No matter how awful, immature, or vicious a customer is, retail employees have to smile and help them out. How these employees put up with the vile humans in this story, I'll never know. These customers certainly made for some supremely awkward situations. Content has been edited for clarity.
A Wet, Angry Surprise
“I was a customer service manager for a large clothing retailer. One of the cashiers was having a difficult time with a customer, so I walked to her station. The cashier was quite competent, efficient, polite, and well-versed on store policy, so I expected the transaction to be one where a manager over-ride was required. Nope. The well-dressed, middle-aged patron wanted to use a starter check to pay for her purchase. They were very common before ATM and debit cards were available, and they were only to be used for rent/mortgage and utilities. They did not have personal information imprinted on the check, just the banking information, so they could be easily stolen or used fraudulently. Bank associates would always stress that they could not be used for purchases at stores. No store accepted starter checks, and it was on the large sign at the front of the store listing the types of payment that were accepted.
When I understood the problem, I offered to take her items to the customer service desk and hold them until she produced an alternate form of payment. She began screaming at us. I didn’t even understand what she was saying. Suddenly, the general manager appeared next to me and the cashier quickly filled him in, showing him the starter checks. In his calm voice, he began saying exactly what I had said.
Then the woman spit in my face. My entire face.
The lines of people at the registers gasped and recoiled. I just stood there. The general manager put his hand gently on my shoulder in support. The cashier started crying. Security took the well-dressed, middle-aged woman out of the store. One of the other area managers led me to the bathroom and gently washed my face. I could feel exactly where it hit me, as if it was lava. When I looked in the mirror, I expected to see burns, but there was nothing there. My general manager offered to let me have the rest of the day off, but I stayed. My lovely, perfect, efficient cashier got hugged by the woman who was in line behind the spitter, so she recovered quickly and was able to finish her shift.
Of all the things that have come out of a customer’s mouth, that was the worst.”
Royally Rude Suggestion
“I used to work at Gucci a few years ago, before I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. There was this particular incident that reminds me how a single person can forever change your perception about life. They said money can’t buy you class, and apparently it’s true. I was a Sales Executive back then, serving customer and updating them on what the newest and latest merchandise. Relying on a commission, I can’t afford to sit around and be chatting whilst there’s a customer walking in. Everyone that walks in is an opportunity for a close deal. For your information, the merchandise range is from $50 to $15,000. On a typical day, like Wednesday, the traffic wasn’t that terrific. I have nine other colleagues working together with me in that boutique, and we have a mutual understanding about who will serve the customer that walks in. If I happen to be the first person to say ‘Hello,’ then I’ll be the one to help them. On a particular Wednesday, I started work at 2 p.m. After putting my uniform and my makeup on, I clock in. As I walked past the leather goods floor, I saw three guys with a suit, and one guy wearing casual clothing. I saw no one on the floor, so I approached him kindly. He stares at me as I was some kind of alien, not smiling, and not replying to the greeting.
He introduced himself as a royalty from some foreign country. The three guys with suits were his bodyguards. Okay, this is not the first time I’ve attended to royalty and celebrities. I should be fine, and knowing his family, they always buy a lot of stuff. This could be my opportunity to hit my monthly target. I smiled on the inside.
Little that I know this royalty is a pain in the butt. His first question was, ‘Is that your natural hair?’
I said ‘ Yes sir’ with a warm smile.
Then he asked, ‘What is that glossy thingy on your lips?’
Why is this person kept questioning me about my appearances? I replied politely, ‘It’s a lip gloss, it’s from Dior,’ hoping he would stop asking that stupid question again.
He stares at me, saying nothing. So, I assume that he was ready to hear about the latest collection. After a long silence, he yells at me, ‘You should get your hair straightened, and stop wearing all this makeup!’
‘I’m sorry… what’s that?’ I tried to stay calm.
‘You know that you are giving wrong impression with this appearance? Are you here to sell bags or to be a model?’ He stares at me like his eyeballs would come out. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS IDIOT? Lecturing and yelling at me on how I’m supposed to look and all?
One of my colleague, intervened and said, ‘The manager needs you in the store room now, and I will attend to you sir!’
On my way to the store room, I could still hear him talking about me. I burst into tears. I felt so humiliated. My colleagues try to comfort me, and they all understand that he is so atrocious. He left after 30 minutes, purchasing only a relatively inexpensive pouch bag. He asked to see me before he leaves, but my manager said I was busy. It didn’t end there. This idiot must have had some crazy vendetta against me.
He called the HQ and complained how I was rude to him. My manager explained what happened to the HQ, and everyone was so angry. They said I should make a police report regarding the harassment, but who would listen to me? He belongs to one of a most wealthy, royalty in the world, and I’m just a sales executive. He likely will get away with it. It’s unfair, I know, but that’s the world we live in. I tendered my resignation 3 months after the incidents. There was no way I would allow anyone to treat me like that ever again. Money is just a tool, and how you use it will reflect the kind of person you are. He may be a prince, or a king, but one thing I have and he didn’t was class and morals. “
That Is Not My Job!
“The store I worked at was doing their annual St. Jude’s charity drive. We were required to ask every customer if they’d like to donate a dollar. As you can imagine, about 4 out of 5 of the customers asked were disproportionately angry about this question. To make sure we were asking, each customer had to make a selection to either donate or not on the pin pad, which we, the cashiers, could not override on our register until 90 seconds had passed.
So, every time a customer said no to the donation question, I would put on my cheery customer service smile and say, ‘Okay, go ahead and push ‘no’ on your screen, please.’
It was always a tense moment for me, because customers would often get weirdly huffy about having to do that. This guy, though, was the worst ever. He looked down his nose at me and, with a long-suffering voice dripping with condescension, as though he were annoyed at having to explain this at all, ‘No. It’s not my job to push buttons for you.’
We weren’t allowed to go around to the other side of the register to push anything on the pin pad for the customer, so I simply said, ‘Okay,’ and waited for 90 seconds to elapse so I could skip ahead – an eternity in customer service time. I maintained eye contact with the guy the whole time. I wish I could say he got flustered or frustrated, that he caved and pushed the button and skulked off fuming, but instead, we shared a highly uncomfortable minute and a half of silence, and then he paid and left the store. The moment’s stuck with me, though – I’ve never met someone who so clearly believed himself above me, as though we weren’t simply two human beings on opposite sides of a transaction, but two separate species. The attitude of this guy still raises my hackles when I think of him.”
“I work in a pretty upscale natural skincare/bath store that’s only found in 5-star resorts and hotels. So I deal with a lot of uppity, rich people that pretend to know about the difference between mica minerals and red dye. I help manage a very small staff, so every time someone is rude to one of my employees, I want to destroy the person that upset them.
My coworker, Ella, is just about the sweetest person you can imagine. She’s the only one out my entire staff that never gets fed up with customers. No matter how annoying their demands are, no matter how many times she has to bend over backward for people, she does it with a smile on her face. She never shows any sign of irritation with customers and only later, when they’re long gone, will she say, ‘Yeah, they were a bit much.’
The pool had just opened on this particular day, so we were dealing with a lot of drippy customers coming in to look without purchasing anything, because they didn’t have their money on them. Because most of our associates are commission or bonus-based, it put everyone in a sour mood. Ella was soldiering on, pretending not to feel the burn of only having $100 in sales for the past two hours, when a mid-thirties woman with two kids came in. She made a beeline for our sink, where Ella was cleaning up all the bubbles and soap chunks from the last demo.
‘What are you doing?’ The woman asked flatly.
Ella smiled. ‘Just cleaning up. Do you guys want to see a demo?’
The woman rolled her eyes. ‘Yeah, whatever. Show them.’
She nodded toward her kids, a boy and a girl, both of whom were somewhere between seven and ten. Ella reached down to pull up a stool for the girl, who was shorter than her brother. While she did that, the little boy reached into the sink and proceeded to dump an entire cup of bath soap into the sink. An entire cup of our bath soap can be used for about twenty baths. That’s probably about a hundred demos, if I’m rounding down. Not only is it super wasteful to do that, it’s also really messy. Ella turned around just in time to see him doing that. ‘Oh, hey, can I see that?’
She took the cup out of his hands. ‘Please don’t do that—I promise to show you how to use everything, just give me a minute.’
The lady wheeled around. She’d been mildly looking at displays, but the second she heard Ella talking, came rushing back over. ‘What did you just say to him?!’
I’d just started heading into the backroom when I heard this, and I quickly turned around when I heard her cussing.
‘I was just asking him not to do that,’ Ella said, ‘But I’m going to show—’
‘What is your problem? Why are you so rude?’ She grabbed her son by the shirt and yanked him back against her. ‘Honey, did you do anything wrong?’
‘No,’ he said, shrugging.
‘Exactly!’ The lady pointed at Ella, ‘This fat cow just wants to make problems because she’s mad she’s the biggest one here!’
I’ve never seen someone’s face crumple so quickly. Ella went from holding a confused, slightly nervous smile to total sadness in a second.
‘Alright,’ I said, stepping in front of Ella. ‘It’s time for you to leave.’
‘Me? Leave? I’m not the rude fatty,’ the lady snapped, ‘Let me talk to your manager!’
‘I’m the manager on duty today.’ I handed her our business card with my name on it. ‘Go ahead and call our corporate and lodge any complaint you want, but you can do that outside of the store.’
When she didn’t immediately leave, I pointed one finger toward the door. ‘Outside. Now.’
Still cursing and mumbling about how rude we all were, the lady gathered her kids and left. I went into the back, where Ella had retreated.
‘She was awful,’ I said firmly. ‘It wasn’t okay for her to say that to you, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get her to leave sooner. That wasn’t your fault. That was hers. She’s just a mean old lady.’
Ella sniffled, wiping away her tears. ‘Yeah, she was a bit much, huh?'”
Pet Store Panic
“I worked as a cashier for Petco, and an older man and his teenage daughter came in wanting to buy a pink dog collar. Sometimes we put certain collars on clearance due to the clasp being broken, or if it was a return that was dirty. Well, he looked at the price of the clearance one and wanted to buy an unused one for the same price. I informed him that only the clearance one was that price. The collar he was holding was brand new. He got angry and said we had to sell it to him for that price. That it was store policy.
I then informed him that he was mistaken, and since there was a line forming behind him, I asked if he wanted the collar. The entire time his daughter stood beside him smirking at me. He decided to pay full price and threw his card at me. I backed up and pointed to the card and said very nicely to please slide the card on the machine. At this point he is almost spitting he is so mad. He then turns to his daughter and says that this is why she needs to go to college, so she doesn’t end up being a worthless cashier. At this point the daughter is looking at me like I was a piece of garbage and still smirking. So as I handed the receipt to the dad, I said that her father was right. She didn’t want to end up as a cashier, because sometimes you end up helping idiotic people that don’t understand the concept of clearance items.
Fast-forward 6 months later, the same daughter came in for a job interview. I was helping to interview new cashiers with my manager and just smirked at her the entire time.”
Were Martians Invading The Video Store?
“There is a customer whom I have had the ‘pleasure’ to serve in two different stores now. I’ve worked in a total of four stores over the several years I’ve been employed with my company. Let’s call him John. John is special. And by special, I mean certifiably insane. At my original store, he would frequently bring my employees half a ream of computer paper printed up with information on alien abduction. No one ever asked him for this information, I think it was more like John felt that he was providing them a service. What he was actually providing was a good amount of scratch paper for our office. My distaste for John and his eccentricities began when he came in to return a copy of the musical ‘Hairspray’ that he had rented.
We had the following conversation:
Me: Generally tolerant of him at this point, but knowing he wasn’t all there ‘How’d you like the movie, John?’
John: ‘I found it to be disturbing, and totally without any sense of reality whatsoever.’
Me: Blinks ‘Um… it’s just a fun musical, really… I guess I can understand people thinking it’s disturbing though.’
John: ‘What disturbed me most is that the obese young woman found love with the good-looking young man.’
He eyes me up and down as I stand there slack-jawed. I, myself, am overweight. An important detail at this point.
John: ‘Honestly… Do YOU ever expect to find love?’
From that moment on, I was only as polite to him as my job dictated that I must be. This past week though, he really took the cake. He came in, complaining that the new store I’m in is too far away. Since the original store closed down a year ago, he now has a further distance to travel in order to get his movies and hand out his alien abduction books. John depends solely on public transportation, and the bus stop is too far away for him to walk from it to our store. This is upsetting to John. But John has come up with a plan. He comes into the store and asks to speak with me.
I go over, and he has decided to ask us to set aside a couple hours a week for an employee to go to his house, pick him up, bring him to the store, allow him to pick out his movies, and then take him back home. I could barely stand there and keep a straight face while he laid this plan out. Of course, I told him that this wasn’t a possibility, and he attempted to argue with me, but I stood my ground. The impromptu staffing meeting he was holding ended with him telling me that this would be the LAST time he ever came to our store, because we were unreasonable, and more interested in the interests of ‘Big Brother’ than in the well-being of our customers. Now that I think about it… I should have told him to ask one of his alien buddies for a ride.”
Everyone Was Stalking Her
“Bookstore employee here with a real gem, of a customer in northern California. After ringing a lady up for her books, she looks at the total and flips.
Her: ‘Why is the total so high?’
Me: ‘I’m sorry, were they on sale?’
Her: ‘No! This book is $6.99 and that one is $7.99! The total should be $14.98!’
Me understanding: ‘By any chance are you from Oregon?’
Her: ‘How did you know that? Have you been stalking me?!’
Me: ‘No ma’am. It’s just that Oregon is the nearest state that doesn’t tack on sales tax. It’s merely a logical guess.’
Her: ‘Sales tax? What on earth is that nonsense?! You’re lying! You’ve been stalking me haven’t you?! HAVEN’T YOU?!’
What could I say? The manager swoops in to the rescue saves me, aborts the sale, and re-rings her up. Apparently he missed the actual conversation, and was merely responding to a hysterical customer.
Her: ‘Why is the total so high?! The price should be $14.98!’
Manager: ‘Ahh, you must be from Oregon. It’s beautiful up there.’
Her: ‘YOU’RE ALL STALKING ME! I’M CALLING THE POLICE!’
She bolted from the store, leaving her books behind. You know, I’ve met other Oregonians, and they just go ‘Ohhhh right,’ whenever I mention sales tax. This lady was the only one to jump to the stalking conclusion first. Interestingly enough, the police never visited or asked for either of us. I can only guess the police were ‘stalking’ her too.”
He Wouldn’t Take No For An Answer
“I have worked in many kinds of retail, from my college bookstore to sporting goods, and to your regular clothing store. The worst place was this sporting goods chain. I was targeted by one manager, I’ll call her The Witch, since she looks like one. I was in customer service, and she made it a point to harass, insult, and belittle me in front of the customers and staff, so no one respected me nor took me seriously. Yet she blamed me for errors in every department, even though it was her jurisdiction and not mine. Let me tell you about this one incident that got me written up, which was blatantly not my fault.
It was a busy weekend, and it was towards closing time. Lines were long and we were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I had the unfortunate pleasure of checking out this Old Man, who had tons of fishing stuff and was clearly not happy. Even before I can say my usual, ‘Hi how are you?’ he dumped all the stuff on my table, spilling some to the ground, then yelled, ‘WELL AREN’T YOU GONNA PICK IT UP?!’
Me: looks at all the stuff he spilled ‘Did you find everything alright?’
Old Man: ‘I said pick them up! You’ve been wasting my time all night and I won’t let you waste any more!’
I only pick up the one packet of fake fish that spilled onto the floor on my side of the table at first.
Old Man: ‘I figured that would be all. You’re too fat to be bothered. Why do they hire fatties to work in a SPORTING GOODS STORE?!’
(Mind you, I’m not fat, I’m just not skinny. All I could do was pretend to not hear what he said because I would have been arrested if I had to respond).
Me: ‘Do you have a rewards card?’
Old Man: ‘Yea, but if it’s gonna help you, I won’t use it. Besides, I’m here to do an exchange.’
(He could have told me before, but you think he wanted to make my life easy?)
Me: ‘What did you want to return?’
Old Man: ‘This item! I don’t have a receipt. I also paid cash. What are you gonna do about it?’
Me: Trying not to punch him since I had respect for the elderly ‘Did you use your rewards card then?’
Old Man: ‘No, some dumb moron ticked me off, so I didn’t put it on the transaction.’
Me: ‘Well then, the only thing I can do, since there is no proof of purchase, is a ‘No Receipt Return’. You won’t get full value back, and I’ll have to put it on a merchandise card.’
Turns out he wasn’t having any of that
Old Man: ‘I HAVE THE EXACT SAME ITEM HERE AND I’M NOT GOING TO PAY FOR THIS BECAUSE I’M RETURNING THAT. DO YOUR JOB!’
Me: ‘I am doing my job, but you are being abusive, which prevents me from working with you to your desired capacity.’
Old Man: ‘I AM A VALUED CUSTOMER. I HAVE SPENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS HERE AND BECAUSE OF YOU, I’M NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN. DID YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I JUST SAID?! I’M NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!’
So he throws the stuff he was gonna buy onto the floor and scatters it around my workstation, then leaves. The thing is, he never filed a complaint. EVER. The Witch heard bits and pieces and asked another employee what happened, and since that co-worker was out for me too, she told her lies about what happened, even though other cashiers saw and heard everything that happened.
She told her that I cussed him out and kicked him out or something. Two weeks later I was written up for it. Other cashiers came forward and told the truth, but for some reason they were written up for insubordination. But HR wanted me fired and disregarded my side, saying that I’m lying to protect myself, and said that if I ever get an angry customer again, then I’m gone. Even if a customer was angry at our store, she would consider it my fault because I didn’t satisfy their needs.”
What Would He Do With That Screwdriver?
“I used to work at an appliance store when I was in high school. One day, a middle-aged man came in with his daughter, and he was looking for a fridge.
Me: ‘Hello sir, may I help you find something?’
Customer: ‘I don’t need you being all pushy, if I need something I will tell you. I hate commission places like this.’
Me: ‘Um okay… I’ll just be here if you need me.’
The guy then proceeds to walk around the warehouse for about 30 minutes. His kid is running around throwing washing machine hoses all over the place. He then walks back up to me.
Customer: ‘What kind of stupid set up is this, I can’t find a thing in here! I need a 30-inch stainless steel fridge.’
Me: ‘Okay, well I can show you where that is. It is a pretty big place.’
Customer: ‘Do you think I’m an idiot? I don’t need you babying me in front of my child!’
I don’t say anything else, and I just silently lead him to the 30-inch fridges.
Me: ‘Here they are.’
He glances over the fridges.
Customer: ‘Why is the Whirlpool one $600? It says in the flyer that it is $450.’
Me: ‘The Amana fridge is on sale for $450, but the Whirlpool hasn’t been on sale lately. If you have the ad though, I might be able to give you the Whirlpool for $450.’
He then proceeds to pull out one of our ads, while mumbling something about immigrants, which was odd because he had a thick accent. The ad clearly shows an Amana fridge for $450 with a picture and serial number.
Customer: ‘See it? Right there! Whirlpool $450! I told you. Roll it up front.’
Me: ‘You might want to read that again. It says Amana.’
The guy just glares at me, takes out $400, and puts it on the counter.
Me: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think I’m going to be able to help you today. There are a few other appliance places nearby.’
The guy then proceeds to lose it. Starts screaming out obscenities. His daughter started crying. There was a screwdriver sitting nearby, and he picked it up and started scratching up the face of several very expensive commercial fridges. I run up to the front to get the owner, and the guy starts chasing me. At the front of the store, there were a few firefighters looking for a washing machine. They manage to wrestle the guy down.
The guy ended up getting arrested. Turns out he was an ex-convict.”
Spine-Chilling Self Defense
“A very big guy, wearing dirty red pants, walked into one of my shops. It was in a really nice neighborhood, so his appearance was noted. He began pounding violently with his fists on a grand piano worth the price of a Land Rover. I suddenly had very alarmed staff and customers looking around. Opting for calm, I stood up and asked if I could demonstrate something for him. Here’s where it went from there.
Him: ‘You saying I can’t play this?’
Me. ‘Can you play?’
Him: ‘I can do whatever the heck I want! You trying to order me around?’
He got off the bench. He had to be 6’5″or more, and took a couple of steps toward me, full posture mode. He was about 30 feet away. Fists clenched, his eyes looked crazy. ‘I’m a MAN! You’ll tell me nothing!”
Me: ‘Get out of here NOW.’
Him: ‘Or what?’ he growled in a menacing tone, and moved two steps closer. He suddenly had one hand behind his back. You experience the strangest thoughts when a threat becomes real. Like flashes. Suddenly I remembered that my daughter was in our staff lounge room soothing my nap-ready 4 month old baby grandson. Another flash occurred where a police officer once told me if an attacker gets within 20 feet, it’s already too late. Flash 3: He was about 25 feet away now. Somehow I think I processed this in a second and a half, if that’s possible. My left hand reached for the phone while my right pulled a .38 caliber out of my desk drawer. It was loaded, with hollow points.
‘THIS’ I held up the phone, ‘Or this.’ I pointed the weapon right at him. ‘You choose.’ I have to say here that nobody is ready for a moment like that, not just heart pounding, my whole body was pounding, not scared of him now, but knowing that I was solidly committed to shooting him if he came at anyone in my business.
Good news. He bolted, and hit the door so hard he almost broke the glass. Then I unlocked my weapon, but heard two more clicks from two staff members who were evidently also locked and loaded during the event. One more staff member was dialing 911 before the door closed. A well-dressed woman stormed over to my desk and said, ‘I WILL NEVER COME INTO THIS BUSINESS AGAIN! What kind of people carry weapons into their work place!? You’re lucky I don’t sue you!’
Had that hopped up nut case guy gone further, he could have killed any of us with his bare hands, let alone what was in his rear belt.
Arizona has clear weapon laws, and frankly this gal was likely from out of town, but she was one of the rudest ‘customers’ I’d ever met. The big guy was a messed-up wing nut who presented a real threat. I wish I could have told her how terrifying it is knowing that I would have chosen to take an action to kill someone before he could kill someone else. I can tell you that my crew and I have had a bond of a very different kind since that day. I wasn’t alone in my willingness to do the ultimate act. I wish that moment on NO ONE.”
Tempers Flared At Target
“I worked at Target, and at this time I was the front end shift manager. There was a mother daughter duo that often came in to harass the employees and make rude comments. I never realized it until later, but my first run in with these people was a couple years prior. They were standing at the end of the aisle apparently talking to me, which I wasn’t aware that they were because there was no ‘excuse me miss’ or even a ‘hello’. She was complaining that the food court was closed and she wanted popcorn. I told her why it was closed. The girl that was scheduled to work was pregnant with twins and had a medical emergency, so therefore called out of her shift. Well that was no reason to not have the snack bar open for her to get her popcorn. I told her we sold popcorn she could buy, or she was more than welcome to leave and ride to the next stop light to the movie theater and buy her unnecessary popcorn. She ran off to tell the store manager that I was rude. Boo-hoo. The store manager catered to her, to basically get her to shut up. It was the whole ‘I’m sorry… that was unacceptable… I will have a talk with her.’
A few years later, the duo comes in while I’m talking to a co-worker behind the counter. One of us said something funny and we laughed, and then a cashier called my name. These two ladies saw us talking and laughing behind the counter and then saw me look up on the direction that my name had been called. The daughter decided this was a time to start something. She said, ‘Mama, that girl back there behind the counter is talking about you. Her and that ugly girl.’
I said, ‘Ain’t nobody talking about you and your mama!’
Well that set her off and she was yelling in her backwards, redneck voice, but I don’t even remember what she said besides how she would be waiting for me outside when I got off. I told her my lunch was starting in a just a few minutes, and I would see her outside right then to beat the snot out of her and her old, ugly mama. The manager on duty for that night got in between us the moment my hand was about to grab this woman. I knocked my poor managers glasses off her face. I had to type an incident report, and the next morning the store manager had already heard the news. All I received from her was a wink as she let me in the store.
A few weeks later they came back in and I heard them making a commotion at the snack bar, because they saw the manager that was on duty that night and had assumed she had been fired. I walked by too and then they saw me and went absolutely insane. They called the cops to try to get me for attempted assault. When the cops arrived, they told the mother and daughter to just leave and stay gone. Forever. Or they would be trespassing. I still get fired up. I hope that moron got her popcorn and I hope it was burnt.”
A Walking Pile Of Garbage
“I had a horrible experience with an insane customer when I was about 16 years old. This was my first job. It was in retail sales and it was, by far, the most unusual exchange I ever had with another person. It was a Saturday morning, and I was working in the Lawn and Garden department of the store. We had just opened the store, and a co-worker and I were setting things up for the day. Just then, this short, skinny dude walks in with a cheap lawnmower resting on top of a shopping cart. My co-worker (who was black) was at the garden center doors. He had just opened the gate as this idiot walks up. The dude proceeds to shove the mower off in the floor, unloading it with an array of expletives that could have taken paint off the wall. To summarize, he could not put the mower together. It was too complicated for him. Basically, you attached the four wheels, unfolded the handle, tightened down the throttle, and you were done. The dude couldn’t figure it out. My buddy starts to help him, and the prick tells him no. He doesn’t want his help. He points at me, and states that he would prefer that the ‘white boy’ help him.
Well, my buddy didn’t want to deal with him anyway, and he was more than happy to hand the guy over to me. So, I started trying to help this idiot. He proceeded to tell me that he was a ‘Knight Hawk’ in the KKK, and asked how in the name of God I could stand to work with such a co-worker. The dude had been drinking all night. He had puked all over his clothes and he smelled terrible. All of this, on top of his other antics and language, was more than enough for me. I called a manager, and I got out of the guy’s way.
When the manager showed up, the dude proceeded to cuss him out too. He was angry because I would not wait on him. He was angry because of the lawnmower and, finally, he was angry because the store had the unmitigated gall to employ black people. Well the manager just wanted to get rid of him. So, he had us put the old lawnmower away, get a brand-new one off the shelf, and put it together for him free of charge.
While we are doing this, the guy stands off to the side, still running his mouth, making rude comments and snide remarks, and then I see this yellow line of water come running across the floor. I looked up wondering what on earth it was, and I saw the guy leaned up against one of the cash registers with a dark stain slowly spreading across the front of his pants. The dude had just peed on himself! It was unreal!
We got the man’s lawnmower together, and the manager and I carried it out to his car. The dude had a Klan robe and a small arsenal of weapons piled up in his the trunk. I counted at least ten visible ones. He thanked us for our help, then proceeded to give us several of the Klan’s calling cards. Keep in mind, I was only 16 years old, and I had never encountered anyone like this before. The dude actually scared me a little. He finally got in his car and drove away, but I never forgot him or his face. For several weeks after this, we would pull up the old surveillance footage, and watch him make a fool of himself over and over again.
There is a happy ending to the story. At least it was happy for me, that is.
One Sunday morning, I was combing through the paper, and right on the front page is a picture of the guy. I remembered him instantly, and my interest was piqued because the picture was more than just a photograph. It was a mug shot.
The dude had been arrested for making and dealing illegal substances out of his home. There were pictures of him and his wife and a brother-in-law being led away in hand-cuffs. All I could do was stare at the photo and laugh while I searched long and hard for that tell-tale urine stain spreading across the front of his pants. I figured he probably peed himself again. I have no idea whatever happened to the man, but hopefully he went to prison for a few years, and got to meet some ‘really nice’ inmates who could help him with his attitude.”