Tales From Retail: They Don’t Pay Me Enough For This…

Picture it, NYC, 2012. It’s a fairly warm afternoon, right around that elusive time we used to call “spring”, but now is just that week of “not snow” and “not hell” outdoors.

The lunchtime rush is starting to ramp up, and I’m busily recording some sales in the notebook when I notice a gentleman walking in the front doors. Nothing too unusual, but it was, again, fairly warm and this man has on a puffer jacket like it’s 30 below out.

Meh, to each his own, so I go back to work as the man darts downstairs.

I then hear the elevator doors open, and I see the man coming out. He looks around. I stop and look up, thinking he may need help. Before I can ask, he turns to beeline for the door, and some formula drops out the back of his coat.

Sigh.

Listen, y’all. I’ll be the first to admit times have been hard for everybody as of late. Folks do come into the store to steal makeup and, like, 5 hour energy and such (that’s a story for another day), but you do have those folks who have to steal food to survive. I don’t blame the folks put in that position. I blame the system that puts the folks in that position. What makes me feel doubly bad is if I see them taking food, I’m supposed to stop them.

Even if it’s obvious they’re hungry. Even if they’re just grabbing a $1 bag of chips. I’m supposed to stop them. It’s heartbreaking, and more often than not, I’ll just buy the item for them, cause folks have to eat, right? For the most part, I don’t see it as much anymore. I don’t know if it’s a sign that things are getting better economically or that the thieves are getting savvier, but I try not to think about it too much.

Anyway.

I see this formula drop out the back of his coat and immediately think this man is likely taking this for his child at home. Because I’m big-hearted like that.

He drops this formula and instead of leaving it (because there are cameras that may see him), he picks it up and decides to try and take it out of the store (in full view!) in his hands. Now, I have to stop him.

Me: “You, in the coat! Put it down.”

Customers are now staring at him, and since they don’t have the same vantage point I do, they don’t notice the canister in his hand. One woman goes: “Why is she screaming at him? He doesn’t have anything!”

Him: *stares* *puts formula in basket near door*

As he turns to walk out, another canister drops out of his coat. Well, damn.

Listen. You’re a parent, and you have a hungry baby that needs food that you are unable to afford? You steal ONE canister of formula. I shake my head. Now I know he’s likely got the whole shelf in that coat, and…

I walk up to the front door. “Give me the rest of it. Now.”

Him: “That’s all I got, man.”

He tries to walk out the store again, and TWO MORE canisters drop out. If you’ve been counting, we’re up to four now.

Me: “One more time, give me all of it. Now.”

At this point, one of the (HUGE) stock guys comes out and stands next to me. “Did you hear her? Give it back!”

He’s scared now. “I don’t have any more, man!” And tries to run.

At which point THREE more canisters drop out the coat. Passerby on the street brought them in to me (one guy had been watching the whole thing from outside, and he told me he was ready to tackle if the thief had tried to come at me. That made me smile, cause most folks don’t care.)

So, grand total of formula the guy tried to swipe? Seven canisters at about $27 a pop. Sigh.

Moral of the story? If you MUST steal…be wise about it.

Happy Monday, y’all!

Stories

Tales From Retail: Harassment

Picture it: NYC, 2011. It’s the beginning of rush hour, and I’m just finishing up a display. A man approaches me and asks me for some Clearasil.

I think this is a normal, run of the mill customer with a normal, run of the mill question.

Y’all, I can’t even begin to explain how not normal this interaction was about to get.

So, I take him to the Clearasil, and he asks me a few more questions about skin care, and I answer them. He tells me that I’m pretty, and smiles at me.

Aww, I think. How nice of him! I say thank you, and ask if there’s anything else I can assist him with.

Y’all, I should have learned my lesson the LAST time I asked that question, but customer service. *side eye emoji*

Anyway. He says no, so I’m assuming we’re done here, and I head back to my center and I start looking for something in my desk. While I’m rummaging through the drawers, I feel…a hand.

It ain’t MY hand.

But it’s a hand.

And…it’s around my waist…

And my back is to the person trying to feel me up on the sales floor…

And I turn around…

And y’all? It was that damned customer I’d just been helping.

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Y’all…before I’d realized it, I’d said “What the actual fuck?! Don’t put your hands on me, I don’t know you!”

I don’t normally snap, y’all. I tend to be calm, cool, and collected even in the most ridiculous of moments, but when I tell y’all he almost caught my left and my box cutter? Woo, lawd, have mercy. And I was so loud. Loud enough that one of the assistant managers came running over to see what was going on.

The manager comes around the corner to me standing with my fists balled up looking like I’m about to drag dude all through the store (oh, and please believe I was. Cameras be damned.) and puts two and two together.

“Sir, I spoke to you downstairs about harassing the women in the store. You will NOT come up here and harass my staff!”

I’m still ready to pounce. I hear the manager, but I’m still ready.

“He comes any closer to me, I’m flipping him over the banister,” I say. I really was, too. The manager steps in front of me. Not to shield me, but to protect dude.

Dude: “Well, I just wanted to let the young lady know I was interested…”

Manager: “Out. Now. Before I move out the way.”

I have my box cutter in my hand now. Please move, boss. PLEASE.

The guy finally gets the hint and walks out of the store.

Manager looks at me. I look back.

“You know, if you would have swung at him, you could have been fired.”

I hear everyone’s jaw dropping. Mine did too. And yes, you read that right. Retailers are so worried about being sued, had I swung at him I could have been fired. Honestly, subconsciously,  that’s probably why I yelled as opposed to throwing hands. Sigh.

I never saw him again. But that day is when I decided it would be best to keep a box cutter on me at all times.

Safety first. 🙂

Stories