Adventures in customer service

Adam Griffiths

I saw her sorting through the clearance racks one or two rows away from me.

I was folding a table of T-shirts and minding my own business, and then it happened – a small squealing noise.

I tried not to look up right away, holding back a hesitant laugh. A few seconds passed. I looked up, and she was looking right at me. She knew I was onto her.

A few minutes later, she farted again. And for the next 10 or so minutes as she combed the merchandise, she released herself a total of six times, each time checking back to see whether I was onto her or not.

After the three years I’ve spent working at Target, this occasion registered as mildly amusing on my short continuum of experience in retail. It’s something everyone should have to do at least once in life. You never really realize how downright rude you come across to the people who work at your favorite stores until you’re standing on the other side of the counter.

But without guests, there is no money, and without money, there is no team. So as much as retail employees complain about the people who inconsiderately knock products off shelves and leave their unwanted goods laying in all the wrong places, they provide a wealth of entertainment. And as the back-to-school products slowly make their way to the shelves, things only get more amusing as stay-at-home moms and cartfuls of screaming kids make their way around the store every day from dawn till dusk.

I was sitting on the ground a few days ago when a boy came up to me and sat down. He was shopping for school clothes. I asked him what grade he was going to be starting this fall.

“Well, I’m going to be in third grade, but I should be in fourth grade,” he said. “My life’s like that. It just sucks.”

I’d probably feel the same way, but before I had a chance to respond, his mother beckoned from the next department over, and he ran away.

Then, there was the inquisitive 4-year-old a while back who went through one of the cashier’s checkout lanes. The girl wanted to speak with a supervisor, so the cashier called her over.

“Why can’t you wear pink?” the toddler demanded to know.

“My boss makes me wear red and khaki,” the supervisor replied.

“Well, that’s a shame because pink is such a fabulous color,” the girl announced.

I won’t lie – My job would be just a smidge better if I got to wear pink to work every now and then. But then again, I wouldn’t give it up. Target’s taught me a lot about life and the people out there in the real world. I’ve had merchandise thrown at me and encountered guests who’ve tried to convince me that their negligence is something I should be concerned with. I’ve cleaned up hundreds of aisles, only to have a guest proceed to trash it while I stand there working.

Guests like the farting woman and the fabulous toddler make it all worth it, and they remind me after working a week straight why I keep going back day after day.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].