Thursday, June 24, 2010

Killing them with kindness.

03One of those nights. I didn’t get out of there until at least a half hour after I was supposed to.  Cars needing a jump start, diet Pepsi running out and a few other things that are hard to take care of when you are the only one there, and I didn’t want to leave my coworker alone with them.

But taking the cake was Mr. Ballistic.  I have never seen a customer get this irate, and the worst was after he left the store.

He came in, we were a little busy, and he got up to my coworkers till, slammed $15 on the counter, said “15 on 15.”, turned around and walked away.  We’re used to this, no big deal.  Except that he went to the bathroom before going out to pump his gas.  It took enough time that his pump timed-out.  They’re set up to do that so that if someone forgets to pump their gas (and it does happen more often than you’d think) the next person to pull up to that pump won’t get their it.

So, he’s sitting out at the pump and it’s not working.  He doesn’t hit the “help” button.  He doesn’t come in to tell us that his gas won’t pump.  He starts telling other customers, on their way in, to tell us that his gas isn’t pumping.  When another customer tells me he’s out there waiting, I hit the “Authorize” button, which un-times-out the pump.  But, he’s already half way in the store, comes up to my coworker and says that he wants his “f*#$ing 15 dollars worth now.”  I try to tell him that I already reset it, my coworker is offering him his $15 back and all he can say is “make it f*#$ing work!” and walks out.

My coworker says that he is going to follow him out to the pump to make sure it works for him, but he didn’t even make it halfway out before he meets the guy on his way back into the store.  Tries to get the guy’s attention, but the customer is too focused to even notice.

He gets to my till, tells me he wants his “f*#$ing $15 dollars back. I’m in a f*#$ing hurry.  I’ve got s%#t to do and I can’t f*#$ing wait.”  I open the cash register, pull out a $10 and a $5, hand it to him and say “Here you go.”01

As he’s walking away I start ringing up the next guy, a pretty big, buff, guy in shorts and a t-shirt.  Mr. Ballistic says to me, on his way out, “thanks for f*#$ing nothing!”.  I say, not even trying to sound sarcastic, “You’re welcome.”

Ohhh, that did it.  He turns around, starts yelling about how he wants the manager’s phone number, he wants to call corporate, he wants to complain about “them hiring people that can’t speak English and make a (yes, the f-word again) gas pump work.”  (Oh did I mention that my coworker is hispanic, has an accent, but speaks perfect English).  I turn around to get the book with Corporate’s number in it (no, I would never give out the manager’s home number) and he’s heading back to the counter yelling the f-word along with some other stuff.

The big guy in shorts and t-shirt turns around, stands right in his way and sticks out his finger to stop Mr. Ballistic.  I didn’t hear this part because t-shirt guy was speaking softly, but from what Mr. Ballistic yelled back, he must have said something like “I’m an off duty police officer, and you need to calm down.” 

“You (f-word again) assaulted me!  You F-ing touched me before you told me you were a cop, that’s assault.  What’s your name?  What’s your badge number?  Never mind, I’ll just get your license plate number.”  Fortunately the cop was dealing with it from here.  My coworker was back and we returned to ringing up customers. 

Mr. Ballistic followed Off duty cop out into the parking lot as he went to his car, doing a perfect imitation of a 1960’-70’s “you ain’t gonna push me around, you f-ing nazi pig” rebel.

A woman,02 who was on her way into the store heard what was going on.  I’m assuming she was in law enforcement too, because she turned around and got into the fray.  It was pretty busy at this point, because both my coworker and I were ringing up customers, so we didn’t get the whole conversation, but we did get bits and pieces.  Let’s just say that it involved a lot of swearing and, at one point, up to 3 customers other than  Mr. Ballistic.  Next thing I knew they were all gone.  Mr. Ballistic never did get Corporate’s number, not that I was worried.  What was he going to tell them, that the pumps weren’t working right? That I said “you’re welcome”?

Funny thing was, I never felt threatened by this guy, like the worst he would ever do is complain to my boss.

I never did get to thank the police officers, so I’ll do it here.  Thank you.  You were awesome, you handled that guy like a pro.



A Paperback Writer said...

Cops take almost as much crap in the media as teachers do, and I'm sure there are a few bad cops out there, but, in general, I love cops. Sorry you had to go through this, but your story made me smile.

Max said...

It was kind of amusing to see someone so unreasonable that several customers felt compelled to intervene. That's very unusual, normally they just say "whoa" after it's over.
As for the police, even as a teenager in the 70's I found that if you treated them with respect, almost all of them would return the favor. I can't count the number of speeding tickets I got out of by talking to them like they were just trying to do their job, instead of like they were going out of their way to make my life miserable.