Monday, 23 March 2009

Monday morning

This morning (first 'customer' of the day) a drunk man told me I have a 'gaping hole in my heart' because I do not love dogs. Personally I've always thought it worked the other way around, but I suppose I would say that due to the hole... The hole full of seething misanthropy!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Swift weekly run-down

This week has been preternaturally calm! My assistant manager was off Wednesday and Thursday, and called in sick on Tuesday, so I didn't see her til Saturday (my day off on Friday). I shouldn't be mean, but it is so lovely and peaceful when she's not around... She's an Essex girl through and through! You can hear her dulcet tones at pretty much any given time, in any given location within about a half mile radius of the shop. Mostly I am thankful for her gregariousness, being that it's a quality I lack myself. All the volunteers would get bored and leave if it was just me.

Her absence aside, this week there have been no fraudsters, no angry refund-seekers, no imminent violence, only one small incident with the stalker (he popped in Wednesday afternoon when I was on my own on the till, but eventually left after I studiously ignored him in favour of numerous pointless bits of merchandising) - I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself...

Monday, 16 March 2009

Back to work

Picked up the keys from the other shop this morning and with them the lead weights that attach to my soul...

The minute I walked through the door the familiar 'why do I bother' feeling sank back in. First job was to remove the shite from the bric a brac shelves (as always when I've not been here) - a single blank VHS tape for 50p, a cuddly toy, a bag of golf tees originally priced at 75p...

The will to love ebbing slowly, I discovered three carrier bags full of change under the desk. Thank god! A timewasting activity. I've spent a good portion of the day bagging it up - total £93.80, mostly consisting of coppers.

But now it's nearly 3pm and the donations are piling up (each one feeling like it's being dropped on my shoulders as Peter sets them down in the office). I'd better go and do some real work!

*edit* Someone just made a donation of £473. And I was worried about making my target...

Friday, 13 March 2009

And so it begins again

Back to work tomorrow after 8 glorious days off.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Who throws a shoe?!

Another tale of woe and misguided interests from the archives.

Before Christmas, a pair of trainers was sold to an Eastern European lady, by Daphne, for the sum of £14.99. Lovely new DCs, bargain. I am called to the till in a dispute over the change. Daphne tells me the customer gave her a £10 note and a £5 note; the customer insists she gave her two £10 notes. So I say ok, the only way I can settle this is to cash up the till, would you mind coming back in half an hour. Duly I cash up (it's only around 11am, so not too lengthy a task), and we are down by £1. Plus Daphne has been working at the shop three times a week for the past six years, so I trust her word anyway.

When the lady comes back, I apologetically explain that I'm sorry but the money isn't there - she must have given a ten and a five. That isn't good enough though. The woman swears blind that she got two £10 notes out of the cash machine across the road (suggesting that I check the bank's security tapes!), and came straight in here to buy the shoes. She is evidently quite distressed, clearly she really believes we have short changed her, I have no suspicion that she's trying to pull a fast one (happens more frequently than you'd think) - but there literally is nothing else I can do! She also implies that perhaps my volunteer is too old and that she has made a mistake, asks if she has made mistakes before - but as I've already explained, this is not the case and I get a little irritated when people accuse my staff of wrongdoing despite all evidence to the contrary.

Anyway, the customer wants to speak to my superior, so I give her the number for head office, and my name, and off she goes. As she leaves the shop, she turns around, takes the shoes out of the bag and shies them in my direction, one at a time, and shouts 'there is my donation - £20!' I sigh and smile weakly, say thank you very much and go to retrieve the shoes that have narrowly missed my head. (Just call me Dubya.)

Immediately I call my manager to tell him what has transpired, so that he's prepared for a phone call. He rings back a little while later and tells me she is a total nutjob (his usual politically correct and professional persona). She was on the phone to him for half an hour, telling him that I was a 'vindictive and horrible person' and that I had 'robbed her and raped her' (slight language barrier methinks). My boss explained that she had two options - she could come back and pick up the shoes, or she could come back and get a full refund. She wanted her shoes, and her £5. Eventually he got her to agree to come and collect them, and told me that she would be in later or tomorrow.

I was off the next day, but apparently she was rather sheepish - I'd warned Katie that there may be an irate Eastern European dropping by! - but thankfully that was the end of it. One suspects she found the money elsewhere since the previous afternoon (or that my boss threatened her with deportation - shhh! you didn't hear it from me...).

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The stuff of wonders

Our donations never fail to astound me. I empty one bag and find two pairs of old knickers, some recordable VHS tapes and three studded leather hangers (WTF).

The next bag contains a brand new pair of Russell & Bromley shoes with matching handbag, still in the box, a faux fur-trimmed brocade Jigsaw jacket, and a purple-sequinned flapper dress by Karen Millen.

Then I find a bag of tupperware from the 1970s.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Abuse, etc

My favourite argumentative customer stopped by this afternoon to brighten my day...

About 6 months ago there was an incident with this man, wherein he posted money through the door while the shop was closed, along with a little note stating that he wished to purchase an item in the window. Now, he had done this once before and I had asked him not to do it as we don't put things aside. Personally I think it's pretty rude, like snapping your fingers at a waiter. Anyway, when he came in to collect his item, I gave him his money back and explained politely that we were unable to reserve items (this is company policy - many shops alas do not enforce it otherwise I would get a lot less hassle over it). Cue a tirade of personal abuse, how did I ever get to become manager, he never gets this anywhere else, why is it always me that he has a problem with, etc. I confess, I saw red, and snapped at him a little more than I should - I believe I told him that we did not operate a mail order service. Though really that is a point of fact. He duly wrote a letter of complaint to head office about me, and what an awful person I am, which my manager read to me over the phone (very entertaining) with a wry smile. Nobody seemed bothered except the customer in question.

This man comes into the shop fairly frequently, always talking loudly about 'certain members of staff' - if he has that much of a problem he should just stop spending money in my shop!

But today there was another fracas. I wasn't even involved - I left the shop floor as soon as I saw him to avoid any nastiness, but heard raised voices a few minutes later and so went to see what the problem was. The short version is that he wanted to buy an item costing £1.25, but didn't have any cash. My volunteer on the till told him that we couldn't do credit card transactions for less than £5 (not strictly true but £1.25 is pushing it a bit!), and my assistant manager had stepped in to mediate. She had elected to carry out the transaction just to get him out of the shop, but he was determined to have his little rant. 'I don't want to cause an argument' he says - oddly enough, I think that's exactly what he wants - whilst continuing to complain about us. I heard Katie say that she'd had a long weekend and didn't want to argue, to which he replied that he worked much harder than us and what would we know about it! As soon as I appeared, despite the fact that the whole debacle had had nothing to do with me, it was instantly my fault. Having said absolutely nothing, he turns on me and starts saying oh yes you always have a problem with me, don't you remember I wrote a letter of complaint about you because you wouldn't hold an item... And so on. Then he point to my assistant manager and tells me that she would have kept his item! Which isn't true. She better bloody not anyway. As he left the shop he started saying that he didn't know why I was still working here, shouldn't I have a job at Marks & Spencers by now! (Maybe he has a problem with them too...) He also made derogatory comments about my appearance and my wages (how would he know).

The manager of our other branch along the road rang me ten minutes later to tell me that he had just been in, saying 'you wouldn't cause world war three if I wanted to pay for something for £1.50 by credit card, would you' - and telling him what a bitch I am. He will also be writing in to complain, again! God knows what about though, we put his transaction through, we weren't rude - he has absolutely no cause for complaint. I'm finding this extremely frustrating, and frankly if he continues to treat us with such contempt I will feel quite justified in barring him from the shop altogether. Though one suspects he is something of a misogynist. It's one thing to disagree with our policies, many people do, but to be slinging personal insults for no reason is totally unacceptable. I wish there was someone I could write to to complain about my customers...

Monday, 2 March 2009

For the love of dog...

Today a woman told me I was anally retentive for asking her to take her dog out of my shop.

Hurrah for abuse from the general public! That's what makes it all worthwhile...

My volunteer on the till, Daphne, came into the office and said there was an 'obstreporous' (top marks for use of that word!) woman in the shop who was refusing to take her dog outside. I politely told the person in question that dogs are unfortunately not allowed in the shop, and would she mind taking it outside. She said that she wanted to see it in black and white where it said they weren't allowed in, so I pointed her in the direction of the notice on the front door that says 'Registered assistance dogs only'. This was not enough. 'Every other charity shop lets dogs in, why are you different', she replies. I know this isn't true, it is standard practice and very few shops at all will allow dogs in. Even the PDSA doesn't allow dogs! Admittedly our sign is not particularly visible, the writing is minute and the picture is so abstract I didn't realise til the other day that it is in fact meant to be a dog. But having been shown the sign, as requested, the customer continued to argue - when I said that perhaps other shops did not enforce the rule, she said 'so why are you being anally retentive'. Charming. Eventually she left.

People do get very funny about their dogs - it's not the first time I've suffered abuse at the hands of a dog owner! I was mauled by a dog once when in heated debate with it's owner over its presence in the shop, it started growling at me and then jumping up! I may have become slightly hysterical... I'm not a dog lover. That has no bearing at all on whether or not I enforce the rule, however. There are many reasons why animals ought not to be brought into shops, the least of which is that not everybody likes them.