I am standing at the denim wall. We are having a sale on certain colors of denim–old washes out, new washes in. They won’t let me move the sale denim from the wall. So I can only put a sale sign at the top of the column.
“Excuse me, which of these are on sale?”
I show the woman which columns are on sale. (You know a column goes up and down, and a row goes left and right? You’ll need to remember this vocabulary for later.) The denim is arranged from light to dark between each style, each in separate and very clear columns. I try to keep it as organized and obvious as possible, by telling people and showing people.
“So it isn’t everything?”
“No, just the column with the sale sign on top.” I show her the two columns with sale signs above them. Out of sixteen columns, there are only two columns on sale.
“So this one isn’t on sale? I thought it was the whole row on sale.” She points from right to left. Even then, the signs are on the same row, they are not staggered, nor are the colors arranges into rows, so this would make no logical sense.
“Oh, no, it’s top to bottom, each column has different washes, and only certain ones are on sale.” I wonder again how she can think a row is on sale, when each stack is a different color.
“Why?!?” She begins to raise her voice at me.
I don’t know what to say exactly. I wonder if things have become too obvious to me. I always try to think how someone walking in would think when the see our displays, how confused can they get? Yet, I walk around the mall, and everyone else puts their denim in columns, not rows. Why? Because what if it was arranged in rows, and your favorite color is on the top row, where you can’t reach it? How sad would you be?
“This sign is totally misleading! This is false advertising! It makes no sense! It looks like the entire wall is on sale!” Now she begins to yell. Again, just two columns out of sixteen are marked with any sale sign.
I try to point out how the colors are different in each column. Because obviously, I”m not dealing with logic here.
“No, you aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, that sign up there, looks like everything is on sale!” Now she is yelling and pointing her finger in my face.
I try to explain that I tried to remove the sale from the wall, but they wouldn’t listen to me.
“No, stop! You stop talking! Right now! You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me! Why don’t you put these denim in rows, it would be easier to follow! It wouldn’t be so confusing! I’m not stupid, don’t treat me like I’m stupid! I know! I know a lot! Don’t think I don’t know! Do you understand me? The way your denim is set up makes no sense! You don’t understand! You have no idea! You’re not doing anything right! What’s wrong with you? You’re going to lose so many customers like this! You have to change this! This is false advertising!”
I have nothing to say, but my eyes are watering. I tell her again, the walls have always (and I mean always) been set up in columns (including any store that sells denim). The sale sign is on top of each column that’s on sale, what else is there to say?
“You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, right now, you tell your bosses they need to change this, because it makes no sense! This wall is misleading. How can anyone shop here? Listen to me! You can’t treat customers like they’re stupid! Do you hear me! Don’t tell me what I know or what I don’t know! Because I know! You’re the one that has everything wrong! You don’t understand anything! You don’t tell me I’m wrong! You hear me? Don’t tell me what I know! Do you hear me? I know! I know!” I do believe, she’s already spit on me in her rage–not on purpose, I hope. If I had the freedom to act, right now, I would definitely do more than spit. Do people really think they have the ability to speak to other people in this way? In what situation can I walk into any place of business and start acting this way? Is this seriously how society sees retail, as some invisible border where you can suddenly lose all manners and responsibility, and just be totally rude, disrespectful, and ignorant?
I stand there for almost fifteen minutes listening to her telling me what’s wrong and what needs to be done, how much she knows about things, and how much I don’t know about things; how much I don’t understand anything about customers or marketing, or what customers think or need. She told me everything I needed to change, everything I needed to stop doing, everything that was wrong with our store.
I know my face was red, my eyes were watering, and I was shaking, because the last time someone did that to me, I almost broke their fingers–one at a time. I actually just wanted to quit, so I could slap her across the face. After she left, I wanted to leave the store, so I could find her in the mall, and give her my peace of mind. These are people that would have much less backbone outside, where they’d consider me an ‘equal’, but just because I have a crappy retail job, they ‘think’ they have some superiority that makes them better than me. That is one of the greatest follies of the state of retail. Why do we empower customers with this ridiculous, in-genuine sense of power?
If you actually think you’re better than someone because you have money, then you actually are worthless and truly need the money to give you a delusion of grandeur. Amazing people are superior in many ways that don’t include money. If you value yourself totally by the money you possess, then you are a sheep of society who has little idea of the true worth of things around you–when you find the one thing you truly want that can’t be bought, you’ll understand.
I do all I can to try and benefit the customers, I do all I can to try any make it easier for them, I even challenge the management to change things to make it easier for customers (which of my coworkers actually do this?)–of all the people to yell at, to belittle, and treat like a child–I am the last person to do that to. After her, I stopped trying so hard, I stopped working as hard to try and help out the customers–taking their crap, dealing with their stupidity, practicing patience in the face of insolence. I gave up, and I was no longer the guy that ‘wow, nothing ever bothers you, whatever you’re on, I want some, too’. That person was officially dead.
Later, I told my manager what happened, and they all gasped, saying, “You never need to put up with that! Ever! If anyone ever does that again, you have every right to turn and walk away from them. And if they don’t stop, tell a manager and they will be taken off the property. We don’t accept that kind of treatment to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Ever.”