Join 3,376 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Finding What You Are Looking For in a Music/Video Store
November 29, 2001 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Finding What You Are Looking For in a Music/Video Store
Sing to us if you want, but know that this method has a less than 50% success rate. Typically, we stand there and go, "Uhh... I dunno." And from my past experience, the people that work in music stores do not generally enjoy the majority of mainstream crap music.
posted by riley370 (74 comments total)

 
Wow, that person really needs to get out of retail . . .
posted by jeremias at 7:05 PM on November 29, 2001


Huh, and I thought the person at the counter was being paid to be more than a cash register monkey. You know, like, there's this concept called "customer service." If customers are dumb, well, that means you cater to dumb people because that's the customer base. If he doesn't like it, maybe he should seek an employer who can utilize his skills. I hear Ronald McDonald is still looking for a few good men.
posted by fleener at 7:07 PM on November 29, 2001


An employee of the Wherehouse vs. customers of the Wherehouse. There's a battle I REALLY don't want to get in the middle of.
posted by luser at 7:09 PM on November 29, 2001


I'm sorry, but shut the fuck up. Honest. I'm not one of those customers. In fact, I'm the guy who knows exactly what he wants and always pays with a debit card 'cause it seems to be fastest. However, I'm constantly interrupted by you geeky shitheads asking "Can I help you find something?" when I know where to go to get what I want, especially when what you mean is, "Mind if I watch to make sure you're not stealing anything?"
posted by yerfatma at 7:15 PM on November 29, 2001


Oh, by the way, none of you assholes is Jack Black in "High Fidelity." And that screenplay? Forget it.
posted by yerfatma at 7:16 PM on November 29, 2001


Oops-- And that screenplay? Forget it. -- meaning the one the theoretical retail fella is working on instead of helping customers, not "High Fidelity." Which I liked.
posted by yerfatma at 7:18 PM on November 29, 2001


"If your grand total is $100.07 do not hand me a hundred dollar bill and a one dollar bill and then, after I have typed everything in and opened the drawer, say, "Oh, I have a quarter." Good for you. Take your quarter and shove it. The register has already told me to give you back 93 cents change and I probably don't feel like calculating your NEW amount of change in my head."

I cannot believe how poor some people are at arithmetic -- it's truly mind-boggling. Some cashiers can get absolutely flummoxed when given, say, $3.12 on a charge or $2.87 (I don't mean temporarily stalled while they think about it, but that the transaction causes a complete cognitive meltdown). Managers have to be called over, charges entered into the till voided and everything started over. There's no explaining it ...
posted by sylloge at 7:20 PM on November 29, 2001


that's one long rant...

i should make one on publishing pages on the internet. one of the top complaints would be: super-small text. i know, i could just hit the plus sign on my keyboard to zoom in (opera), but still... it's 2001, people. and all the other pages on that site seem to have readable text. bah. there's my own little rant.

that aside, the guy brought up some pretty valid points (i'm currently working in retail), but, some of the stuff that he was complaining about just sounded like annoyance caused from someone interrupting his laziness. your not paid to just ring, you know... well, maybe you are. i've never been to this wherehouse place.
posted by lotsofno at 7:26 PM on November 29, 2001


AND THEY MAKE ME ALL THAT IS EXISTING AND HATEABLE IN THIS WORLD.


can somebody parse that sentence for me?
posted by signal at 7:30 PM on November 29, 2001


I used to work at Borders. I now work in a movie theater for minimum wage and was just given an involuntary, unpaid vacation because a customer didn't like the speed at which she recieved her popcorn, so maybe I'm biased, but:

1) This is my kind of gal.

2) We are not being paid very much. There are the occasional rich kids who are "slumming it" because they are bored with daddy's new playstation and daddy said they need to get a summer job. However, most of us are working retail because we have no choice.

3) Sylloge, there IS explaining it, actually. See, some of us are actually stupid. I, for instance, am bad with numbers. Ironically, this leaves me almost no choice but to work retail, seeing as I have no college degree, because I am bad with numbers. I am fine with this. I like working retail. But it may mean that it takes you one more minute to buy the CD. Our theater even has a program going with a local "assisted learning" center for adults with mental disabilities, so the guy tearing your ticket or selling your CD might actually not be able to understand your caffienated speech.

4) Maybe we're writing screenplays because it might get us out of retail hell.

5) If you're not one of those customers, yerfatma, we don't hate you, so why so angry?

6) If your service was bad because the store is understaffed, either find a kid who wants to work retail, or don't try to get the employee fired. Why? You may be vindicated, because then you will have had your revenge for the minute of your life you spent in line... but guess what! If the employee is fired, your next line will take even longer. That's how it works.

7) Do not assume fast food is easy as apple pie to work in unless you personally have done it. If you have, and it was easy for you, congratuations, you're a genius with a degree and a computer and a interweb thing, and you have the patience of a saint.

8) Maybe the employee is mad because he or she has no place to sleep tonight, and needs their retail job to maybe get one someday. Maybe they haven't eaten in three days and that's why they don't seem to mind that you cannot find Who Let The Dogs Out on minidisc. Firing the surly employee won't make them treat you better at the NEXT job at which they see you.

9) If you're a nice customer, fine. But that's all you are when you're in a store-- a customer. If the President of Uzbekistan comes in to buy a CD and is a jerk, he is still just a jerky customer.

10) Nobody is a higher form of life than anyone else. And finally:

11) THEY ARE ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTS.

They are not life.
posted by kevspace at 7:30 PM on November 29, 2001


I liked this.. A lot. I used to work in a clothing store and shared many similar sentiments.. A few clothing specific ones...

if you cant fold it properly, let us do it, cuz we'll have to do it anyway to make it look right.. if you can, please do

the hangers all point in the same direction for a reason

dont leave clothing in the dressing rooms, give them back to us, or put them back where they came from.

and when i saw where they came from, that also includes size. smalls are together. mediums are next... larges come after that...

on a slightly different note... many a close friend of mine have worked in coffee shops. Do not underestimate the power that food service employes hold. Just dont do it.
posted by atom128 at 7:41 PM on November 29, 2001


The individual who wrote this piece will never get the intended audience to see it. Someone's not gonna read this and go, "oh gee I do that. Maybe I should start being more cordial and treat a company's service representative with more respect." If anything, it'd make the average person who fit the description more insolent. It's like a firefighter who says, "I'm not going in there! It's like, on fire and stuff! You crazy?"

Erin doesn't want to do her job. She's supposed to serve the customer. The customer is not there for her. And if she doesn't like it? Fleener's right. She should try flipping burgers, but avoid the counter.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:42 PM on November 29, 2001


Kevspace is right.

Furthermore, I've worked in the retail and service industries, and customers suck. They just do. That means you, too.

With the exception of 2 or 3 people a day out of hundreds, customers are selfish and condescending assholes with a major sense of entitlement ("this $.99 candy bar makes me your GOD, peasant!"), who treat you like a robot, demanding not only that you serve them promptly and efficiently, but that you lie to them by pretendind to like it. People who've never had to demean themselves in this fashion don't really get it. People who haven't had to do it in a while have probably forgotten.

This person isn't exceptional in her vitriol, she's just saying what the person at the grocery store is thinking every single time he rings you up.
posted by Hildago at 7:44 PM on November 29, 2001


zachsmind - the article is about how to shop without being a "shit fuck." It's not law, its common courtesy. And how do you know someones not gonna read that and realize they do maybe one or two of those things?
posted by atom128 at 7:47 PM on November 29, 2001


Having worked in retail and as a server, I've found that retail is a joke. I worked as hardware stores, and it was easy. Register, closing, helping people, cleaning, whatever. It paled in comparison serving, which is one big pain in the ass and can deal out great amounts of stress (this is especially dependent on your manager).
OK, i just read this and the chick needs some anger management classes or something. If she gets that stressed out over retail, she's not gonna' make it far...
posted by jmd82 at 7:48 PM on November 29, 2001


PS-> TIP THE SERVERS, DAMN IT. Serving is NOT an easy job. It is a pain in the ass. as Atom128 said, we weild a LOT of power. do NOT fuck w/ us. the kitchen is behind closed doors. Lastly, do NOT walk out w/o paying your check. The manager WILL hunt you down. I've seen it happen. Bastard walked out on a $150 bill. My manager weighs 300 lbs (and not all fat). you get the picture.
posted by jmd82 at 7:51 PM on November 29, 2001


"7) Do not assume fast food is easy as apple pie to work in unless you personally have done it. If you have, and it was easy for you, congratuations, you're a genius with a degree and a computer and a interweb thing, and you have the patience of a saint."

I have to agree with this. I remember doing a $790 lunch-rush at Arby's when I was 18, and when the 5 for $5.55 around Christmas '98... Well, I made $200 per week, but I was never home! Nor was I ever asleep.... I closed everynight for nearly a month. All this while trying to get my senior year in high school done. It got worse when I had to go to NightSchool in January... I felt about 90.

This person who wrote this linked site, well, I think it was just a personal bitch-session place. I know several people who write stuff similar to that in weblogs, at least once a month, and well, it's been done.
posted by Katy Action at 8:00 PM on November 29, 2001


I worked retail for almost ten years, and I've always felt that everyone should work a mandatory two years in retail service so that they know how it is to be on the receiving end of various customer bullshit. That being said, while Erin may have several valid points, she completely misses the most important one: if customers weren't coming into her store to bother her, she might not have a job. That she doesn't want to subjected to the terrible inconvenience of learning how to subtract 7 cents from 25 cents in her head is laughable. I just wonder how often her register is short if she's that bad at basic third grade mathematics.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:04 PM on November 29, 2001


~Just curious~ Did anyone read anything else Erin said on the link at the bottom?
posted by Katy Action at 8:11 PM on November 29, 2001


We have the right to refuse anything we don't want, for any reason whatsoever. WE WILL NOT TAKE: promotional CDs (signified by a "notched" or "punched" barcode, a slash through the barcode, a cut in the spine of the CD, a--typically gold--stamp on the liner notes reading "FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY" or something to that effect, etc.), CD singles, CDs missing cover art or backings, ...

Your store sucks.

A cool store has no restrictions.They will buy promos, boots, cds without booklets, albums, cassettes, almost anything that isn't too beat up.

That's where the cool finds are made, in a bigass pile of stuff. It may take some digging, but that's half the fun of it.

Personally, I don't need any help finding things unless you have some boots in boxes behind the counter.

Pro clerks leave you alone unless you happen to look totally lost, anyway.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 8:12 PM on November 29, 2001


n|m, the link is broken.
posted by Katy Action at 8:13 PM on November 29, 2001


Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...
posted by machaus at 8:24 PM on November 29, 2001


barneyfifes - yes, her store sucks.. its warehouse, a big national chain. Ideally, every city would have an amoeba
posted by atom128 at 8:27 PM on November 29, 2001


I worked in the music industry for ten years or so, a good portion of it in retail I've worked for indy stores and for chain stores (Tape World, anyone remember Tape World?) and I think perhaps this girl needs to settle down. I agree with some of her rant (crumpled money was a big peeve of mine, and once some kid handed me money that he'd been storing in his shoe all day...need I say eeeeew?) but essentially I had fun with most of my customers. Her beef about the singing customer? God, I loved them. I never knew what they were after, but they were so cute! I know some customers are assholes (99.9% of people who make returns fall into this category, btw), and when they arrive it seems that no amount of money would make the job right. But I think most people are reasonable enough, and if they don't know the rules of the store, they don't know. In my experience it was the managers that made my life a living hell.

And since I'm here - I'll tell you all my favorite customer story ever. It was September, and I was working at Tape World in the mall. I was working in the store with only one other emplyee, Dan. It was almost closing when this guy walked in who looked like he had stepped out of an early 80's Cinemax soft porn movie...he was wearing a tight polyester suit in beige with wide lapels, big smoky lensed glasses with tacky frames, lee press-on hair and an ascot. He asked me if we had any Xmas music, and I said no, it was still too early in the season, check back later. He blinked me as if he was checking a database or something, then turned to Dan and asked if we had any Xmas music. Dan said the same exact thing I said, and the guy stood there for a minute, looking back and forth between the two of us like we had three heads. Then he spun around and walked out of the store, revealing that his pants had split all the way up the back, and he was not exactly dressed for an accident, if you know what I mean. And there you have it, Best. Customer. Ever.
posted by kittyloop at 8:42 PM on November 29, 2001


As a deaf male, I can begin to comprehend how people feel about both ends of the retail industry. I have been fired simply because I didn't hear a customer calling for my attention and on the other hand, I have been treated like shit by employees simply because I requested pen and paper in order to ask them a question about a product.

I wasn't particularly fond of the article at all- it was nothing but a literate equivalent of valium. Her points were moot and unjustified.

The author also lacked a true, maxim objective- was she attempting to educate individuals to become better customers for her own benefit or theirs? Or did she compose this in a sarcastic fashion as a mean of venting her frustrations?

One of the most distorted essays I have read in a while- if she is pursuing a writing career, please excuse me while I cringe.
posted by msposner at 8:51 PM on November 29, 2001


A comedian on Letterman years ago joked about "why kids that work in record stores think they're rock stars". I don't remember his name, but it was on the NBC show.

I took an old Hendrix album up to the counter and a kid sneered "You still listening to this crap?" to me.

I said "Yeah, you still makin' 40 bucks a week?"

posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 8:53 PM on November 29, 2001


If you want to get a really good idea of what the general public is like, work in the retail and/or hospitality industry. It's the best way to learn what not to be like. I've gained more compassion and consideration for my fellow people from working in this industry. I've also gained an extreme dislike for the assholes of the world, many of whom I've met.

Erin is having a knee-jerk response from over-stimulus to the assholes of the world. They are out there, but there is nowhere near as many as she would lead you to believe. Not that her response is wrong. Unfortunately, this job is no longer for her. She's gone around the bend. She's burned out.

For you people out there who think she is flat out wrong in her opinions, try walking in her shoes for a day or two. I dare you.
posted by ashbury at 8:55 PM on November 29, 2001


Ironically, this leaves me almost no choice but to work retail, seeing as I have no college degree, because I am bad with numbers.

I always assume the person behind the register has been using the register to do the math and probably isn't used to doing it in their heads. The last thing I would do is blame a confused kid behind the counter because I'm too late looking for a penny.

The shopping experience is like everyone basking in the glory of acting like an infant. A signficant number of customers like to be led and have little idea what they want or need. Likewise, managers train their people to baby and badger everyone because there's a good chance you're one of the walking clueless with a credit card in your pocket.

Informed people have little place in retail in either the customer or employee roles. The best situation is the blind leading the blind. If the clerk knows more than the customer he's a snob. If the customer knows more than the clerk then he's an asshole.
posted by skallas at 8:56 PM on November 29, 2001


Having worked retail four years... I agreed with much of what the person wrote, but the style was far too in the rant catagory for me. I'm glad to be out, as I can finally enjoy christmas again, because retail fried my brain...

My personal least favorite customers were collectors, people who came into the store and asked us to bring boxes of hotwheels out to the floor so they could look through them. When I first started I'd explain that doing that was against store policy, which would mean they'd always try to find another employee to do it.

Over time, I learned that it was easier to just scan the item, and then tell the customer that we were out of it, regardless of whether we had them in or not.

For the people that argued the policy, if we pulled out boxes of collectibles everytime we were asked to, the only person who would ever get a chance at them would be the first few people who asked (which odds are, wouldn't be you)...
posted by drezdn at 9:02 PM on November 29, 2001


CONSIDERED RESPONSE #1:
Am I nearly the only one here who both a) enjoyed Erin's crazed rant and b) doesn't think the writer either has "issues" or is a jerk?

After reading it -- the whole, l-o-n-g thing -- I clicked on the "comments'' expecting to find a bunch of witty, punny, laff-riot retorts from my fellow MeFiers. Instead, I'm reading mostly a bunch of "tsk, tsk's" for Erin's sarcastic lashing out at her customers, her unrealistic worldview, and her unsuitability for her job.

It never seriously occured to me as I read it that she meant it to be anything other than funny. (Well okay, cathartic, too, keeping in mind that humor happens because it has the ring of truth about it. I mean, I think we've all been in situations like hers, where "the shoe is on the other foot," and we can't believe that somebody doesn't understand something as inside-out as we do, even though we've been doing it years longer than they have. But basically, I think she was just having fun.

She may actually like, just a wee little bit, some aspect of her job or perk that comes with it, but this wasn't the place for that. This was just about her making (scathingly) funny (and profane) comments about her customers, whom she holds in mock contempt, and laughing at herself for being in such a customarily thankless position, not entirely unlike the way Dante and Randal did in Kevin Smith's (absolute howler of a film, and I mean that in a good way) Clerks.

Anyone else have a similar reaction?

CONSIDERED RESPONSE #2:
I thought it was a hoot, and that Erin's funny -- and not a jerk. I don't take The Onion seriously; why did so many of you take this literally? Silly MeFiers. ::rolls eyes::

CONSIDERED RESPONSE #3:
When you're perusing the MeFi threads, and you decide to take a break away from debating not whether we are fucked, but just how fucked we are, because Bush is Prez and Ashcroft is AG and we're bombing Afghanistan into such an unrecognizable state that it looks like... well, Afghanistan, et al, and you take that break by checking out some whimsical flash presentation or by snarfing down a Ho-Ho or by reading some random retail chick's funny bit... afterward, when you go to comment on it, DON'T BE A SHITFUCK AND OVERANALYZE IT.* That, like, really puts a damper on the comical mood the writer was trying to create (and, in this case, for me at least, was successful at creating).

EPILOGUE:
Hell, I'll just post all the ways I thought about responding and go down in flames.

Unless... nah.

*If you didn't read Erin's rant, then you won't recognize this as my making a comment in the same tone of feigned hostility that she made hers. I don't think anyone here is a "shitfuck". It's a joke, like her rant. Really. DON'T MAKE ME HAVE TO TYPE IN CAPITAL LETTERS AGAIN! ;)
posted by verdezza at 9:23 PM on November 29, 2001


I am grateful for my few experiences in hospitality/customer service because I feel like I must be The Best Customer Ever after reading this.

On the other hand, I am less tolerant of sloppy service, especially the "can I help you" drones. They have no idea of the meaning of the phrase, they feel they must look busy to keep their job.

Favourite game: walk into a stationers for a biro, or some other insignificant item....."can I help you?"..reply- why, yes, I'm looking for a pen....start half-hour colour/size/quality/price comparison routine.

Oh, I know I'm the devil.
posted by Catch at 9:31 PM on November 29, 2001


Back at Ace Hardware, our manager watched us and demanded that we asked every customer who came in "Hello, how may i help you." Even the regulars who knew the place better than the empplyees did. It got sooo old. At a hardware store, its easy to tell who the clueless custumers are and the people who would rather work at Home Depot for a living just b/c its a big tyo store to them.
posted by jmd82 at 9:43 PM on November 29, 2001


Kevspace - God bless you, and thank you. The worst job I ever had was in an (independantly owned) "upscale" deli - in the food court at our local shopping mall. I have a million stories from that job, but the one that has always stuck with me is that of the older gentleman (sometimes referred to as "that old codger") who would show up at 9 pm, just as we were closing, demanding coffee, every single night. Mind you, this deli was next to an upscale coffee shop (this was pre-Starbucks), and we were also forbidden to change the coffee pot or brew new coffee after 5 PM. The exchange usually went something like this:

"Can I help you, sir? We're just closing up."
"Yes, get me a small coffee"

- pour coffee, ring it up, assemble the requested cream and sugar for the customer -

SIP

"This coffee nearly took the top of my head off! What's wrong with your coffee?"

"Well sir, like I told you yesterday, our coffee's usually not that fresh around this time of night. Why don't you go get one at that really nice coffee shop next door?"

"What? That coffee is 30 cents more expensive than this coffee which I like to get because not only is it cheaper, but it's worse, so I can complain about it!"

And so on. Anyhow, anyone who's never worked retail or service and still thinks they can bitch about the employees of those industries can bite me. You guys probably tip on the pre-tax amount, too.
posted by GriffX at 9:52 PM on November 29, 2001


I worked in a movie theater, the Sawgrass 18 - one of the largest ones in Southern Florida, as an usher/doorman (my qualification? "You're the second biggest guy here."). Beyond young people attempting to sneak in, my biggest problem was with "old" people. "Yes ma'am, that summer blockbuster is mighty loud and I'm sorry we can't turn it down".

I think there's dumb on both ends, as I had coworkers that had an insane amount of trouble operating the picture-coded register. But we also had customers too dumb to find their movie theater even though the names and times were listed right above the movie house.

Then there was the incident where someone went #2 in the bathroom and completely missed. But that is for another time.
posted by owillis at 9:57 PM on November 29, 2001


Beyond young people attempting to sneak in, my biggest problem was with "old" people.

My favorite movie theather worker story comes from my friend this past summer. The air conditioner was out at the theater. An older woman came up to complain after the moive...

The exchange went something like this...

woman:"that theater was too hot."
employee:"I'm sorry miss, the air conditioner is not working... We are getting it fixed."
woman:"That's an unexcusable."
employee:"no mam, war crimes are unexcusable, this is just unfortunate."
posted by drezdn at 10:06 PM on November 29, 2001


You guys probably tip on the pre-tax amount, too.

As you should.
posted by KLAX at 10:16 PM on November 29, 2001


You guys probably tip on the pre-tax amount, too.

Man, is this proving that attitude problems exist in retail or what? I too worked retail for a long time. Coffee shops and bagel shops all over San Francisco, Santa Cruz and San Jose. Some people are a-hole customers. Some are not. I always just smiled at them, more and more as they got weirder and ruder.

Worst customer: I was working at a coffee shop in a snooty area in the Bay Area when I was about 17. This guy comes in and orders a latte...I charge him and he doesn't have enough money, says he will have to go dig it out of his car seat. I say "No problem" and dig the change he needed out of my tip jar. As I am foaming his nonfat milk, he fixes me with a steely gaze and says "You know, do you HAVE to be so unpleasant?" I was, needless to say, speechless.

tie: the bicycling guy who would come in daily with his money INSIDE his biking shorts. INSIDE his biking shorts!! he would peel back the waistband and hold out a dripping couple of bills, covered with sweat. Well, at least I hope to Christ it was sweat. I finally told him I wouldn't take his money for hygiene reasons. Didn't go over well.

Mostly, though, people were nice, as most people are. A lot of negative experiences happen because either the retail clerk or the customer either comes into the transaction having a bad day and takes it out on the other, or one of the participants has a negative preconception about the other.

It probably doesn't help that this writer is working in one of the the worst music stores in the known universe either.

I'm not saying she's wrong or right. I know there are times I felt as she did. It's all about the context.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:45 PM on November 29, 2001


> kevspace: Ironically, this leaves me almost no choice but to work retail, seeing as I have no college degree, because I am bad with numbers.

Kev, I thought your post was great, and though I've never worked retail, I've worked in food service and in a movie theatre (admittedly, that was a long time ago). I understand that some people are bad at math, but not everyone who works behind a cash register has a mental disability.

Some people are lazy or thought math wasn't worth learning (the way that I thought French wasn't worth learning -- and actively resisted learning it, much to my regret now). But everyone should be able to do at least simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in their head. I suck at calculus, and as it turns out, that's generally ok -- but if I couldn't do arithmetic, life sure would be a lot more inconvenient. It's worth practicing.

> skallas: I always assume the person behind the register has been using the register to do the math and probably isn't used to doing it in their heads. The last thing I would do is blame a confused kid behind the counter because I'm too late looking for a penny.

Yeah, that's one way of looking at it. Another way (which is more often the case for me, since I'm one of those people who is aware that I'm going to have to pay once I get to the front of the line and have my money ready ahead of time) is that people should not be dumbfounded to the point of speechlessness when I hand over three pennies along with my a five.
posted by sylloge at 10:47 PM on November 29, 2001


and I've always felt that everyone should work a mandatory two years in retail service so that they know how it is to be on the receiving end of various customer bullshit.

Hear, hear. Spent my first quarter of college thinking I was there to party and meet girls and stuff. Almost flunked out. Second quarter I got a part time job at the 7-11. This taught me two things:

1) I was in school so that I would *never* have to work in a 7-11 again. Straight A's after this insight.

2) Never, ever drink a Slurpee. The Slim Jims and the clove cigarettes are ok, tho.
posted by swell at 11:10 PM on November 29, 2001


slim jims and cloves? hopefully not at the same time...
posted by atom128 at 11:29 PM on November 29, 2001


I worked part-time at McDonald's when I was in high school. Although most people were pretty polite, there were always the ones that were arses. Whether it was because we had run out of burgers and more were being made and they had to wait 2 minutes for one that tastes better than the one they would have had if they had ordered faster and not stood at the counter staring at the menu when they had been standing in line for 2 minutes already and could have decided then, or whether it was because I'm not perfect and fucked up their order.

But now I don't work at McDonald's and I get to harrass McDonald's workers when they give me the wrong burger or if they give me a burger that has been sitting in the cabinet for longer than 10 minutes (FYI, if you have a look in the bin before you order, check the numbers on the little metal separators. If you see a black or red 6, that means that it should be thrown away just after halfpast the hour. Each number represents 10 minutes from when the burger was boxed, so if the time is 3.45 and there is a 5 behind the box, don't order it.).

I think if you work in retail, you really have to expect people to be rude.
posted by animoller at 11:42 PM on November 29, 2001


You guys probably tip on the pre-tax amount, too.
those who don't agree with this, have you ever been a server? if you have and still agree, something is wrong with you. If you've never been a server, try it for one day, and you'de understand.
Also, tip on the pre-coupon amount.
posted by jmd82 at 11:48 PM on November 29, 2001


I worked for quite a while at a very popular video store in the Los Angeles area, known for it's great selection as well as its "awful" customer service. I put "awful" in quotes because we the employees didn't think it was so awful, and, here's the kicker: neither did the owner. He told me once that he ran the store at a loss, relying on his other businesses for income, simply because he likes providing a certain kind of store for a certain kind of customer.

It's fairly common that in video stores, especially good ones (not Blockbuster), the clerks are there because they like movies, not because they need the infintessimal wages that desperately. At my video store, most if not all the employees had college degrees. And, in reference to one of the first posters above, this is the kind of store where the guy behind the counter is working on a screenplay, and it's probably good (the manager who hired me is a professional screenwriter now).

What I'm talking about is a type of worker that many customers do not understand, or believe to exist: the skilled low-wage employee. He is not there as an alternative to welfare. He is there part-time so that he can be around movies (or books, or music). If you treat him like a janitor, he will treat you like the piece of shit you are, and he will think it's funny, and it is.

The "you still making 40 bucks a week?" line from above belies the heart of this conflict: some people think that any establishment they go into is all about making money, and are shocked when their ass isn't kissed three ways from Sunday because they have a fiver burning a hole in their pocket. They see a guy behind the counter, and they pity him because surely he wouldn't be there if he had any skills, education, or talent.

Honestly, the greatest reward I got from that job was the opportunity to see the shocked look on customers' faces when I refused to let them check out after closing time, to explain a policy more than once, to give them a break on their late fees, or to allow them to hold up a line with stupid questions for more than a couple of seconds. Quite a few times I actually encouraged customers to leave the store immediately, and to patronize our nearby competitors. I even gave directions.

Once I lost my temper and actually shouted at a customer, in front of the owner. I thought I had finally gone too far. He took me aside later and said he thought the customer was out of line, and I should feel free to kick her out of the store the next time I saw her.

In short, I fully relate to what this girl (in the original link) is saying, even if she isn't saying it in the Queen's English. I'd go out with her in second if she was the least bit cute.
posted by bingo at 12:20 AM on November 30, 2001


Beyond young people attempting to sneak in, my biggest problem was with "old" people.

Yuh-- I always thought it was a good thing no one kidnaps old people, 'cause you can't get them not to talk to strangers.

To clarify a couple of points that may have come out in anger, A.) I worked in retail and service for 8 summers, and I'll tip at least 20% for the rest of my life and continue to give people I'm with shit if they ever try to undertip. B.) I'm still working on screenplays too-- my point was that I still do a great job for my current employer while I'm at my job.

What I'm talking about is . . . the skilled low-wage employee. He is not there as an alternative to welfare. He is there part-time so that he can be around movies (or books, or music).

Uh-huh, great. Look, I'm always incredibly polite and friendly. I'm a fetishist when it comes to movies, books and music too. What people in those retail industries *need* to understand (right back at'cha) is that there's a reason you can get to be around movies or whatever for a job: the money customers spend. At least give them the benefit of the doubt.

I have no problem with the rant. It just seemed a little naïve to me.
posted by yerfatma at 5:25 AM on November 30, 2001


This girl reminds me of the Soup Nazi . . . *sigh* I miss Seinfeld.

I worked in retail and service for 8 summers, and I'll tip at least 20% for the rest of my life and continue to give people I'm with shit if they ever try to undertip.

Why should people tip you for doing your job? Your employer is at fault for not paying you a decent wage, not me. So don't expect me to supplement your salary.

I suppose it's kind of ironic that so many minimum-wage jobs involve such demanding work, but the vast majority of them don't enjoy this mandatory tipping ethos. Why should waitresses... sorry, servers be an exception? Yes, working so hard for so little is tough, but you can consider that your punishment for not wanting to better yourself.

Get an education and stop whining.
posted by MarkC at 6:22 AM on November 30, 2001


I've already seen this movie and it was made by a guy who used to work in a movie store while he wrote screenplays.

Still, nice to see Mr. Pink didn't die in the final firefight like I thought.
posted by Dagobert at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2001


Mark. Dude. Do you not realize that waiters make like two dollars an hour or something because you ARE expected to---not supplement their salaries, but keep them from starving to death?

Tipping is not A Nice But Optional Thing To Do. You really, really need to do it. They depend on it, it's how the system works. If you can't afford the $3.75 tip on your $25 dinner, go home, get a tv dinner, and stop whining.

I've never once been a waitress, because I'm not cut out for it---if I had to serve Mark's table, for example, I'd probably scratch his eyes out before the entrees arrived, and then I'd be fired (yet unrepentant).
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:39 AM on November 30, 2001


Why should people tip you for doing your job?

As the poster above stated, most servers get *less than minimum wage.* In fact, where I used to work, the best waiters would make a show of tearing up their paychecks each week: they would make enough in tips that payroll taxes reduced their actual paycheck to $0. Call me an Econmics major, but I'm guessing that if everyone decided not to tip people making $2.00/hour, you might have a hard time getting a table at a restaurant.
posted by yerfatma at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2001


And the "not wanting to better yourself" stuff is bullshit. What does someone's occupation have to do with the quality of the person?
posted by yerfatma at 7:58 AM on November 30, 2001


You guys probably tip on the pre-tax amount, too.

Oh, also, if, after ordering a $300 bottle of wine, the owner of the restaurant comps it, you should still tip on it.

If the owner is your best friend, or wants to be, and has the chef cook up small samplings of the entire menu, which makes the server run back and forth from the kitchen all night, and the owner doesn't charge you for it, you still tip. and well.

And tip cash, not on your credit card. It's tax-free for us, and many a time I've seen servers doctor credit card receipts to get a much bigger tip, especially from the assholes that left 5 bucks - How often do you compare your credit card statements with your receipts?
posted by panopticon at 8:07 AM on November 30, 2001


As the poster above stated, most servers get *less than minimum wage.*

I didn't know this. Why do they get less than minimum wage? How is that legal?

Call me an Econmics major, but I'm guessing that if everyone decided not to tip people making $2.00/hour, you might have a hard time getting a table at a restaurant.

Or restaurants would have to start paying a living wage.
posted by MarkC at 8:30 AM on November 30, 2001


I used to work in retail, including record stores. While I realize this person was mostly ranting for entertainment value, and yep, there are a lot of asshole customers out there, and the pay and hours usually suck, it still made me want to smack her.

And, consumers, if you get really good service from someone at a restaurant or store, tell management. And leave a good tip. 15% is a mimimum for acceptable service. Besides, 20% or 25% is a lot easier to figure out.
posted by groundhog at 8:59 AM on November 30, 2001


Like kittyloop, I worked in the retail music industry and I LOVED the singing customers. They made my day. I felt like I was a detective trying to figure out what the hell they were singing (and people were always embarrassed about doing it and I'd say, look this isn't Star Search, just give me a clue!). Most of the time I loved my job, but there are always stupid people. And most of the time I'd just blow off steam laughing at the stupid people (after they'd left, of course). I didn't read the whole rant, just sort of skimmed it, but it sounded like what we'd be doing in the back room. We didn't actually hate these people, we'd just make fun of them. The customers who really drove me crazy were the ones who refused to think for themselves. They'd walk in, surrounded on all sides by CDs and say "Yeah, where are your CDs?" I wanted to say "I just don't know how to help you!" but of course I'd have to be friendly.

Actually, the worst part of working at a music store was the corporation I worked for and knowing that they wouldn't back me up if a customer was unreasonably rude to me.

My favorite story of how I put my foot in it with a customer: this biker guy in his 40's tattos and leather vest and all came in and said "Do you have "You Light Up My Life"? And I figured he had to get it for a girlfriend or something so I burst out laughing and kind of winked *knowingly* at him and he said "It's for my mother's funeral." Yeah, that shut me up! I felt terrible..
posted by witchstone at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2001


Why do they get less than minimum wage? How is that legal?

Because people tip.
posted by kindall at 9:06 AM on November 30, 2001


I agree on the tipping thing. I always tip, partly because I have worked tip jobs (those dollar bills can really chafe a guy's thighs!) and partly because I made the logical leap from "waiter makes minimum wage" to "tip him/her well".

That crack about bettering yourself was, in a word, shitty.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:10 AM on November 30, 2001


US DOL on Minimum Wage: Covered non-exempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage -- $4.75 an hour effective 10/1/96; $5.15 an hour effective 9/1/97. Wages are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered. Deductions made from wages for items such as cash shortages, required uniforms, or customer walk-outs are illegal if the deduction reduces the employee's wages below the minimum wage or cuts into overtime pay. Deductions made for items other than board, lodging, or other recognized facilities normally cannot be made in an overtime workweek. Tips may be considered as part of wages, but the employer must pay not less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages and make sure that the amount of tips received is enough to meet the remainder of the minimum wage.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:11 AM on November 30, 2001


This person needs to get some perspective. The customer is not their for her convenience, her job is to serve, and that includes wiping stuff off the floor, being patient while people fumble with their money etc. Of course this includes dealing with rude people.

I understand that the rant is supposed to be a joke but if any of her feelings of contempt showed on her face while she was serving me I would just walk out. It's one thing having rude customers, but to pay someone and then have them bitch at you...

I have worked in retail and have taken my fair share of shit, and it's true there are a lot of foolish people in this world. I found that if you are cheerful and try to be nice you won't have problems.
posted by dydecker at 9:39 AM on November 30, 2001


Tipping is not A Nice But Optional Thing To Do. You really, really need to do it. They depend on it, it's how the system works.

Which demonstrates that the system is insufferably broken. In any other situation, depending on the generosity of strangers to make your living is called "panhandling". If tipping is not optional, it's not tipping - it's a supplemental salary. That I have to make up for the restaurant's failure to pay its employees a living wage is an insult to all concerned.

But I've done my tipping rant before...

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:42 AM on November 30, 2001


Or restaurants would have to start paying a living wage.

And food prices in restaurants would go up more than the 20% that people are bitching about.
posted by Jart at 9:57 AM on November 30, 2001


In any other situation, depending on the generosity of strangers to make your living is called "panhandling".

Except, no: the food prices pay for the restaurant and the kitchen staff. Your tips keep the waiters coming back for more. Given that you can get a good meal in a restaurant, how is the system "insufferably broken?" Why not just "broken," especially since your modifier seems a bit out of place?
posted by yerfatma at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2001


Coming from a country that doesn't tip (unless the service is fucking exceptional), I don't think it's right that you have to tip, even if the service you get is bollocks. I can't say I've been served by any outstanding waitresses yet, either.

The government really needs to do something about the minimum wage, which is horribly low. I think it's about $7 back home (at least, I mean, I was earning over $8p/h at McDonald's). Tipping should be reserved for great service only. I don't think I'll get used to how it's used here in America.
posted by animoller at 10:18 AM on November 30, 2001


Don't you think someone should be tipped, if they do a good job? A surly attitude or shoddy service usually results in a tip deduction or not at all from me...
posted by owillis at 10:19 AM on November 30, 2001


In Europe the tip is included in the bill, as VAT. I must say, though, that in England at least I have had some of the rudest and apathetic servers ever. I think the VAT being included has a lot to do with that. Not all were rude or apathetic mind you, just some.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:31 AM on November 30, 2001


In any other situation, depending on the generosity of strangers to make your living is called "panhandling".

No, panhandling is when people ask you for money having done nothing to deserve it. That is rather an important distinction, I might think.

I don't think it's right that you have to tip, even if the service you get is bollocks.

I actually didn't tip a waitress last week, because of the lousy service I got. Among other things she was apparently unclear on the concept that you bring the hungry customer their soup or salad right away, instead of making them wait until their main course is ready.
posted by kindall at 10:32 AM on November 30, 2001


Given that you can get a good meal in a restaurant, how is the system how is the system [...] broken?

It's so complicated. Can't they just charge more for the food and pay the waiters a decent wage? Then I can tip if I think the service is exceptional. Having to tip so someone doesn't spit on my food is just fucked.
posted by walrus at 10:36 AM on November 30, 2001



I've been waiting tables for six years in order to pay for college a little bit at a time and try to live comfortably in the meantime. It is the generosity of the people behind the tipping that keeps food on my table.

No one can logically argue that the evil restaurant industry's not wanting to pay their employees and asking the customer to pick up the tab is fair. It just is not.
But the cost of your food will rise dramatically and your service will wane as well.

Because, no one can logically argue, either, that serving is easy. It isn't. It is back-breaking, pride-swallowing work. And for minumum wage, you can guarantee that it would be nearly impossible to staff a restaurant when they can fold sweaters instead. And if you could, do you really think she's gonna give a fuck when you get your salad?

But, MarkC, to imply that servers refuse to better themselves and that they should "get an education and stop whining," proves your sheer ignorance in this arena. Every single server at my restaurant is enrolled in higher education courses. It just turns out they are paying for it themselves--thanks to the kindness of others. Apparently, something else you are ignorant of as well.
posted by brittney at 12:43 PM on November 30, 2001


I've written screeds that sounded remarkably like Erin's. She's not exaggerating and I doubt she's playing it for humor. She's venting so she doesn't explode.

There's a percentage of people who suck. I'm a good, decent consumer, and I hate dealing with lame clerks, salespeople, servers, and service reps. Having also *been* a good, decent clerk, salesman, server, and service rep, I hated dealing with lame customers.

The solution? Well, it's easier to walk out of a lame employee's store than to walk out of a job serving lame people. I managed to do both, and am much happier today in a job devoid of public contact.

Erin, for your own sanity, do whatever you have to do to get out. You'll never educate the masses, only burn yourself out.
posted by Tubes at 8:32 PM on November 30, 2001


~Just curious~ Did anyone read anything else Erin said on the link at the bottom?

Yeah, and I think some of you might be interested in it also:

8:42 PM: "I just wonder how often her register is short if she's that bad at basic third grade mathematics," says MegoSteve.
Wonder no more: roughly three times a year.
Fuck you.

8:39 PM: (Yes, I will respond to every last one of these fucking metafiller comments if I feel so inclined.) This is why I hate you: Not only are you a moron, but you think that because I've called you on it, that I am not Employee of the Month material.

posted by Dean King at 10:38 PM on November 30, 2001


Tipping to get good service at a restaurant makes about as much sense as tipping at a jiffy-lube so they don't screw up your engine, tipping at the overnight photo counter so they don't scratch your negatives, or tipping at the cleaner so they actually get your clothes washed on time.

The only reason restaurants can get away with routinely underpaying their employees is that we, the restaurant customers, are willing to keep on making up the shortfall. The tip used to be a reward for good service; now it's simply an expected part of the employee's salary. Restaurants are businesses, and they will cut costs wherever they can get away with it. As long as we continue to play along, they will keep underpaying their employees.

No, panhandling is when people ask you for money having done nothing to deserve it. That is rather an important distinction, I might think.

In most cases, the server has not done anything to deserve it. They've simply done their job. For that, they ought to be paid - by their employer, same as any other job.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:33 PM on December 3, 2001


In Europe the tip is included in the bill, as VAT. I must say, though, that in England at least I have had some of the rudest and apathetic servers ever. I think the VAT being included has a lot to do with that.

VAT = Value Added Tax. The UK version of sales tax. The servers don't get it, the government does.
posted by normy at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2001


hmmmm

normy...do the servers get some sort of percentage or am I way off? Maybe it's just called something else, and I screwed up the name?

Give me answers! I'm alone and afraid!
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:07 PM on December 3, 2001


hmmmm

normy...do the servers get some sort of percentage or am I way off? Maybe it's just called something else, and I screwed up the name?

Give me answers! I'm alone and afraid!
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:08 PM on December 3, 2001


double doh!
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:08 PM on December 3, 2001


Kafkaesque,
The tipping situation in UK restaurants is confusing, even for the locals. Many establishments put something like "service charge of 15% added to all orders" somewhere on the menu - they add it as an item to the bill. Whether the server actually sees this money, I have no idea - maybe, maybe not? Othertimes you might see "gratuity not included" meaning a tip is expected. Oftentimes you're not given a clue and have to guess.

I do know that whenever I've left a tip it's never been refused...
posted by normy at 10:08 PM on December 3, 2001


« Older You too can piss off Jerry Falwell....  |  It's His Fan Club I Can't Stan... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments