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The Customer is always right, and certifiably insane, as well

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-08-25


Due to the nature of my job, I encounter more people on a daily basis than I care to. I find it ironic that I became a truck driver to get away from it all, and wound up in the middle of people, merchandise and the disquieting feeling that the harder I try, the further away my dreams get.

Anyway, recently at work, talk turned to my column. A co-worker suggested I write about customers. I agreed it would make an interesting column, say, the Seven Different Types of Customers. The co-worker came up with seven categories, all beginning with the same seven-letter word beginning with A and ending with E. I can’t print it here, because try as I might, I can’t use profanity in my column because it will get edited out.

I do see an interesting array of customers though. They range from the generally thoughtful and good-hearted to people who don’t really care that you’re trying to get a 25 cubic foot refrigerator down into their basement and are dripping sweat and are about to lose your grip and gain a hernia. They just want the refrigerator in their basement bar, without a scratch on the $3,000 side-by-side stainless steel monument to excess they bought yesterday. You, however, are expendable. Some days, my best isn’t good enough, and I feel bad about that. I am glad that neither myself nor my co-workers sustain major injuries when we are out in the field.

There are customers that tip (never enough of those) and customers who don’t care that you’ve had to wrestle a 200+ pound washing machine up a flight of stairs, they are still going to sue the store over the half-inch scratch you put in their wall. After all, that scratch is really obvious under a bright light and when you put your face right up to it.

The customers that always amuse me are the ones who look like they have a garage sale going on in their house, but go into cardiac arrest when they see the tiniest scratch, smudge, speck of residue from tape or layer of dust on their refrigerator. Their abode would qualify for emergency treatment from the crew that hosts Clean House on the Style network, yet they worry about a household appliance that no one thinks much about. I guess when you live in a dump, having a beautiful refrigerator in the house gives you a reason to live. That, and having cold beer handy.

And there are the customers who are characters: the teenagers who buy tarps in order to make mobile hot tubs out of their pick up trucks; the customers who hit on the cashiers; the ones who ask for a certain manager so they can score discounts; the “gimmie a discount because I’m wearing brown shoes” types; and the unintentionally funny. One customer left a trail of concrete mix around the store because one of the bags he picked up had a hole in it. A perpetual cloud of dust followed him around, and I couldn’t stop laughing because he reminded me of “Pig Pen” from the Charlie Brown television specials. On one delivery, two of my co-workers were offered wine from a customer who made his own. They also had a story about the customer who took a Sawzall to a doorframe to get a refrigerator where it needed to be. Then there are my favorite customers of all. They are the “I have a tiny lake cottage, so therefore please sell me the largest Samsung refrigerator you have” customers. Those are a joy. You say it needs to go into the basement and there’s an old one that needs to come out? Oh, wonderful. Please whip me some more. Whip me hard. I LOVE it.

And then there are the customers who truly inspire serious discussion and speculation, such as the customer who drops $830 on a special order toilet or the gentleman with the house that has a living room ceiling two stories high and an indoor swimming pool most hotels would be proud to have. First off, I want to know what Mr. Special Order Toilet (and it’s always a guy, no woman would buy a toilet THAT expensive) does for a living. And secondly, what sort of schmuck would buy a toilet to IMPRESS someone? Anyone who would buy a toilet to impress someone needs to have his head shoved down in it.

I’ve not really scratched the surface of customer types. But having worked retail several years ago, you realize it takes all types. And the types who hand me wet money are those I can do without, thank you very much.

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