Sunday, December 27, 2009

Observations from behind the counter....

Sooooo....being behind the counter at two completely different jobs gives one a perspective on the human condition not easily seen from behind a desk in an office. I get to see the tired...the dirty...the greedy...the sneaky...the lost...and yes...the clueless. I also get to hear things, see things, and occasionally take part in things I'd be just as happy not to partake of. *sigh* such is life.

Anyhow...a few moments caught during my many many MANY hours working this past 3 weeks that I feel are worth repeating. Needless to say...a little humor (dark and dry none the less) goes along way to making the clock move closer to check out time and home to the kids.

Enjoy. Or not.

Every Saturday or Sunday night a man, of whom I believe is Mexican, comes into the store and buys the same thing. A 6 pack of beer and two boxes of condoms. Last week he also included a little device I didn't even know we sold...apparently it gives "more pleasure to the woman in your life". Ive worked in this store for about 3 months now...he has ALWAYS come in on one of those days and buys just those items. Might I also add he generally has a swagger in his walk and a lazy smile on his face? I thought not. Anyhow, this past weekend he didn't show up...I'm wondering...did he get married by chance? Now the need for protection AND pleasing the "woman in your life" is obsolete as she is now your wife. Ha!!!

Maybe hes just resting?

Side note...of ALL the packs of condoms I have sold in the store...and its been a lot...ALL of them have been sold to people I assume are Mexican (not trying to typecast or anything...but sometimes looks are all you can go on). None to White Americans so to speak. Not trying to point fingers...but SOMEONE is having unprotected sex. Does your mother know?

I can always spot a potential shop lifter. We basically get the same people in the shop night after night. The few "strangers" are either travellers...or punks from other neighborhoods coming to take their chances in a store that doesn't know them. You can spot them by one of several ways.

1. They keep looking at you over the shelves as they "browse". hmmm? Is my hair a mess?

2. The wear VERY baggy jackets and pants...very. Need help pulling those pants up son?

3. They pick up stuff and put it back again and again. Such picky shoppers.

4. They might even decide to leave...but then turn back and "browse" again.

5. For those that attempt to actually buy the alcohol rather than steal soon as you ask for ID they do a pat down of their entire body, as if they suddenly forgot wear they keep their wallet, and claim they need to go get it from the car. Never come back. For those that do attempt to steal...the 42,000 cameras IN PROMINENT DISPLAY throughout the store...seems to bother them not at all.

Smile punks...your on Kelly's camera.

Ive discovered that the reading skills of Americans (I say Americans as I AM in America so lets assume most or a majority of those coming in the store are in fact American...OK?) has slid down that slippery slope even faster than previously imagined.

Take for instance, a sign on our front door indicating THIS DOOR IS BROKEN...PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR...merely results in a multitude of potential customers banging into the door as they attempt to open it. hmmm?

A sign I place on the door every night at closing that says CLOSED in big prominent RED LETTERS seems to have no meaning to the many customers that still park their cars...come to the doors and attempt to open them. Not once but several if jiggling the doors will make the CLOSED sign magically disappear and the doors open. I will indicate by a sweeping motion with my arms that the doors are, in fact, CLOSED. They will stand there with puppy dog faces trying to get me to open them so they can come in and purchase that last "needed" item. If I for a moment thought that last "needed" item was milk or bread for the kids breakfast I would open that door with no hesitation...but I know your much needed item is more than likely a pack of smokes or 12 pack of Bud thanks...door is closed...move along. Next?

People can no longer read a price tag. Not even a little bit. Ive lost count of the number of times Ive been asked how much something costs...and so I point out the price tag, generally in a bright red or flashy yellow sticker. They ALWAYS act amazed and claim they didn't see it...but I think they just don't know how to read numbers...or something. hmmmm? It happens far too often to be a coincidence.

When something declares itself 50% off...yes people...that does mean HALF!!! At least when I attended school a few eons ago 50% meant half...of course now days with economics being what they are...maybe 50% really means something customers are just checking to be sure. hmmmm? Better check into that.

Some random comments and things Id like to share with you guys.

Last week a guy comes in late at night, a traveller, and ask me if I'm afraid to work alone in a store in which the chances for robbery are high statistically speaking. I told him that, while a few customers make me nervous when I'm alone, for the most part it hasn't been bad. (lets forget for a moment that it only takes ONE bad customer to change that thinking *sigh*). He commented that even though he was a man (hmmm?) that he would be "fucking afraid" to work there late at night...and he "carried a gun". Damn!!! Wheres the Jobs Wanted section of the paper? If a man with a gun is chicken shit to do my job...well heck...

One night a guy comes in wearing a cool jacket. I commented on its coolness. He thanked me and left the store. A week later he came back with a similar jacket in his hands and gave it to me. It was a Columbia jacket. Apparently "the best" winter coat anyone can have...according to the many people Ive asked about it as nearly 90% of the people here wear one. I went to the store to buy one before but they cost a pretty penny...anywhere from $100 to $200...and this guy just GAVE me one. How cool is that?

Now granted I just came from 23 years living in the Arab world in which its customary to be given something outright that you admired....whether you want it or not....but that almost NEVER happens in least not the America I know. Then again...I haven't been back that long. hmmm? My jacket is the coolest.

Lady walks into the Calendar Club store Ive been working in and asks..."are these calendars for 2010?" hmmm? I'm thinking she required a smack on the back of the head...but I withheld for legal reasons.

Guy looks at my smooshed car and says..."did something crash into your car?" hmmm?

Lady runs into the store with small child and very dirty hands...shes like..."quick...sell me some Wet Ones so I can clean her hands!!!" I'm like..."why don't you take her to the bathroom and wash her hands?" ....Lady is like..."yeah...that will work too." and hurries off towards the bathrooms. hmmm?

Here is a thought to leave with all of you would be customers. If you come into a store and see the employee mopping the a small kindness and at least attempt to WIPE YOUR FEET BEFORE ENTERING...the life you save could be your own. I'm Just Saying.

That is all for now.


Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Wow I am quite sure that Americans are becoming dumber. Do we blame it on the schools or exposure to chemicals. I'm not sure but it is both entertaining and scary.
Thanks for sharing!

.::Tuttie::. said...

I don't blame it on the school or the exposures to chemicals. I am sure they have something to do with it but I blame the lack of parenting from parents either by choice (neglect or because they don't have the time and have to work).

Wrestling With Religion said...

Whenever I've worked in retail I've always been bowled over by how dumb the general public can be. It's funny because I swear I've never met anyone that stupid in any other context. As soon as I get behind the counter though, they all come out. ;)

That was really nice that that guy gave you a jacket.

Angel Darling said...

Being Mexican, I'm glad to hear Mexicans are using protection... finally! :-) lol!

I would be scared too working that late, props to ya! U R brave :0)

Great post!

Susanne said...

Cute post. You have a way of making things funny even if they are things that are annoying to you.

I'm glad that guy gave you a jacket. What a friendly thing to do. :)

Maybe the Mexican took a break for Christmas and he will be back soon.

Thanks for sharing these observations. Enjoyed them!

Anonymous said...

hilarious!!! ahhahahah

Yes I think Columbia jackets ARE the best. ;) And it's so cool that guy just gave you one. :)

The Cairo Wife said...

hahahahhhaha--OMG your post sure brought back memories of when I owned a convenience store...nice to see things are still pretty much the same over there! I really enjoyed that walk down memory lane. I hope you and your kids are getting along well. Peace to you coolred!

Mel said...

That was sweet of that guy to give you a jacket!! :O

As one who has worked in retail, I totally relate to this. I saw some of Alberta's worst while working in a video rental outlet. For example, we had a huge sign that said, 'please return videos in the return slot. If you leave them on the counter they will not be returned and you will be subject to late fees'. This sign had a big arrow pointing towards the return slot. Did this stop people from putting rentals on the counter? NO! Another good one was this time some guy rented a 7-day rental. The DVD had '7-day rental' in HUGE
letters on the front. He took it home and then flew into a panic and phoned the store. I spent 15 minutes reassuring
him that this rental was good for seven days, like the box
said, even checking the computer to make sure, and
repeating this over and over. We had an 'adult room' too,
and these two old guys who smelled like they hadn't had a
bath in a year would buy $90 of our used adult videos every Sunday. They smelled so bad my coworker threw up in the back room and had to be sent home. I hated Sunday shifts because of them :S

You should check out - maybe even submit a few stories.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hahaha wow! Great stories!
And how nice of the guy to give you that jacket!

Anonymous said...

Funny to read about your expriences
in the store.I've always loved the humorous stories you do.But just be careful of the people who come to your store armed with guns or whatever.Does the store provide good security for it's emplyees?
You know know who you meet.So be careful.
Btw,I'm still dumbfounded by the sale of 2 boxes of condoms!

sabiwabi said...

Getting a Columbia jacket for free? That is just so amazingly sweet.

God bless that man!

Monica in DC said...

Your very funny post reminded me why I never worked in retail or the restaurant business. I did work for a plumbing company once where I got stupid calls from people, but at least over the phone you can make faces and gestures they will never see. Props to you because I couldn't do it!
Thanks for the laughs!

Cornelius said...

OK, that does it; I've waited long enough!

Well, how many condoms are there in a box?

Suroor said...

Such an entertaining post. I'm going to be so conscious in a store now :)

So nice of the guy to buy you a jacket. People can be so nice. I liked that the best.

Anonymous said...

Hey Red,

In case you aren't on to it yet the Fed Gov is hiring for 2010 census. They pay pretty well and you or one of your older kids could probably get hired. Go to
2010 Census Jobs and check it out.


Chiara said...

Hmmm I wonder if the guys at the Middle Eastern take out are thinking...nah, I KNOW they are!

Excellent human observation skills.

Betty's idea about census taking is great. At least in Canada it pays a good hourly wage and is part time. Have your eligible aged kids add it to their jobs, and fan out over your town. Hmmm wonder what the elections will bring there! LOL :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Amazing as always

Jasmine said...

LOLOL! Are you coolred? Do you blog?

JUst kidding!


coolred38 said...

Jasmine...I blog therefore I am. Hee Hee!!!

Terri's Space said...

Maybe...if you get out of the sticks and get to a real city you'll see something different. LOL But, seriously. Because from your post (and others I have read)...I'm getting the impression you're in some crappy 2 horse town, that I could drive through in less than 5 minutes, and probably wouldn't even have known I just drove through a town. Eeeeeeeeew