Thursday, August 12, 2010

These People Think They're Funny

I would like to explain something about social interactions between people at different social positions, specifically as it relates to work. I find myself, on a regular basis, laughing at rude comments clients make because I have to. Your insinuation that I am not doing my job properly because I can't pull my boss out of my pocket exactly when you would like to speak to him is not funny. It's really obnoxious, in fact. The only reason I don't tell you off is because I need my job. Don't assume my laughter means you're funny. The same applies to waitresses, cashiers, etc.- anyone who has to be polite to you to keep their job.

Now, here's that exchange from the perspective of the guy who thinks he's funny.

Last week the LTR and I were visiting a retail establishment. As I’m making my purchase I start giving the checker girl a hard time. It started after she apologized for how slow the line was moving. I’d been watching her as she was a cute athletic blond with a nice shape. She had a kind of maladroit composure that I found somewhat endearing. I chided her for a lack of efficiency.

Yeah that feels great. It feels utterly great to be told by customer #1,296 that you're not doing your job fast enough. Trust me, you just made that cashier's day worse, but that's okay cuz ur funny!

She protested that she was only a trainee. I riposted that would explain her lack of competency at the moment, which got a laugh out of her.

Again, she doesn't think you're funny. She thinks you're an asshole, but nobody works as a cashier who doesn't really need the money, so she laughs.

I looked at the other gal


that was helping her and asked her if she was the party responsible for making sure the new girl was doing her job properly. She gave me a wide smile and said she was. This opened the door for me to playfully shift all the blame to this woman who was managing the situation. The whole interaction continued for several minutes.

Playfully, you see. Playfully riposte and shift and give a hard time to two women making minimum wage at a sucky, sucky job. Two women who have to deal with assholes like you all day for little pay and crappy benefits. Yeah, you're fucking hilarious.



  1. Y'know, every once in a while I hear a story like this and all I can think is that I hope, one day, to be the next guy in line when someone says something like that just so I can say, "You're aware of the fact that you're the biggest asshole in the world, right?"

    I remember one time I was standing in line behind someone who was being difficult. The person finally left and the cashier had this look of relief on her face. I don't know if she commented or I said something, but we basically had a short exchange about how some people just suck.

    A manager happened to be walking by at that moment and said, "Don't talk about customers in front of other customers!"

    It's weird. I understand why a business would have that policy. But I also understand that some people just suck and take it out on hapless customer service people. It's not like the cashier had to cover up the fact that the person was a jerk. I was standing right there.

  2. This particular retail establishment must not sell Le Creuset pans. Else, this guy would be in the hospital with a dent in his skull.

    Is there a superhero comic about the Service Industry Avenger or someone like that? Because if not, there totally should be. Quick, someone give me some artistic talent!

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  4. American Maid, maybe.

    I actually have seen other customers intervene, though not often.

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  6. I have worked as a cashier. People like that are condescending assholes that you want to punch in the face. I despise working with the public because of people like him.

    Now when I did tech support, I learned you can be an asshole back as long as you keep a good tone. Although you still have to laugh at the jokes that you heard everyday and act like you never heard them before.

    Me: Can I call you [customers name]

    Customer: You can call me whatever you want, just don't call me late for supper. [guffawing]

    Me: Haha [pantomiming shooting myself in the head with a gun to fellow employee]

  7. BeamStalk has revealed the secret of customer service- it's way better to do it over the phone than in person, if only because you can make rude hand gestures over the phone.

  8. Exactly, and they can't see you roll your eyes or play catch football while not rally paying them any attention.

  9. The last time I worked as a cashier, I made a comic out of the worst customers. I left the comic pages behind where customers could not see it. I hope it is all still there.

    There was this one guy who must have thought he was hilarious but his tone was sheer hostility. If he was able to read people at all, I am certain that my face read "I am not impressed" even though I was smiling. But at the end of the transaction, which he made laboriously long, he suddenly says "You have a great sense of humour." It threw me so much. He was joking? "Um. Thank you?" I was convinced that he must have been a secret shopper because he had been so rude. I was disappointed the next month when I found out he wasn't.

    I wonder if male cashiers have this same problem? The people who were rude but thought they were funny were always male.

  10. Meg, I am a male and yes. Although I noticed male customers would flirt with the female employees more. They seemed to think because someone who is paid to be nice to them is being nice to them meant that person liked them.

  11. More than females would flirt with male employees.

  12. More than females would flirt with male employees.

    What if the male employee was Dr. Pezzi?

  13. Urge to kill... rising...

    I hate that wankers like this have the social ability to start conversations with people and I don't. It's seriously unfair, because I at least have the empathy and observation skills to not think they're "into me" when they're struggling bravely not to roll their eyes and make a rude motion with their hand. And the deductive reasoning to identify who might be open to a conversation (eg. the person standing alone in a line with a bored look on their face), and who simply wants me to go past quietly as fast as possible (eg. the cashier, who's seen hundreds of conversationally-deprived assholes in the hours before this and hasn't been able to walk away from them when they start in on him/her). Even logic tells me that of people who I identify as potential conversationists, most of them will be happy to have someone to chat to, humans being innately social, and the remainder will almost certainly politely refuse, no harm done.

    And yet I don't approach them.

    I hate being shy.

  14. I was in my local grocery store the other day, behind an obnoxious woman who was giving the clerk a lot of crap (said clerk wore a large "TRAINEE" badge):

    A. wanting to substitute brands that she wanted for the brands that were on sale

    B. Since it's buy one, get one free, why can't she just get one for half price?

    C. Can someone run back and get her another bag of chips, this one is opened (by her kid who sat in the cart and ate half of them while in line)

    then telling the clerk she "should be more helpful, 'cuz the customer is always right!" as she left.

    I knew if I told the clerk to just forget the dumb bitch and she acknowledged it, she might get in trouble, so I just said "I think you're doing a great job, and I'll tell the store manager the same thing."

    So I did stop and tell him that the young lady showed a lot of class in a difficult situation, and that he was lucky to have her.

  15. Wait, wait, wait. Beamstalk, that is flirting? What are we, 8? How is being overbearing and hostile flirting? I am not disagreeing with you - they probably are thinking that is flirting. I just never thought that they were turning on the charm.

  16. I often wonder what the perks are for being an asshole like this guy. They must be pretty good, because why else would people do it? It sucks to be on the receiving end of this kind of hostility, but it must also suck to be such an asshole.

  17. Sorry Meg, not like the guy did here. I have actually seen guys ask girls out while the girl was ringing up their groceries. Or often it would be a guy who was shy would come in and buy stuff only when a certain girl was working the register (it is painfully obvious what is going on when you work in a gas station/convenient store like I did, the girls would see a guy coming and run to the back to stock). It is just stuff like that.

  18. And when I say guys, I mean men in the late 40's to early 50's hitting on girls just out of High School.


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