

The Zombie-She is like a deer in the headlights, but instead of headlights, it is a display of DVD television box sets. Who can blame her. TV box sets are so much more demanding on a last minute shopper's psyche. She had no idea that she would have to choose between seasons! One to Ten for Friends! Should I buy season One or Two of Arrested Development? Oh My GOD! Felicity! THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME! How is she supposed to know which season her teenage daughter wants to own more than anything else this Christmas. This is when I step in to break the zombie trance to offer my wisdom and suggestions in all things television.

The Rumpmaster-This is the customer who not only uses her hands to gather items that cannot be lived without, but elbows, feet, and headbutts if the need arises. Even though she thinks she is being smooth without anyone taking notice, she tries to make her way to the nearest Borders employee using nothing less than her big rump. Yes, the rump can make for a nice wedge between people when there is crap to buy. When this much body is involved in the shopping experience, those books and DVDs are bound to fall to the ground. Now, who is going to help this customer if she just finished wedging herself to the front of the line. Be careful with this strategy!

The MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD-He is under some holiday delusion that he is allowed to wait until there are only two shopping days left and he should be allowed to treat everyone around him like garbage. He lets the Borders employees know he is there by saying, "Um. Um. Excuse Me! Can I get some help????" when there is obviously three people ahead of him. Sometimes, this person mistakes what normal people who were not raised by wolves know as appropriate social cues. Like, "Who was next in line?" He takes as, "Well, I am very important and I waited too long and now I WANT HELP WHEN I WANT IT! I don't care who was next. I AM NEXT!" Then, it boggles his mind when he is completely ignored for the three people in front of him.

The Hard-To-Please-She is not happy. Never. No matter what cartwheel you try to attempt in the middle of the bookstore. You gather her book, but she wants it in hardcover. (Sigh). You get her the calendar she wants, but the boxes are too small. (Sigh). You bring her the CD that she has requested, but she wants two and that is the last one. (Sigh). You show her the nice selection of datebooks and she goes after the one that is a little worn and it is the last one and you can't find one in the back. She huffs and says, "Well, I guess this will have to do." (Sigh). Then, it is time to check out and the line is too long. She turns to you and says, "Why is the line so long?" I have to fight every instinct to scream, "Well, if you didn't wait until the day before Christmas, you might not have to wait in this line and you have been happy with what you are choosing to purchase!!!!!!!" Oh, and of course, she doesn't thank you for your help.

The VERY Rare Beast called NICE CUSTOMER- He says 'thank you'. He says 'Happy Holidays'. He says 'It must be hard to work during the holidays here.' He is happy when I bring him the book that he requested. I want to hug him and ask him back to my apartment to have supper with Tim and me and become our new best friend. But instead, I go out of my way to get him everything on his list even if it means calling three more Borders stores because he is nice. And that makes the difference.


Anonymous said...

I love it! Your customer types are dead on. I'd like to add 2 more if you don't mind.

The Time-Deficient Customer:
This person has no idea what time of day it is, or even what time zone he is in. He looks at you with shock and awe when you, after making announcements for 30+ minutes--tell him he has to leave the building. His eyes dart around in panic as he tries to gather as much product as he can before I have him physically removed. He then makes some stupid statement like: "I'm coming-okay?!" "Gosh!"

The Retail establishments are my 2nd homes customer:
This person calls the store at 12:45 AM, after a grueling 9-10 hour shift, and asks the closing manager (me) if I can look for his very important papers that he left "somewhere in the building." When I tell him to call back in the morning to check--he gives an exasperated sigh. He is dismayed that his "very important papers" are not so very important to me.
I'd like to point out that I don't bring paperwork from home shopping with me. I must be insane!

I'm sure there are more but I'm too tired to think of them now and I have one more shift looming for Christmas is over!

MandyGirl said...

Too funny! I lived retail hell during my college years and can relate to all of those customers.

And then, no matter how early I do my shopping, something always comes up and I'm shopping the day before Christmas Eve. That was me yesterday. My mom decided last minute she wanted to exchange gifts with me. And she wanted an apron. After I went to 4 stores to find a freaking apron (how can Bed, Bath, and Beyond NOT have aprons, really?), I wanted to hug the man at Cost Plus who led me to the gazillion aprons.

Anyway, point is, after working in retail, you can't help but be Nice Customer.

Merry Christmas, Sara!

Courtney said...

Okay, I have to join Jen in adding my two cents from my Borders days.

#1)Borders=My Living Room Customers:
I have one in mind who I know Jen will recognize automatically. These individuals tend to come to Borders less for our customer service or even our product; rather, they come to Borders to have loud cell phone conversations, discussing some pretty personal issues, and leave their cafe cups in very random places.

#2)I need a personal shopper type:
These ones are classics...truly. One example would be one who enters the store, heads for the main information desk, and hands over a two page, single spaced Christmas list from his/her son, asking if I could please walk around the store with her and gather these books. Come on! At least give me a double-spaced list!

That's all. Thanks for adding humor to my day, Sara!

Anonymous said...

You have become jaded. You're looking for an excuse to be offended and are unsurprisingly finding it wherever you turn. The amount of time you're spending commenting, dissecting, and stewing over your interpretation of these personalities is unbecoming of you and this blog. I thought this blog was about getting back to midwestern sensibilities? I question if these negative, angry at the world, comments aren't more east coast sensibilities than Midwest?

Sara said...

Wow. I rarely receive this kind of comment on my blog, but I will take it. Sometimes a little cold, anonymous honesty can be thought provoking. I always find it facinating when someone comments anonyously because I wonder if I know them or not. IN this case, their text pattern seems familiar. All I can say is that maybe I am going through a time in my life when things are not so sunny. Maybe things can be gray and a bit of a downer. Midwesterners get sad too, you know. I know that I am not jaded.

Courtney said...

I'm not sure that anyone who knows Sara or reads her blog could justifiably label her as jaded. There is such a thing as retail humor, and this is even more true during the holiday season. I think that Sara has put a creative spin on an area of thinking that could very well be stereotyped as one big mess. Her blog presents organized thoughts with a little Midwestern love. Ramble on, Dud!