The Mustached Man -or- I Can Be a Total Jerk Sometimes

I have been writing here tales of woe and absurdity from my clientele, often in an insulting and derogatory manner, but I think it is time I shared a story of my own personal absurdity. You may have heard that old business saying, a bad customer experience will be shared with nine friends, while a good customer experience will be shared with three friends? Well this guy probably told his entire extended family and 50 of his closest friends about this experience.

So first some explanation. This guy can be kind of rude at times. He once yelled at a coworker who attempted to give him back his change, simply for trying to return to him his owed money. There was a mis-communication, but still, no reason to yell. He tends to ask lots of questions, but ignores the responses and he always seems to be on the verge of angry retaliation. He does have a sweet mustache though.

So one day, after a transaction, a barrage of questions and many ignored answers, he left. It was after he left that I noticed that he had forgotten his store discount card. He had left me in a particularly bad mood that day so in a weird bit of partially good intentioned, yet still blatantly bitter customer service, I wrote a note on his discount card that read, “this belongs to that annoying customer with the mustache.” You can probably tell where this is going already.

He returned a few days later to do some more shopping, and he was excited to learn that I had saved his lost card for him. It was behind the counter, waiting to give him his discount. The store got busy, and I left my coworker to ring him up. You can guess what happened next, and you can imagine how my stomach felt nestled comfortably next to my feet when I heard him say, “I need to talk to someone about this,” with a crumpled note squeezed between his thumb and forefinger like a crushed bug.

The plan was to remove the note before triumphantly returning his card, but I had neglected to inform my coworker of this.

I quickly pulled him aside and began to feverishly apologize for my indiscretion. It was a total asshole move on my part. The note was completely inappropriate to begin with, and the fact that he had to read it? I can’t even imagine his justified anger.

Imagine if one of your favorite stores, one that you shopped on a weekly basis, with employees that you liked (I assumed he liked me before all this, and I think he still does actually) informed you, discretely, that they thought you were annoying. I think I would be a little frustrated.

I began my monologue of apologies promising discounts, taking total responsibility for everything. And he listened, stone-faced, with a twitchy mustache, never blinking, never looking away. I already felt like the scum of the earth, but it was his parting words that truly drove the sword deeper into my stomach. “I thought you were one of the cool ones. I thought you were cool, man.” He was comparing me to the other employees of the neighboring stores. He had been making special trips to my store to shop with me, and I insulted him — in writing.

Eventually he came back to my store, and I gave him some sweet discounts, apologized some more and he forgave me. He still shops at the store and I have a great deal of respect for him having been such a forgiving person. Would you have continued to shop with me if I called you an annoying guy with a mustache — in writing?

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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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