Recently we asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their craziest experiences while working in retail. Here are just some of the horrific results.
1. The lightbulb incident:
"A customer came in to return some lightbulbs that were defective. I was new and wasn't sure of the returns policy of certain items without a receipt, so I asked asked my boss who said no. The customer proceeded to get more and more angry, and ended up throwing the lightbulbs, which weren't in their package, directly at our heads. My boss chased him out of the store, but he later called and threatened to kill the two of us. All over some lightbulbs."
2. The nasty end of day surprise:
"When I worked at PINK, we had to fold the underwear drawers every night. One day we're folding them, and I mindlessly picked up someone's dirty, stained, and wet underwear that they must've stuffed back into the drawers after getting their period. Honestly one of the grossest things that's ever happened to me."
3. The cleanliness hazard:
"I worked at Costco, and one day I was walking back from break to the returns area when I saw a mattress on the floor. I picked it up and, because it was so large, it leaned over on my face and body. My co-worker turned and said, 'OMG no! Some family's kids peed all over that!' There wasn't enough soap in the world to make me feel clean."
4. The touchy-feely customer:
"My store was closing in five minutes and this middle-aged lady came up to my register. As I was ringing her up, she asked if she could touch my face. I was incredibly confused, but then she leaned over and started to rub my cheeks in a circular motion. She then started asking me odd questions like if I still lived with my parents, what I was having for dinner, and if I wore makeup. After she paid for her stuff, she grabbed my cheeks and rubbed them again. I wanted to die. She even came back the next day, but I hid in the back until she left."
5. The mysterious stain:
"I was working at a clothing store and after we closed I was vacuuming the carpet around the underwear table. These tables have heavy, floor-length cloths on them to dress them up, as well as hide the table legs. As I was vacuuming, I noticed the top part of a clothes hanger sticking out. I bent down to grab it and out comes a teal-colored shirt with a huge stain on it. I stared at it for a few seconds trying to figure out what it was, and that’s when the smell hit me. It was shit. Someone had taken one of our shirts to the dressing room, wiped their ass with it, and tried to get rid of the evidence."
6. The unnecessarily rude shopper:
"An older woman came in for some hair dye. She started complaining that the swatches changed, and the one she usually gets is now a different number. I politely assisted her in finding the correct colour, but she continued to complain and said to me, 'Why would you change them?!' I replied, 'I'm sorry. We don't actually change the packaging here. That happens in production.' She turned and said, 'You ignorant bitch. I know YOU changed these labels and I will be filing a complaint!' While she was pointing her finger right in my face I replied, 'Go right ahead ma'am. My name is Brooke,' and then walked away."
7. The "girlfriend" excuse:
"It was my first week working in a women’s clothing store, and a man came in to buy a few things for his girlfriend. I was walking around helping him pick some things out, and when I had an armful of clothes he looked at me with this weird expression on his face and goes, 'Oh. You’re about her size, would you mind trying some things on so I can see how they’d look?' I wanted to throw the clothes at him and yell at him to leave, but I just stammered something about that being against store policy, but they could return things that didn’t fit. I was so creeped out I wanted to quit."
8. The '90s clothes swap:
"When I worked at Nordstrom two years ago, they allowed cash back for any return. A lady came in with a pile of clothes to return from the '90s! We still gave her cash back, but then she pulled out a coat with a tag so old our register couldn’t read it. It turned out to be her DEAD GRANDMOTHER’S COAT and she wanted the cash for it. It took hours of convincing that we would not accept it."
9. The violent pillow fight:
"While working Black Friday a customer came up to me yelling, saying that she didn't have time to wait in line to buy her pillows. I tried to explain that it was Black Friday, and that our lines were expected to be slightly longer than usual, but that she should be checked out within 15 minutes. Obviously this didn't satisfy her because she starts to throw all the pillows at me, saying this was 'ridiculous' and that she wasn't going to wait that long just to buy pillows. To top it all off she said, 'You can do your job now and put those away,' and stormed off.
10. The poop-filled lesson:
"While working at Walmart an older woman came up to me complaining that the bathrooms were closed. I explained to her that they were being cleaned, but the ones in the back should be open. She started to walk away, but then came back and complained that it was too far. I just shrugged my shoulders thinking she'd figure out. Instead she chose to shit her pants right there on PURPOSE. She then complained to my manager and a few other cashiers that I made her do it and she had to teach us a lesson. It was disgusting."
11. The pee-soaked jeans:
"We had a lady who peed in the corner of our store once. Not some elderly woman or young girl, a 40-year-old woman. She then proceeded to take some pairs of jeans into one of the fitting rooms to try them on with her pee-soaked legs. Eventually she came out with a new pair of pants on and took the tag off to pay for them. We only realised what was happening when we saw her toss her soiled jeans on top of a display. My general manager, who cleaned the puddle, was horrified because she originally thought it was soda or something. Once we knew what was going on, we tried to return her jeans to her, but she denied doing anything and left. It was pretty horrifying."
12. The fitting room from hell:
"The worst thing I’ve ever experienced was while working the fitting rooms during our big summer sales. The waiting line went on forever, but this customer stormed in and demanded to go first because she didn't have much time. I told her that's not allowed and to go back in line. As this happened, another customer came out of one of the rooms and the lady, who didn't want to wait, pushed me and goes inside. After 45 minutes she leaves without any of the clothes she tried on. So I go to check the room and... there was poop everywhere. On the clothes, on the mirrors, on the walls. It was like an explosion. It didn't even look human. And guess who had to clean it up."
13. The shoe-thrower:
"One time a customer came in to make a return, but I couldn't accept it because he had already worn the shoes. He argued that he had only worn them once, but it was clear that he had probably been wearing them for at least six months. When I informed the man that there was nothing I could do, this grown-ass person cursed me out in a store full of people before proceeding towards the exit, turning around, and lobbing the wooden-soled shoes at me. Luckily I was able to the catch the one headed toward my head, but I was still hit in the abdomen. I filed charges, but nothing came of it."
14. The narrow miss:
"In high school I worked at a small clothing boutique that had a strict returns policy. Once, when I tried to tell a woman that she couldn't return something, she of course demanded to speak to a manager. The owner of the store was with me and ultimately wouldn't let her return the item. The woman then started screaming at us, took the debit card pin-pad that was attached by a long cord to the machine, and threw it directly at the owner's head. Luckily he dodged most of it and it only clipped his shoulder."
15. The domino effect:
"I was folding a huge table stacked to the brim with t-shirts when this woman came over. I asked her if she needed help finding anything, she said no, and we proceeded to make small talk. She picked out a couple of shirts and left them on the table unfolded. No biggie, it was only three shirts that I could refold easily. But then, this woman yanked out an XXL from the very bottom of a stack causing it to completely fall over. She then laid out the XXL to look at it, and in the process knocked over four other stacks of folded t-shirts. My mouth dropped open and in response she said, 'Oh shut your mouth, darling. It it weren't for people like me messing up your store, then you wouldn't even have a job. You'd better be fucking grateful,' and walked away. Oh, and did I mention we had five minutes until we closed?"
16. The tissue paper-related tantrum:
"I worked at Victoria's Secret. It was Christmas Eve, we were sold out of everything Christmas-related, and our line was to the door of last-minute shoppers. While ringing a woman up, she asked me to gift wrap her goods, which we didn't do. We were all out of gift boxes, so I told her I could bag it nicely with tissue paper. As I was bagging her items, a man leaves with his tissue-papered bag. She begins screaming at me, saying that she was going to call the police because his bag looked nicer than hers. It was insane. To add to it, my manager just stood there as this woman was ripping me apart... over tissue paper. People are crazy."
17. The elbow-licking incident:
"In college I worked at Bath & Body Works. I'll never forget the day this mum walked in with her child. He ran all over the store and messed around with all the products. Pretty standard 'mum isn't paying attention right now, time to fuck shit up' behaviour. It was nothing too crazy, but, when I was ringing her up, this kid flings his entire body across the counter to behind the register where I was standing. He then proceeds to start LICKING my elbow. I had no idea what to do, and I knew I couldn't touch him or push him off in any way, so I just looked at the mum hoping she would do something. She just laughed and said, 'Oh, he does that sometimes.' Thankfully there was lots of hand sanitizer and soap readily available, but yikes lol."
18. The real price of makeup:
"I used to work at a retail store that sold makeup. During Christmas we had these limited quantity holiday kits that contained like 45 pieces. One day a customer came in and asked me for one. I had to search in the back of the store because we were sold out on the floor. I searched the back, but couldn't find one. Right about the time I'm telling the customer that we're sold out, a co-worker comes out with one. The customer accuses me of lying, shoves me the ground, and then storms out. Turns out my co-worker had placed it on hold for someone. I literally got pushed over for cheap makeup."
19. The nickel that wasn't good enough:
"During Black Friday one of my cashiers asked me to come re-open the register for her after she had finished ringing up a customer. I assumed the cashier had miscounted the change, so I asked the customer how much we owed her before opening up the register. The woman replied, 'A nickel. This nickel (she held up a nickel my cashier had just given her) is disgusting. I want a new one.' With the straightest face possible, I apologised and told her I couldn’t just re-open the register to replace a nickel. The woman then got so angry that she threw the nickel at my head and pushed her way out of the store."
20. The rude talker:
"I don't work in retail, but I did witness a customer behaving badly at the supermarket. The lady was on her phone the entire time she was in line, even ignoring the cashier while he was trying to ask a question about her transaction. After she's left and ignored the cashier's 'Have a nice day,' the bagger realises she's left one of her items and goes to run it out to her. Her response? 'You should have brought it out to me sooner. I almost had to go back in to get it myself!'"
21. The attention-grabber:
"I have tons of stories from when I used to work at Cracker Barrel. I think the rudest thing I ever saw happened to my manager. She was on the phone with a customer behind the retail counter. A male customer decides to bypass every other worker in the store and at the counter, and tried to get my manager's attention. When he couldn't, he picked up a hanger off a clothing rack and started hitting her in the back with it. It still amazes me to this day how calm and collected she was able to be when she turned around and told him that she was dealing with another customer and would be with him momentarily."
22. The ice cube debacle:
"I worked at Starbucks and we had this regular who always ordered a grande, iced, sugar-free, caramel latte with four ice cubes. After getting her drink she always opened the lid to count the cubes. Once, on my shift, an extra cube slipped in and she flipped out. She started screaming and when I tried to calm her down and offered her a replacement, she threw the drink, cup and all, in my face. That wasn’t enough apparently, because she then proceeded to grab the milk pitcher and throw it across the store. I quit three days later... worst job I’ve ever had."
23. The almost broken nose:
"One night after I'd been on the clock for at least nine hours, a customer broke my last nerve and almost my nose. She was upset that some manufacturer had discontinued her favourite shampoo. She asked for a manager, and when I arrived, threw a bottle of shampoo at my face. When I told her I was calling the police, she collapsed to the floor and screamed that she slipped in the shampoo that had leaked from the bottle she had thrown in my face. The store manager arrived and looked at my bleeding face, and then at the customer on the floor. He apologised profusely to that damnable woman, and while helping her off the floor told me to apologise. Needless to say, she left the store, escorted by the manager and I had another job several weeks later."
24. The last straw:
"I worked at a children’s store that hosted birthday parties. During a disastrous party that was already spiraling out of control, one of the kids kicked over the table with their cake on it after being told it wasn't yet time for cake. The mum, who was a monster herself, blamed me. She then dragged me around the store by my arm to 'apologise to her babies', and then punched me. The company gave the family free gifts, a new free cake, and a completely free party, while I gave in my two weeks notice."
25. The "you should work here if you know so much" drama:
"I worked at Target for a few months. One day this lady came up to my register to buy a few things. I scanned an item and was about to put it in the bag when she said 'Nooo' in a very, very degrading tone. I was confused and asked her what was wrong. She said, 'There's a coupon on that item. I swear every time I come to these stores, I'm training someone haha.' She tried to make it sound like she was joking, but it was in such a rude tone. I mean I'm sorry I didn't see the coupon on the box, but you could have pointed it out a little nicer."
– Emily Claire, Facebook
26. And finally, the Kool-Aid outburst:
"This is a long story, but one of my favourites to tell because it was so nuts. I worked at a grocery store that often had really big sales. We had been encountering issues where people would buy up almost ALL our stock, so we would put limits on things per family (so anyone shopping together with one cart).
This particular week we were selling Kool-Aid Jammers at a really low price and these two women, who were sharing the same cart, had twice the limit. I didn't see that right away, so I gave them their total. One woman, let's call her Joan, proceeds to hand me handfuls of homemade coin rolls to pay for her bill. I'm talking nickels, dimes, and quarters, and they're rolled in paper so there's no way of knowing how much is in each roll.
As I'm trying to mentally deal with the fact of counting all those coins, her friend, let's call her Betty, adds more Kool-Aid Jammers, which puts them beyond the limit. I apologise and explain to them our rule. They both start to LOSE their shit. While they're yelling at me, I call for my manager to come over. As I'm waiting for him, I'm still counting out Joan's change.
Adam comes over, explains the rules, and then walks away. I finally finish counting Joan's change and she still owes another $2. She doesn't believe me and asks for a recount. I wanted to CRY at this point. Then Betty says, 'You know, I ought to slap that smart-ass mouth of yours.' I look up and I'm like, 'Ex-CUSE me?' And she says, 'I ought to smack that look right off your damn face.'
That was my absolute fucking limit. I looked at her and said, 'That is a threat of assault and I no longer have to serve either of you.' I locked my till, walked away, got my manager, and went straight to the break room. I later found out that my manager sold them the fucking product, and they allowed me a whopping five minutes off the till before I had to come back.
In short: I GOT THREATENED WITH VIOLENCE OVER FUCKING KOOL-AID. WHAT IS LIFE."
– Samantha Elizabeth, Facebook
That's it. I'm done. I'm out of here.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.