It's no secret that jobs which require you to deal with the general public on a day-to-day basis can be a real headache. Though there are plenty of sane, kind people out in the world, there are also a lot of crazy, entitled maniacs out there who have no clue how to operate smoothly in society. One customer-based field that is especially hectic is retail, because people can get very riled up about getting the exact items they want.
Whether it's a big spender at an electronics shop who feels entitled to do anything he pleases, or a dad at a Kmart who loses his mind over a 20 cent discount, these people need to seriously get their priorities straight and reevaluate their lives. The way that buying stuff makes people act should really raise some questions about the consumerist culture in which we live. Here are some of Reddit retail workers' craziest, most jaw-dropping stories about the most horrific customers they ever had. Content edited for clarity.
"When I was 17, I worked as a technician in the back of an Eckerd's Pharmacy. Everyone needs their medication, and I recognize that, so I'd never keep someone from what they needed to be healthy. The pharmacist was the same way; I saw him stay hours late, phone doctors at home, and take risks to make sure people got the meds they needed. He was a genuinely great guy.
My next door neighbor at the time was one of those people with the out-of-control lawn and cars that never moved. She was the type of person you never saw during daylight. Well, one Friday evening as the pharmacist was closing up shop (I needed to stay until the store closed, handing out pre-filled scripts to anyone else), my reclusive next door neighbor came in.
She didn't recognize me and I barely recognized her, but didn't bring it up. She wanted her meds, tossed her prescription card on the counter, and shuffled off. I looked in the bins for a few minutes but there was nothing under her name. In the record system, I could see that she had a history of a few meds, but the scripts were getting smaller and smaller in the unit count as the months went by.
I asked the pharmacist who'd already shut off the lights and was preparing to walk out the door. When he saw her name, his eyes got kinda bugged out and he decided to leave through the back, saying, 'She's got no script here and we've spoken to her about it repeatedly, send her home or have her doctor call us tomorrow,' as he hightailed it out the door.
Then she comes back with a handcart full of junk food and dumped it on the counter so I started ringing it up, not really knowing how to handle the fact that her transaction was missing the part she came for. After I got done with the junk food I asked, 'Will that be all?' and she said that she had questions for the pharmacist. I explained that he was already out for the evening. 'But who will I ask about the medication?' she asked.
'Oh, well, about that...we don't have a script filled for you, ma'am, uh, I guess your doctor didn't call one in,' I replied. Then things got really bad. She was a large woman and had a tendency to project spittle while she spoke. She began screaming and yelling; keep in mind, there was me, the manager of the store, and two other customers in this place at 8:15 pm on a Friday.
The manager, Alan, came back and asked what the problem was, so I explained that this woman was losing it because we didn't have her script. He assumed it was human error, but I pulled him back behind the little wall where the pharmacy is and explained that there is NO SCRIPT, she's crazy, and she's only going to get worse. He told me I was being silly and waltzed out to put the schmooze on her, saying, 'Oh, ma'am, I'm sure we can fix this right up, don't you worr-'
Right in the middle of his sentence, this 250 lb pill-deprived crazy woman SLAPS him in the face. Alan was about 5'4" and 150 lbs, so that slap knocked him right over. It was quite possibly one of the funniest things I've ever seen, but I was also grabbing the phone and hitting the emergency button. Alan then recovered and came back behind the partition where I was, yelling at her while she continued to scream and rant about how it's a conspiracy, heads would roll, and she'd have us fired.
As we're cowering behind the partition, she realized that she'd probably overplayed her hand a tad and clambered up onto the checkout counter to peer over the partition and scream at us more. I assumed we were fairly safe, but you can't count crazy out; she proceeds to hurl glass Carmex jars at us, three or four at a time. Again, Alan took one for the team when one shattered on his forehead, cutting him open enough to get blood everywhere.
Eventually, the cops show up and took her away. The small town cops instantly knew what was going on when they saw her; apparently, I'd been living next door to the town loon the entire time, and she had a history.
I opened the next morning and began cleaning up the war zone that was the checkout area. The pharmacist who bolted on me came in, saw the dried blood and damage, and got a mop out to help me get everything cleaned up. I told him what happened and he said, 'Sorry to run off, but that's what I figured was going to happen.' I was not amused."
"A couple summers ago, I worked at Fry's Electronics in Concord, California. It was horrible. Employees were treated like crap by both the customers and the supervisors/managers. It was my first job at a retail establishment, so I went into this job with the mindset that I would do my best at helping customers and whatnot. But by the time I came out, I didn't give a rat's butt about the customers.
I was assigned to the electronic components department where we had CPU's, motherboards, CCTVS, hard drives, batteries, etc. One day I was shelving the day's new arrivals when a familiar customer walked into the department. He was a bitter middle-aged man who would ALWAYS give the employees a hard time. However, he gave Fry's a lot of business so our managers told us to cater to his needs at all costs. He approached me and the following occurred:
Him: 'Give me a 955.'
Me: 'Excuse me, sir? A 955?'
Him: (Starting to raise his voice) 'Yes, a 955!'
Me: 'I'm sorry, sir, I'm not exactly sure what that is. Can you be more specific?'
Him: 'YOU WORK IN THIS DEPARTMENT AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT A 955 IS?!'
Me: 'Sir, you are only giving me three numbers. If you cou-'
Him: 'YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT QUALIFIED TO WORK HERE! I DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH YOU! GET ME YOUR MANAGER! THIS IS RIDICULOUS!'
At that point, he was straight up yelling in my face. I called the manager over and after more yelling that he wanted a '955,' we came to the conclusion that he wanted the 'AMD Phenom 955 Quad Core Processor.' Then I was forced to apologize and even had to say that I would educate myself more about computers.
Every employee in my department had a horror story about this guy. One time he was waiting in line to receive a print out for some memory when he decided to throw a router at my manager because he felt he shouldn't wait in a line like everybody else. I've met some of the deepest, darkest souls at Fry's."
"I've been doing seasonal work at Brookstone for about three years now. I've had no issues with management or employees, aside from the odd person getting fired for doing something stupid. The company may have some weird products, but they do have good employees.
The customers, on the other hand, are completely insane. Sometimes it's in a silly, benign way, like one of our regulars, a little old doctor who wears a white suit with a feather in his hat and a sword in his cane. Other times not so much, like everybody who comes in from Black Friday to Christmas. Something about those few weeks drives people mad, I swear.
A couple months ago, a lady came in and we were looking up some technical data on an item for her, checking the manual, calling customer service, searching the Internet, and casually discussing local politics.
Out of nowhere, she proceeded to go on a full-fledged paranoid conspiracist rant, yelling that Obama is a not only a Muslim, but also a Reptilian, and (I swear these were her exact words) 'the goshdarn antichrist.'
I think the whole rant took half an hour, touching on points about how the government is implanting people with radio frequency mind control chips that mark people with the number of the beast, and how the end times are upon us because Nostradamus and Revelations line up regarding 9/11 and Obama's election, so clearly the final battle will take place within the next 6-8 months. It was honestly the most impressive bit of batcrap insanity I have ever seen. Needless to say, there's a reason I keep going back for more."
"Today was the last day of my job working in the tech department of a computer retailer and I think I just met one of the craziest people on the planet. This woman came in with a broken GPS and started spouting about how she'd had nothing but bad service from another branch so if I didn't do what she wanted, she'd never shop with us again.
I said, 'Okay, well, sorry to hear that,' and told her that we needed to send it off to get repaired. She then freaked the heck out, saying that she needed the GPS for her new job because she was going up north and didn't know her way around without a GPS.
We expressed our sympathies and explained that, unfortunately, it's procedure to get it sent off since we can't just swap it, and sometimes it can take up to 10 days. Things got real and she began yelling and abusing us, saying that she was going to a part of the country she didn't know and without a GPS it would be dangerous.
She then went on to say that, as a woman, she was scared that without a GPS she would end up on the wrong side of town and get in trouble with thugs, insinuating that she would be violated. She then elaborated, saying that by not giving her a new GPS we were 'sentencing (her) to death.'
Things carried on that way for a while, with her going around in circles about how we would rather have her dead than lose a few hundred dollars. It finally ended with my manager printing her out some Google Maps directions for her trip and us sending off the request for her GPS.
"This happened on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas release day back when I worked at Gamestop. You have no idea how much the staff in video game stores get nagged about not selling mature games to kids under 18.
Naturally, a big line of grannies buying the game for 12-year-olds formed, I mentioned the contents of the game, and they didn't care. We carried on with loads of sales, making tons of money for the company, when finally I came across one kid, an arrogant looking boy who appeared to be around 16. He was with his friends in a group and they were all trying to look confident. I asked him for ID.
Him: 'I haven't got any.'
Me: 'I can't sell you the game without ID.'
Him: 'How the heck not?'
Me: 'Well, it's an 18+ game, and I don't think you look 18.'
Him: 'I've got car keys, that's proof.'
Me: 'Well, actually it's not.'
Him: 'WHAT THE EFF ARE YOU ON ABOUT? GIVE ME THE GAME!'
He carried on insulting as the queue kept getting bigger and bigger.
Him: 'So you're not going to sell me the game?'
Me: 'Nope (as we'd established about 10 minutes before).'
He continued to sling insults as people in the queue became impatient and started blaming me for the holdup. Then he started pleading and swearing that he was 18, but I told him that even if he did have ID he wasn't getting the game for talking to me like that.
Him: 'What time do you finish at? I'll wait for you.'
Me: 'I finish at half past 6, I'll see you then.'
I should stress that I'm not a fighter if I can avoid it, but I was pretty confident I could take a little punk kid if it came to it.
Him: 'I'll see you outside then, prick!'
As he went to leave, my coworker, the one fat, old, nerdy guy that every game shop seems to have, stopped him, called him over, and sold him the game. I nearly quit right there and then.
My coworker's reaction of giving me a half smile and a, 'Heh,' made me want to knock his block off. Meanwhile, the jerk kid stood outside the shop for 10 minutes waving the game at me and giving me middle fingers."
"When I was an undergrad, I worked at the campus's tech center. We were mainly there as a resource to faculty and staff of the university, so I mostly had to deal with them. I cannot tell you the number of times that I was verbally berated by a professor because they were requesting something to be done in an impossible time frame.
For example, one time a professor who was notorious for being a jerk walked in and said he needed to have certain software installed on his computer so he could use it in class the next day. This was about 5 minutes before we closed, so I informed him that there was a queue of work ahead of him and that it would definitely not be done by the next day.
He exploded on me and started yelling about how he was a professor with a Ph.D. so he was important and deserved to have his machine serviced before anyone else. He yelled at me for a few minutes about how important he was before my boss came over and saved me, basically telling him he wasn't special and, because the job request wasn't urgent, he was going to have to wait like everyone else. That professor taught within my major, and thank God I was able to avoid ever having him."
"I used to work the graveyard shift in an 'adult superstore.' One day, early in my shift, I was wrapping videos and putting them out on the sales floor. As I was putting the videos on the floor, I started to smell crap, really strongly. I was thinking that someone must have ripped a very heinous and lingering fart, and continued wrapping and stocking videos.
Then this guy walked up to the register with a video, so I ran up front to ring him up. I grabbed the video, scanned it, bagged it, told him the total, and grabbed the twenty on the counter. As I was making change for this guy, I realized that the crap smell had become overwhelmingly strong. Then as he held his hands up for his change, I could see that they poop on them. This man had dried, caked poop all over his hands.
'WHAT THE HECK?!' I thought to myself, realizing this guy was messed up in some capacity. I decided I'd just drop the change into his hand and he'd be on his way. But as I went to drop it, and he moved his hand up to grab the change and freaking touched my hand! He quickly exited as I stood there in disbelief.
Then I busted out the disinfectant and start cleaning the crap (pun intended) out of my hands. I took all the money out of the drawer and disinfected that and the whole counter/register area. Then I had a disturbing thought, 'Where did this guy get his poo play on at? Was it here?'
I ran to the bathroom and there was crap EVERYWHERE. It was on the walls, the sink, the toilet, everywhere except the toilet paper. The smell was HORRENDOUS. I called the manager and she came in, went into the bathroom, and immediately vomited. Then she relieved me so I could clean the bathroom. It was the worst night ever."
"My third day working at Staples was the first and only day I ever worked as a cashier. One of the regional vice presidents of SouthTrust Bank came in to buy a $7 item and wanted to pay with a personal check. This was in 2003, so by then every bank, including his, had debit cards.
We had a very slow check verification system for personal checks, which often involved a call to the processor to verify the person's identity. As I was on the phone, this guy started getting huffy about how long it was taking and began yelling at me and trying to embarrass me for 'insulting his status.' My manager then threw the guy out of the store saying that, #1 nobody talks to his employees that way, and #2 the vice president of a bank should give a crap about identity protection."
"I had some horrifying experiences while working at Payless Shoe Store. One time, I was measuring a little girl's (5-6 years old) foot on one of those metal doodads. She was wearing a skirt and I guess the cold on her bare foot loosed something because she peed all over my arms. Her parents laughed and I was not allowed to go home early. Another time, a kid peed inside a giant soda cup and left it for us to clean up. I accidentally splashed it on myself and realized it wasn't warm soda, but urine.
The all-time worst, though, was a gentleman who was paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. He would ask for assistance trying on shoes, and when I would kneel to help he would say, 'Yeah you like it down on your knees, you dirty little...' and then call me all kinds of degrading names.
I kicked him out of the store but was severely punished by my bosses. He kept coming back and after fighting with my district manager, I declared, 'I will NOT debase myself for Payless,' and then led a four-employee walkout. It was freaking great."
"I worked at Kmart for two years in a small town where crazy stuff didn't really happen. But every once in a while, something slightly odd would go down. During my second day of work, I had some smelly idiot training me on the register when up walked a guy with a 60 cent jug of water and his wife and daughter in tow. The family seemed pretty happy-go-lucky...until we scanned the jug.
'Your total is 80 cents,' I said, quite kindly. Suddenly, with this huge sense of self-righteous smugness, the WHOLE family yelled, 'But it said it was 60 cents over there on the rack!' At that point, my dumb trainer interjected with the wrong information.
'I'm sorry, only customer service can fix pricing problems, you are going to have to take it over there.' I, being a timid 16-year-old kid, stood there and calmly nodded along with my trainer, even though she was wrong and we could have fixed it with the push of two buttons. Upon the last word of my trainer's sentence, the dad SNAPPED!
He started running around was cussing at us as the timid smile on my face slowly molded into a, 'What the heck is wrong with you?' expression. Despite my obvious confusion, this piece of work got right up in my face and yelled, 'YOU BETTER WATCH IT KID OR YOU'LL GET THE CRAP BEAT OUT OF YOU!' I swear to God, he said that.
I'm in no way a violent person, but I have never been so close to breaking somebodies nose than I was that day. My confusion turned into fury and rage and the veins on my knuckles began to pop out as I grasped the bag rack so hard it almost ripped off.
I could not believe what an enormous prick this guy was for ever thinking to cuss out a 16-year-old Kmart employee in a town of about 5,000 people over 20 FREAKING CENTS! Plus, why the heck didn't his family intervene?! Finally, he stormed away, paying the whopping 80 cent total. I worked in that crap hole for two years, but nothing so unbelievable happened as on my second day of work."
"A while back, I was working at Walmart as a customer service manager, which was a questionable decision. One day I got paged to head over to the customer service desk ASAP, so I put my paperwork down and headed that way.
The cashier came aside and told me that a man wanted to return a bike chain with no receipt, no box, and it was clearly super used. I told him we were unable to return anything without a receipt plus we had to have the original packaging.
He started yelling, 'This is the same crap I've heard at the other stores I've been to today!' I told him that I was sorry but we can't help him. Then he disappeared for a bit and came back with a brand new chain, still in the box.
He said he wanted to return that chain, so I asked him for his receipt and he said he didn't have one. I asked him for his license to do a receipt-less return and go through that process. As soon as I entered his information, I got an error saying that he was over his limit for returns without a receipt.
When I informed him, he starts flipping out and screaming at me and the cashier. I told him that three is the limit but he was already given four by another store's manager. He pulled out the old chain, threw it on the counter, and said, 'I don't want this crap, just gimme money for it!'
I told him that it was time for him to go and he asked to speak with the manager. I looked up from the monitor and kindly informed him that I was the manager. He became even more ticked off and decided it was a good idea to hurl the chain at me, grazing the side of my face.
Then I told him that I'd called the cops and he can either stay or go. He bolted out the door as half of the employees were standing around in disbelief, saying, 'Holy crap, what is going on?!'
The next day, my supervisors told me that I could have handled it better and as a result, my hours were cut. I've since quit and might continue working in retail, but definitely not at Walmart."
"I was about to leave work one day when the manager on duty asked me to stick around because he spotted a shoplifter. As she passed the registers, we walked up to her and asked her to stop.
She immediately grabbed my manager's arm and bit down, hard. I pulled her off of him and we walked her upstairs to his office. We sat her down in a chair and told her we had to fill out a report. While we were working on that, she pulled out a box knife she had found and slit both of her wrists!
After about 30 seconds of bleeding, she stood up and held out her bloody hands, still holding the knife, and then started chasing us. We bolted down the stairs and slammed the door shut behind us.
Then we called 911 and while we were waiting for an ambulance/police to show up, she climbed into the ceiling, which led to us having to evacuate the whole store. After half an hour of searching, the fire department found her up in the rafters. She ended up being ok, but she ended up in jail for a while as a result of her antics. Also, the item she was trying to steal was a razor, and we wouldn't have even called the police on her if she hadn't gone all crazy."