The Parade of Stupid


This is what I call the sometimes endless stream of completely annoying customers that pass through in the span of my 8 hour shift at work.

Nationality has nothing to do with it, just so you know up front. Really, the stupid is in all sizes, shapes, genders, colors and cultures. I’m just letting you all know, by no means am I inferring that there are only Belgians culprits here. If I was working a customer service job in America, I’d likely have the same complaint, if not worse. After all, I once had someone throw a tray at me during Lent when I was 16 and worked at Long John Silvers. So while there’s plenty of stupid, I can definitely say that at least in Belgium it’s non violent stupid.

Yeah, I guess you could say I’ve really finally had it with my current job. I swore up and down I’d never have another customer service job once I left college and I’d kept that oath until this job because I know myself and when it comes to serving people, I’m pretty much a total bitch. But after the fiasco I found myself in while I worked at the daycare in Brussels, I desperately needed any kind of out that got me closer to home and provided a salary.
The job I have does both.
And I’ve also made a few, what I think are lasting, friendships.
And for that I am very grateful.
But the ability to perform the customer end of this job, for me, is quickly guttering out.

Today, for example, within 5 minutes of my arrival, I got my first stupid.

Our kiosk is set up with two cash registers and two centralized espresso machines. In theory, if we have 4 people working, 2 are on the register, 2 are on the machines and everything runs fast. On most days we’re with 3, so one register has a barista that does both order taking and drink making while the other register has one barista taking orders and another making drinks. Today we were temporarily with 2 people, so I was taking orders on one register and my colleague (who is still new and somewhat slow) was making the drinks.
Anyway, a few people ordered and then an older woman kind of cut in from the side and said that she was standing at the other till and that she’d moved down there to give her order.
To which I politely replied that I hadn’t asked anyone to move to the other register, we were with 2 people, so we were only using one register. To which she insisted that she always moved down to the other register to order. To which I again, calmly replied that that may be the case, but I was here, taking orders on this register and I pointed to where the line started. She then moved back to the other, empty, register and continued waiting.
So when the next customers stepped up and I began taking their order, she stepped over again and said she was standing at the first till to give her order. I told her I was still here, taking orders at this register, regardless of where she felt she wanted to stand. She said she wanted her coffee.
Resigned, I shrugged an apology at the girls who’d been waiting, took the old lady’s order (none to friendly at this point) and then quickly took the other girls’ order.

Another fine example is the older lady who came up and asked, very slowly (because clearly I must be stupid?) for a decaf coffee. I asked if she wanted sugar or milk, she said milk and I gave her the price, which was 2.15€.
She then put a 2€ coin on the counter, followed by a .05 coin and five .02 coins. She began to take more coins, but I said (this is always all in dutch by the way), “That’s fine ma’am.”
To which she looked at me, shook her head in pity and said, “Nooooo, that’s not enough.”
Because, y’know, since I work with money every day, I must not be able to count. Then she took out five more .01 coins and laid them down. So I very touched each coin and counted them out loud for her, proving that, indeed, I had been right and she hadn’t needed those last five coins.

Now, these are just two incidents and by  now you probably think I have absolutely no patience at all.

Which is true now. After almost a year of daily interactions like this, I have been drained of 95% of my patience for consumers in general. There are still very nice, friendly customers, don’t get my wrong. and they make me smile and I chat and treat them very kindly, as they do the same for me. But there are so few of these people scattered between the people who refuse to say hello, or smile, or look at me, or even talk, or the people that constantly question my ability to count or the ones that look at me like I’m a complete asshole for asking them if they want whipped cream on their hot chocolate or the ones that literally toss their money across the counter at me or place it literally at the edge of their side of the counter so I bodily have to stretch to reach it (which sucks with bursitis I might add) or the guy that yawned in my face when I asked him if he wanted chocolate on his drink and then had the sack to ask me if I liked my job when I irritatedly plopped the drink in front of him.

It adds up, y’know?

There’s really only so many times a person (or at least, me personally) can be treated with complete disrespect before the kind, nice customers no longer neutralize the negativity.

Sadly, I don’t have a ton of options right now and the straw hasn’t broken the camel’s back yet, so I’m still hanging in for the near future. But honestly, it’s really not very easy to do anymore.


4 responses »

  1. If it helps, you can give those old dyscalculic ladies the benefit of the doubt and chalk their “confusion” up to the fact that, after all these years, they still don’t know their euros. That way you can just pity them instead of wishing them to hell… ;o)

  2. Just remember that a real end may be in sight sometime soon like maybe coming back to the Burgh??!! Then you can deal with all the yinzers!!! ;P

  3. Oh, I know it’s bad and I wish I could tell you something that would cheer you up, but you know me… if I still were there I would have probably stanguled someone by now. It takes nerves of steel to do this kind of job, and I can’t imagine how there are people doing it for a long period of time.
    I hope you can find something else soon !

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