Today has been a bizarre day for telephone calls. Normally customers come into the store and be annoying to my face, but today they launched a new offensive by phoning me.
Of course, it being a Sunday, we got the usual quarter-to-ten barrage of phone calls all asking the same thing. "What time do you open?" I swear it's the same voices every week. You'd think we just opened whenever we fancied. These, as ever, lasted for around half an hour. It was only later that the bizarre calls started.
Weird Phone Customer One
This one began with a bog-standard product query. I hate it when people do this. If I wanted to go and buy something, I would form a list in my mind of places that might sell it, and visit those places until I found what I was looking for. Why can't other people be this considerate? Still, if they're enquiring about a product, they're not complaining - which has to be a bonus.
This customer wanted aubergines. But not any old aubergines. They had to have been freshly delivered and "large". Well how vague. How am I supposed to know how big a "large" aubergine should be? My response was that we had some aubergines, delivered this morning, that were considerably larger than the smallest ones in the tray.
The caller just said: "Right. Erm. Thank you. I think I'll leave it at that," and hung up. Charming.
Weird Phone Customer Two
If you're going to call Food Place to complain, it does help if you find something to complain about first.
This call started as a query: "Were there any toilet rolls left behind at the tills?"
Ah, a simple query about a simple oversight that I can rectify and make somebody happy. I checked the book and yes, indeed, some toilet rolls had been left behind. Till eight to be precise, at 10:45am while Kerry was serving. I informed the customer they had been left behind, and asked if they'd been paid for?
"Well how will I know that?" she asked, in a tone that betrayed her doubts about my intelligence.
"If you have your receipt, that should tell you if you've been charged. If you haven't, you can come back and get them whenever's convenient for you or have them refunded."
"Well is that all?"
Well what the hell else do you want? A party to celebrate? "I'm sorry?" I use that question an awful lot when a customer is baffling me. It doesn't tend to get any sense out of them though.
"Is that all you're going to do about it. Would it not be an idea to make sure your staff are competent enough to notice things like this?"
You bitch! That incompetent member of staff you speak of, actually took the time to retrieve your left behind purchases and log them in the book should you return. They were looking after you damn it! It's not their fault you're a useless scatterbrain. "All I can do is apologise. The store is an extremely busy environment and oversights like this do happen. You might have dropped them on the floor or something, it most probably wasn't the cashier's fault."
She sighed and hung up. Good riddance to stinking' trash.
Weird Phone Customer Three
This one was a query about a receipt. Basically, a man came in and bought £11.31 worth of goods and cashed in a £3 win on a scratchcard which he asked to be taken off his bill. Leading to a total of £8.31 to pay. He handed over a ten pound note and was given £1.69 change. I know all this because I served him.
He rang to query his bill but was very incoherent. From his first sermon, I managed to deduce that he reckoned to have been shortchanged by £4. He spoke of having given £15 in cash. I knew he hadn't, but before I could say anything, he started babbling about the £3 instant win having been added to his bill rather than deducted. Knowing this to impossible, I began explaining what had actually happened.
He, evidently, couldn't make head nor tail of me and passed the phone to his wife. From what she said, I realised what was going on. She'd given him £15 to buy some shopping, he'd only spent £8.31 and the change he'd given her was £4 short. So where, in God's name, do I come into this? She wasn't budging from the idea that we'd conned her out of money so I offered to spot-check the till in question and give her a ring back.
I duly checked the till, which proved to be one penny over (the penny I found on the floor and put into the till). When I phoned back, I spoke to the wife of the piece, who said she'd been adding up the receipt and now understood it entirely. She said:
"I think my husband has used the change to sneakily buy cigarettes. So, the fact of the matter is, I won't be sending him shopping again."
NO! You fool! The fact of the matter is this: you have just wasted a good fifteen minutes of my time because of your problems with a lack of trust and honesty in your household!
Today also marks the sixth anniversary of my employment at Food Place. I was 15, wanted a Saturday job to get some pocket money, and had to get a work-permit from the Education Authority. It was only ever going to be part-time while I was studying. But I just sort of stayed there. Through my A-levels and through my gap-year. I had been planning on working weekends whilst at university, but when I decided I'd picked the wrong course, I left uni and went full-time until I could apply again. Only I didn't get round to it last year, so another year of full-time work ensued. (Fear not, I have applied this year and my place is secured and finance soon to be arranged).
Today also marks two years of Food Place trading under it's current banner. The store changed hands in December 2004 and we were converted to trade under the new company's format in February 2005. At first, we were all ready to leave. We hated it. But, once the dust settled, we soon seen the light. Retail employment is retail employment, regardless of which company you work for. They're all the same.