MY FIRST YEAR IN RETAIL. . .THE SMACK MY HEAD MOMENTS

by Steve Clem on December 15, 2010

Let me just say as I look back on my first year in retail, I literally mean my first year in retail.

I didn’t even have the “pleasure” of working retail back in high school because I thought it would be way cooler to be a summer lifeguard. I’m pretty sure I was right then and right now.

But between the interesting customers, employees, and neighbors, it’s been a very entertaining year in terms of “Did you really just say that?” moments.

The customers. Ah, they are the lynch pin of my store. They’re always right. And sometimes quirky. A few of my favorite moments:

– A group of women walk in, and after a few minutes in the store walking around the store, one of them asks me, with a straight face, “Do you have anything for vegans?” Really? I mean, really? You come into an steak store and ask whether we have anything for vegans?

– A younger guy walks in, strolls to the back of the store where all the steaks are located, and asks “Do you guys sell beef?” After a brief pause to make sure I heard the question correctly, I responded. “Well no we don’t. But we do sell plastic bags, and then we give you free beef to put into it.”

– A man walks in wearing flannel pajama bottoms, flip flops, a tattered t-shirt, and a lime green baseball cap. After buying more than $200 worth of our best porterhouse steaks, he decided to hang out for the next hour telling me about how he was close friends with John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and how Scientology was the truth of the world.

– While not a customer of my store, a frequent customer at Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill deserves a shout out. Because if you’re a little person with a skullet (receding hairline mullet), you deserve that at the very least.

The employees, well what can I say? They’ve given me some pretty good “say what?” moments as well, such as:

– The employee who insisted the reason he was late every day for his shift was because the time on his cell phone was not correct. I explained to him that cell phones were linked to satellites and towers that transmitted the real time to the cell phone, which was why we didn’t have to change the time on our cell phone when Daylight Savings Time kicked in. He replied by saying he was with a really cheap cell phone company, and he didn’t think they used those things.

– The employee who pulled what we call a “no call, no show” in the bidness. Since I was close friends with his cousin, which was why he got the job, I called my friend to inform him of his cousin’s absence. Not five minutes after that, the employee called up and said “Steve, I’m sorry I didn’t call you earlier but I just got out of jail.” Seriously. That was his excuse. I’ll skip the part of not wanting to tell your boss that information if it was true, since in this case I knew it wasn’t true. I told him he’d need to bring in the paperwork that shows he was in jail. He said he was so mad when he left the jail he threw the paperwork away in a trash can on his way out. I told him to just have the jail fax a copy of the paperwork to the store. That was the end of that conversation.

Last, but most certainly not least, are the neighbors in my brand new mall, and the interesting things they bring to the table, including:

– The women of Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill. They’re the nicest women you’ll ever meet when you’re sitting at the bar with an open tab!

– The Booger Eater. If you missed it, there was an employee from another store in the mall who would eat her lunch on the bench in front of my store everyday. Then she would pick her boogers. And eat them. And mumble to herself. Winter is cruel in Minnesota, and unfortunately I think I’m done with Booger Eater sightings until spring.

Yes, this year has definitely been educational for me, and every day I can say at the very least that I’ve learned something new, or seen something new, or laughed my ass off for a new reason.

Here’s to the second year, when I hope I’ll be able to top the booger eater, midgets with mullets, and jailed employee stories.

* * * *

Steve Clem originally published this piece on the blog A Prisoner in the Tundra.

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