I could fill a book with stories about encounters that have taken place on the Service Desk. It's where people go when they've got something they feel the need to make a fuss about. They hurl all their own frustrations at the poor member of staff who is paid (not very much at all) to take it.
I was unfortunate enough to work on that desk, full time. I wanted to progress to working in the cash office and this was just the stepping stone. I had to keep telling myself that.
There's the little day-to-day annoyances. Like people who bring stinking, vile, mouldy food back when they want a refund because its gone off. Why the hell would you do that? It's not as though anybody could make a career out of returning empty packages and demanding refunds, so why would we distrust anybody who did? Throw the rotten article away and bring me the wrapper you fools! I don't want to share a workspace with a decomposing chicken.
Sometimes, however, there are much larger hurdles to overcome. The main one I can think of is common sense and intelligence. Some customers lack both. And nobody displays this better than the Milk Token Man.
It was a Sunday (surprise, surprise) and this man, who was Welsh, had just had an argument with the cashier at the checkouts. I'd caught bits and pieces of it and it mostly consisted of him mouthing off about free milk.
It wasn't long before I had the pleasure of his company.
"I've just been to your tills and have been told a load of absolute bollocks about these milk tokens!"
Why, in the name of Christ, should I even respond to this? "If you could just explain the problem to me, I'll see if I can help."
"Well I've already wasted my breath explaining it to her over there!"
Strewth. "There isn't much I can do to help if I don't know what it is you want."
He gave me a filthy look before telling me of his plight.
"I now receive these vouchers." He waved one right in my face to demonstrate. "They are for free milk to feed to my children and I've just been told I can't have it free!"
"I see, how much milk were you buying?"
"This!" He shows me two bags, each containing three four-pint cartons of milk.
"OK, and how many coupons do you have?"
"This one, I've shown you it haven't I?" He took a deep 'I don't believe this' sigh and leaned across the desk. Which is actually quite intimidating when you're trying to help somebody.
"Well, if you look on the front, the coupon states what you are entitled to. And that's 7 pints of milk." I had my diplomatic voice on, but the effect was lost on him.
He mimicked my voice: "Well, if you look underneath it also says I'm entitled to 3.98 litres of milk." He read it as 'three point ninety-eight', of course.
"That's the just the converted amount."
"Could I have that in English please?"
You cocky ass! "7 imperial pints is equal to three-point-nine-eight metric litres. They're the same amount. This voucher entitles you to a 6-pinter and a 1-pinter. Or any combination that adds up to 7 pints."
"You lot want to learn your own jobs and stop talking out of your arses! This says I can have 3.98 litres, and that's what I'm getting. Free"
Am I talking to a paperclip? Why the hell do I stay here!? "Well that's fine. You keep one of those 4-pinters, and get a two-pint and a one-pint. That'll be free and it'll be 3.98 litres. But you'd either need to pay for the rest or have them refunded if you don't want them."
It went round in circles for a while longer. Another lady was now standing waiting to be seen, and the man chose to drag her into it and started complaining to her. "This is f*****g disgusting!" She just nodded along, but clearly didn't agree.
He finally gave up, but not before delivering this:
"You robbing bastards are taking food out of our childrens' mouths! You want shot, the lot of you!"
So as well as being tired, probably slightly hung-over, hungry and desperate to get off that damn desk, I was also responsible for starving babies to death.
The man departed. To the next counter: "I want three hundred Richmond Superkings please".