We’ve all been customers at one time or another, unless you’re that stinky hermit. But wait, where did you buy all your stinky hermit rags from, huh, huh?
Everybody should work in retail for one year of their lives. Like mandatory military service, this would provide the necessary empathy for people to never be jerkoff customers again. I have worked several jobs over the retail/customer service spectrum, for many, many years. As a result, I’m almost a fawning sycophant in shops now.
“That will be forty dollars and seventy cents, do you have an everyday reward card?”
“No milady, many apologies milady. I offer my firstborn as penance.”
“Would you like any cash out with your purchase?”
“But you have already done so much!”
By far the best customer I ever had was late night at the Duty Free store at Sydney Airport, and I was wandering around desperately trying to appear busy, but not do any work. A man approached me and asked if I had any whisky recommendations. When I said I knew nothing about whisky, he then took me on a magical, two hour journey where he taught me everything there is to know about malt liquors, complete with humorous anecdotes. However the only thing I’ve managed to retain is this following advice –
“There’s no trick with selecting whisky. But here’s the trick – look at the label. See what it says, if it says smoky peat bog flavours, and think to yourself, do I like the taste of a peat bog? No, so move on.”
There are a lot of different types of bad customers, and I’ve probably dealt with them all. Some are so unbelievable, you can’t even get a good story out of it. Like the guy who spat at me because I wouldn’t serve him, as his plane was TAKING OFF. By far the majority of these stories are awful because in order for me to keep my crappy retail job that was paying the rent for my crappy apartment, I had to take the shit and keep on smiling and provide extra services to keep these people happy. In me, this corresponded not so much as happy, upbeat energy, but as a kind of manic verbal tirade, as I thrust wine into the bewildered hands of tourists.
You can always identify problem customers by their crowns and blue, blue blood.
But after three years I’d decided I’d had enough of that particular job, and I quit.
I drew this for my personal blog about four or five years ago
to illustrate my personal selling style.
However, I still had another month of work ahead of me, where I tended to lounge about, chat with the perfume girls and generally make a nuisance of myself. I was working at the collections counter at this point, a strange antiquated system which involved buying products in another store and then picking them up in this one. Certain products had to be physically run from that other store, which was quite a distance away, and through several layers of strident security. This very arrogant Englishman came to the counter and threw his receipt at me, and then without saying any words, tapped his watch and looked meaningfully at the plane departures board.
We had already started off on a bad foot, and I decided that on this particular day I wouldn’t stand for any of that guff. I went to collect his goods. They weren’t there. I called up the runner, and he was on his way. Unless there were unforeseen raptors in that particular corridor, the runner would be there in 10 minutes max. I told the customer this, and he lost it.
Swearing, slamming the counter with his fist, throwing his hands up in the air, this hypothetical ten minutes of waiting was apparently the worst news he’d ever had. His plane wasn’t leaving until three hours.
I simply stood there wearing my largest grin, nodding my head every so often as if he was telling me a funny story, until he went a strange red colour and got in really close to my face and said 
“This is what I’m not seeing – I’m not seeing you actively making my parcel arrive any quicker. I don’t care what you have to do, but it needs to be here now.”
I reiterate the fact that it’s on its way, and the runner can’t walk any faster.
Then he said, and this is one of the weirdest concepts I’ve ever heard –
“Wait, you’re bringing it in by hand? Isn’t there some sort of tunnel or a conveyor belt where it comes through?” Now in order for this guy to buy his goods in the first place, he had to know the substantial geographical distance between the two stores, so frankly an underground conveyor belt is wildly ludicrous. So I feigned great dismay.
“Well, sir, the conveyor belt is faster, but it’s jammed and I don’t fit in the tunnel. I’m the only person on shift, and by health and safety regulations, I’m just way too tall.”
And then he yelled at me to get in the tunnel. So I went into the backroom, with a horrified look on my face, like a man approaching death, knowing full well that the runner would make it to the desk in a manner of minutes. I then hid behind a shelf for a while.
This wasn’t in the job description. But they did ask me if I was any good at slithering…
In about two minutes, I heard my co-worker from the other store open the door, and say,
“Uhh, Patrick, the gentleman said you could come out of… the tunnel now.”

 I didn’t say anything, and waited until they left. I hope to this day that guy has on his conscience  the fact that he possibly sent a really tall person to a horrible death in a make-believe tunnel.


1/5 stars. Because that guy with the whisky was awesome.


8 thoughts on “Customers

  1. I am actually in tears from laughter. I'm laughing so hard I think I'm going to throw up. You've outdone yourself this time. You've induced hilarity-based vomiting. Well done.

  2. hahhah i love it. Must say my favourite part (other then the tunnel, which by the way is human size now) is that you would take peoples shit and still offer outstanding service. i also have to add Patrick, on behalf of all of syd tax and duty free, when you walked out those departure doors for the first time, the airport just wasnt the same anymore!

  3. Haha my colleague just walked in on me and asked why I was crying! I think my favourite customer service moment was telling a woman that I hoped her daughter would never be spoken to me in the way that she just had spoken to me, only to be told that her daughter would never be as inept as me so she didn't have to worry. I asked for it.

  4. Eyliena: Or was the tunnel too small for me? These are the questions we have to ask.Marlee: The purging qualities of humour are really underrated.Mariam: There was definitely some fun had in that hell hole. What's happening now? Anything new? Is collections still around, or have they worked out it's the stupidest idea ever yet?Julia: You need to stalk this woman's daughter for the rest of your life and when she finally does become as inept as you, jump out screaming I TOLD YOU SO, crying bitter, bitter tears of triumph.

  5. Patrick, this is brilliant. Though I'm so surprised he actually told you he could come out of the tunnel… I've never met a customer that kind.And Julia, you're story is also hilarious! I once had a customer point to me and say to his son "This is what happens when you dont finish high school".Rough day.

  6. Wow guys, my ribs, already aching from vomiting all Thursday night, are now aching with laughter. No really, thanks a lot jerks!Patrick, are you sure the whiskey guy wasn't your multiple personality guy? 'Cos he kinda sounds like you.

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