Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Do You Think?

I have the joy and privilege of working in the retail segment of the service industry. While I love what I do and feel that I pretty much have the best community of customers in the world, there's one that occasionally comes in, and I almost can't muster the energy it takes to interact with her.

I own a children's used clothing (and all kinds of other things) store. This customer has an ever-increasing amount of children, so you'd think we'd be like two peas in a pod. Not so much. Rather than bore you with all of the details of all the reasons why, I'll present to you the top 5 actions that have brought me to likening the sound of her voice to that of nails on a chalkboard. (Incidentally, she doesn't seem to realize that I recognize her voice, so never identifies herself when she calls to ask me ridiculous things, perhaps in hopes of remaining anonymous. Doesn't work.)

1. Sock Obsession: Every time this woman has another baby, she loads up on socks. She will hem and haw and whine about being broke, then bring a pile of about 30 pairs of socks up to the counter. She will then go through each pair, deciding not to take several of them, because she's broke. Then she changes her mind and buys them all.

2. Garage Sale Comparisons: Occasionally I will get a phone call during garage sale season, and it will be her.  "Hi, um, I'm at a garage sale right now, and I'm looking at this stroller. It's a Graco, that's a good brand, right?" "Well, people seem to like it." "Okay, good. Now, this one, it's got this...kind of a blue, plaid pattern, with a giraffe on it. Do you think that would be cute for my baby? I have a little boy." "Well, I really don't know. I suppose it's a matter of whether you like it or not." "Right...right...but would you - I mean, what do you think? Is thirty dollars a good price for this stroller?" "I really couldn't say, since I can't see what kind of condition it's in, sorry." And so on.

3. Closing Time: She often comes in about 20 minutes before my store closes, carrying at least two bags of clothes that she wants me to go through in hopes of getting store credit. She usually has her second-oldest (I think) child with her. This girl is a quiet, deer-eyed kid with terribly tangled hair and a spooky presence. She wanders around quietly while I go through the bags and bags of crumpled shirts and single socks. They have a routine. "No honey bear, mama can't afford that, I'm sorry! Let's see if the nice lady needs any of these old things, maybe then we can get just one thing, maybe some socks for your brother, but mama can't...Oh, well look at that, that is really cute. Oh shoot, go try it on, we'll see, but no promises! And hurry, this nice lady has to go home, she's got kids of her own to get to...oh, wow sugar booger, that looks so cute on you, ohhhhhh, ohhhh, shoot. It depends on if the lady can use any of this stuff we brought in!" Then to me "gosh it's so hard to say no, she's so good. I just can't afford to be buying her things all the time, you know?" Meanwhile I'm going through her clothes, most of which still have the telltale color-coded Goodwill tag on them, and am rejecting most of them because they have stains, tears, are off-season, or are just plain hideous. Once I've put everything that I don't want back into her bags, she then pulls things out at random and says "oh, you didn't want this? It's so cute. I just..." I show her a rather large stain on the collar. "Oh, shoot, I didn't see that...gosh...well, yeah, sorry, okay. And not this? This is so cute, I thought for sure you'd really like this one." This goes on and on. Eventually she ends up buying most of what her daughter asks her for, mumbling about the gas bill under her breath.

4. Will This Fit?: When her kids aren't with her, she asks me if I think things will fit them. She'll bring up a pair of corduroy pants and say "do you think this would fit my little sugar bear? Her legs are kind of long...what do you think?" I'll patiently (I think) say that it's really impossible for me to tell, having not seen her daughter in several months. I advise that she, as the mother, might be better informed to make that call. Then she'll bring over a winter hat. "Do you think this will fit my baby? It says it's 6-12 months, and he's 9 months now...hmm...I don't know, what do you think?" I repeat the above. We do this several times. Each time she says, "yeah, I suppose you're's just that his/her head/legs/feet/arms is/are so big/small/long/short...hmmm....I just don't know...sorry, sorry, I'll get out of here, I know you gotta go." She'll put everything back. She'll pick something up again. "I'll just get this one thing, it's just too darn cute to pass up. Gosh I really shouldn't be spending any money right now, oh man...." pulls out crumpled bills from every available pocket she can find, making a pile on the counter, feigning an attempt to smooth them out before handing them to me.

5. Medical Advice: One day I got a call from this customer. I think it was about two kids ago. "Hi, um, lemme ask you something, do you have a minute?" "Ummm, sure, I have just a minute..." "Okay great. So I just need your advice on something. I just came from my doctor, I'm actually in the parking lot, see I'm pregnant, and he says he thinks I should get a D & C" "I don't know what that is." "Oh, well, I mean, it's, you know, it's an abortion. Basically." "Uh huh..." "Yeah, so, I don't know, what do you think? Do you think I should do it?" "Well, wow, yeah, I'm not at all qualified to give you advice on this, sorry." "Sure, sure...but, I mean, if it was you...what do you think?" "If your doctor is suggesting it then my guess would be there's a reason, but I can't tell you one way or the other." "Hmmm, yeah, gosh I just don't know. What would you do?"


I think we all know what my answer to that question is.


  1. Oh my god!! ridiculous!! people like that hurt my brain.

  2. This poor woman is clearly not mentally well.