We Are All Equal

Anyone who has ever worked in customer service knows how awful it can be. Some days the awful overshadows the good. Granted the ratio of good to bad is probably far better good than bad, but what do we tend to remember? Just like travel reviews, we dwell on the worst parts of the holiday and not the positive parts. Something I experience every single day working in a consignment clothing store is verbal abuse, completely unwarranted and without any resolution.

I’ve gone home some nights in tears, unable to sleep over how I was treated or perhaps dreading the eventual retaliation from trying to end the conflict. Of the many names I’ve been called, threats I’ve received, a few gems include “a real piece of work” that I have “no customer service” and that I should not ever “work with the public”. I’ve been attacked by all kinds of consignors and shoppers alike on a regular basis. Friends ask me why I don’t quit. Some days I ask myself that too.

This month a disgruntled consignor who was told she could not use our private bathroom, proceeded to mutter that I could shove her account money “up my ass”. Really? Its just a bathroom, there are 5 other public ones in a single block radius.

This morning I tried to explain the store’s process to a woman that continuously interrupted me as if I wasn’t making any audible sound. She stormed out after I had allegedly caused her tremendous inconvenience, only to march back in and demand to know where the owner was as if she had unknowingly allowed these vicious uneducated monsters to ruin her establishment. I simply responded with “its under new management.” Her eyes said far more than her words “Clearly!”

Makes you wonder some days why those who have it far easier that the bulk of us (referring in this case to those with large dispensable incomes, pensions and clearly nothing better to do with their time.) Today’s attack was unwarranted, it served no purpose. In her mind, a woman of such status and wealth should have those of minimum wage bowing to her, breaking all rules and kissing the ground she walks on. I was not rude despite her implication that I was, I merely attempted to explain that she cannot “drop and go”, that her ignoring of my request to wait ten minutes resulted in our small back room being overrun for the rest of the day with no space to move around her “no thank you’s”. Her answer she interrupted to say was that “she had other errands to do.”

That statement alone tells me that my time, my employee’s time is worthless. Our business is not worthy of ten minutes of her precious time to follow procedures, which are quite simple really.

I once interrupted a woman that was on a tangent about people in minimum wage jobs, I held my tongue for ten minutes of blather that applied directly to myself and all of my friends. I interrupted to say that I had a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a University degree from a prestigious art institution in Toronto and that I choose to work here. The woman stopped dead in her tracks and tried to backtrack. I thought at least if I put her in her place this time she might go home and reconsider how she treats people. You never know who you are speaking to.

That is how I go about working in customer service. Everyone is equal. I don’t care who your father is, what your family name is, how much money you’ve donated (or should have) to a local hospital. Those with very little don’t gloat about helping others, I could brag about donating to charities throughout the year, giving my spare change to Salvation Army Santa’s, supporting local artists… but I don’t because I am not above you. I am also not below you. What you have does not depict who you are, how you are as person. I treat everyone the same, professionally and politely so that no one receives special treatment to inflate their ego.

No consignor is above another in this store. Some women hate me, for how much I inconvenience them, by sticking strictly to the rules. One even went so far as to try to complain to my mother who was working that day (without knowing who she was) and she simply stated: “‘That girl’ is my daughter, and I raised her to follow the rules. She follows them to the letter.” The woman immediately backed down completely embarrassed.

The owner herself was approached by a consignor once while walking her dog, the woman attempted to complain about how I was running the store. The owner quickly cut her off by saying that I follow her rules exactly and is doing a tremendous job. That is all I am guilty of, following the rules set down by the owner of the establishment. I don’t bend the rules, I don’t appreciate being asked to either. You wouldn’t walk into the bank and demand they break the rules of their business would you?


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