It’s been too long since I posted anything here. I won’t make excuses about it. I just haven’t felt like blogging. But I do have a story for you, so there’s that.
A few weeks ago, a very busy Sunday morning. We were terribly understaffed that day, so the long lines seemed longer and short tempers seemed shorter. In the midst of this delicate ballet of chaos, this happened:
Cool Customer: “Did you just steal that?”
Uncool Customer: “What? No. I didn’t.”
Cool Customer: “Yes, you did. I just saw you take that.”
Not entirely sure what was happening, I looked over the pastry case to see the Uncool Customer was one of our cheaters who doesn’t like to pay the price of the thing she’s ordering, preferring instead to tell us what she pays for. Yeah, no.
Cool Customer (to me): “She just took the ads out of the Sunday paper right there.”
Uncool Customer (to the Cool Customer): “You know, I didn’t. And it’s none of your business anyway.”
Cool Customer: “Yes, I watched you. You took them right out of the paper there. Those are for sale, they’re not just there for you to take. And it is my business. I come here and spend my money here to support this business and when you steal from them, you make it my business. So why don’t you just put that back?”
I’m so in love with my customer right now, I can’t even speak. I whisper “thank you” to her.
Uncool Customer: “You know, whatever. I’ll put it back, then. You don’t have to be so rude about it.”
Cool Customer: “You stole from this store and you act like it’s not a big deal. Who’s being rude? Put them back. In fact–” she yoinks the ads out of the thief’s hands and passes them to me–“Why not just give them back now?”
I take the ads and place them on my side of the counter, noting many approving looks from folks in line.
Uncool Customer: “You know, it’s not a big deal. I didn’t take it off the rack, it was from over there.” She gestured toward the basket where people put papers they’ve paid for and read, so others can read them.
Cool Customer: “Yeah, no you didn’t. You took it from the rack there. Those are for sale. The store is supposed to sell those.”
Me: “Did you take it from the rack there?”
Uncool Customer: “Well, yeah, but…”
Me: “Yeah, see those are for sale. People expect to get the whole paper when they buy one. If you want to look in the basket for the ads, that’s fine. Those are paid for.”
Orders are taken and Cool and Uncool move down to pick up their drinks. We continue down the line, helping the customers who patiently waited while that scenario played out. A minute or so later and my supervisor motions to me. I step over and she asks “Did we charge her for a paper?” indicating Uncool Customer. “Nope. We didn’t,” I say as I head back to my register. On my way I hear the supervisor say “We can help you buy a paper if you like…”
A short time later, Uncool Customer appears at my end of the counter again. I’m getting pastries out of the case and she stands there with her hand on her hip and a says with a sneer, “You know, I’ve been coming to this store for 15 years and I don’t appreciated being treated that way.”
Me: “Really? You’ve been coming here all that time, stealing our papers and paying a fraction of the cost of your drink and you don’t like being called out on your shitty behavior?”
Out loud I said, “Well, I understand that. But you should know that the newspapers are there for us to sell. If we don’t sell them, we still have to pay for them. If they’re incomplete, people may not want them and then the store still has to pay for them. It’s our responsibility to sell them, you see?”
Uncool Customer: “But what’s the difference? I took it from the basket.”
Me: “No, you said you took the ads out of the paper on the rack, which is also what the other customer said.”
Uncool Customer: “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Most people just throw the ads away…”
Me: “That may be, but you can’t just take them out of the papers we’re supposed to sell. If you want to take them from papers people have bought and left here, that’s fine. But not the ones we need to sell.”
Uncool Customer: “It’s not a big deal, you know. All my friends get the paper and they just throw them away, so it doesn’t matter.”
Me: “Then why not mooch the ads off your fucking friends instead of stealing from us?”
Out loud I said, “Well, again, that may be. But as I said, we need to sell the papers and don’t want to be selling them missing any sections, including the ads.”
Uncool Customer: “Well, I just take them home to read and then I bring them back when I’m done.”
Me: “Uhhhh, yeah. That sounds plausible. You really think I’m stupid, don’t you?”
Out loud: “In any case, you can’t take the ads from papers we need to sell. That’s really the bottom line there.”
Uncool Customer: “Fine, I’ll just get them from the basket. But I don’t like how I was treated.”
Ugh. Every time it was explained to her that she can’t just take the ads out of the paper, she changed her tack: “It’s not important” “People just throw them away” “My friends all…” “I just borrow them” and on and on.
Lady, you are not the victim here. You are the thief. You got caught. Deal with it.