Judging by this weekend, it would seem that warm weather and sunshine brings out the worst in people. It's been the first truly summery weekend of the year and, rather than making people happy and glad to be alive, it seems to have turned everybody into foul-tempered, moody so-and-so's. There hasn't been any one incident with a customer that has stood out, but there have been a few occasions this weekend when I've been gritting my teeth.
The first happened when I'd jumped onto the kiosk to help quell the last-minute lottery queue. I served a good few customers but, when there was nobody left waiting, I announced to Sandra I was going back to get on with the cash office jobs. But a woman appeared just as I was signing my till off and moved to plonk her basket on the shelf.
"I'm sorry, I'm closing on this till, Sandra will be with you in a second," I explained. I even smiled. The lovely breezy spring evening had made me cheery. But not this woman. She tutted and rolled her eyes, and made such a drama about of moving her basket onto Sandra's till. It was as though I'd told her she had to use another till on the other side of the shop.
Apart from anything else, it really irritated me that she didn't even have the decency to acknowledge that I'd just spoken to her. Most people would at least say "oh, OK" or something like that. I could have been a naughty, rude cashier and just walked away, leaving her standing there like a lemon. but I didn't, I spoke to her. I wish I hadn't bothered.
I came across the next irritating person in the laundry aisle. I was on my way to take the damaged products to the waste point in the warehouse so I had my arms full of bags, packets, boxes and all sorts. There was a customer blocking half of the aisle with her outstretched trolley and I was moving towards the gap on the other side of her to get past. But another woman veered round the corner, looked up and seen me approaching, but still tried to push through the same gap I was halfway through. I had to stop, walk backwards and move aside to let her pass.
She tutted. How fucking dare she! She was the one who got right in my way and forced me to alter my path! Any normal person would have, having seen me coming, waited until I'd passed. For which I would have thanked them and thought nice thoughts about them. But no. She was in so much of a hurry she had to barge her way through, nearly knocking me flying.
The next incident came soon after. A lady had got all her shopping scanned through the checkouts before realising she'd left her purse at home.
"Well I live 6 miles away, what am I going to do now?"
She said it as though I'd made some cock-up that was going to cause massive problems for her. How rude. I continued to be polite and tried to establish whether she had any means of paying at all. She said no.
"OK, well we can keep everything aside for you and make sure all the cold goods are stored properly until you get back."
"You can't expect me to make a 12-mile round trip!"
Well duh! You stupid cow. I don't expect you to do anything. You're the one that's got yourself into this mess. Any normal person would be apologising for inconveniencing us like this!
"I have my cheque book, but the card is in my purse, so I can't exactly use that now can I!"
"Well, if you write your name, address and telephone number on the back of the cheque and sign it, you can take the shopping home with you now and phone us with your card number so I put the cheque through as payment."
"Well yes, I think that would be a more appropriate solution."
WHAT? I'm placing a lot of trust in you here, as well as saving you a 12 mile trip! I don't HAVE to faff about all day cleaning up your problems, but I'm doing it out of the kindness of my heart and you're not even grateful.
I could kill people like that. The worst of them are the ones who ask for your assistance and then don't thank you for it. Like when somebody asks if you'll try and find a product in the warehouse when it's absent from the shelf. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it's not in the warehouse either (contrary to popular belief, if we have a product in stock we like it to be on the shop-floor so we can sell it!). When you tell the customer this, they sigh and walk off.
A-hem! Excuse me! I've just gone and scouted around to try and find what you're looking for. Two little words would do nicely!
And don't start me on the customers with a general lack of manners. Either they were never taught how to behave towards fellow human beings or, more probably, they don't think they have to apply general rules of civility towards shop workers.
Sometimes you'll be standing in an aisle when you hear somebody whistle at you. Or click their fingers. Or wave and bark "OI! You!" I always turn round, grin and say "hello, can I help you at all?". Rude people really get rubbed up the wrong way when you're nice to them.
Some people think they're more important than any other customer in the shop. You can dealing with one customer when another comes waltzing along and says: "is there any tomato sauce?" For God's sake, I'm clearly dealing with this customer. Wait patiently! And sometimes you're talking to one customer over the phone when another comes along in the flesh and starts demanding your full attention. It's just so rude.
By reading this, anybody would think I don't like customers. I do. I genuinely like working with the public because 90% of our customers are lovely. You can have a laugh with them and they treat you like a fellow human being. It's just the tiny proportion of arrogant, cocky, rude buggers that really get on my nerves.