Sometimes grocery store customers are just plain crazy. Anyone who has had the opportunity (or misfortune) to work in the grocery business knows that sometimes customers won't listen to reason or logic, or listen at all, for that matter. But what happens when a customer approaches and mistakes another customer as a lowly part-time stock boy? What is there for their victim to do? Oh yeah, they can get even.
One Redditor, who we'll call Al, has first-hand experience with this type of interaction with an insane and irrational customer. Al recently stopped at his local grocery store to purchase the necessary ingredients for his bachelor meal of choice: macaroni and cheese, when he was approached by a female customer who wouldn't listen to anything he had to say. That is until Al had enough and said something that taught this woman a less she will never forget.
It all started late one afternoon when Al, a private security officer by trade, had spent the day dealing with the shouting and abuse from a group of local protestors at a construction site for an oil pipeline. All he wanted to do was get home, have a quick dinner, and relax before he had to back to the power plant he monitored early the next morning. As he pulled out from work and started off on his journey home, Al was forced to make what he assumed would be a quick stop at the local grocery store to purchase any bachelor's meal of choice: macaroni and cheese.
When he walked into the bustling supermarket, Al knew there was a possibility that someone would mistake him for a police officer or a member of the store's loss protection team on account of his company-issued black jacket with a yellow cloth badge sewn onto the arm, but he had no idea what awaited him further inside the store.
As he was perusing the macaroni and cheese, Al made the mistake of absent-mindedly straightening a few of the items that he had knocked around on the crowded shelf. He didn't think anything of it at the time, but this would be the first of several mistakes Al made that afternoon.
As Al was straightening the items on the shelf, he was approached by a middle-aged woman of Italian descent with a short stature and even shorter temper who mistook the security guard for one of the store's stock boys.
Throughout his career as a private security guard, Al had been mistaken for a police officer, in-store security, and even loss prevention, but never in his time in the profession had he been mistaken for a stocker, even when he worked at that very same grocery store years earlier.
For six years, Al worked in the store's fish department. He was responsible for ordering and receiving inventory, setting up the fresh and frozen seafood displays every morning, and serving customers for more than half of a decade. Al explained that "some habits die hard," including his innate reaction to adjust the shelves after he removed an item.
When the woman initially said, "Excuse me!' in an abrasive tone, Al paid no attention and tried to continue on with his quest for nourishment and relaxation.
"I step aside, thinking she wants something off the shelf," Al remembered as he detailed what he would later call his "next mistake" in dealing with the incessant customer.
Al initially thought ignoring the woman would do the trick, but some things just don't work out the way we like. The woman pressed on Al again and asked, "Where's the honey?"
Now knowing that turning a deaf ear to the customer would no longer do the trick, Al pulled out one of his favorite methods of dealing with awful customers and simply looked towards the center of the store and told the woman that he thought the honey could be found on "aisle 8."
Now, Al knew good and well that the honey was not located on that particular aisle, but his years of grocery store experience taught him that pointing customers towards the center of the store would get them off his back and force them to find a grocery manager or someone who knew the proper location.
But just like the first attempt at getting rid of the customer, Al's second try just didn't work. The customer would not give up.
The woman asked, "Well, aren't you going to take me there?" as she looked at Al, who was standing in disbelief.
Al was shocked by the comment, stood there for a moment, and finally told the woman that he would not be assisting in her search for honey. Afterall, he was still trying to get his macaroni and cheese and go home. When Al told the woman this, she snapped and went ballistic on the off-duty security officer.
"What kind of service is this? You're supposed to walk me to the item and hand it to me," the woman said. "No wonder you're store is going bankrupt!"
Al figured the woman had noticed him straightening an item on the shelf before their encounter and simply assumed that he worked there. Thinking this little game had gone on long enough, Al finally broke it to the lady that he wasn't one of the store's employees and quickly told her to get lost.
The woman shouted, "I saw you arranging the shelves! Now, are you going to walk me there or do I have to get you in trouble?"
"Lady, I don't work here," Al calmly responded.
"Yes, you do! You're just lazy," said the woman.
At this point, Al had more than his fill of people's crap for the day and decided to channel all of his anger and frustration from dealing with protestors, and now this woman, and take a stand.
"I watch the construction of a pipeline for a power plant, which is not popular with the locals," Al said. "Every day, I have to walk through a picket line and deal with angry protestors and slogans and insults all day. I'm tired, and I'm cranky, and quite frankly, I don't feel like listening to this leathery old bag tell me what's what."
So, at his wit's end, Al decided enough was enough, and that it was now time to have some fun at this woman's expense.
Stopping in the middle of the store, Al looked at the woman and then her cart as he contemplated what to do next. Noticing that her cart was full of groceries from throughout the store, Al began reaching for and removing items, one by one.
"I look into her cart and reach out for a box of elbow noodles," Al said. "I pick it up, take a second to look at the back and casually drop it in my cart."
The woman's mouth dropped and remained open like a "dead red snapper" with the most "bewildered" look on her face as this man who she thought was a stock boy removed items from her cart and placed them into his own.
Without giving the customer much time to process what was happening, Al reached back into the woman's cart and grabbed a small jar of mayonnaise and put it in his cart as well.
"This time, she starts stammering, but I'm not done yet," Al remembered. "I grab a package of noodles and look it over. I look her in the eye and extend my arm as far as I can, hold it straight, and just open my hand and let it fall to the floor."
As the box of pasta hits the supermarket's linoleum flooring, Al looked back at the woman and offered her one, and only one explanation for his actions: "I don't like alfredo."
The forceful removal of the items from her shopping cart seemed to snap the woman out of her trance and she began to puff herself back up again and yelled, "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING!?"
Without breaking eye contact, Al paused for a brief moment, made eye contact with the woman, and said: "Look at me. These are my groceries now."
As soon as Al finished his take on the infamous line from the 2013 Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips, the woman stormed off in a fit of rage on a mission to find a manager. Al remembered that she had "the most indignant expression" on her face as she hurried past him.
Al slowly followed the woman as she walked throughout the store, going through aisles of groceries, and approached the store manager (the same manager who fired Al several years ago).
The conversation (if you can call it that) between the manager and the woman seemed to pick up right where she and Al had left off only moments earlier before they got into a heated discussion about the argument and the manager's "employee."
"When she notices me, she points me out to him," Al said. "He and I make eye contact, and I wave with the biggest smirk I can muster, and he just shakes his head and I move on to the meat department."
Al explained that he was unceremoniously fired from the store for "insubordination" after he refused to take off a knit cap (with the company logo on it) in the freezer when he was receiving a shipment of frozen seafood. After the "knit cap" incident, Al and the store manager got into what Al described as a "heated argument."
"He told me to go home (this was a Friday) and come back on Monday when I know how to follow directions," Al said. "I showed up on Monday, and he smiled at me and said, 'What are you doing here, you were fired for no-call no-showing your weekend shifts.'"
At the time, Al knew that nothing could be done about being fired as it was his manager's word against his, and the odds were stacked in the manager's favor. What made it worse is that Al couldn't even file for unemployment because his boss had listed the reason for termination of employment as "job abandonment."
Considering his history with this particular manager and the store, Al didn't feel bad for the mess he had created, wrapped up, tied with a bow, and left on the manager's feet. You could argue that it was retribution for the way the manager and the store had treated Al all those years ago.
"He never approached me about it, so I can assume she didn't get me in quite as much trouble as she was hoping," Al said.
As the manager continued to stare in his direction through the verbal abuse of the enraged customer, Al went back to his quest of finding his most sought-after prize... his macaroni and cheese.
With his justice served, Al looked back down in his cart, put the jar of mayonnaise back on the shelf because he didn't actually need it and found himself a bowl of Cracker Barrel cheddar and bacon macaroni and cheese as a treat to himself, and left the store.
And for the box of noodles that Al had so triumphantly removed from the woman's cart? Well, he kept it as a "trophy" to remind himself of the day he stood up against the nagging demands of an insatiable woman.