Tales of People That Confuse Me -or- I Will and Cannot Ever Know

I have worked in the retail sector for a long time. I began working in a game store my junior year of high school and have continued to do so following my graduation from college. Approximately six years I have been peddling games to people of all ages and backgrounds. I enjoy my job for the most part. I enjoy games and I enjoy talking about them to customers, even those who, “Don’t know nothing about no games,” which is a quote I hear more often than you would think.

Christmas is of course, hellish as it is with any retail scenario. A busy holiday season is not exclusive to game retailers. During the wonderful months of late October to early January my job changes from leisurely discussions of advantages of one game over another to discussions of, “my child needs this and the fact that you don’t have it in stock is absolutely appalling.”

Spats with customers happen, there really is no way to avoid it. Customers make demands that I cannot abide, or the line is not moving fast enough. There are millions of things that can upset a customer at any given moment. Needless to say, my patience tends to wain, and the customer experience can sometimes be hindered.

One customer I had during this last season, I don’t think I will ever forget. Not because she was particularly angry, nor because she was particularly nice, but simply because I have absolutely no idea what transpired during the course of the transaction.

It occurred in early January. The holiday sales were beginning to slow, but the store still remained busier than usual. A customer brought a game to the counter. She did not appear fully ready to commit to her purchase. “Do you have any questions, mam?” I asked. “No” she said, clearly already annoyed, “I want to buy this.” “Sure no problem,” I responded. I rang up her game, bagged it up and said quite pleasantly said, “There you go, thank you very much.” I held the bag containing her game out in from of my chest waiting for her to grab it. I could tell by the look on her face that I had clearly done something terribly wrong. Her eyes were squinted, her arms were crossed and her lips were slightly pursed. She had her hip cocked to the side and after a moment of awkward silence she muttered an exasperated, “okay,” the way that people do when they decide to agree with you despite their obvious inclination.

“Is everything okay?” I asked with one eyebrow raised in obvious confusion. “Yeah okay,” she said, ending the second syllable of “okay” with a sarcastic laugh. “Are you sure, mam?” I had to attempt at least one last time to figure out what I had done to offend this woman. “It’s fine,” she said sharply. She grabbed her bag and stomped out of the store.

After she left, I turned to my co-worker and immediately asked what just happened, not because of my burning desire to self-evaluate my own customer service capabilities, but to find out what the hell just happened. He shrugged clearly as confused as I was.

I was polite, I was expedient and I made two honest attempts to figure out what had offended this woman so deeply. Even upon reviewing the security tapes I still cannot figure out what happened. Because of my complete and utter confusion, I have come to the conclusion that this woman was simply trying to make sure that I went insane, and I just want to let her know, mission accomplished.

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About Kyle Hilliard
I used to be a freelancer. Now I write for Game Informer magazine. Someday, when the time is right, I will grow a mustache.

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