There comes a fateful day in the life of a server of the public when a difficult customer pushes them so close to the edge that they almost completely lose their cool. A moment comes in which the employee comes up with the perfect response to the customer's insufferable complaint or ridiculous request. A sentence so docile and deadpan, the employee must conceal a menacing grin or a maniacal laugh at the mere thought of blurting out the words.
Yet, for the sake of job security and customer satisfaction, the employee restrains themselves from speaking and instead continues the seemingly impossible task of meeting the customers expectations... That is, until the day the employee thing, Why not?
Employees who came up with a most savagely witty comeback to a nasty customer proudly retold the tale to Reddit and these are the most epic stories of the bunch. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I was working at a pizza shop. A troublesome customer tried to stack coupons that clearly stated 'One coupon per purchase.' After being refused by everyone in the restaurant including the owner, he went on a tirade saying that the District Attorney was his cousin, and he was threatening a lawsuit.
As he was heading for the door, he said, 'You can't afford to mess with me!'
I shouted after him, 'You can't afford a large pizza!'"
"I was working at a call center for an electric utility. I had 'one of those days.' Every single one of my customers felt like it was a 20 minute call from my own nightmares.
I got close to the end of my day and I got this guy on the phone who had been disconnected for non payment. This wasn't a 'Mama Mia, I forgot to pay my bill' type thing. This guy tried to game the system as much as he could. He would get disconnected, make a token payment to get his power back on, then slip back into arrears, and this would go on and on and on. Finally, someone got wise to the whole thing. There were notes on his account that he was not to be turned back on unless he paid in full, that he was not to be transferred to anyone, and that he had had this whole thing explained to him.
Well, I got him on the line. He started cursing up and down, how we were ripping him off, how he was going to the newspapers, etc etc. I kept asking him when he was going to pay. Each time I did, he went off on me. He demanded to be transferred to a supervisor or manager. I said no. He demanded to be turned back on for a $50 payment and a promise to pay in full in a month. I said no. He just kept going batty on me, over and over.
Now, it had been a long day and I had lost all ability to care at that point. He kept going on, and I just calmly, almost in a detached manner, kept sticking to the 'no transfer, no reconnect without payment in full' line. I think he was trying to wear me down, but eventually he had enough of my lasagna. After refusing to turn his electricity back on, he shouted at me, 'YOU'RE SUCH A [blank]!' He'd called me a word people usually use to refer to illegitimate children.
I replied, 'Sir, my parents were married at the time of my conception and my birth. If you're going to insult me, at least be accurate about it.'
There was this long pause. It probably wasn't that long, but it seemed like a long time. I thought he hung up, but then I heard him say, 'I'll call back with a credit card number.'
Now, I have no idea if he ever did, or if he repeated it all with another rep, but I didn't really care. But that comeback became the stuff of legends at work."
"I was working in retail and we had a really long line of people waiting to check out. I worked in a very upscale neighborhood - think major league sports, well known attorneys, etc. Some lady came running from the back of the line and screamed at me, 'I CAN'T WAIT IN THIS LINE! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW IMPORTANT I AM??!!'
I, tired of everyone’s meatballs that day, retorted, 'If you were so darn important, you’d pay someone to stand in this line like the REALLY important customers.'"
"I was in a store last weekend and these two younger guys were were buying a bottle of vino and started arguing with the owner (a nice, older Indian guy) about how he charged the wrong amount, or he gave the wrong change, or something else that was stupid and probably not true. The other guy who worked there, a younger black guy with many tats and piercings, heard the commotion, and came over to get his boss's back. The guys started yelling, 'Why you all so pressed over 25 cents!?'
The younger employee said, 'Brothers, we have a whole cash register full of money. It is you who appears to be pressed over 25 cents!'
I was just standing there like, 'Oh, man. No he didn't!'"
"I worked in the ticket booths at Disneyland. If you're an annual pass holder, and you're on the monthly contract, Disney takes automatic payments from your credit card. If your card expires or otherwise has to be changed, and you don't call to put a new card on file, the auto-payments stop and your pass freezes. No big deal; Disney doesn't hit you with fees or penalties. You simply call or come to the booth, and we handle it right then and there -- zippety-doo-dah, and in you go.
One day, I get a middle-aged couple whose passes froze. The man was upset and ready to talk about it. A common question from guests is: 'Don't you send out late notices?' No, Disney doesn't because they're not practical, and again, there are no penalties anyway. Just come see us and we'll straighten you out. The man says to me in a disgusted tone, 'You don't send notices when a pass freezes? How does that work?'
I said, 'Well, you receive your credit card statement, you see that a recurring charge is not present on it, and you can expect the service related to the recurring charge to be interrupted, and that it must be related to your card having been replaced recently.'
The wife smiled, the man's face reddened, and he leaned in and barked, 'Get your supervisor. I want to talk to somebody smart.'
To my shame, I said, 'Of course. Would you like someone smart enough to stay aware of their credit card use, or merely smart enough to read contracts they sign?'
My booth lead happened to come over as soon as she heard 'supervisor,' so she was standing behind me when I said the emotional thing. It isn't how I wanted to go out (I was five days away from leaving for a new job), but I looked at it as a vicariously cathartic mic drop goodbye to my fellow cast members. For them, it was a thrill."
"I was 19 and had fought my way to working loss prevention at Best Buy. A woman came up to the loss prevention desk trying to check out. I pointed her to the checkout counters that were about 20 feet to my left and she said, in a very shrill tone, 'Oh. Then what are you?'
'Loss Prevention,' I said.
'They let girls do that now?'
'Uh, yeah. From what I hear, we can even vote now and everything.'
She was not impressed, but I sure was.
I think she was just in a bad mood. I didn't look 19, and I've never been a petite or delicate-looking person. It was crazy because she wasn't, like, 80 years old. She may have been mid-40s."
"Back when that stupid rap battle show was on MTV, I decided to come up with a rap battle come back line, just in case. A few weeks later, I was working as a lifeguard and we were throwing this 15 or 16-year-old kid out of the park. It was pretty common for parents to use the pool as day care, so we called his mom to pick him up.
While we were waiting, he was cursing at us and threatening us. One of the other lifeguards sarcastically asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said a rapper. So, naturally, I challenged him to a rap battle. He went first and spit some nonsense line about me being white.
I replied, 'Dang, your rhymes are sick. And by sick I mean ill. And by ill I mean your mother should have been on the pill.'
Then I walked away as he cussed me out."
"A lady pulled into the employee parking lot of the post office I worked at because she couldn't make it there during business hours and had super important things to mail. First, she was absolutely not allowed in that parking lot. Second, she was so important that she didn't use a parking space, she just parked directly behind my car, which I was sitting in, with reverse lights already on. Third, I honked my horn (a friendly honk) and this witch put up a finger at me like, Just a sec!
She thought she had blocked me in, but I drive for a living. I had this. So, I got around her car but in the process she had come back out and couldn't get to her driver door because of yours truly. In honor of all of my missed opportunities and flubbed comebacks, I said this gem, in the moment: 'Oh! I am soooo sorry you're having to wait for me because your time is CLEARLY more important than mine!'
Then, I rolled my window up because I was not listening to her entitlement, and took my sweet time moving my car to where she could get in hers."
"I have used this many times. When a customer or another person is yelling, and I mean a complete meltdown - just blaming you for everything they can think of and doing so loudly, inappropriately - don't say anything. Don't react. Just let them tire themselves out.
Then, when they finally say, 'What, you don't have anything to say?' wait a moment or two and say, 'You have just embarrassed yourself' and nothing more.
This works especially well when the person is older than you. I have done this about four times in a 10 year span and it is devastating for much much longer than you would expect."
"I was working in the ER as a paramedic at the time. A very wasted patient was hauled in by ambulance for public intoxication and, upon arrival, he was asked to change into a hospital gown. He explained that he was not wearing any underwear and, while taking his pants off, said, 'So, don’t get turned on looking at my member.'
Not one to take kindly to blatant douchery, the only reply I could think of was, 'Oh, don’t worry, sir, judging by the rest of you, I don’t see that being a problem.'"
"I was working at an AMC and we got these new paper towel dispensers for the restrooms. I was installing batteries and replacing the rolls when this woman came up to me. I explained that it was my first time working with the new equipment and it might take a minute for the paper towels to be ready.
This woman then proceeded to scream and curse at me about how I have no respect. After a few minutes of yelling she ended it with, 'Now HOW do you expect ME to DRY MY HANDS?!?!'
I leaned over and turned on the air dryer she was standing next to."
"I was working as a barista and I was cool with my boss there, who did not usually wear glasses, but was wearing a pair that day. This dumb dude came up, a regular. When my boss gave this dumb dude his drink, he said, 'You know you look a lot better without glasses.'
My boss, being a polite lady, did not say anything, but I was like OK, dude you are being annoying for no reason, so I came up to him and said, 'Yeah, I bet you look better without her glasses, too,' and he immediately shut up."
"I was pushing some carts to the entrance of my grocery store when a couple cut me off to walk in first. I kept my normal pace, but normal pace was too close for comfort I guess, because he felt I was way too close.
He then proceeded to say, 'What are you going to do? Push that into my rear end?' in a very annoyed manner and tone where I think he thought I could not hear him.
I immediately uttered out, 'I mean, I'm not into that but I can if you really want.'
All he had as a response was a look of horror and his girlfriend or wife burst out laughing and we went our separate ways. It was a huge highlight to a lousy day."
"My first job was pumping gas. I was probably 15 when this happened.
One lady always came in and complained about everything - not washing windows right, etc. One day, as the senior guy on duty (I was working in the convenience store part), she came in complaining that the kid outside was refusing to check her oil.
I went outside to see what's up and all the kid was telling her was that he could not open it until she popped the hood. She went off on how's it's our job to open it. I explained that she has to pull the thing in her car first and offered to show her where. She huffed and said, 'Forget it.' We went inside so she could pay for her gas and she was complaining the whole time. Once paid, she said, 'You guys are the worst and I am never coming here again.'
My reply: 'Great, thanks! You promise?'
She stormed out."
"I worked overnight in a truck stop along I-90 in Sioux Falls for a couple years. One night, a big family came in and sat in the restaurant. After ordering, a little girl and her grandmother came out and browsed the overpriced garbage in our gift shop for a bit and generally seemed pleasant if tired from a long drive.
Pretty much every truck stop, gas station, tourist trap, whatever along I-90 in South Dakota has this exact same jewelry case displaying the exact same collection of worthless necklaces containing a tiny trace of Black Hills gold. They are all always marked at some ridiculous price like $99 with a 'mark down' sticker to, a still way overpriced, $25 or $30. They are garbage made to part gullible tourists from their money on their way to the Black Hills.
The lady who worked the shift before me, Carolyn, was an older woman who took her job way too seriously and kept the key to the case on her at all times during her shift and often took it home with her accidentally. It was never really a problem because no one buys any of that garbage.
The little girl spotted the case and called her grandma over and they started looking at those necklaces. The little girl decided she wanted one of them. Grandma asked me to get it for her and I said, 'Sure thing,' and went to retrieve the key. Unfortunately, the key wasn't on the hook, so I checked the drawers and cupboards behind the counter and didn't find the key. Carolyn had taken it home again.
I apologized to the lady and explained to her what was going on. A family member popped her head out and told the lady that their food had arrived and I told her go eat and I would see if there was another key around here. They went to eat and I proceeded to toss the counter and look for the key. It seemed like every few minutes, the old bat stuck her head out to snidely ask me about the key. I even went through the effort to jimmy the manager's office door open to look in there for a spare, but found nothing.
Finally, the lady come out again, furious that I had not opened the case yet and went off on me for being too lazy to sell her her darn necklace, despite the fact that I've been busting my butt trying. I had had enough and told the lady that the key was not there and there was nothing I could do about it and that these necklaces were garbage, but if she was really dead set on blowing money on one, there would be plenty of opportunity as they're all over the state offering the same nonsense to rip-off ignorant tourists.
She then says, 'Well, I can see you're as cheerful as I am today.'
I replied, 'I reciprocate what I'm given.'
'Well, you're just lucky you're not one of my students.'
'Lady, if I were one of your students, I wouldn't be able to use the word "reciprocate" in a sentence.'
She stared me down for a moment, then went back into the restaurant. I called my coworker over to cover my break and, as she was coming, I spotted the key on the ground under the counter. I pocketed the key and did not say anything about it because that woman could go get stuffed."
"I used to work for Domino's. We were doing a charity drive for St. Jude. We were asking customers to donate for children who have cancer.
ME: 'Would you like to donate a dollar to St. Jude Children's Hospital for children who have cancer?'
CUSTOMER: 'Are they going to donate a dollar to me?'
ME: 'Well, does your kid have cancer?'
I would have been fired if he didn't have a good sense of humor about it."
"I worked as a car salesman some years ago. We meet all kinds of people. Some of those people are arrogant and want to make a salesman fawn over them by bragging about how much money they have and then trying to play hardball. I had one such customer one day.
He came in and wanted to look at the top of the line in every car. He looked the part so, naturally, I obliged him thinking he would be a quick hardball mini and I'd send him on his way. Nope. He wanted to test drive everything as well.
I spent hours working with the guy. Finally, he picked a car with all the bells and whistles and had been bragging about his job and his income the entire time. We sat to talk numbers and I flipped the breakdown around - kept it at sticker price, I held back on his trade, and cut some of the rebate. It was a nice deal. I was going to eat a steak that night. He took one look and said, 'I'm not paying that!'
Naturally, I countered with, 'Well, sir, what can you pay? Maybe my manager could help us out some. If I knocked off another $500 would that help?' He became irate. Fortunately, he was telling me how egotistical he was the whole time. I knew his weak spot.
'I'm not going to pay anywhere near that,' he said. 'You need to take your little paper and run back to your manager. I can't afford that.'
Jackpot. I'm running nowhere.
'Sir, I understand that money can be tight at times and sometimes things just don't fit within a tight budget,' I said. 'This is one of our nicest cars and, understandably, not everyone has enough money to afford this nice of a car. May I suggest we go to a base model [insert budget car here] to help you manage easier?'
His face flushed and he said, 'I can afford anything I want! I'll write a check right now!'
'Sir, you don't need to be embarrassed. I want to help you get something that can reliably get you from point A to point B.'
The angry dude wrote the check. I ate steak."