Yesterday was not a good day. If you’ve ever worked retail sales, you’ll understand, vaguely. If you’ve ever worked retail at Berkeley you’ll feel me on this completely. For those that don’t know, I’ve just taken up a job at Papyrus, a stationery and custom printing shop near my apartment. It’s not bad. I like it. It’s small and easy to manage, the hours are great (it typically closes at 6 p.m.), and the customers are usually friendly…unless, heaven forbid, we offer them one of our plastic bags. In case you haven’t seen them, they’re quite nice and quite expensive to make. They’re much thicker than the usual plastic bags you’d get at a grocery store, they’re more durable, and, oh, did I mention they’re non-recyclable? Considering that Berkeley houses a sizeable population of hippie, environmental activist types, you can imagine the barrage of protests I’ve endured as of late. One lady responded to my offer with an eyeing of such contempt you’d think I’d spawned devil babies. Another lady subjected me to a litany of her complaints for nearly fifteen minutes, saying things like, “they’re extremely excessive. I don’t approve. Your company is careless, thinking it can come to a town like Berkeley and get away with doing this.” Hey, I understand her grievance, I really do, but isn’t there a more effective way to protest than yelling at a sales rep.? Make a call or write to the corporate office, don’t preach and moralize if you don’t intend to solve the problem at its source. I think a lot of people forget that last part.
Apart from these colorful characters I’ve also had recent run-ins with another equally unpleasant type of customer: the one who just won’t go home. They walk in late, near closing time, and proceed to browse around in feigned ignorance of the time, for as long as they please. The one I met last night was a classic though. Not only did she keep us in nearly an hour later, she also kept crying out how “sooooo cute!” everything was. She’d say it in the most annoying fashion too. Her voice would rise to a crescendo during every exclamation. Come on, shout it out loud with me: “that’s soooo cuUUTE!!!” See what I mean? If only the shop had less benign and more threatening products that I could’ve used to make her desist. The best and most immediate method I could think of was inflicting her with paper cuts, seeing as I was checking in a shipment of greeting cards at the time. Maybe I could’ve used a hand to distract her with one of the ridiculously fuzzy pens that we sell, as I used the other to slap her silly with a pad of monkey stationery. Yesterday had me beat, but looking back on it now and in this way, I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. I apologize for all this venting, something more positive next time, I promise.