Can’t serve ya!

Seriously the above is not a statement of what this post will be about. Although I suppose if you ask the customer I did provide her with bad service.

Let me set the picture for you: Southern Manitoba, the last few patches of snow are finally melting. Save for the snow hill which is now a dirty pile of sludge that is slowly evaporating beside the apartment. Everyone has been bundled up in jackets and scarfs and toques right up until last week. Friday to be exact. Today is absolutely gorgeous. I was able to sleep with my window open last night. First time of the year.

Now this is my story:

When I left for work this morning, the sun was shining. There was a light breeze tousling my hair as I locked the door and walked to my car. I was already feeling warm in my sweater but work can sometimes be very cold so I left it on.

Arriving at work, I walked across the parking lot humming to myself. It is gorgeous out. No doubt about it. Checked my phone it is 15 degrees (59 F). It is a glorious day.

I am in the express check out. Put through a few customers all of whom are in a good mood when up she comes. We chit chat about things and I ask how she is liking the weather outside? Imagine my shock and consternation when she tells me that it is already too hot for her. Without thinking this is what shot out of my mouth:

“I am very sorry m’aam, but I won’t be able to serve you.”

She is staring at me as if I am serious and I burst out into peals of laughter. I reassured her that I was not about to send her off to another till. That I was teasing. Finished with her order, loaded it into her cart and sent her off on her way.

And than spent the rest of my day reassuring myself that not everyone was crazy by asking how they were enjoying the weather outside. To which all responded that it was beautiful and other than the wind (which had picked up and was blowing from the north) it was a great day.

March winds have become the end of April winds. Which means that we are about a month behind in seasons here in Manitoba. Mother Nature really needs to get her act together. 🙂

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Rules for Customers

I have been working in Customer Service for 28 years. That is a long time to work with the public. I do not even know how I ended up in a career that deals with actually serving and talking to people on a daily basis, for 40+ hours a week.  And it does not even stop there.

I live in a city of approximately 15,000 or so. It still has a small town feel to it, and the grocery store where I work is one of three.  There are multiple times that I have been in doing my own grocery shopping, dressed in street clothes (as opposed to the uniform that graces my body all week long) and will be stopped in the aisles. And asked for help finding items. They all say the same thing ‘Oh I know that you are not working but it would save me time.’

Sure. Alright. I will smile and send you off in the right direction because it is the appropriate thing to do.

But I wonder what makes someone think that it is okay to ask me a question about work when I am clearly not working?

It is one thing when my staff do so, I understand and even applaud them for asking me questions when I am in shopping so we are all working from the same page. But customers? That would be like me expecting the gas attendant to pump my gas solely because he is there and it is his job. This, despite the fact that he is clearly putting gas into his own vehicle and wearing street clothes.

Working the Front End and being the last line of defense before our customers leave the store is not an easy job. We are the last ones that can turn around a bad experience. We are the ones who make sure that you have found everything that you are looking for. If you haven’t, we will do our best to find out if it is in stock and on the shelf. We are always smiling and laughing and even if our day is crap, you will never know.

But there are things, things that all customers do and they must stop. For the sanity of all cashiers please please stop.

Rules all customers need to follow (in no particular order):

  1. Do not ever say to your cashier when an item does not scan: Well if it does not scan it must be free . Than chortle like you are three and just discovered knock knock jokes. Not funny. We hear this statement over and over again. Have you ever looked up and your cashier is staring at you unblinkingly? That is because he or she is trying to summon up enough energy to smile as though it is the first time ever hearing that. Usually you get a grin full of teeth, gritted together so any smartass comments are kept in the vault.
  2. Please make full use of the conveyor belt on the till. Once the person in front of you has moved forward, please to unload your groceries. Believe it or not, but I am the one who is going to be yelled at by the five customers behind you because now they are late for some appointment or other. Also if tap is available on your card, use it. It makes life faster and easier for us all.
  3. When you are asked how your are paying, we actually need to be informed of the card type. I do not want to play guess my card type with you.
  4. I can understand your concern with how your groceries are packed. Bread and eggs should not be squashed. Pizzas should not be turned upside down. I know that cold stuff goes with cold stuff. I have been bagging groceries for 30+ years having done so when I went shopping as a kid with my mom.  (I know that there are going to be those of you who think that I am exaggerating. Here is one example: A gentleman came through my till and I was trying to talk to him. I get to the pizza and he yells at me ‘put that pizza in a bag upright will you!’ My eyes blinked rapidly and out shot: ‘Oh I am sorry sir but the only way I know how to bag pizza is upside down so all the toppings fall off.’ Yes he still shops in the store. And he still comes through my till when I am in one. But now he smiles and talks to me.)
  5. In reference to #4 please also refrain from saying to me ‘oh you do know what you are doing.’ I do believe that you might think that this is a compliment but it is not. As well I have been bagging your groceries for well over five years on a weekly basis.
  6. When using your own bags, please have them out before your order. Do not hand them to me at the end of your order and expect me to repack them from the plastic that I just put everything into.
  7. I know that you are in a hurry. And so are the other 20 people who are patiently waiting in the line ups. We are working as hard as possible to get you through. Please do not now by-pass everyone waiting in the express line up and think that I am going to serve you because you can not manage your time. You will be sent to the back of the line up and made to wait. (Again you think I exaggerate, I wish. I have customers who throw tantrums because they have to wait. And we work very quickly to get through the line ups. I have had more than one customer also thank me for the way that we handle our express lines and the fairness rule. LOL)

I spend a lot of time censoring what comes out of my mouth at work. And despite the above rules I absolutely love my job. The company I work for is wonderful. My boss whom I have written about in regards to my depression is fabulous. He makes me a better manager to my staff. I may be a little biased, but I believe I have the best staff ever. And I am always laughing and smiling.

Honestly, I love my customers too. I have so many regulars. I cannot walk through the store without someone saying hello and wanting a chat. Those are the people who make my job a pleasure to do.

My rules are really for that 1% who labor under the delusion that they are the most important people around.