The Customer Isn’t Your Butt

File under: things that irk me

I really dislike when salespeople think it’s funny to say something unexpected, as though it will make me laugh hysterically when they say “two thousand, four hundred…. dimes” when I’m having my water meter fixed. Or “alright, your car will be ready in 3 to 4 days”.

All you’re doing is making yourself look like an asshole. Money is tight. I need my car to get to work. I’m sure it’s HIGH-LARIOUS for you to say shit like that to unsuspecting customers – even customers who, like me, have caused no issue and have often paid good money for your service.

You know what, Tire Store Employee?

Waking up this morning with two flat tires didn’t exactly make me a happy camper. I did my level best to be a happy camper when I brought you my limping vehicle, the two flat tires having noticeably lost air since I filled them in my garage. I treated you nicely; I even smiled at your little tire-measuring joke, figuring that I didn’t need to inflict my bad mood on anyone else. I then ordered FOUR new 60K mile tires and paid for them, because I need my car, and because my old tires are nearly bald, are showing dry rot, and two of them are leaking. Paying for those tires did not make my morning any better.

It did not make my week or my month any better either, especially considering the current budget situation with regards to NASA – which, I remind you, foots the bill for the contract that pays my husband his salary.

And so, Tire Store Employee, telling me “Alright, you can pick it up in 3-4 days” after I’ve shelled out a large chunk of change that I’m going to have to worry about budgeting for the rest of the month to avoid issues with didn’t exactly make me feel like giggling at your joke. Especially since I couldn’t just say “oh nevermind” and take back my money.

Because sometimes car repairs really DO take 3-4 days.* Maybe those tires were sold out and on order or something? I didn’t know.

Responding to my “well, I guess I’ll have to figure out how I’m getting home” comment by saying “HA HA HA JUST KIDDING 45 minutes to an hour” made me want to scream at you.

You probably noticed that you got the Look Of Disapproval.

Had I not gotten great service from your company in the past, and known that I would have reliable tires that are under warranty, I would be inclined to take my business elsewhere the next time.

It’s a power thing for you, I’m sure. You like feeling like you can have that kind of power over someone. You probably think it’s quite funny to swap stories about the horrified looks on customer’s faces when you tell them blatantly false things that they have no reason not to believe, because you have the power in the interaction. They need their car, and you have the ability to fix that car for them.

As a customer? It’s not that funny.

Maybe because I work in a bookstore, and no matter how many silly interactions I’ve had with customers, I do my damn best to make sure they get what they want and don’t feel that I’m judging them for what they are selling or what they want to buy.

Maybe because I work in that kind of “power” situation as a buyer for my store, and know that if I can put the person selling the books at ease, they won’t feel defensive about my giving them a money offer for books that – to them – often have a lot of emotional value.

If a customer walked up to me to get an offer, and I said “we can give you two bucks” for a pile of signed first editions, and then said “oh no, just kidding!” and gave them the real offer? I’d get my ass in BIG trouble.

Making the customer the butt of some little bookseller joke says I don’t respect the customer, OR their stuff, enough to treat it like the business interaction that it is.

Now, does that mean I never laugh or joke with sellers? Of course not. We often find something little or trivial to laugh about, or I’ll let THEM make a joke about what they’re bringing in. But I try (and I am trained to try) extremely hard not to alienate them based on their stuff – or based on what books they buy.

Even if I think their books are stupid and will never sell or the book they want to buy is poorly written and a waste of paper, those books are my paycheck. And if the customers are happy, they will pay for whatever they choose and come back again next time when they need help. Besides, nobody made me the Goddess of Determining Literary Value.

So the next time I go back to The Tire Store Place, I’ll be expecting less of them and be preemptively defensive about being the butt of some employee’s little “funny joke”. Making jokes about my old tires needing Rogaine because they were looking bald? Totally appropriate (and funny). Joking about the actual SERVICE you were providing?

Hacked me off.

*And sometimes plumbing repairs – especially CITY plumbing repairs, really do cost more than two grand.

Bookstore Bingo

*crossposted from Seven Deadly Divas*

The phone rings. I answer it (within the first two rings, of course).

“Hello, this is <Bookstore Name> in <Location>, Anna speaking, how may I help you?”


“Hi, do you sell books?”
No, the whole “Bookstore” part of our name is a joke, we really sell sticky widgets.


“Hi, do you have a book?”
Nope, we’re fresh out.


“Hi, I’m looking for frerkhtngrmwth.”
“Could you repeat that? I didn’t hear you clearly.”
“I’m looking for frerkhtngrmwth, by Thrrlblwrt K Hamthripth. You know, her new book.”
“Um… let me put you on hold just a moment and I’ll check.”
<checks new releases section for books with titles that sound like frerkhtngrmwth.>
“I’m sorry ma’am, I don’t seem to have any copies of frerkhtngrmwth right now.”
“Oh alright. I’ll try online.”


“Hi, I was wondering if you had <Obscure Book Title>”
“Give me just a moment and I’ll check the shelf.”
<checks shelf>
“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have a copy of Obscure Book Title right now.”
“Why not?”
“Well, we’re a used bookstore, so our inventory is really unpredictable.”
“But I checked your online inventory and it says you have it.”
“…. We actually don’t have an in-store or online inventory. Are you sure?”
“Well, I looked it up on Amazon Dot Com, and it says you have the book!”


“Hi, I’m looking fer books on Yew-Bun-Tew Lye-Nucks. It’s a computerin’ book.”
“Just a moment and I’ll check the shelf for you. … I’m sorry, right now all we have are Red Hat books and some generic Linux books.”
“Naw, I don’t need them Red Hat things. I need a Yew-Bun-Tew book. Thankya though.”
<I actually had an extended conversation with this gentleman, and he knew exactly what he was talking about. But I had to try REALLY hard not to giggle.>


“Hi, I need a copy of Sandy Backerack for my kid.”
“uhh… do you know what kind of book it is?”
“He says it’s a play.”
“Well, I can’t find a record of any book with that title, are you sure that’s it?”
“Yeah, that’s what he said.”
“You’re sure it’s not Pygmalion? That book is on a lot of reading lists right now.”
“Yes I’m sure. It’s called Sandy Backerack and it’s about a guy with a really big nose.”
“You mean Cyrano de Bergerac?”
“Yeah, that one.”


… to be continued …