The customer is always insane

I work in an art store, and get my share of weirdo customers. Yesterday afternoon though, I had one that particularly stood out.

Relatively normal-acting, normal-looking guy comes in and buys a sketchbook. The music I have on is internet radio, playing a channel called “Wartime classics”, music from the late 30’s and 40’s. as I’m ringing him through, he asks:

Guy: Hey, what kind of music is this?

Me: Oh, it’s just internet radio, this channel’s called Wartime classics.

Guy: War! Isn’t war music supposed to be all big and booming with cannons and all that?

Me:…no, not sounds of war. By wartime they mean music from that era.

Guy: Well, I was born 8 days before the war.

I am looking at this guy. He looks maybe 25, tops. My mind is blown. For a moment, I’m not sure what to say. Finally, I say,

Me…Um,…this is from World War II.

Guy: It doesn’t matter. All wars are the same. Bombs, tanks, shooting, guys with guns, heads blown off, all that. Imagine you’re like a kid and playing with your friend, and a bomb drops, and pfft, head off?


Guy: Let me tell you something. Have you heard of Peter McKay?

Me:…I’ve heard of him…

Guy: Well, he congratulated soldiers for killing 500 15-year-old boys. That’s the
Conservative government for you.


Guy: Ok, well, thanks, have a good day! leaves
Please share your stories of dealing with nutjobs.

Did you work at the same art store I did?

I swear . . . every full moon! We had one customer who would come in about once a month, buy several hundred dollars worth of art supplies, and return them all the next day. Unopened, untouched. :confused:

das Glas’

See, this is the kind of stuff that makes those of us in the rest of Canada so concerned about those of you in Ontario. :wink:

Hey! There’s nothing wrong with us in Ontario! It’s not like we suddenly lapse into stir-fried mumble-wango gibberish yibble ack or anything.

Ahhhh yes…the Customer-Turning-Feral-Phenomenon:

  1. Customer purchases a widget for his son. Not knowing how to read a simple diagram, Customer takes widget to a tech, to get it installed. Tech informs Customer that the widget may or may not be defective. Customer calls me, and I’m duly informed that the widget is bad, “According to my Tech”.

I issue an RMA number for returning said widget, when the Customer pipes up. “What about my expenses?”

Your which?

“You know. My mileage driving to the Tech’s shop, and his fee for the install. You’re paying for all of that, right?”

Why…YES, I AM!! I’m also getting braces for your kid, and I’m throwing in the free breast implants that your wife’s been nagging you about lately!

  1. Customer orders a pair of widgets. Retailer informs Customer that we build to order, so there will be a delay of a couple of weeks. Having already paid for the widgets (since the Customer had a previous history of ordering stuff, then changing his mind at the last minute), the Customer decides that he does not have to wait.

Exercising personal initiative, The Customer went to the Sheriff’s Department, secured a Deputy, and tried to drive said Law Enforcement Official over to my place of employment to have me arrested.

  1. Customer wants to order a widget that is only available to OEM’s. Customer is in another country. I inform the Customer that he cannot, as an end user, purchase the widget.

“But you don’t understand. I’m going to pay for it.”

I know that, but it’s against company policy to sell this particular widget to an end user.

“But I’m going to PAY for it!”

I can appreciate your sentiment, but it’s still against company policy.

“Look. You just don’t get it. I’m PAYING for it!!”

I do not make the rules here, but I do have to live by them.


(hangs up on nut job)

A loooooooong time ago, working the grill at a place near Soulard Market in St. Louis. A customer who owns a store about a block away orders a hot dog, burnt. So I burn him one…blackened outside, but still edible. He sends it back for me ‘to finish cooking it’. I figure WTF, so I burn the bajeebers out of the thing. I mean, I turned it into a hot dog-shaped piece of pure carbon. I’m gonna make this guy back down… He *eats *it, and before he leaves, he shouts to me in the kitchen, “Thanks! I usually have to send it back four or five times”. (Gee, would you like a bag of Kingsford to go?)

We are currently showing Bodies…The Exhibition. A coworker of mine was down in reception when a person called, and asked if the bodies were dead?

Or, we had this woman who kept calling up and screaming obscenities, telling us all how we’re going to hell, etc. She’s been blocked, IIRC. (And again, it was about Bodies-there’s a lot of controversy over the whole thing, which I don’t feel like getting into right now)
(And don’t get me started on the dumbass who asked if the planetarium was where we kept the dinosaurs.)

Ha. I work in a call center. One of my favourites recently was an older fellow who called to place an order. Basically, the call went something like this:

Me: Ok, I need to verify your account information. Do you have an email address you’d like to share today?
Him: No, I don’t do none of that intarweb stuff.
Me: Ok, is the phone number still XXX-XXX-XXXX?
Him: Yes
Me: And do you have a fax number?
Him: I done tole you, I don’t do none o’that intarwebs stuff!
Me: :confused: Uhm…yes, sir, but do you have a fax number?
Me: uhm…ok, sorry…

Yeh. Happens a lot. We always get people who want to know what size bag they need for a particular item and seem completely flummoxed at why I would want to know the dimensions of the item before suggesting a bag. :dubious: I actually had a guy go completely off on me yesterday because I didn’t know what a bushel basket’s dimensions are – and he was incapable of giving them to me, even though he had one sitting in front of him and I have never touched one in my life. Seriously, people, reality – find it.

Don’t leave us hanging. What happened?

Ah, if only you’d asked me this a few years ago, when I worked in a copy store. A lot of nutty people came in. There was one man who called almost every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, trying to arrange dinner with the owner. (The caller had some kind of mental problem, but I can’t remember what it was.) The owner did humor him by hanging out with him every now and then. The owner of the place also ran a small record label, so his bandmates and clients would come in every now and then, like the homeless rapper with half a dozen names who always bought just a handful of his own CDs. There was the woman who placed one simple order and had us make tiny changes every week so it took months to finish. There was the creep who created singing groups to give him a chance to meet young men… and invited me to one…

One of my Dad’s employees in his store is of Iranian descent. One day, she was helping a customer, and he commented that her name was pretty. She replied that it was Persian. . . and this dude launches into a tirade about the middle east, making sure to use “towelhead” and “sand n*gger” in his diatribe. Everyone was so flabbergasted it took them a couple moments to do anything other than stare with their mouths open.

Only person my father’s ever had to remove bodily from the premises.

I think I may have posted this before, but whatever… sorry for the length!

I was a waitress at a private golf club many years ago. This was a place where members could come and go as they pleased, but non-members had to be sponsored and signed up by members, and generally had to be with them most of the time. There was a full service kitchen and dining room, but the menu changed every night on the whim/available ingredients of the chef. On any given night there was probably about 3-5 entrées and 5-6 main dishes. There were a few rooms to let, and this is a story about a non-member who came to visit.

On the day he arrived, he was, apparently very rude to the receptionist. I wasn’t there at the time, but upon recounting my interaction with him, she proceeded to rant about how he treated her like a moron because she dared to even ask him his name as he arrived ("I’m sorry sir, but there are 400 members here, many of whom bring guests, and we cannot be expected to know the names of any and all acquaintances they may have!)

That evening, he sits down to dinner, and looks over the menu and calls me over. He asks if the soup had dairy products in it. “Crème de brocoli? Yes sir, there’s cream in it” Oh, well, he couldn’t have that!

“What about [insert every menu item here]?”

Some of them I happened to know, and others I didn’t, so I offered to go ask the chef about the ingredients in the menu. His answer?

“Of course you should! I’m deathly allergic to milk and dairy, I can’t even have butter in a pastry, you should already know if anything on this menu will kill me if I eat it!”

“Sorry, sir, I wasn’t made aware of your allergy, I will go speak to the chef and ensure that he can prepare something for you that is dairy free.”

He grumbles some insult at me (i didn’t really hear it, but the tone of voice was clear) as I walked to the kitchen.

“Hey, J-C, the guest with the severe dairy allergy has questions about the menu items!”

“What guest with the severe dairy allergy?!?!?!?!”

The idiot didn’t bother to let anyone know about this until sitting down at the table (even mentioning something when he checked in would have been enough time to sort something out!) I mean, if eating a drop of dairy product might KILL YOU, you’d think you’d be intelligent enough to do anything possible to avoid coming into contact with the stuff, right? Particularly when you’re going to a dining room with a French chef! Especially a crazy French chef going through a midlife crisis, but that’s another thread!

As it happens, everything on the menu either had dairy in it, or couldn’t be guaranteed to have not come into contact with any. That’s just how it is. This particular kitchen (due to the needs of members) was ridiculously diligent about separating fish and seafood from other meats/items, and offered gluten free items, but being a private dining room, there had never been any need to avoid dairy before. Seriously, how many kitchens do?!?! How many FRENCH kitchens!?

Anyways, JC told me to come back in 10 minutes, he’d figure something out, just go take the orders for the rest of the table and take care of the other tables I was serving.

Upon hearing this news, the idiot guest called me an “incompetent waitress” (yes sir, I am clearly incompetent for having failed to psychically guess your secret food allergy and then arranging to still make sure you had something to eat). When JC finally told me he could offer a choice of two items (both good, but nowhere near the quality of the other menu items), the idiot guest chose one, insulted me again, and ranted about how the service was terrible because he couldn’t give his order at the same time as everyone else (once again sir, I’m sorry I couldn’t read your mind; I’m all out of magic telepathy powder, you see!)

And just to make this more stressful, this was on an evening with an unexpected thunderstorm, the power went out on the adjacent member-owned properties, so instead of only having the expected table of 10 (with the idiot) and one table of 2, we ended up with nearly 100 people to serve in 2 hours, the manager was away, and the only other waitress was on her first day as a waitress ever, there was only one chef (the sous-chef had his day off) and one dishwasher to handle the kitchen. Lucky for the kitchen, one of the weekly meat deliveries had been that very day, or we would have had to send people away!

Everyone else praised our work and understood that service was perhaps a little less prompt than usual, but the idiot ranted the entire evening about how he could have died by eating anything there, how the service was too slow and he expected personal service at such a fancy club (not actually fancy - think more golf cottage getaway!) and how dare the manager take a day off when he was visiting? It’s not like this man was famous or anything - he just was some rich guy’s nephew.

The idiot was a nightmare the rest of the week, too, but at least we knew what to offer him for food, and the kitchen went out of their way to come up with great menu items. He never thanked anyone for that.


Why should he thank anyone? It’s simple common courtesy to avoid killing your dinner patrons. He’s an extreeeeemely special person with extreeeeeeeeemely special needs. Everybody else is just gonna have to adjust. No, he doesn’t have to tell you ahead of time. Being mortally allergic to dairy is an EMERGENCY you can carry with you wherever you go.


This is my favorite story from the annals of Back When I Worked the Service Desk of a Hardware Store:

Crazy Lady: Do you sell chicken here?

Me: looks around, confused… Chicken?

Crazy Lady: grievous and put-upon sigh Yeah! Meat!

Me: I’m sorry, ma’am … this is a hardware store. We don’t carry any food.

Crazy Lady: rolls eyes and scoffs before wandering off

I do not miss that job.

*I’m sorry ma’am, this is a vegetarian hardware store.

Would you like a jar of mixed nuts?

I was a part time receptionist at a car dealership.
{phone rings}
Me: Hello, “Name of Car Dealership”, how may I help you?
Him: I’d like to rent a car.
M: I’m sorry, we no longer rent cars.
H: Well I found you in the Yellow Pages under car rentals.
M: Yes, we used to rent cars, but we’ve discontined that service. I’d be happy to give you the number of Enterprise rentals, they’re right across the street.
H: But your ad says you rent cars!
M: Yes, we used to rent cars. We do not any longer.
H: Well if your ad says you rent cars, you have to rent cars. Otherwise that’s false advertisement!
{at this point I could tell he was simply messing with me}
M: I’m sorry, sir. Would you like me to come to your house and cross out the line about car rentals from your advertisement?
H: {laughing} No, that’s okay.

I worked another summer as a cashier in a Dairy Mart. I was the only employeed during the evening shift. There was one “charming” old man who took a shine to me. He asked me if I was a model. I assured him that I was not. He told me I was pretty enough to be one. I thanked him, but had to restrain myself from pointing out that if I was a model, I’d hardly be working the night shift at the Dairy Mart.

Crazy customers are great. They break up the monotony, and if they were ever too much of a problem I’d always send them to my manager.

I took a part-time job at Home Depot once, and it was most entertaining: usually, the real weidos came in late at night. One guy would come in about 20 mintes before closing-he’d push a cart around and load it up with stuff-then leave it. The other funpeople who would bring back some pice of junk (broken old tols, dead pants, etc.) looking for a refund. In most cases, the manager would give them a free exchange-even though we knew the old shovel was 40 years old.

For several blissful years I worked in a used book store. Most of my customers were very pleasant folks, but there was one whackaloon who never came into the store unless he could see that there were no other customers there. He would come up to the front counter and try to sell me some used girlie magazines. And they were very, very used indeed. The pages were stuck together, if you get my drift. The guy looked like Christopher Lloyd, and smelled as if he had wallowed in cheap aftershave. When I told him politely that we didn’t stock that kind of magazine, he would mutter unintelligibly for a few moments and then brighten up and say “See you next week!”

How about a nutso sales person? I went into Sears several years ago, looking to buy some Velcro (the reason escapes me). I collared the first saleswoman I saw and asked if they carried it.

She: What is it again?
Me: Velcro…?
She: What’s that?
Me (with a little laugh): You know…velcro…?
She: blank look
Me: The stuff that’s used in place of zippers or buttons, you know, the hook and loop material that sticks together?
She: blank look and shaking head - I don’t know what that is.
Me (incredulously): You really don’t know what velcro is??
She: Nope.
Me (final desperation): It makes that teeaaarring sound…you know, you find it on shoes and wallets and watchbands…you know…VELCRO, for god’s sake!
She: blank look of annoyance

My wife had to drag me out of there gibbering madly about who the FUCK doesn’t know what the FUCK VELCRO is, fer christs sake?

How did they kill the pants? Were they trying to strangle the trouser snake? <shudder>

FWIW, some chains, such as OSH, will replace dead plants if you were smart enough to save the receipt.

Going back to the OP - I used to work in an art store years and years ago, and yes, we had a collection of regulars that you’d swear were sniffing turpentine just a little too often.

The real weirdos came later when I was with an “adult” leather store. To us, it was all just merchandise that needed to be sold, but to the customers, well… It could get a little cloak-and-daggerish when they’d come over to the counter, lean over and whisper their desires, even though they were the only customer in the store. One of the clerks was mean and would yell to the back of the shop “Hey Bob! Can you get me an extra-large double-ripple sit and giggle?” or whatever it was the customer wanted. Good times…too bad the store’s gone out of business.