Monday, December 12, 2005

Shopper VS. Seller

I have a whole new appreciation for the person on the other side of the cash register this Christmas season. Until this year, all my jobs besides teaching elementary school have been in the food/restraurant industry or some cushy university job. I had no idea the pressure and stress that could be placed on a person who's sole purpose is to provide the customer with that one and only special gift for their loved ones. I find myself doing things that I normally do not do.

I run to find that Bette Midler CD. I panic when I see that Sound of Music is sold out...again. I convince customers to buy the extended version of Lord of the Rings because it is completely worth it...or so my husband says.

However, with all these new retail experiences, I am also experiencing the oh-so-ugly side of Christmas shopping. In my small experience, I believe it is a 20:80 ratio. Twenty percent of customers are kind, thankful, and courteous during their shopping experience. Eighty percent are rude, abusive, and down right mean. I can understand that some retail workers are unpleasent too, yet when faced with a smiling and helpful worker, I would like to believe that a customer would behave the same.

BE PATIENT. Just because I work in a bookstore doesn't mean that I know EVERY SINGLE TITLE EVER WRITTEN. Last night as I was assisting another customer, a woman came up to me with the hope that I would be able to assist her with her 'quick question'. As I was bending down searching for a title in the stacks, she said to me, "I just have a quick question. Where is the book titled blah blah blah?" I had no idea and wouldn't have an idea until I was able to get to a computer to look the title up. However, that did not keep that customer from rolling her eyes at me and showing me her added disgust by sighing a deep and annoyed sigh.

BE PATIENT. Do people believe that they will be the only person holiday shopping when they leave their house on a Saturday afternoon? You would think so by their reactions to the other customers. I was helping a woman using the computer to look up the titles that she was looking for. As I did this, one customer kept walking around me, adjusting her body so she would appear larger. This was an attempt to get my attention because she needed help too. I noticed this and said, "I'll be with you right after I assist this customer". That acknowledgement did nothing to ease the customer's mind because she started to creep into me until she was hovering about three inches from my side. She was invading my space. She was either very curious about the other customer's books, really into me, or frantic that I would forget her.

BE NICE. Just because I make eye contact with you doesn't mean that I can help you at that moment. I was assisting another customer and answering some questions and I glanced at another customer who was waiting for me. As soon as I made eye contact, he took that his sign that it was his turn. I couldn't stop helping the first customer simply because the man was tired of waiting. So, I informed him that I could help him after I was finished addressing the other customer's questions. Roll of the eyes. Stomp of the foot. Finally, I was able to help him, but he wanted something that we were sold out of. As I suggested a few of his options, he kept interrupting me and bossing me around. "Call another store. Give me the phone. Go check the back." I was being very patient, but he kept bossing me around in a very, very rude way.

I can imagine that someone might leave a comment talking about incompetent retail workers and that is why they become rude or frustrated, but I am nice and have a clue so what are the excuses for this behavior? I have never behaved this way. But then again, I wasn't raised by wolves.


Reddog said...

Those are the shoppers that need to start shopping earlier. They are, of course, buying the most popular items of the season. Do they think they are the only ones buying these things?

Anonymous said...

Oh the joys of working in retail! This is my 8th Christmas at the store and my faith in the human race continues to decline. Where do these people come from! As my mother would say, were they raised in barns???? My philosophy is to expect rudeness and stupidity. That way, if someone is actually nice to me--I'm pleasantly surprised. It's sad but true.

Also, I loved the John/Liza quote! It just sums him up so well.