Today saw the highest number of awkward, strange, bizarre, rude or downright evil customers I've ever come across inside of a single day. It was literally one after the other! And it wasn't just the customers - the day was packed with unusual occurrences and it just felt like one of those days that makes you wonder when things are going to calm down!
It began with a relatively run-of-the-mill rude customer:
"Where are your daily newspapers?" she asked, approaching the kiosk counter.
"Just over there," Lisa informed her, pointing towards the news-cube, stationed quite literally ten yards away.
"I want a Telegraph."
There was a pause - Lisa was obviously waiting for the woman to go and get it. But it soon became clear she wasn't going to budge, so Lisa said: "If you'd just like to take one from the box and I'll put it through for you."
"Well can't you get it?"
I was standing at the podium, which is behind the kiosk, and I was already seething with rage at how downright awkward, not to mention snotty, this customer was being. Did this woman not realise that supermarkets are, by their very nature, self service? You collect the items you require, place them into the vessel we provide for transport, and present them to a cashier who organises payment. Simple.
Sensing that Lisa was a little stuck for words, I intervened. "Let me get it for you. Telegraph was it? You see, Lisa here can't leave her till unattended - for security reasons."
"Well it would only have taken her thirty seconds!"
Well why the frigg is such an issue for you to pick it up yourself?
"There you go, one Daily Telegraph, your magazines are inside," I said, overdoing the fake yet quite pointed and deliberate politeness.
Without so much as saying thank you, the woman motioned to the till. She wasn't even willing to put herself through the strain of taking the paper from my hands. Giving up, I dropped it in front of Lisa and walked off, leaving her to deal with the lazy cow.
Shortly after midday, an angry looking man came storming into the store. I was unlucky enough to be the first member of staff he spotted.
"Oi! You! I've just been at your cash machine and it didn't give me my card back!"
I don't remember my extensive property portfolio including an ATM.
"Oh, well I'm very sorry, but we don't operate the cash point, all I can do is give you a hotline number for Lloyd's TSB as it's their machine. Or you could call your bank and they can arrange it to be returned to you."
"What's this bollocks? You have a cash machine on the side of your building, and you don't operate it?"
Offended at his tone, I continue: "No, Lloyd's TSB operate the machine. We don't have any access to the back of it."
"Well it's got my card and I want it back right now!"
"Well, as I said, all I can do for you is to give you the telephone number for the operators of the machine. When a card is swallowed, it's held in the machine until it's next emptied."
"What a load of shit, I want to see the manager!"
Terry is called. He tells the little dweeb the exact same thing that I just did, interspersed with protests of "get me my card!" "this is bollocks!" and "so I've got to phone a hotline on my own phone bill because of your incompetence?"
Eventually, Terry allowed the man to call the number from the phone on the podium. He gave the poor operator who dealt with his call the exact same verbal diarrhea that I got. In the end he slammed the phone down on the desk, called us "stupid pricks" and stomped out.
What a charming gentlemen!
Soon after the above incident, a young man came to the checkouts with a basket full of alcoholic drinks. Stephen asked him for proof of age, and he presented a birth certificate. We told him that we don't accept this as proof of age and he was fine about it, picking out his non-alcoholic purchases and buying those before leaving. Fine. I wish all such incidents passed as smoothly as that.
But then his father came storming back into the shop.
"Have you still got that basket full of alcohol there that you've just refused my nineteen year old son?!" He spotted it, sitting on the vacant checkout behind Stephen and said he would be buying it now.
Stephen acted in accordance with the law: "OK, do you have any proof that your son is over 18?"
"My son isn't buying it now, I AM!"
"I understand that, but the law states we cannot sell alcohol to anybody who we believe is buying on behalf of a minor."
"Are you stupid or something? I've just told you he's nineteen and he was trying to buy it on my behalf!"
Not wishing to get into a further nasty argument, Stephen summoned me over. I'd already been listening and knew exactly what I had to say - but I was still panicking. Something about this man's tone and aggressive stance made me very nervous of what was going to happen.
After being updated on what the situation was, I explained: "the fact is, he tried to buy the alcohol first, and you're now trying to purchase it instead of him - which suggests to us that you're buying on his behalf. We can't allow this, as Stephen explained, because we'd be breaking the law and the terms of our Premises Licence."
"For a start, he gave you proof of his age!"
"Yes, he gave us a birth certificate. This proves that the person it belongs to is 19 - but there's nothing on there that verifies it belongs to him."
"So you're saying he's using somebody elses as fake ID?"
"No, I'm not saying that at all, I'm just telling you the reason we can't accept birth certificates as ID. It has to be a passport, driving licence photocard or another photo-card with the PASS logo on the back."
He started kicking off even more, so I informed him I was calling the store manager to come and deal with the situation.
Terry arrived and, yet again, repeated exactly what I'd just told this fool. That it is against the law to buy on behalf of minors and that all the evidence pointed towards him as doing so.
"Well if it's the law, get me the fuckin' law! I want the police here!"
I could hardly contain myself. This prat wants us to the get the police involved? And what are they going to do? I'll tell you what they'll do, bang you up for wasting their time and applaud us for being a diligent retailer!
Terry, who's much better with aggressive customers than me, took the man over to the customer seating, sat down and calmly explained things again. The man then produced his credit card, saying that the surname on there matched the surname on his son's birth certificate. Therefore we had proof he was 19 and the alcohol could be sold. Thankfully, Terry wasn't having any of that. He explained that we'd refused the sale for perfectly legitimate reasons and would be standing by that decision.
"You've not heard the last of this, I'm going to the papers!" And off he stomped. I can't wait to see the headline.
Where's my birth certificate?
Not five minutes later a man appeared by the podium.
"Has a birth certificate been handed in?"
"I'll just check for you, when did you lose it?"
"OK." I examine the lost property register. Nothing. I get the box out and have a look. Nothing.
"Well I've been told by my friend it was handed in here."
"Well it would be logged in this book, or at least be here in the box, it's where we keep everything that's handed in. So, sorry, we don't have it."
"But you must have."
God's breath! I've told you once! Do you think I'm trying to steal your identity? "Sorry, we don't have it. Who told you it was handed in?"
"My friend. It was last Friday - or the one before."
"I thought you said you lost it today?"
"It's got my bank details on."
"What? A birth certificate?"
"It's in a yellow wallet - you know when you get a birth certificate, it comes in a yellow wallet? You must have it."
"I'm sorry. We don't have it."
He stood there and stared at me. I was quite unnerved. Will you just fuck off!
He eventually strolled away along the checkouts and started looking on top of them all to see if it was there. How bizarre?
I noticed a customer walking over to the magazine section with a basket full of alcohol. I didn't think very much of it - she probably just wanted a Heat magazine or something. But when I next looked up, I saw her heading out of the doors.
I have never ran so fast in my life. I don't usually go in for heroics. I'm happy to prevent shoplifters by keeping hawk eyes on them when I see them behaving oddly, but I usually draw the line at chasing them. But this time a fire burned in me and off I went.
She tried to say she was going to the ATM, but I was having none of it (she was walking in the opposite direction for a start!) She was hauled into the office and spot-fined by the police.
YES! A victory!
That's about all, as if it wasn't enough!