Retail workers can have hard lives. Long hours, minimal pay, mean customers. They have to deal with everything that humanity can throw at them. But sometimes, this customer anger gets thrown at the wrong person, often with disastrous and hilarious consequences. These non-workers describe the most frustrating times they were ever mistaken for an employee. Some stories have been edited for clarity.
"I was living in a university area and parking was really hard to find. I found a great spot out front and had to run back up to my apartment and grab something and got back down to my car. While sitting in my car getting music ready for the drive, the back doors open and two kids climb in.
They didn't speak the best English and were trying to tell me where to go. I turned around and told them that I’m not an Uber driver. So they sat in the back of my car on their phones trying to figure out what was going on with their Uber. I had to scream 'GET OUT OF MY CAR!'
The look on their faces when everything clicked that they were lounging in the back of a stranger's car and were getting yelled at was priceless."
"Guy came in, and ordered a couple of Spicy sandwiches. Which, for the Land of the Kings, are normal chicken sandwiches with spicy sauce on them, instead of the patties themselves being spicy.
Co-worker: Here are your spicy chicken sandwiches.
Guy: Can I have the sauce with them?
Co-worker: The...sauce? There's already spicy sauce on it.
Guy: No! The sauce! Ranch! I want ranch sauce!
Co-worker: Oh, Ranch! It will be $0.11.
(We're one of those stores that charge for sauces and have a sign up saying so)
The guy proceeds to flip out, claiming that he wanted sauce for his sandwich, and he shouldn't be charged for it. Eventually, my manager came into the story and tried explaining to him our policy. At that point he flips out more, claiming we don't have a sauce policy and that it's not written down anywhere. My manager walked a foot to her left where the sign was and pointed it out to him. He flips out more and says this little gem: "You don't even work here!"
At this point, she looked down at her shirt that has a decent sized logo on it, walks to the phone and tells the guy to get out or she is calling the police. This guy apparently was raving mad over a sauce and causing a scene for a decent amount of time. He hightailed it out as soon as she said she was calling the police.
I love this manager, as she's one of the managers who doesn't cave in for most customers who pull that 'If I get angry enough I will get my way.' And yes, I realize this was all over $0.11 but hey, not my call.
But yeah, to this day we laugh about it and go up to her and say 'Don't you know, despite wearing your uniform, clocking in, and ordering us around, you don't work here?'"
"I used to work as a paramedic in a large city. A Home Depot opened right at the street corner we are supposed to sit at. Me and my partner were both new homeowners as was a Police unit in the area, so we all went in to Home Depot together. They were having some nice sales on tools that we all could use. Some guy came up to me asking for help buying something behind the locked case. I just looked at him and said, 'Sorry, I don't work here.'
He then went to my partner and asked the same thing.
Now as most people know the Home Depot uniforms are Orange. My partner and I were dressed in navy blue pants and tops with the word 'Paramedic' in four-inch letters on the back. No way we could be confused for Home Depot employees, but it got better. He then went up to the Police officers (again big letters on their back saying 'POLICE'). The cops just looked at him and said, 'Are you hammered or stupid?'
After a bit of a conversation of more of this they take his ID and run his name. He was on probation, had an active warrant out for his arrest, and was trying to buy a box cutter (in violation of his probation).
Yep he spent the night in lock-up."
"Now on this day, I was a fellow customer in this store. I had no uniform, no name tag, and a purse over my shoulder. I was carrying a basket of books I was planning to purchase, and stopped frequently to READ the excerpts on the inside cover.
Customer: Can you tell me where to find [insert obscure book title here]?
Me: Unfortunately, I can't. I'm not an employee. You can ask them at the information desk though.
I point out the info desk, which is a whole 15 feet away.
Customer: I don't want to walk that far! Just tell me where it is!
Me: Lady, I don't work here.
I walk away and select another book that catches my interest.
Customer: HELLO! EXCUSE ME! HELLO! HELLO!
She follows me down the aisle, yelling and banging her fist on the shelving.
Me: LADY! I don't work here! Ask an employee!
The woman goes ballistic and a manager arrives at a dead run, probably thinking somebody's getting murdered.
Customer: Fire this idiot! She swore at me and refuses to help me!
The manager looks at me, looks at the customer and then says: 'Ma'am, this isn't one of our employees.'
Customer: This woman was rude to me and I won't stand for it! You fire her right now or I'm calling your corporate office!
Manager to me: You're fired.
The woman strutted off like it was her birthday and I got a coupon for the trouble. To this day I don't know whether she was stupid, or just that determined to get SOMEBODY fired that day."
"I work in a CD/DVD retail outlet in a major shopping center out in Soul-Rotting Suburbia, Western Australia. I often hang around and do my shopping before and after my shifts, still wearing my uniform.
I was in a shoe store one day, doing what you do when you look for new shoes: picking them up, trying them on and walking around, all the usual 'I'm a customer and I'm looking to purchase a snazzy new pair of footwears' sort of behaviors, certainly not 'I work here and am looking to serve customers' behaviors.
Anyway, after a short amount of time, another customer approached me and asked if I could please find x shoes in x size for her.
No drama, it's a common mistake.
I laughed it off in a friendly way and politely pointed out that I work for a different retail store. She did the usual customer thing, acting all embarrassed and spewing apologies, so I went back to trying on shoes....but she just stood there watching me.
After a while, she approached me again, this time looking a little annoyed, and said, 'Well? Can I get these in a size 7??'
The rest of our exchange went something like this.....
Me: 'Umm...no ma'am, yet again I don't actually work here...'
Customer: 'Well can you go and get somebody who does??'
Me: '....No. I'm buying shoes.'
Customer: insert here a random tirade of how customer service is going down hill, how sales assistants never want to go the extra mile for the customer, rarararara
Fortunately, somebody who actually worked at the store overheard her harpy screeches and took her off my hands.
But the story doesn't end here.
A couple days later I got a call from the area manager of the company I actually work for. The same buffoon actually took note of the name and store I worked at on my name tag, and filed a complaint against me!
Fortunately, the area manager thought it was hilarious. Oh, but still, the story goes on.
Not only did Ms. buffoon complain to my company, but to the manager of the shoe store. Apparently she was quite upset when she was informed that the manager there could not take disciplinary action against staff from other stores....
God I have so many of these stories. I have rather distinctive shoulder-length dreadlocks and wear purple-framed glasses, so I'm pretty recognizable. Unfortunately the shopping center is also my local, so I'm constantly getting customers come up to me when I'm doing my shopping on my days off (so I'm obviously not in uniform) saying "Hey! You're that chick that works in -----, aren't you? Is it your day off? Oh, could you help me with this anyway?'
Short answer? NO"
"My bank is located inside a [Insert Largest Retailer Chain Here]. That mean's OUR customers are Wally's customers.
I could rant all day about them — the ones rolling around on those poor electric scooters or the backwoods beasts who never bathe, but truly, honestly, the worst part of my job? The bathroom. I have to use the public bathroom. I cannot tell you how many times I've walked in and turned right around without pause because the stench or something I witnessed was too much to tolerate.
And I don't blame the staff — I know they clean it at least three times a day! Would you like to even guess how many people walk in and out of there without washing their hands? There's a reason their toilets are the kind that flush automatically--I'm certain they'd never get flushed otherwise.
Just yesterday I witnessed a woman put her hands in the water at the sink, and instead of then reaching for some soap to wash, she cupped her hands, bent over and started drinking.
The worst, though, was last week. My uniform shirt color changes daily. One day of the week, the shirt is blue. Not even the same color blue that the employees wear, but blue. I went to the bathroom. When I finished, and opened the stall door, there were 3 old ladies standing outside the door, huddled together, waiting for me.
I thought for a second I was about to be mugged by some weird Old Lady Mafia. I froze, since I couldn't exit with them standing there, and waited for whatever it was they had for me.
'You're out of toilet paper!' one hollered, as she pointed toward a southward stall.
'AND paper towels!' accused another.
Ever so slowly, I reached up and pointed to the logo on my shirt, and then at my name tag, also sporting a bank logo.
'I don't work for [Retailer].'
'Oh, we thought you did.' They continued to stand there, as if I were still expected to remedy their paper product problem.
'So... can I leave?'
They rolled their eyes and huffed as if it were unbelievably rude of me not to help them, but ultimately parted enough for me to squeeze by, but stood there and watched as I washed my hands, and then used the hand dryer to dry them. I could hear them muttering about it as I left."
"I was on my lunch break and decided to go to the local supermarket to buy something quick to eat. I wear black trousers and black fleece with my yellow work logo on it and a name tag. the super market staff wear all black and green fleeces and black trousers so i can see why anyone would get confused if they aren't paying full attention.
I was in the chilled aisle looking for the pre made pasta and an old lady was pushing her trolly behind a staff member who was stocking the fridge and said 'Where is the butter?' and kept repeating it over and over getting more and more annoyed as the staff member wasn't aware of her. I walked past and then the woman grabbed my arm. I will call her Berta.
Berta: 'WHERE'S THE BUTTER!?'
Me: 'Sorry I don't work here, but it should be in one of these fridge aisles.'
Berta: 'You should know exactly where things are if you work here! And why is that boy ignoring me?'
Me: 'I don't work here, I work for (alteration shop)'
Berta: 'This isn't good enough. I want to speak to your manager, what your name and that boys name!'
Me: 'Look I don't work here. I've told you this a few times now, the butter should be around this aisle as the milk is right there.'
I started to walk away as I had to get back to work soon, so I walked in the direction of the fridge stocker.
Just then the store manager comes around the corner and starts to use sign language with the other guy stocking the fridge. Just then I turned and saw the old woman's face turn bright red. Straight away she walked the other direction away from them, and she even managed to find the butter around 5 feet from where she was standing."
"This weekend my partner and I were doing some fall cleaning and ran out to do some errands in the middle of it. I was wearing dark leggings with pot leaves and a hoodie, my partner wearing basketball shorts and a hoodie - we had been cleaning all day and didn't really care about our attire as our errands were supposed to be a short trip. One of the stores we stopped in was Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I don't think they have an official 'uniform,' the staff we could see were mostly wearing casual clothing (jeans, leggings, sneakers, etc).
We're walking through aisles looking at stuff when I see an older woman at the end of the long hall waving her arms at me frantically. I stop and start waving back, thinking 'do I know her?' and just can't recognize her from afar. I wait as she walks towards me and I can tell that I don't know her. She will be Susan and I'll be me.
When she gets up to me, she says:
Susan: 'Hi could you tell me where [random item] is? (I don't remember what she actually wanted).
Me: 'Oh I'm sorry, I don't work here.'
Susan: 'Oh no really? But you look like the other workers and I can't find anybody.'
Me: 'I promise I don't work here.'
She loses it, she lets out this huge HAAAAAA and starts laughing her butt off. 'OOOOOH yeah you don't work here!' I noticed a female employee a little further down that hallway so as she's laughing and looking around, I point at the other woman (who also is wearing leggings and a long sleeve shirt, so I can understand OL's confusion). She thanked me and walked away.
She saw me at another point in the store later walking around with the employee I pointed to. 'That's the nice pot lady that tried to help me!'"
"I'm shopping. I'm wearing a black shirt with a dragon breathing lightning on the front. In no way, shape or form is this like a uniform in the big box store I'm in. Now, I'm browsing through some shirts, which are stationed across the walkway from the registers, and it's a quiet time. No major crowds, and as per usual for big box stores, there are only a couple registers open at this time.
I hear a shrill voice call out, 'I'm ready to be rung up now!'
None of my business. Probably someone who feels they must announce their presence to the world. I smirk to myself, thinking that this person also announces, 'I have to go potty now!' before they walk to the public restrooms.
'Helloooo! I'm ready to be rung up nowww!' The shrill voice cries out again.
Do they have this shirt in blue? All I'm seeing is black or white or tan...
'Hello! Hello! Excuse me! Hello!'
Oh, they have it in red, but... meh... I walk around to the other side of the display. I have a cart with me. Fully visible to the registers. When I go to the other side of the display, I push my cart, with my purse and a few other purchases in it, to the other side of the display.
I hear the dainty sound of a T-Rex in flip flops come stomp-flapping my way.
There's the blue! Awww but... I don't like the blue in this style, AND they don't have my size. Shucks.
'HEY!' This feminine Randy Savage bellow practically blasts the shirts off the top of the display. 'I'm trying to get your attention! I'm ready to be rung up now!'
I slowly look up and meet this person's gaze. 'That's nice. Go to any open register you like.'
'I've already unloaded my stuff onto the conveyor belt. I'm not moving. Get yourself over there and ring me up.'
I stare at her. She stares right back. I break gaze, grab the bottom of my shirt and stare down at my lightning-breathing dragon on my front. I look back up, slowly, slowly, stretch my face into a huge grin, then laugh in her face. 'Ha! That's a good one! Have a LOVELY day ma'am!'
She looks outraged, then stares at me a little more closely. 'You don't work here.' Not even a question. The dawn has broken over the Plains of Ignorance.
I push my card deeper into the jungle of shirt displays, and leave her behind. When I look back a short time later, peering through the tangle of clothes racks, all of her things are back in her cart, and she has slunk to the end of the line of an open register.
"So in the '90s I rented a large workshop with two friends. I was a woodworker and the other two were metal workers so obviously none of us resembled the previous business, which had installed skylights, in any way.
Cue the customer of the previous business, Christine. I have condensed this as the verbatim conversation went on for a very long time.
Arrives at my door. A real 'Karen.'
Christine: 'I need repairs done to the skylights you installed.'
Me: 'Sorry, that business has moved and I don't know where they are now.'
Christine: 'No, I need you to send someone over NOW. The Skylights are leaking.'
Me: 'As I said, that business has gone. We are a different company.'
Christine: 'No, RIGHT NOW!'
Repeat the above a half dozen times...
About now, I realize I am dealing with either a genuine loon or someone too entitled to listen to plain common sense. I try another tact, caveman speech, who knows it might get through.
Me: 'Skylight business gone. New business come. You talking to new business now. Understand?' (Ook)
Me: 'Nooooo skylight here!!! Try look in phone book! You bugger off now!'
Christine leaves in a big huff.
It's all about communication folks.
"This happened about 4 years ago when I was looking for work.
My second Interview was for a 'Marketing' position at a new firm. The interview went well and i was offered a trial shift the following Monday. On turning up it became clear that this wasn't a marketing job but a door to door sales job for what was basically a huge MLM. The 'service' was to sign people up for charities on monthly donations. To make matters worse we were told to lie to consumers about our pay status (we would make a commission effective to their first 2 months donation, my 'boss' would then get another month and the company would get the rest equivalent to 6 months donations). We weren't supposed to tell people that and had to tell them we were salaried (we weren't - I only found out during the trail it was commission only)
So far not so good. When they 'offer' me the 'job' I let them know I have another interview lined up the following day and tell them I'll let them know by the end of the week.
The interview goes well, it's a real (albeit temporary role) and I'm offered the job and inform the MLM of my decision. This is somehow a 30-minute call where he's still trying to convince me to work for him with me saying i'm not interested at all.
Fast forward to the next Monday and i'm rudely awoken at 9:15 with a phone call. I answer to this: (i hadn't saved his number)
Me: Hello Me Speaking
MLM: Where are you?!?!?
Me; Sorry? wh-
MLM: You were meant to be here at 8:30 - this isn't a good start to your first day is it? Why are you so late?
Me: Sorry but who is this?
MLM: It's (not the interviewer) from . you know the company who YOU work for, it's too late now your team has left, you better be on time tomorrow
Me: Sorry there must've been a misunderstanding, i got offered a job at xxx and accepted that role, sorry for this.
MLM: well you should have told us this, it's not professional to just not turn up and we would've hired someone else, now your team is short staffed...
me: I told , maybe check with him, anyway i need to go, bye
Hoping this is resolved I get up and go about my day. Tuesday morning i am again awoken to the same guy demanding reasons for me not turning up to work (apparently not working for them isn't a valid excuse)
This amazing continued until the following Monday where i was 'let go' for 'unauthorized' absences.(when asked if this means he'll stop phoning me he told me to grow up and be professional about it)
Think I dodged a bullet there..."
"I was at a major electronics store known for their blue polo shirts. I just got off work at a warehouse and had a blue t-shirt on. I was in looking at movies when I heard a woman snapping her fingers right at my face and, in a angry, loud tone, 'Excuse me!!'
I slowly turned to see a middle aged woman standing there in an aggressive pose glaring at me. 'You need to go get (whatever item she was looking for) from the back.' It was only then I realized what has happened.
I quietly replied that I didn't work there, which just set her off in a rage.
Now I can't remember exactly what she said, but it was along the lines of 'Listen here you stupid idiot. I know you do work here. You have a blue shirt on. Why are you so effing lazy. I am gonna get you fired. Where's your manager?'
Now I usually don't yell at people, but something about her just drove me insane.
'Listen here, lady! I don't work here! Just because I'm wearing a blue shirt doesn't mean that! I am a customer! Now leave me alone!'
It was at that point that a real employee came over to see what the fuss was about. She saw this employee and demanded to see a manager.
It was less than a minute when the manager came over to talk to her.
'Yes. How may I help you?'
The lady screamed about my incompetence and demanded I apologize to her before I was fired. I looked at the manager and shook my head.
The manager looked at me in a bewildered state and said to the lady, 'Ma'am, he doesn't work here. Just because he has a blue t-shirt on doesn't mean he works here. Now, I will get you an employee to help you.'
He turned to lead the lady to lead her away, but I wanted one thing first.
'Excuse me, but I want one thing first.' I looked directly at the woman in the eye and said 'You owe me an apology.'
The woman looked around in a bewildered state. The manager looked surprised but said nothing.
The woman turned to a sheepish look while mumbled her 'I'm sorry'."