Holiday shopping is stressful enough without obnoxious customers thinking you're an employee and using it as an excuse to harass you!
All content has been edited for clarity.
“It Doesn’t Hurt To Ask”
“I was at a store, let’s just call it Wally World just buying candy for an upcoming spooky holiday. I don’t work at the store and I have a green shirt on.
I was browsing when an older man came up to me out of the blue and asked where to find strawberries. We were in the right area and I knew where the fresh fruit was so I walked him over.
The older man said, ‘No I wanted strawberries for strawberry shortcake. I have not had any in many years.’
He grew flustered and said he wanted creamy strawberry.
I responded, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t work here and I’m not sure what you mean.’
I felt bad as he wandered off to look for others to help him. I watched him walk off. Then I realized I needed pie filling and ran to the baking aisle. I happened to find strawberry filling on the baking aisle. I decided to be nice and went off to find the older man.
I found him shortly after near the frozen strawberries getting slightly upset about how they wouldn’t be right either since the pieces would be too big. I tapped him on the shoulder and waved.
I said, ‘I found pie filling I use it when I want a shortcake.’
The old man smiled and said, ‘This will do great thank you. You’re a great worker.’
I smiled back and responded, ‘I don’t work here.’
Puzzled, the older man asked, ‘Why did you help then?’
I responded, ‘You asked me. It doesn’t hurt to ask at all. You’re not better if you don’t ask for help.’
We parted ways and I got to the candy aisle and I found the good candy up high. I tried to climb up to reach the big pack of normal candy bars when a tall teenage boy came up and helped me get them down.
I said, ‘Thank you!’
The teenager responded, ‘No problem! You helped my grandpa be able to enjoy his favorite snack later with us. He asked me to help you. He wanted me to remind you it doesn’t hurt to ask.’
The teen walked back to his grandpa and we gave each other a smile and wave.”
“But You Seem To Work In This Mall”
“This was in the mid-2000s and I was a twenty-something working my way through college. I should note I was in a popular bookstore chain, doing a bit of homework before I had to go and clock in. Now keep in mind I worked for a snack shop down the way from this bookstore. I was wearing a blue uniform looking nothing like this chain’s dress code. Heck, I even had my school backpack with me! Suddenly, a middle-aged lady stepped up and asks if I knew where a certain section of books was. Politics, I believe?
Very confused, I responded, ‘Umm ma’am? I’m sorry, but I’m not sure. Maybe if we could find an employee they could tell you.’
She responded, ‘But you seem to work in this mall, and everyone else seems to be busy. Surely you can point it out to me.’
I responded, ‘Well, you see ma’am, I’m not trying to be rude. I just have no idea where the section of books would be. I don’t work here and it’s not something I’m really keen on. For example, I could tell you the anime section is here, the foreign languages section is over there, and any poetry books are downstairs by the escalators because I love that stuff and browse those sections all the time, but we would really need to get an employee who knows what they’re doing and how to look up what you need.’
The lady persisted for a little while before I finally told her I had to clock in at my store in ten minutes. She wasn’t a bad person, mind you. She never talked to me in a rude manner. The lady was just super oblivious, and it still bothered me she just didn’t get it.
I was a mall employee from a different store! I had no blessed idea where everything in this store is! How about not assuming? Thankfully, I work in a factory now, far away from the melodrama that is the mall at Christmas.”
Going Above And Beyond
“For two years, I worked at a small-town grocery store. There were maybe ten of us on the clock at one time, eleven if it was a Saturday night with an extra person in the deli department.
Being a small town, everyone knew everyone, and we had a feisty, independent, ninety-something old bird who, while blind, still was as flirty as she was at eighteen. One of us would always break away and help her shop.
Around a week before Christmas, we were closed one day of the year for store-wide inventory, which was handled by an outside inventory company. It was an oddball sixty-degree day so I wanted to grill and had to head to Walmart to grab a steak, tater, and corn in the town fifteen miles away.
I rolled up, went inside, and the elderly woman standing in the cart foyer with another older lady who looks very, very, very miffed. My store manager was always all about customer service, so I introduced myself to the women and apologized about the store being closed that day.
The older lady she was with said,'”So, you know her? Good. Her guide isn’t here. I’ll be back in thirty minutes, I have other people to drop off.’
It turned out the grumpy lady was her transport driver.
I started to say, ‘But,’ and she was gone. I was in absolute shock then got extremely angry.
So, I had to help the woman zoom through Walmart, then helped her check out, and loaded her back up into the transport van. Her transport driver didn’t lift a finger to help load the groceries. I really should have just said forget it and driven her back to the assisted living apartments myself but hindsight is 20/20.
The steak, taters, and corn weren’t really great, having been cooked with anger, but they were eaten with anger too, so it balanced out.
A week or so later my store manager came up to me, grabbed my arm, and said, ‘Robinson! A customer said you helped her at another store!’
I was pretty sure I was going to get chewed out for it. Helping a customer in our store was one thing, but better for business if they floundered at another store.
To my surprise, he said, ‘Good work. She told me you helped her. She knew you from here. She’ll come back here over them. That’s great customer service, kid,’ and walked away.”
“Is That Jamie Prick From Room 109?”
“Back in the late 90s, I worked at a bar in a small town in rural Ireland. It was a seaside village and quite picturesque and is therefore plagued by tourists during any holidays. We lived directly opposite the hotel. The hotel was about to be torn to the ground and rebuilt without the sixty years of stains. The demolition was due to start in January, and the work was due to be completed sometime a few years later.
It was a small town. Everyone knew everything as long as it was about someone else’s business.
The hotel’s reception phone number was one number away from my parent’s landline number. It was New Year’s Eve, or more accurately around four in the morning on New Year’s Day. I was home from my shift dealing with New Year’s Eve nonsense.
I had had a bit to drink myself so when the phone rang, I answered as if I was still working at the bar.
The man on the other end of the phone said, ‘I’ve had an absolute crackin time tonight we’re booking the same nights for next year. Room 109, Jamie Prick.’
Coming to my senses, I responded, ‘Ah sorry mate, you’ll have bother. The hotel is closing in January and re-opening in a few years,’ then gave him the correct number for the reception.
He responded, ‘How would you know that? You said this was the bar! Just put me through to reception you lazy prick.’
I retorted, ‘Forget you,’ and hung up.
The phone rang again and the same guy on the other line shouted, ‘Don’t you dare hang up on me you prick.’
I once again gave him the correct number for reception, said, ‘Don’t call again,’ and hung up.
This happened a few more times because the hammered prick just kept hitting redial. It escalated with varying degrees of profanity as we both had continued drinking, me to a lesser extent.
I eventually unplugged the phone from the wall. A few minutes passed. I formulated a plan and plugged the phone back in.
The phone rang and I put on my best receptionist voice, ‘Good morning, this is hotel reception! How can I help you? Is that Jamie Prick from room 109? How may I be of service?”
He responded, ‘That’s better. I wanna book for next year same nights.’
I said, ‘Certainly Mister Prick. We even have a fifty percent loyalty discount as you’re a previous guest! Same days?’
‘Okay, that’s all booked in for next year, arriving on the morning of the 31st? Yes?’
‘Wonderful, we will see you then!’
That year, I went away to uni, came back for Christmas, many things happened in the time in between, but then New Year’s Eve came along. My folks and I were in the living room looking out at a gigantic hole that used to be a hotel and having a few drinks.
A car we didn’t recognize pulled up opposite the hole where the hotel used to be and three confused-looking men got out beside the big hole. Something clicks in the back of my head and I just lost my mind laughing. I explained the whole thing to my Dad who I had relayed the story to the morning after.
These idiots drove about an hour to get here just to find out they had got nowhere to stay. We enjoyed the show and open fresh cans as they started screaming at each other in front of our house. It was a fun New Year’s Eve.”
“I Just Went Off”
“I was a department manager at a major toy store that went out of business in the early 90s. The customers were horrible, and I really was starting to hate the job. I was trying to decide to stay or to go, and if I left what to do next. I decided to join the military and had several months before I was due to report. I decided to work until just before the holidays, then enjoy a nice holiday season with my family.
We had one customer who was a real nasty witch, she routinely brought our teenage employees to tears, but the store manager would not allow us to ban her. We appealed to corporate and they stated she could only be banned if she assaulted someone.
My last day finally arrived. We were shorthanded and I ended up staying late when the store manager failed to show up on time to relieve me. To say I was angry was a major understatement. He finally showed up four hours later, I clocked out, and headed for the door.
I was still wearing my store shirt and I turned the corner and there she was, the absolute demon of a customer. She had cornered our sweetest teenage cashier and had her crying.
I was done, I yelled at her to get away from her.
She spun around and stomped towards me yelling who do I think I am.
I told her I was tired of her behavior and she was going to leave the kids who work in the store alone. I also said she needed to pick on someone her own size.
We ended up nose to nose, yelling at each other.
I just went off. I told her everything I always wanted to say to a customer. I honestly don’t know how long we were yelling at her, but then she did it.
She shoved me and then tried to punch me.
I blocked the punch and took her to the ground. I told the teenage employee to call the police.
After they viewed the video and saw she had assaulted me, she was banned from the store.
I told the police I wanted to press charges. and as the police started to walk her to the front of the store, I got on the loudspeaker and told all the employees to get to the front of the store. They rushed up, in time to see her in cuffs being led out by the police. I yelled over the loudspeaker she was formally banned, Merry Christmas.
She yelled back that she was calling corporate and would get me fired.
The last thing she heard as she went out the front door, was me yelling, ‘Good luck with that. I don’t work here lady!’
Other employees told me when I came to pick up my last check it was awesome to watch.”
Christmas Tree Shopping
“While I’m no arborist, my grandpa owned a Christmas tree farm and my dad and his brothers worked on it when they were kids, so I know more about pine trees than your average holiday shopper. As such it’s not uncommon for me to go with my friends to help them pick out their Christmas trees.
I was on one such excursion a few years ago, at Lowes, and I was elaborating on different types of Pines and their needle types, how to check over a tree, etc. So just when my friend is making their final decision on a tree, a woman approached me and asked if I could help her family with selecting a tree.
Now, I could tell by the way she asked that she thought I was an employee, but she was polite, and well it was Christmas time, so of course, I went and helped them.
I spend a few minutes giving them the same rundown I gave my friend and got them to the douglas fir section since it’s my favorite type of Christmas tree.
I made a casual remark about the selection ‘they’ have, not ‘we.’
She got this funny look and asked, ‘Wait, you don’t work here?’
I cheerfully replied I did not, but I was happy to help and they really couldn’t go wrong with the two trees I indicated.
They tried to apologize, but I merely wished them a Merry Christmas and walked back to my friend, who had been watching the whole exchange with barely concealed laughter.”
“Don’t Go To Walmart Under Any Circumstances During The Holidays”
“So I work at a rent-to-own furniture store right down the road from a Walmart, so come payday I usually go straight to Walmart after clocking out. Our uniforms are made up of black pants or jeans and various blue shirts; however, our shirts have the company logo embroidered on the top left near the collar.
I’ve been mistaken for an employee a few times but most people just laugh it off when I tell them I don’t work for Walmart. Yesterday though, this Karen wasn’t having it.
Last night, I was finishing up some last-minute Christmas shopping. I hung around in the electronics section for a little while waiting for an employee to come to help me as I’ve been interested in getting a new phone, but it’s the holiday season and they were absolutely swamped. No big deal. I went to push my cart, filled with a few presents and groceries and I honestly just wanted to get out of there because the customer traffic was getting to be a little too much for me. Thanks to my crippling social anxiety, I don’t do crowds.
I’m trying to gently push past this woman but she and her cart are right in the middle of the aisle, taking up as much space as she possibly could, and I barely dinged the corner of it.
She shouted, ‘Excuse you,’ and reeled back ‘regaining her balance’ as if I hit her with a brick.
I mumbled, ‘Oh, umm, sorry,’ and tried to push past her again.
Out of nowhere, she said, ‘I’ve been waiting here forever.’
She had been waiting there maybe a minute, she certainly hadn’t been there when I got there just a few minutes before.
Then she said, ‘There’s a video game I need you to get for me.’
In case you don’t know, Walmart keeps all of their video games in locked glass cabinets and you need an employee to unlock it for you so they can grab the video game and immediately bring you over to check out. The same for controllers, consoles, and accessories.
I pointed to the logo on my shirt and said, ‘I actually don’t work here.’
The Karen sighed, tapped her foot, and said, ‘I don’t care if you’re on break or whatever, just get me the video game.’
I responded, ‘I can’t. I don’t work here. You’ll have to get an employee.’
Karen got louder and said, ‘You are an employee.’
I responded, ‘No, I’m a customer, shopping, just like you. I’ll be going now,’ and tried to push past her again.
This woman rammed her cart into mine to stop me from walking beside her and said, ‘I know the manager of this store, and they won’t be happy to hear their employee is being rather disobedient.’
Instead, I tried to turn around and leave that way.
She wasn’t having it and said, ‘I demand to speak to your manager.’
I was on the verge of crying at this point. I just wanted out of this situation.
I said, ‘My manager is at home, and I don’t work here. I just want to check out and go home.’
This set her off and she started screaming, ‘I just want the video game for my son! It’s for Christmas! Why do you want to ruin Christmas for me and my family?!’
I don’t handle confrontation well so I was sobbing at this point. I responded, ‘I don’t work here!’
She screamed, ‘Yes you do! Get me the video game!’
One of the employees in the electronics finally got through the line of people they were checking out and came over to investigate. He looks at me, sobbing like a child, and then to the Karen, and his shoulders slumped like he knew what was going down.
He looked at me and asked, ‘What seems to be the problem here?’
I tried my best to explain this crazy lady was screaming at me and somehow thought I was an employee, but I was blubbering and I couldn’t get too many words out, so Karen took it upon herself to tell the employee what happened.
She said, ‘Your co-worker here is being extremely rude. She’s been cursing at me and slammed her cart into mine several times to get me to move. I asked her to get the video game for me but she told me to forget myself.’
I seemed to regain my voice and shouted back, ‘No!’
The employee looked down at my shirt, sighed, and said, ‘Ma’am, this young lady doesn’t work here. She’s an employee at the company on her shirt.’
Karen put her hands on her hips, rolled her eyes so hard I thought they might roll right on out of their sockets, and said, ‘I just need someone to get me the video game.’
The employee leaned on my shopping cart and said, ‘We’re pretty busy over here. I don’t know if you are aware, but Christmas is in just two days. I’m sorry we were unable to get to you in a timely manner, but being impatient isn’t an excuse to verbally abuse other customers just because their shirts happen to be blue.’
Karen exploded, ‘You people are insufferable! I’ll have you know I am friends with the manager and he will be hearing about this! I’ll be taking my business to Gamestop!’
She started to walk away and I thought it was the end of it, but no. For her finale, Karen pushed her cart over and sent everything in it skidding and sliding across the floor. She stormed off, as Karen’s do, but not before the employee could wish her a happy holiday.
I thanked the employee as soon as I could get the tears to stop flowing and I checked out as fast as I could.
The lesson I learned is, don’t go to Walmart under any circumstances during the holidays.”
“When I was in college, my hometown was a college town. I had transferred to another college in the same state. A friend of mine who worked at a local restaurant asked me if I would be willing to help them out over my holiday break since they were a little short-handed for the New Year’s Eve rush. It was a fine dining establishment, and New Year’s Eve was their busiest night of the year.
I agreed since I didn’t really have anything better to do while on my break. I think I worked two or three shifts.
The restaurant was poorly run. It was a place I had never eaten before, was on the outskirts of town and barely did any business outside of the New Year’s Eve rush. The woman managing the place also insisted any unused sour cream be recycled, something I refused to do because I had worked in the restaurant industry before and knew this was against the health code. I got yelled at a couple of times for throwing it out but gross.
About a week before the holiday break, I decided to transfer back to the college in my hometown. Since both of the schools were state-funded universities, it wasn’t a big deal. I just needed to register for classes over the holiday break, which wasn’t a big deal.
I had told my friend about it but had not spoken to the manager of the restaurant because I chose to go back to the call center job I had before I went away for classes out of town. It was also not a big deal because I had, essentially, just taken a leave of absence for the school year, with plans to return in the summer. I had no intention of working at the restaurant long-term.
When I showed up for the New Year’s Eve shift, my friend told me I had been put on the following week’s schedule. Apparently, the manager had assumed since I had transferred back to the local college I would want to continue working there, but she never spoke to me about it to confirm I even wanted the job.
I informed the manager she should take me off the schedule because we had never agreed to me working there beyond New Year’s Eve and I had already made arrangements to return to the call center I worked at when classes resumed. I don’t recall what she said, but she wasn’t pleased.
The owner was cool about it, though. On New Year’s Eve, as we were closing up, he thanked me for helping them out and wished me the best in the future.”