So I’m not good with small talk or chit chat to begin with. I’m kind of mechanical when it comes to talking with people, following a set script of phrases that are genial yet are meant to dissuade customers for asking me too many questions that I can’t answer. This problem is exacerbated when I am stressed and I go into full machine mode. I can do every transaction perfectly, but I cannot communicate at the same time.
Cue this past weekend, where I was only the cashier available in our small store and everyone and their mother decided to come in at the same time. I was handling every transaction, and I was also helping people find things and wrangling kids and preventing people from bringing food and drinks into our store and wishing people to have a nice day on their way out, and I was in machine mode. At some point, I noticed the phone was ringing. My coworker, the only other person who was scheduled that day and had been busy restocking, had just gone to use the restroom. So I pause mid-transaction, customer’s card in hand, and grab the phone. I’m not great with phones either, but I had to get it. As I answer it, I slide the card through the reader and wait for it to go through. Then this happened. Customer 1 is the customer in the store, customer 2 is the customer on the phone.
Me: Good afternoon, this is [store name], how can I help you?
Customer 2: Afternoon? Its evening.
Me: I’m sorry, I meant evening
Customer 2: Are you even paying attention?
Me: I’m sorry, its just a little busy here, I haven’t looked-
Customer 1: Excuse me, can I have my card back?
Me: Of course, sorry, here you are
Customer 2: What did you say?
Me: Sorry again, I’m ringing up another customer right now.
Customer 1: I need my receipt
Me: *hands customer receipt**Customer 1 isn’t leaving* Can I help you with anything else?
Customer 2: I haven’t asked anything yet, you clearly don’t care to listen to me
Me: Ma’am, I’m very sorry, I’m trying to help both of you at the same time.
Customer 1: I was wondering if I could actually exchange this shirt for a different one *he is holding something he just bought on sale*
Me: Unfortunately, all sale items are final sale, we cannot do exchanges on sale items. One moment sir, please let me help this lady on the phone.
Customer 2: Lady on the phone?! How rude! Where is your manager, I want to speak with your manager this instant.
Me: My manager is not working today, but if you leave a phone number, I can have him call you back tomorrow.
Customer 1: Your manager isn’t working today? What kind of joint is this? I want to speak with him too.
Me: Sir, you can leave a phone number here- *hands him a piece of paper* and I will have my manager call you as soon as he can
Customer 2: Oh so for him the manager will call as soon as he can, but for me, he can’t be bothered!
Me: Ma’am, I’m very sorry, this is the best I can do. Did you need any help?
Customer 2: Not anymore! *promptly hangs up*
Customer 1: Wow, that was very rude of you. *hands me the paper he has written his phone number on* Please have your manager call me as soon as he can, I’d like to have a word with him about your customer service.
Sure enough, manager calls Customer 1, gets a complaint about my refusal to perform an exchange (I had to explain that the man had bought a sale item), and then Customer 2 calls back and happens to get my manager and rants about me for about 10 minutes while I stand there, able to hear every word she says because the phone’s volume is so loud, and finally my manager jumps in and says he will certainly talk to me about my customer service before finally hanging up. Luckily my manager likes me well enough to know that I would never purposely be rude to anyone, and he assured me that I did the best I could.