Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tales From The Urban Utopia, Part 2

I Am Not Your White Trash Dumping Ground!!
This woman's boyfriend goes nuts and decides to kick her out of their place. She called the police and they picked her up and tried to escort her back to the house to get her money and effects, but of course no one answered the door. She wanted the officer to drop her off at a friend's house, but the cop said they were "busy," and he decided to drop her off, guess where. In my fucking store. She didn't ask to be dropped off at the nearest gas station; the cop just decided that the best place to drop off this crackwhore at three in the morning would be a convenience store with a grand total of one employee on duty. Not the two twenty-four-hour grocery stores a mere seven blocks in either direction, which have plenty of night shift personnel to spare for one to be assigned to watching her for the duration of her stay. No, they drop her off on my doorstep.

Now, if you could take one good look at this woman and tell me she didn't have a profession that ends in "head," then you're a far less cynical person than I. To say she looked strung out would be akin to calling the famous Nick Nolte mugshot photo a Glamour Shot. She had all the telltale signs, the crooked, brown teeth, the baggy skin that characterized rapid weight loss, the leathery skin, the frizzy hair, the neurotic twitches, the various marks and scars indicative of various kinds of substance abuse. Still, I kind of felt sorry for her. I mean, she was in a serious bind. She tried to call her friend who didn't feel her situation warranted her being picked up. She had no money, no one else to turn to, and was looking forward to hitchhiking to wherever it was she wanted to go. She was alone and scared and in tears, and I hoped to God she didn't need someone to hold her because I was somewhat afraid of what diseases she might be carrying. I mean, I'd hate to have to incinerate my entire body to feel clean again.

I didn't want to kick her out because she was having a rough time, and it wasn't really her fault she was there in the first place. But how do you call the police to come pick her up when the police is what brought her there in the first place? I was not too happy with the police that night. I am not your white trash dumping ground. This is a place of business, not a halfway house. I don't have time to babysit every meth-head in the city because you don't want to do your job. I don't care if you take them to one of the grocery stores, Wal-Mart, the homeless shelter, or jail; don't drop someone else off at my store again.

It's BP's Fault I Don't Know How To Buy Gas
This happened a long time ago, when I was still fairly fresh to the job. I'd only been there for a few months at the time, and only working third shift all but one of those months, so I was still a bit timid about standing up to some of these self-entitled assholes who come in demanding that we clerks be treated like shit. The next story after this one reminded me of it, and it is rather funny.

We have a company policy not to let anyone pump gas without prepaying after dark. You know, like just about every single other gas station in the entire country that isn't either brave or incompetent because you generally can't get a good description of the vehicle or the driver at night if someone decides to drive off without paying. Sorry, I know most people wouldn't do that, but as long as there are some people who do, we can trust no one.

Anyway, pump number three starts beeping at me, and I hit the button to silence it and continue going about what I was doing, which at the time, was trying to fix a paper jam in the cash register. Several minutes later, this irate guy comes in demanding that I let him pump his gas. I told him that he has to prepay. He holds up his credit card and says, "Is this not good enough?" I told him that he had to slide his card before he picked up the pump, because at the time the pumps were set up to not accept the credit if it wasn't slid first. It's since been changed because I finally explained to the owner that people don't know how to pump gas. He said he did, and I knew he was a damn liar because it was beeping inside the store. He said he was waiting to start pumping the gas, and he looked into the store and I was just standing there doing nothing. Even as he said this, I was still putting the register tape slot back together, and I just looked up at him from under my eyebrows to imply "Are you serious?"

I told him that if he slid his card first, it wouldn't have started beeping inside. "Now you can either go back outside and do it the right way, or since you're in the store, you can prepay."

He grumbled that he didn't know how much it was going to take. I told him that if it doesn't go up to the amount, I can give him cash back. Then he starts bellowing how, "I don't know why this card isn't good enough! This is a $30,000 card!" like that's supposed to impress me. I don't get impressed by how old you are, how cute you are, what kind of job you do, or how much money you have. I'm impressed by how you think and how you treat people. If you come in throwing a temper tantrum at your own stupidity and taking it out on me, you are simply not going to impress me. You have to earn my respect, and if you can't even so much as earn the respect of a lowly clerk, then I seriously pity you.

I tell him that's nice, but I still can't just approve him unless he leaves some form of identification in the store. We can do that. Normally I wouldn't be so accomodating to such an asshole, but I was still kind of timid so I was trying to play it cool and diplomatic. Essentially the other customers were seeing that I was being calm and reasonable and he was being ignorant and beligerant. He put his $30,000 credit card down and walked out, so I went ahead and approved him. Way to go, announce how much money you have on the card and leave it in someone else's hands, moron.

Once he left, the next person in line was like, "What was his problem?"

I shrugged and said, "He doesn't know how to pump gas and somehow that's my fault.

By the time he came back in, he was calmed down enough to apologize. He said, "I know you're just following company policy. I'm not really mad at you. I'm mad at British Petroleum. They don't own our fucking oil."

What? First of all, if you look on the sign, it specifically says that we use Amoco Fuels, which is an anagram standing for American Oil Company. Yes BP bought Amoco, but just because Amoco is under the BP umbrella doesn't mean it's not American Oil. Secondly, it's not "our oil." It's the world's oil. America does not own the world, dude. Take your George W. jingonistic ignorant ass somewhere else. Most importantly, IF YOU DON'T LIKE BP, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!! It's not like British Petroleum is the only oil company in the area. There's a Shell station five blocks down the road. Go there, and leave me the fuck alone!

The First Guy I Ever Kicked Out For Gross Incompetence
I used to pride myself on the fact that the only customer I've ever had to ban from the store was a guy who was panhandling in the parking lot because he was scaring customers, and it is illegal. No matter what beligerant customers said to me, it didn't phase me because I know I'm better than whatever shit they're tying to shovel at me. Fuck, I'm probably better than them. All they see is a burnt-out clerk in a dead-end job. They have no idea where I've been or where I'm going, or what I have going on inside my head. In fact, they don't even want to know what I have going on inside my head, because if I started dropping some science on them about my radical social theories it would probably frighten them. So I don't let them bother me because can look upon their sad, little lives and know that I'm in a much better place than they are, no matter how much my life might seem to suck at the moment. They are slaves to their entitlement, while I enjoy near total mental freedom.

Still, this guy was so stupid, he was actually getting under my skin. No matter how smart a person might be, a logical genius will automatically lose in any argument with an adamant fool. At such time, the only saving grace I have is the ability to assert my dominance and dickslap this imbecile directly across his fat fuck head by telling him to leave and never come back. Until a few nights ago, I'd never had to resort to such extreme measures.

The guy in question couldn't get his ATM card to work in the machine. In all likelihood, he was probably inserting it backwards because he had the same problem a few minutes later at the cash register. So the guy decides to try it at the register. He walks up, swipes his card so that the raised type of his name and account number are being fed through the machine and the magnetic strip is being read by thin air. I tell him to turn it around the right way. He does and swipes his card again. I watch him type in his PIN and then he turns the machine around to face me, saying, "It says it's waiting on you." Mind you, this is the first thing he's said to me since he walked in the door.

That's my cue to spring into action. "What would you like?" I ask.

"I need to get some money out." I explain to him that we can't give cash back for debit transactions; that our machines aren't even set up to do that. "Oh, well, give me a bottle of Captian Morgan, then." I grab it and ring it up. He presses the button to complete the transaction then says, "Crap, can I do that again? I forgot to get any money out."

I tell him, again, in the exact same way I told him the first time that we can't give cash back for debit transactions; that our machines aren't even set up to do that. He doesn't seem pleased, but he takes his bottle of rum and leaves. After the door shuts, I comment, "Enjoy your unnecessary purchase. Hope you enjoyed ripping yourself off."

A few minutes later, the same guy walks back into the store, straight up to my register, and swipes his card again. He types in his PIN and tells me that he's waiting on me again. He says not one word from the moment he walked back into the store up to that point. I figured he was trying to get cash out again. I stood in place, motionless, and watched him, waiting for a cue to act. When he tells me he's waiting on me, I ask him, again, "Well, what do you want?"

"Gas," he says.

"Okay." I move to the register. "How much do you want to put in?" It's after dark. It's prepay at all times now, but it's always been prepay after dark.

"You know how much."

"No, you haven't told me."

"Well, why don't you pay attention to the pumps?" he says. He goes into a little tirade. "You'd know how much if you were watching the pumps. It's your job to watch the pumps. Don't you know how to do your job? It's not a hard job. Why don't you do your job?"

"You didn't pump anything! I didn't approve you. It didn't even beep in here for me to approve you. You can't pump anything unless I approve you," I tell him. I'm fast losing my patience with his antics.

"Well, if you were paying attention to me, you'd know how much I want. You should pay attention to me. It's your job. Do your job." (The whole time, Josh and the assistant manager's nephew are both in the background watching this guy, thinking, "Okay I'm watching you make an ass of yourself.")

"I am paying attention to you! You said not a damn word since the moment you walked through that door! You need to talk to me to tell me what you want!" By this point, I'm raising my voice. Not quite shouting, but kind of going into a Jerry Seinfeld-type high-pitched yell.

"Ten dollars," he finally manages. I should have kicked him out before, but I figured if he just gets his gas and leaves, we can avoid any unpleasant confrontation.

While we were arguing the finer points of his ignorance, the debit machine resets and he has to swipe his card again. He grumbles that he wonders how many times he's going to get charged for this transaction, and I tell him just once; it doesn't get approved unless my drawer pops open. He seems to begrudgingly accept that answer.

A couple minutes after he walks out the door, Josh looks out the window and remarks, "Did he just leave without pumping his gas?" I look out the window. Sure enough, he did. One of our regular customers volunteers to drive up to the pump and get his gas, but I tell her that's not the right thing to do, and besides, if he realizes his error and comes back, I do not want to tell him that I let someone else pump his gas, even though it would have been his own fault. (Besides, if he didn't show up by the end of the day, I would have a nice $10 tip from the guy.)

It's a good thing I did save his $10, though, because sure enough, about ten minutes later, he drove back up. He took about another five minutes before he finally decided to venture into the store. During that time, Michael, the assistant manager's nephew, asked me what I was going to do about him. I was like, "Oh just wait to see what I do to this guy next." Josh already knew what I had planned.

The guy walks in. Before he can say one word, I hand him the ten dollar bill and say, "Here's the ten dollars that you didn't pump. Don't ever come back. If you ever come back, I'm calling the cops." He stares at me, probably gauging whether or not to argue, but everyone could tell from the sound of my voice that I was not to be trifled with, and he chose wisely to say nothing. I continued, "You have been nothing but ignorant and insulting since you first walked through those doors. Don't ever come back inside this store."

I normally would not have been so forceful. Like I said, I take a lot of abuse because it simply does not bother me, and that guy didn't dish out nearly as much as I've ignored from other people. Nothing pleases me more than to just stand there with a smug, "Are you finished?" expression on my face while the person rants and throws a tantrum in front of me, letting our actions speak for both of us to the other customers. I routinely have customers ask me, following someone's self-entitled tirade, how I put up with it, and I tell them that I just do; it doesn't bother me because I know I'm better than it. I don't need to prove myself to them or anyone else. However that night, I woke up with a splitting headache that never went away, and not ten minutes after I get to work I'm dealing with this asshead. I simply was not. in. the. mood. His mistake wasn't so much being dumb and rude, but picking the absolute antithesis of the right time and place to be dumb and rude. The nexus of fate converged on him to be cockstamped by a minimum wage earning public servant.

Nothing would please me more, though, than to have him come in some time completley sober, not remembering anything about that night, because I could be like, "What are you doing in here? Didn't I tell you to never set foot in this store again?" Of course, not remembering, he'd have to ask why, and I could tell him that it's because he's too fucking stupid to use a convenience store.


Now my cherry's been broken for kicking beligerant people out, so if anyone feels froggy, they'd better beware.

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