Just because you happen to need something right now doesn’t mean that the next person you see is an employee. That’s a one-way road to Awkward City.
1. Cash and carry.
I’m not particularly proud of this. Last weekend, I was at a big box home improvement store. I wasn’t dressed remotely like the staff, and I had my headphones in so I wouldn’t be bothered.
Apparently, a guy in his early 30’s in a pair of tattered jeans and a paint-splattered t-shirt with headphones in and a piece of scrap paper in his hand looks like a person you should ask for assistance.
This middle-aged dude kept asking me where some product was. He asked significantly louder the second time, so I said, “Sorry, man, I don’t work here,” gesturing at my clothes and the obvious lack of a name tag.
I went back to browsing the shelves, when suddenly I felt my bluetooth headphones being ripped from my head. I looked quickly to my right, just in time to see the middle aged guy throw them to the concrete floor with as much force as he could manage. I heard a distinct snap.
Which was appropriate. This is the part I’m not too proud of.
I saw red.
I grabbed the guy by the front of his shirt and slammed him against the wall. Actually snarling, I said, “I told you I don’t work here, you moron! You destroyed my headphones. What you’re going to do is give me all the cash you’ve got in your wallet and pray that it covers the replacement cost. And if you make a scene, I’ll give you something to scream about.”
He’d gone from livid red to pale white. He rummaged, brought out his wallet, and handed over $40. I jammed it into my pocket, snatched up the headphones, and left the store. I got in my car and drove away as quickly as I legally could.
2. Momma mia.
This happened a few years ago. A friend and I decided to hit up a gaming store to see if there was anything worth buying. I was wearing a polo shirt and had a lanyard/ID around my neck because I had just left the office.
This kid comes up to me in the Xbox section and asks me if a certain game is is available for PS3. He must have been about 12, and, knowing a fair bit about video games, I knew that yes, this title was available.
I went ahead and answered him, and he simply says, “Get it for me.”
I tell him, “How about…you go get it for yourself, the shelf is right there,” and point off into the distance.
I start to turn away, but he is NOT finished with me. He forcefully demands that I get him this game.
I went ahead and kneeled so that I was eye level with him and told him, “If you want that game so bad, walk over there and pick it up, I’m not your mom.”
The kid runs off and actually gets his mom. My buddy and I are having a good chuckle at this, as we head off to stand in line. While we are standing there, here comes the kid again with his mom in tow.
Mom starts throwing a fit at the front, saying that some employee “attacked” her kid, and she demands that said employee is fired.
Right about now my buddy and I are stepping up to the register to pay for our games. The kid looks up at me and goes, “That’s him!”
Mom just explodes on me. Meanwhile my buddy and I are cracking up. In the midst of me on the verge of tears from laughing, this lady losing her mind, and my buddy goading this woman on further, the manager comes up front and asks what’s going on.
Lady explains how I was rude to her son and refused to do my job etc. Manager looks at me, looks back at this lady, at me, back at lady
Finally, he tells her, “Ma’am, he doesn’t work for us.”
My buddy then speaks up, “So, I take it wont be getting an employee discount?”
3. Fast food, slow customers.
I work at a fast food restaurant. My store is surrounded by grocery stores, so I do my grocery shopping when I get off work some nights.
One night, I walk in with headphones on, still wearing my work uniform. I was just browsing when all of a sudden this woman comes up to me, pulls out one of my headphones and says, “You work here. You shouldn’t be listening to music while you’re stocking. Now do your job and help me find toilet paper.”
“Ma’am, I’m off the clock and I DON’T EVEN WORK HERE, get the hell away from me and let me buy my macaroni.”
She immediately goes to find a manager. She finds me a few rows over, manager in tow, and starts SCREAMING. The manager finally got a word in edgewise and said, “Ma’am, she doesn’t work here, she’s a customer just like you.”
“BUT SHE HAS A NAME TAG ON!”
Yeah, and that name tag also has a fast food logo on it. Like my shirt. And my pants. Good lord.
4. Pump it up.
I was just at a gas station, pumping gas, when the lady at the pump across from me sticks her head around and, in limited English, asks if I can help her for a second. I speak a bit of Spanish, so I reply in kind. She says she’s having a problem with the credit card reader. I go over there.Turns out she put her card in backwards and it’s stuck. Easy enough, got it out for her, showed her how to put it the right way. She thanks me, I head back to my Jeep and start to put the pump back, only to find ANOTHER woman blocking my way.
“It took you long enough. I’ve waited 5 minutes already, hurry up and pump my gas!”
I look over – sure enough, Oregon plates. “In Washington we pump our own gas. If you need help go into the store and talk to somebody who works here.”
Well, she snaps. “What the heck? You won’t help me because I speak English? You racist! Go pump my gas or I’m going to get you fired.”
I said, “You’re right, I’m sorry. Head back to your car and I’ll be with you in a moment.” The thought of taking her credit card and seeing how far I could throw it did cross my mind, but instead I just jumped into my car and took off. The look on her face was hilarious.
5. Why do they keep calling???
A couple of times a week, for the last several months, I’ve been receiving phone calls from an employer in my city. They have an employee who apparently works for them on a contract, on-call basis, and this employee seems to have given them my phone number instead of his own on his employment records. Therefore, I’ve been getting calls on days when they want him to come into work.
I’ve told them repeatedly they have the wrong number, and I don’t know the person, so I can’t forward the message. I tell them the same thing later in the day when they call back complaining that this guy didn’t show up for work. It’s gotten to the point where I consider the calls to be harassment, but unfortunately, my cell phone service does not give me the option of blocking a phone number.
My responses to their repeated calls have become more obnoxious as time goes on, yet they still persist in calling me. At this point, if neither the employee nor the employer have learned enough from the situation to correct their records, I’m thinking they deserve each other. Employer deserves an AWOL employee, and employee deserves a lack of employment. I’m done.
6. Smoke show.
I was walking to work. I was wearing jeans and some random t-shirt, had my purse and a plastic bag with my lunch, and was smoking a cigarette. I was 25 at the time.
As I’m passing a bakery, 20-30 high school kids come out and start walking right ahead of me. Since I’m smoking and the wind is blowing forward, I decide to wait for traffic to cross the road to get away from the students. Mrs. Teacher lady must have smelled the smoke and looked back to see me, waiting to cross the road.
This began this case of mistaken identity.
She basically explodes. “I can’t believe you would try to pull that! You know how I feel about smoking and on a field trip none the less! When we get back to school you’re going straight to detention!” So now I’m confused, and apparently the teacher’s confused as to why I’m smoking.
“Um. I’m not in your class.” Traffic opens up and I attempt to cross the steet. She actually physically stops me.
“That’s not the point! Smoking is against school rules no matter what homeroom you’re in!”
“No, like, I don’t go to your school at all. I’m 25. I’m going to work.”
Silence. Amazing, hilarious, awkward silence.
Finally a student pipes up, “Yeah, no, I’ve never seen that girl before.” A few others agree. Teacher still doesn’t speak.
“I’m, uhm, I’m gonna cross the road now.”
Teacher like half nods and mumbles yeah, a few students snicker and laugh. I give them the peace sign because I’m still half awake and hadn’t processed what just happened.
7. The shoe is on the other foot.
This happened at a big box store in high school (over a decade ago). I lived in a small town, and this store was fairly new. So, to fend off boredom, a friend and I went there to just look around. We’re wandering the aisles, looking at cheap velcro shoes. Suddenly, a small gentleman comes up to us, holding a single shoe.
He asks us in a polite tone, “You help me?” And gestures towards the shoe. Clearly, English is not his first language, but he’s trying. We both apologize and begin to explain. Neither of us work here. Employees wear blue…
He cuts us off. “You help…ME,” in a polite, but insistent, tone. I look at my friend. He shrugs.
We decide to do the right thing. We help this guy look for shoes for about 10 minutes.
8. Turkey shoot.
My day started with me showing up to work only to realize that today was my day off. With that, I decided to go and buy a turkey for Thanksgiving. I didn’t go back home to change because the store was closer, so I went shopping in a typical office outfit, not thinking anything of it.
There were plenty of turkeys, and I chose a nice big FAT one. I was salivating already. As I was about to put it into my cart, this older woman says, “I want THAT one” and reaches for it. I thought that this was a joke. Boy was that a mistake.
So I chuckle, until she actually has her hands on the turkey and starts to try to take it. I was shocked and asked what she is doing. She said, “I thought you were restocking the turkey, and since you were holding it I felt it was better to grab it from you then have to bend over and grab one and potentially hurt my back!”
“Wait, I don’t work here”
She got really upset and grabbed her husband’s attention. He looked at me like I am some snot-nosed teenager, even though I am pushing 30. Son, you give her that turkey, and maybe I won’t report you to your manager.
I just look at him and say, “I don’t work here.”
He then raised his voice at me. “I TRIED TO BE FAIR WITH YOU! GIVE HER THE TURKEY ON THE COUNT OF THREE. ONE TWO”
Thankfully, the manager was close by and interrupted him
The man looks at him and says, “Your employee over here is refusing to give my wife that turkey!”
The manager said to him, “Sir, this man doesn’t work here. Please calm down and I will grab another turkey for you, otherwise I will have to ask you to leave.”
The man’s face turned red and he just lost it, “HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME WITH SUCH DISRESPECT!! I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS NO MAN, THIS IS A BOY WHO NEEDS TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON IN MANNERS AND I SHOULD GIVE YOU THE SAME TREATMENT TOO!”
His wife looked at me like a teacher would at a misbehaving student and said, “Your mother must have been a horrible parent, if this is the child that she raised.”
Oh no. My mother just died a few weeks ago and this….no.
“You know what….here. Take it! Take this stupid turkey. Go. Have it! It is not worth putting up with this Jerry Springer act. So have your damn turkey!” I slammed it into the their cart and stormed out.
I thought that them, but Mr. Anger Management decides that I didn’t excuse myself from the table properly enough.
I’d never been punched in the face before, so I can mark that off my bucket list. So yeah, when the cops asked if I wanted to press charges against him, you bet I did!
I didn’t get my turkey.
9. The Burger KING.
I work as a manager at a fast food restaurant. On this particular day, I had an open shift (4:30am-2pm) and after finishing, decided I’d pop into the local shopping centre to pick up a couple of things I need and also grab a bite to eat. After my shift, I changed out of my shirt into a plain t-shirt and wore a hoodie over top. Essentially, I was wearing black nondescript pants and a blue hoodie. Anyway, I get my shopping done and decide to head down to the food court to grab a bite to eat. Burger in hand, I sit down at a table and pop my headphones in to listen to some music while I eat my lunch.
All of a sudden, someone slams their hand on my table down in front of me.
I look up and there’s a middle aged woman glaring at me with a severely angry expression.
Woman: ‘Excuse me, I said I need that table.
Me: ‘Uhh sorry?’
Woman: ‘That table. I need it. Get up.’
At this point, I’m entirely confused and getting quite mad at this person interrupting my burger time.
Me: ‘Look ma’am, I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but as you can see, I’m using this table right now.’
Woman: ‘Mall employees have to give up their seats to paying customers.’
Firstly, there is absolutely no such rule. Secondly, I didnt work there, and I had a bunch of shopping bags at my feet.
Me: Walk on lady, I don’t even work here.’
Woman: ‘HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY? I NEED THIS TABLE! WHERE IS YOUR MANAGER?’
At this, I actually burst into laughter at the comical nature of everything. I thought I was being pranked by some friends or something for a second.
Me: ‘I’m not getting up for you and I’m not talking to you anymore. Go find somewhere else to sit.’
Woman: ‘TELL ME WHERE YOU WORK NOW WHERE IS YOUR MANAGER.’
At this point I put my headphones back in and continued to laugh at her while she had this temper tantrum in the middle of the food court and people stared. When she noticed she wasn’t going to get anywhere she stormed off in a huff. Her teenage daughter looked absolutely mortified throughout the whole encounter.
I mean honestly, what did she think was going happen? Even if I did work at a store in the shopping centre, I wouldn’t have given up my seat for someone asking so rudely.
10. Faire is fair.
This happened on my wedding day.
My wife and I are huge geeks, so we decided to have a destination wedding, near her hometown, at a Renaissance Festival.
We got custom clothing made for the wedding, her dress was amazing, my Robin Hood-esque costume was exactly what I wanted it to be.
We had a wonderful ceremony, presided over by the King of this particular faire, on the biggest stage they had, with the faire band playing music for the ceremony.
Then, after we left the stage, a few of the other faire-goers stopped us to ask when the next performance was, since they missed the beginning of the show.
They were pretty confused when we explained it was a real wedding, that we didn’t work there, and the next wedding was not happening any time soon. The lady in jeans and a t-shirt who then asked us where the bathroom was didn’t seem to understand that we weren’t performers.
Honestly, it was kind of flattering, and a huge compliment to the talented women we hired to make our costumes.
Social thumb credit: Shutterstock.com | Tinatin