The Sixteen Types of Retail Patients

We’re going to break format here and discuss patients rather than diseases.  ONTYF has heretofore been aimed at patients, but I thought it might be helpful for other unwilling doctors out there, like myself, to have a manual of their own.  It is therefore my dubious pleasure to present to you…

The Sixteen Types of Retail Patients

#1.  Royalty

  • Usually on the phone, will not acknowledge you until they see you do something “wrong” (i.e., something not to their liking that you would have had no way of knowing because they didn’t bother to get off their fucking phone and tell you)
  • Will usually realize (not before they get to the register, of course) that they’ve forgotten an item or that there’s Something Wrong with one of their items (torn box, wilted lettuce, etc.) and then ASK you, to ASK someone else, to run along and fetch them another item of worthier stock (heaven forbid they do it themselves after failing to inspect their own items)
  • Another strange behavior: their propensity to ask you, “Can you check those eggs for me?”  SERIOUSLY.  THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.  When did it become my responsibility to make sure all your items are up to snuff??  And why would you wait until you’re AT THE FUCKING REGISTER?
  • Will mention they’re “pressed for time” while not bagging a single item
  • How to Deal: 
    • Don’t exchange words with them.
    • Throw the trash that they’ve inevitably left for you into their bags.
    • Crack one of their eggs when they’re not looking.  Make sure it gets all over their receipt.

#2. The Germaphobe/Control Freak

  • Puts everything in those fucking clear plastic bags (meat, produce, yogurt, milk, juice, eggs, pet treats, frozen items) so you have to take it out to scan it
  • Turns white if you cough or sneeze
  • On the plus side, they often bag their own shit
  • How to Deal:
    • If they get huffy about a sneeze or a cough, pump some sanitizer onto your hands in such a way that it splashes/mists all over them.  It’s what they would want, right? (But seriously, you’d better not be coughing or sneezing into your hands, do it into your shirt or your arm, that shit’s disgusting.)
    • Otherwise, just take your time.  And if they’re helping bag, then they’re not really creating much of a problem in my book.

#3.  The Backseat bagger

  • Considers each item as you’re putting it into a bag and then directs you to bag that item differently.
  • They seem to set records for how much of the Earth’s resources they can use in any given transaction – for instance : “double paper inside of a double plastic bag, with all the cold items inside plastic bags…. no no no, after you put the cold items in plastic bags, put THOSE plastic bags into a double paper bag inside a double plastic bag, and make sure they’re not heavy” (never mind that the purpose of a double bag is to hold heavy loads, not light ones)
  • Notice that they never actually stoop to bagging it themselves
  • How to Deal:
    • Hold up each and every item before you bag it and say, “Where would you like me to put this one?”  “How would you like me to bag this item?” “Do you have any special instructions for this item?”  Make sure to use complete sentences, it takes up more of their time.  Hopefully they’ll realize what they’re doing, shut the fuck up, and just let you do your job (since they’re so averse to addressing their own bizarre idiosyncracies.)

#4.  The Mute

  • Remains silent as you say things like, “Hi, how are you doing today?” and “Do you want paper around your wine bottles?” and “Thank you, have a good one.” Until they have a question or feel like criticizing you, obviously.  Often when you’ve already started ringing up the next customer.
  • How to Deal:
    • Ignore them.  Be so engaged in conversation with the next customer that they either have to shout or they just give up.  That’s the best you can do while still keeping your job, unfortunately.

#5.  The Shit-stirrer

  • Will occasionally be sleeper agents and surprise the fuck out of you, but most of the time, you can spot them by their telltale vinegar face
  • Wait for you to ring something wrong, or some other small thing to happen to give them an excuse to pick a fight.  These people are the absolute fucking worst, because if you don’t take their bait, you get shat all over while they win their precious little point, but if you do, they get indignant about your “poor customer service” and rat you out to the manager (who will definitely NOT have your back).  Either way, you lose (and they know it.)
  • Sometimes, the entire transaction will progress, the entire order will be bagged, and nothing goes awry, much to their dismay.  This is where they have to think fast—do they just take their receipt and “have a nice day,” or do they improvise?  “Excuse me, these bags weren’t doubled.”  Yep.  These are people that watch you bag their items like it’s a tennis match, not saying a word about their bagging preferences, and then mention it as soon as they’re about to leave.  And they will hold it against you.  This is what deferential customer service has wrought.
  • How to Deal:
    • Again, as with the Mute, there’s no real good or satisfying way to deal with the Shit-Stirrer.  I’d tell you to do the classic bagging of trash/egg cracking schtick, but these assholes generally watch your every move, so my best advice is to just be as silent and surly as possible without actually saying anything bitchy.

#6.  The Permissive parent

  • Just so you guys know, your kid can NOT push the cart around the store or scan your groceries, and are you planning on paying for all the cereal bars, string cheeses, and fruit jellies that your little shit crammed into hir mouth?  Oh, and thanks for all the banana peels, toys, and sippy cups that you left in the cart.  I get to keep those, right?
  • How to Deal:
    • Despite the temptation, do NOT apply a gentle-firm “Hey that needs to stop” to the kids.  Although they tend to respond well, you don’t need the parents all up on your dick for daring to discipline their children—you know, the thing that THEY refuse to do.  I personally feel better when I throw their half-full sippy cups back into the bags, but upside down.

#7.  The salesman

  • Always wants to give you a card for/orally advertise their nutrition/chiropractic/yoga practice (it’s usually health-minded motherfuckers)
  • You can usually tell something’s up with them from the get go, because they often have something very specific they want to talk about, but they don’t want to look solicitous, so they have to clunkily trick you into bringing it up in the conversation by saying something like, “It comes with loving what I do!”  Then you’re supposed to say, “Oh, what do you do?”
  • How to Deal:
    • Do not fall for it.  My general tack is to not grant attention to those who so clearly want to tease it out of you.  Plus it’s fucking hilarious to watch them get frustrated with your innocent stonewalling while trying to maintain the smiles that are always plastered on the faces of smug assholes who value things like “positivity” and “detox diets” and “not owning a microwave.”  So when they say, “It comes with loving what I do! (or whatever),” just smile and say, “Amen to that!” and continue the transaction. 

#8.  The Accountant

  • Watches the rolling total screen like a hawk.
  • Has a million questions about how much these items are, and are constantly adding and removing items if they’re too much
  • Gets mad when you accidentally ring something twice, like it was on purpose or something.  BECAUSE I TOTALLY STAND ANYTHING TO GAIN FROM ADDING AN EXTRA $2.99 TO YOUR BILL, MORON.
  • How to Deal:
    • Scan everything, but “forget” to bag one of their smaller items before they leave.  By the way…
      • Creative accountants are a sub-genus of The Accountant.  These douchebags will sometimes try to tell you that the sign for the item actually indicated a lower price – if this is the case, we sell the item at the price on the sign, since it’s not okay (or legal) to falsely advertise.  The trouble is, the name of the product on the sign has to match the name of the product on the label.  Just because someone put down a bottle of Stag’s Leap Merlot that costs $49.99 in the spot where the Boone’s Strawberry Hill for $4.99 goes, doesn’t mean that it’s false advertising.  Then they usually start with some bullshit like, “Well, you should stock your items more carefully.” Which is ridiculous, because it could have just as easily been some other idiot customer who “couldn’t remember” where they found said item.  (Do they think customers just pass in and out of the shop without altering the environment or something?  They’re not ghosts, idiots, they’re people.)  Of course, they probably knew or suspected that the price was too good to be true, they just weren’t counting on me holding up the line to go actually grab the sign from the shelf myself.  Which leads me to…
      • How to Deal: 
        • Go get the fucking sign (or have someone get it for you) and show them.  Normally, I’m against holding up lines, and to be honest, I really don’t give a fuck if our store loses a little money, but if you try to pull one over on me, I WILL make you squirm.

#9.  Assumed Familiarity

  • Thinks that their being a regular and your forced wearing of a nametag makes you guys BFFs, and they get to use your first name even if you’ve never rung them up before and be all chummy with you
  • Running into these fuckers outside of work is extra-irritating.  These assholes always remember your name, and proclaim loudly in front of passerby how they know you, the person who works at [Grocery Store], and try to chat you up while you’re trying to buy condoms at the drugstore or read a subway map. 
  • How to Deal:
    • While you’re at work, you probably don’t have much of a choice but to grin and bear it, unless they’re making you REALLY uncomfortable, then you can just ditch their ass and ask your manager to cover you for a second (be prepared to call HR on this one, managers rarely believe that a pure and holy customer was harassing you.)  Outside of work, things are different.  If you’re not in uniform or on the clock, you’re not being paid to kiss their ass, and you’re well within your rights to remind them of that (as long as you don’t mention your place of work).  I’ve historically just given a short side-eyed glare at their gross assumptions, but if they persist, I’m sure a simple, “Hey, man, I’m not your friend.  Fuck off,” will do nicely.  If they come into your store and try to give you shit about your off-the-clock behavior, you can just tell them that you didn’t remember them from the store (since their assumption that you WILL remember them is ridiculous, given that you deal with upwards of 200 people a day.)  Then you can remind them that what they’re doing is harassment and call for a manager.  Even the simple act of picking up the phone should send the little shit-stains scurrying.

#10.  Passive Aggressive

  • Will slyly point out errors (or slights, as they see them) but will stop short of actually asking you to change them (or doing it their goddam self, where appropriate).  These assholes feel so entitled to your groveling that they expect you follow orders from them that were not even expressly given.
    • Ex: “Those bags look heavy” instead of “Could you make the bags lighter?”
      • An even better option would be to tell me what the fuck it is you want before I even do anything.
      • The best option for those picky assholes, of course, would be to just DO IT THEIR GODDAM SELF.
      • How to Deal: 
        • As with the Salesman in #7, don’t respond to their ploys for attention.  Keep performing your job as you normally do.  If a grown adult does not know how to effectively use their words, that is hir problem.

#11.  The Preacher (aka the Lunatic)

  • You know them.  “Have you heard of Jesus/Kabbalah/David Icke/homeopathy/Knights Templar/compassionate conservatism?”
  • How to Deal:
    • If it’s something you’ve never heard of, just say “Yep, it’s my favorite!”  If it’s something obvious, like Jesus, say “Jesus Christ?  No, never heard of the guy.  Is he, like, in the President’s Cabinet, or something?  Or does he live around here?”
    • A note to the Jesus Freaks: don’t fucking ask if “[I’ve] heard of Jesus Christ.”  You KNOW I have.  This is AMERICA, I can’t go a day without hearing about him.  If you ask stupid questions, you’ll get stupid answers.

#12.  The Lingerer

  • Takes forever to put away their money while the next customer tries to jockey for position, they write down their transaction in their check-book, they’ll snottily re-bag their shit for five minutes (because it would have killed them to just do it themselves in the first place)
  • How to Deal:
    • Just ignore.  No dealing necessary.

#13.  Angostura Bitter

  • These people have much better jobs, houses, and livelihoods than you, but they had children they didn’t want with people they never loved, and they wonder how someone as “smart” as themselves could have screwed up their lives so badly.  They consequently harbor a smoldering, non-explosive anger, and they find opportunities to project it onto anyone but themselves.  Ex: “And you’re out of my garlic paste, and I couldn’t find the carts, and I didn’t like the free sample, and your sorbet’s hard to open, and I didn’t realize these energy bars had so much sugar, no I’ll still buy them…”
  • How to Deal:
    • Don’t apologize.  Just nod sympathetically, with a look in your eyes that says, “We all make mistakes.”

#14.  The Crisis

  • They can’t find a certain item, and whether or not they locate said item is a matter of life or death
  • Are running to get 20 more items as you’re ringing them up
  • Are upset that you finished bagging while they were gone because they brought their reusable bags, and were holding them the entire time they were running around the store
  • Technologically impaired – they can never figure out how to swipe their card correctly (if they don’t forget their wallet outright), don’t remember their pin, or try to run a credit card as government assistance
  • How to Deal:
    • Stay completely calm, exhibit no sense of urgency, and don’t make any sudden movements.

#15.  Observe and Report

  • These folks remind me of 5-year-olds.  They’ve gotten a good handle on language, but don’t have a ton of abstract thought under their belt, so they practice their newly-mastered skill by taking simple observations around them and forming them into words. 
    • “You guys are busy!  (accusatorily) The lines are so looooong!” You do realize that we’re busy because a bunch of other people are doing the exact same thing that YOU are, correct?  Or are you the Chosen One, the only one who magically isn’t part of the problem?  WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR YOUR CULT?
    • “You’re out of cucumbers.”  Yes.  We are.  Would you like a self-effacing long-winded explanation and apology for this egregious breach of your trust? Or would you rather I just treat you like an adult and cut the bullshit?
    • “Huh.  This frozen entrée has a lot of sodium.”  Yes.  It does.  Probably because it’s a frozen entrée.
    • “Hey, you guys got new register screens.”  Oh my god, SHUT UP.
    • How to Deal:
      • While bearing in mind that there’s a lot of overlap between these guys and the Passive Aggressives, just keep responding with a simple affirmative.  Don’t answer any questions until they’re explicitly asked.  Remember, with most of these types of customers, there’s a lot to be said for not taking the bait.

#16.  The Concerned Constituent

  • These crybabies are always telling you that “you guys” should take care of things over which the city has jurisdiction, like setting up another bike rack, or moving the designated canvasser zone further away from the store, or repainting the yellow zone on the curb outside.  They’ll voice their concerns to anyone other than politicians/mayors/congresspeople (i.e., the only ones who could ever do a damn thing about the situation).  Yep, it’s true.  Some people expect you to not only ring up and bag their shit, but to also be a proxy for their civic participation.  I sure hope my shift manager remembered to schedule time for me to travel to the mayor’s office with customers’ concerns regarding public property.  Holy shit, I’d better take my lunch an hour later, because city hall will be closed if I take it now.
  • How to Deal: 
    • Say, “Yeah, unfortunately, I don’t have our congressman’s address or phone number on hand currently, maybe try asking at the Post Office.  They’re actually government employees, so, they’ll probably be way more able and willing to help you out with this sort of thing.”

Retail Disease #4: “Oh! There it is! Teehee!”

Quick recap of the purpose of this series:  My experience has shown me that a shop’s treatment of its clientele has an inversely proportionate relationship with said clientele’s decorum and exhibited intelligence.  It’s almost like good treatment is a clarion call for customers to see how much entitled bullshit they can get away with.  Contrary to what you may believe due to the courtesan-like nature of our work, your behavior is not normal, and we lowly denizens of retail don’t like you.  We are Only Nice To Your Face. It seems you’ve contracted a Retail Disease.  Take a look through this series and see if any of these sound like you…

Retail Disease #4:  “Oh!  There it is!  Teehee!”

Symptoms:  You experience serious difficulties in locating your anticipated product, sometimes due to an excruciating inability to articulate your desires and memories.

Diagnosis:  You need to get your shit together.

Not to be confused with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or amnesia, this disease is not the result of an actual physical trauma or deterioration.  You just REALLY need to get your shit together.  Even your friends think so.


#1.  “Excuse me, I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for.”

Yeah, you’re telling me.

#2.  “I’m looking for the shells?”

…Well, you might find one in the bathroom mirror.

#3.  “No, I’m looking for these shells that you sell…  they come in a package, and there’s words on the package…”

Gee, thank you for narrowing it down.  But seriously, I don’t know what you’re talking about, anything we sell that’s not for consumption is definitely manmade.  Are you sure you don’t have us confused with some other place?  Like, the beach?

#4.  “NO, my friend GOT them here, she told me to come here and get PASTA SHELLS.”

Pro-tip: if you throw a few extra nouns and modifiers into your speech, people might actually be able to predict the destination to which your unbearably slow, coal-powered train of thought is trying to drag itself.

Pasta shells can be found in the first aisle (though for you, it might take some practice.)

#5.  “So in the first aisle?”


#6.  “Hi, I’m back, I couldn’t find it.”

You can’t be serious.  Find the items that all have the pasta-look in common, and then go from there, asshole!

#7.  “Can’t you just show me?”*

Of course, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize your brain only accepts visual input and can’t process language into productive information.  Here.  It’s on the bottom shelf.

#8.  “Oh!  There it is!  Teehee!  I didn’t see it there!”

Why do you express such shock and awe that the bottom shelf actually holds something for which you might be searching?  Do you entertain the notion that, whenever you walk into a store, we sense your arrival and stock all the items you telepathically intend to pick up at exactly your eye level?  Do you only see things within the span of your eyeball movement?  Who the fuck issued you a driver’s license?  How many counts of vehicular manslaughter have resulted from your ever-stationary neck?  More importantly, will you leave me the fuck alone now?

#9.  “Wait, this isn’t what I’m looking for.  I think the kind my friend made for me were in a frozen package.”


Glossing over why you fucked around in a dry goods aisle for 5 minutes when you knew that the item in question was frozen—


#10.  “Oh, I already looked there, there wasn’t any on the shelf, that’s why I was asking you.”

…You are an IDIOT if you choose to not lead with this information.  The SKUs that we run out of are not immediately downloaded into my neural pathways, believe it or not, so I probably have no idea that we’ve run out of it.  I’ve got other shit to do.  For instance, I have to go look in the back freezer for this fucking thing for you, because you’ll pitch a fit and write a letter to our regional VP about how unacceptable it was that I had things to do other than waste time looking for something that we most assuredly don’t have.

Oh gee, thank you for asking two other employees WHILE I WAS IN THE BACK SEARCHING FOR YOU.  Is it nice to have three different people waiting on your helpless ass?  DO YOU FEEL LIKE A PRETTY PRINCESS?  Well, as the other wetnurses probably already told you–no, there’s none in the back, and it looks like we won’t be getting any until Monday.

#11.  “Really?”

No.  I’m lying.  Of course we would ALL CONSPIRE to hide product from certain customers (although it’s not such a bad idea, now that I think about it…)

#12.  “So there’s NONE in the store?”

…Sorry, are we using different definitions of the words “no,” and “none,” and “in,” and “the,” and “store?”  Or do you think that my answer is going to change if you keep asking me a certain magic number of times?  I’m not a fucking riddle-posing warlock guarding your pasta shells safely in Castlevania, dipshit.

#13.  “Okay, I’ll ask this guy, maybe he knows.”

Oh, I get it, you assume that every employee who doesn’t give you the answer you want just doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  Well, if you’re so goddam smart, then why are you asking any of us?

#14.  “Hi, excuse me, I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for.”

(singing, almost a whisper) “Duuuuust in the wiiiind….   all we are is duuust in the wiiiind…”

* Yes, some people actually expect us to walk them over to the product, take it off the shelf, and hand it to them.

Retail Disease #3: “Joan, hiiiiiiiii!”

Quick recap of the purpose of this series:  My experience has shown me that a shop’s treatment of its clientele has an inversely proportionate relationship with said clientele’s decorum and exhibited intelligence.  It’s almost like good treatment is a clarion call for customers to see how much entitled bullshit they can get away with.  Contrary to what you may believe due to the courtesan-like nature of our work, your behavior is not normal, and we lowly denizens of retail don’t like you.  We are Only Nice To Your Face. It seems you’ve contracted a Retail Disease.   Take a look through this series and see if any of these sound like you… 

Retail Disease #3:  “Joan, hiiiiiii!”

Symptoms: You exhibit a marked attachment to your shopping trolley, leading to fantastic traffic jams that appear to cause you no concern.  In serious cases, the cart will actually fuse with the patient’s hand and become an extension of their person, making simple actions like backing up extremely dangerous.

Diagnosis: You are completely fucking oblivious.

Given its ubiquity, it is common to think that being completely fucking oblivious is not that serious.  However, it is important to remember that this same condition can cause fatalities when active under different circumstances, such as while driving an automobile, organizing foodstuffs and household chemicals, or caring for children.  While many patients respond positively to a swift kick in the ass, this method of treatment is controversial and has not drawn acceptance from most store managers.



#1.  “I need a cart.”

Really?  You come at me saying something that mind-numbingly stupid, and “a cart” is what tops your list of Things You Need?

#2.  “I mean, where are the shopping carts?”

If you cannot locate.

The section of property.

Dedicated to the housing of shopping carts.

In any given grocery store.

You should not be in public by yourself.

There is a blind customer who shops at our store fairly regularly.  She knows where the shopping carts are.

#3.  “Um, exi-YOOze me, but I found the place where the shopping carts go, and it was EMPTY.”

Geez, I’m sorry.  I guess you assholes should start putting the carts back where they belong after you’re done using them.

#4.   “Well, I mean, it’s easier to just leave the cart about five feet from where I parked.  And closer.”

Funny you should say that; did you happen to see at least one cart “about five feet from where you parked?”

#5.  “Um.  Oh.  Okay, I found one.  But I’m going to complain to your manager about their not being any carts in the designated cart zone, because I get upset when things don’t fit within my simplistic paradigm.”

Um, do you really think you can find the manager?

#6.  “Tell me where your manager is.”

 Okay, he’s at the front of the store counting the drawers, his name’s—

#7.  “Joan, hiiiiiiii!”

—Um, no, his name’s not Joan.

#8.  “How are you Joan?!  So good to see you, have you lost weight??!?”

Ah, fuck.

#9.  “I know, there weren’t ANY shopping carts in the thing.  Do you believe how CROWDED it is in here?”

Um yeah, it’s CROWDED because you and your stupid friend Joan have decided to diagonally park your carts in the middle of the aisle.  Could you maybe just move your cart to the side and try your best to keep it parallel to the shelves so people can get around you idiots?

#10.  “Sure.  Oh my God, Joan, have you tried these?  I can’t seem to remove my hand from the cart handle for some reason, so let me just step to the side of my cart and stretch my other arm all the way across the narrow aisle to show you this thing that I want to show you, and let’s both definitely stay in this position as we compare and contrast it to other items on this shelf, because nothing is going on around us and we are the only people in the universe.”

Pardon me, please?  There are a lot of people trying to get by.  Excuse me.  Sorry, could I get by?  Hello?

#11.  “Oh my God, free samples!  Let me just whip my cart around without looking—”


#12.  “Oops, sorry!  Teehee!”

No, it’s fine, it’s only that tiny bone in my right elbow, besides, having sensation in all the fingers of my dominant hand was kind of a drag anyway.

#13.  “Um, hi, excuse me, I’m done?  Can you ring me up now?”

Sure…  is there anything else I can get you today?

#14.  “No, that’s it.”

So you used a shopping cart when all you needed was two bananas and a bottle of fizzy water.

#15.  “Yep.  The carts give me something to lean on!”

Oh.  Do you have a physical condition or injury?

#16.  “Nope!” 

…Uh-huh.  Okay, well, I’m going to put this bag containing two items back into your shopping cart so you can wheel your two items back to your car.  Thanks for shopping with us.

#16.  “Oh, I can just carry the bag, I don’t need the cart.”

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  You sure seemed to need it when you came in.

#17.  “No, really, it’s fine, I’ll just leave it for you in front of your register so all your other customers can’t get around it, you’re welcome!”

Um, I don’t know if you noticed, but we’re about as crowded as a porn star’s asshole, could you PLEASE just take out the fucking cart?

#18.  “I don’t know where the carts go.”

Gosh, me neither.

Why don’t you try in the middle of fucking traffic?


Retail Disease #2: “Can I Have Another One?”

Quick recap of the purpose of this series:  My experience has shown me that a shop’s treatment of its clientele has an inversely proportionate relationship with said clientele’s decorum and exhibited intelligence.  It’s almost like good treatment is a clarion call for customers to see how much entitled bullshit they can get away with.  Contrary to what you may believe due to the courtesan-like nature of our work, your behavior is not normal, and we lowly denizens of retail don’t like you.  We are Only Nice To Your Face. It seems you’ve contracted a Retail Disease.  Take a look through this series and see if any of these sound like you…

Retail Disease #2:  “Can I have another one?”

Symptoms: Upon arriving at the sample station, you begin making special demands of an employee whom you almost certainly do not plan on tipping.

Diagnosis:  You suffer from hallucinations, most often manifesting as fantasies that you are in a restaurant or have a personal chef.

While experiencing hallucinations sounds serious, it is more important to identify the root cause of these delusions rather than simply treating the illness itself.  The possible causes are many, and can include undeserved entitlement, a shitty upbringing, or even frequenting a store that forces its employees to put up with your shit.



#1.  “Hey, can I have one?  Excuse me, are the samples ready, I want one.”

Do NOT fucking hassle me.  You don’t need to ask.  The samples are ready when they’re on the goddam plate.

#2.  “It’s just that I’ve been standing here a while.”

So YOU choose to stand around and waste your own time in front of an empty sample plate, staring holes into the busy person trying to get it all together, and somehow that’s on ME?  What do you want, an apology and a full refund for the $0.00 you spent on the free food that you didn’t get?  What the fuck makes you think that you are OWED free shit?  If it’s really so important to you, here’s an idea:  fuck off for a few minutes and THEN come back, you tool.

#3.  “Oh look, the samples are ready, let me say that as loudly as possible to alert all the other idiots in the store so we can form a hungry horde of expectation and disapproval around you.  Speaking of which, can I have more sauce on mine?”

No, fuck off.

#4.   “Why not?”

Because when you’re offered something for free, you don’t dictate the terms, idiot.

#5.  “But they do it at a restaurant!”

Are you saying that I should customize free samples for people when I am untipped, or are you accidentally admitting that you don’t tip at restaurants?

#6.  “Well, why don’t you just put more sauce on ALL of them?”

You know, if the quality of this FREE SAMPLE is so inferior, then why don’t you just not eat it and not involve me in your miserable existence?

#7.  “No, it’s mine, I want it, give me one.  Wait, hold on, what is it?”

Look at the display product RIGHT NEXT TO THE SAMPLE PLATE, dumbass.

#8.  “Oh.  What’s in it?”

Read the ingredients, idiot.

#9.  “I forgot my glasses.”

Well, I forgot to give a fuck.

#10.  “Is it vegan?”

Yes.  This chicken parmesan is vegan.  Obviously.

#11.  “Is this kosher/halal/fair trade?  I can’t eat it if it’s not kosher/halal/fair trade.”

Yeah, it’s kosher/halal/fair trade.  And now I will wait for the invisible force-field to prevent the non-kosher/halal/fair trade food from entering your mouth.  (Hasn’t happened yet.)

#12.  “Can I have another one?”

No, fuck off.

#13.  “But I’m hungry!”

Are you homeless?

#14.  “No.”


#15.  “This is too spicy, do you have any water for me?”

Um, sure, we sell nice purified water.  In bottles.

#16.  “Well, yeah, normally I spare no effort in letting you know that I deserve only the finest in quality in all things, but in this case, I’ll take some shitty-ass tap water if it means I get to watch you follow orders from me.  Also, it means I don’t have to pay for anything.”

I don’t have tap water back here.

There’s some in the bathroom.

Retail Disease #1: “Can You Throw This Away For Me?”

I work at a grocery store.  But it’s not one of those boring, publicly-traded establishments with national name brands like Doritos, and completely indifferent employees, like this guy.  No, this is a store that’s got an organic/local reputation (however dubious), private-label preservative-free imitations of Doritos, free samples, and people who will patiently hold your hand as you agonize over whether the chardonnay for your sister’s wedding should be more oaky or more buttery—and herein lies the problem.

Stores like these have a way of… doing things to people.  Making them sick.  My experience has shown me that a shop’s treatment of its clientele has an inversely proportionate relationship with said clientele’s decorum and exhibited intelligence.  It’s almost like good treatment is a clarion call for customers to see how much entitled bullshit they can get away with.  Or maybe it’s that these stores attract people who were already shitheads to begin with.  I don’t know the exact origin of this diverse illness, and I don’t give a flying fuck, because you have no excuse for treating those who serve you as if they were subhuman, especially when: 1) you’re not fucking 1700s European royalty, and 2) you idiots can’t even remember not to adjust your genitals in public (probably because precious motor-control signals are being devoted to moving your lips as you read the ingredients on your jar of pasta sauce—I mean, Jesus, who could remember tomatoes, garlic, and basil?)

Contrary to what you may believe due to the courtesan-like nature of our work, your behavior is not normal, and we lowly denizens of retail don’t like you.  We’re not actually sympathetic to your organic-GMO-kosher-free-range tirades when we are not the decision-makers and there are other stores that cater to those needs.  We don’t find your inability to consider the bottom shelf when looking for an item to be amusing, cute, or even understandable.  Our disgust for you is only very slightly outweighed by our current dependence on this job.  We are Only Nice To Your Face. It seems you’ve contracted a Retail Disease.

There are many different types of retail diseases.  Some appear in isolation in otherwise healthy customers, while other diseases appear to go hand in hand—without proper treatment, one illness will almost surely beget another, and another…

If you suspect you may have a retail disease and are open to therapy, however, treatment is available.  Take a look through this series and see if any of these sound like you…

Retail Disease #1:  “Can You Throw This Away for Me?”

Symptoms: You hand your garbage (sometimes presenting as a 3-oz sample cup bearing coffee residue and/or your gummy-ass lipstick) to your cashier and say, “Can you throw this away for me?” rather than throw it away yourself in any of the numerous receptacles scattered around the shop.

Diagnosis: You are a fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawn.

You’re probably feeling angry, scared, or even confused about this.  This is normal.  Learning that you are a fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawn is never easy.  Even when you hear about people you know being fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawns, it’s common to think, “I’m not a fucking entitled self-absorbed shit-spawn,” until confronted with it.  You probably have a lot of questions.  Fortunately, we’ve got answers…


#1.  “No no, I’M not like that—I say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when I hand you my trash.”

Oh!  I didn’t know that using rehearsed, everyday pleasantries to bookend condescending phrases magically turns the speaker from ill-mannered punk to Emily Fucking Post!  It’s not about how polite you are otherwise, it’s about the actual content of your request—specifically, a demeaning request mired in self-importance.  When you ask something like this, it becomes obvious that “please” and “thank you” don’t mean anything coming from you; if they did, and if you were amenable to me treating you in kind, I could say, “Please, go drown yourself in a bucket of elephant diarrhea—thanks!” and still get to keep my job.

#2.  “You’ve got a trash can right there with you, why don’t you just throw it away for me?  It’s not a big deal.”

That’s funny, because just a few minutes ago you were bitching about how the fragile patch of rainforest that is your immune system would wither and perish because there weren’t any sanitizing cloths to wipe down the cart handles.  And then you started shopping and realized that we were out of your precious homeopathic medicine that you rely on instead of vaccination—just in time for flu season!  Man, it’s like we’re trying to KILL you!  You probably shouldn’t drink that free cup of coffee, we probably put scurvy in it!!!  (No, no, you’d better drink it anyway, it would be a shame if you accidentally gave the impression that we don’t, in fact, OWE you free shit by turning it down this once.)

But THEN you get up to my register, proffering, with your cart-tainted hand, a specimen of waste squirming with your unvaccinated mouth-sweat…  and suddenly, it’s “not a big deal.”

Why do I have to just throw it away for you?  Why can’t you just throw it away before you get to the fucking register?

#3.  “Well, I didn’t see a trash can anywhere while I was shopping.”

No no no.  What you mean to say is, “I didn’t bother to look for a trash can while I was shopping.”  This is treatable—LOOK FOR A FUCKING TRASH CAN.  They’re around 3 feet tall, they’re usually black or beige or something.  Still don’t see one?  Find me and say, “Excuse me, is there a trash can around here?”

#4.  “Well, the last cashier that rang me up didn’t mind throwing my trash away.”

            I hope you don’t extend this logic to your sex partners.

Especially since, judging by your lack of embarrassment, you seem to be really into “helplessness,” if you know what I mean…

#5.  “Just suck it up, it’s part of your job.”

Not really.

I am not a waiter, nor a busser, nor do I work in sanitation.  My job, as a cashier, is to ring your groceries, be generally pleasant to your obnoxious self, and sometimes put your groceries in bags.  (Besides, even though a busser picks up trash during hir job, there’s still only certain times and places when this is acceptable—it would still be rude as fuck to walk into the kitchen where ze was unloading dishes just to hand hir some more of your trash and ask, “Can you throw this away for me?”)

Of course, your shit attitude tells me that you’ve caught onto our store policy that requires us to accompany you to the restroom and wipe your ass with our tongues (“it’s just so much SOFTER”.)  So you figure that it is, therefore, not only my “job,” but also your prerogative to cede any crumb of personal agency that, in any other context, would be so inconsequential as to escape your notice entirely (like tossing your own garbage—If you’re in an empty hotel lobby and have just polished off your foo-foo skinny latte with stevia, do you think to yourself, “God DAMN I wish there was someone around to throw this away for me?”)  But your ability to recognize and exploit a dehumanizing system does not make your actions “right.”

Case in point:  would you, or would you not, throw a shit fit if someone came up to your desk at whatever miserable hole you work in and asked you “politely” to throw away their empty Yoplait containers?

#6. “Well yeah, but I’ve earned more respect than you because I have a REAL job in an office, you’re just scanning and bagging groceries, so I can treat you however I want.”

Yeah, you’re really changing the world with your end-of-the-month spreadsheets at your “real” job with that company that produces other sheets of paper with other people’s numbers on them.  Your value: look at it climb.

#7.  “No no, I actually have a job where I feed the homeless/am an ambassador/snuggle with ICU babies.”

I don’t give a fuck.

Stop stretching out the babies’ diapers.

#8.  “Yeah, well, I don’t like to be called out on my shitty behavior, so I’m just going to leave it in the cart or on your register instead.  Then you’ll be FORCED to pick it up, and I can rest easy in the conviction that I was putting a stupid plebe in hir place, and definitely NOT exhibiting signs of crippling codependency.”

            You crafty little bastard.

Don’t be surprised if it ends up in your grocery bags, fucker.

More Retail Diseases to Come…