If you've ever worked in retail or hospitality, you know that customers can be assholes. No matter how many smiles or pleasant assurances you give, there are some people who want to use a two-minute interaction in a shopping centre to assert their dominance over you. These people won't be happy until they've ruined your day, and there's nothing you can do except smile, try to be polite and wait for them to fuck off.
We spoke to people who work on the high street about, some of the worst, and weirdest, customers in Britain.
When I worked in the Body Shop I had to do a trial run of a woman's bridal make-up so that she could test out the products. We did the standard pre-wedding small talk and I asked whether she'd got everything planned and she said "Not really, I just don't feel like planning stuff. It's too much to think about. I don't feel excited about it at all."
I was 18 at the time and totally out of my depth, so I joked, "maybe just elope", to which she replied, "yeah, maybe the problem is him!" It was a joke and she did laugh, but it was the kind of empty laugh that doesn't reach a person's eyes. Then she kind of just had a conversation with herself, saying how they'd been together for eight years, and she never thought that she'd end up with anyone like him, and how he's not her ideal man at all and how if she thinks about the wedding then she just imagines it being with random men off the street or with celebrities, all while I slapped a load of makeup on her. Eventually she said, "I tried to say that I didn't think I was ready for marriage when we first got engaged, but he talked me round. But I'm right! I'm not! I think I've got to talk to him, I just can't get married. I don't want to." So, yeah, sorry to whoever's wedding I ruined. - Alice
When I was working in a branch of Motor World a guy and his three young kids came in. He bought a car battery up and said "how much for cash?" I replied that it was the same price however you paid, much to his chagrin. He gave a signal, and the kids proceeded to turn the shop over while he repeated, "How much for cash? How much for cash? How much for cash?" I watched them pull 600 air fresheners off hooks and throw windscreen blades everywhere before I relented. - Owen
Working for Apple, I had a guy come in to moan to me about his broadband. When I explained Apple only made his computer and had nothing to do with his broadband connection he said, "Ok dear, how about you go an find a man I can talk to about this. You're not getting it." - Beth
I had a man approach the counter in Game once to trade in a Nintendo DSi. He had been quite casual to start with, saying he just wanted to trade in for cash, and so I explained I just had to check the machine out and then take some details in order to do that. He had the correct paperwork so I went ahead and began to examine the machine. I tend to talk to myself as I work, so perhaps I said, "okay so I'll just go through the memory and check that out", but it was when I got to that stage that suddenly his whole demeanour changed. I suspect he may have seen my eyebrows shoot up at the sight of nine dick pics. I must say the artfulness of some of them has stuck with me, it's not easy to take a decent dick pic with a DSi camera, but he managed some exceptional shots that featured both his penis and his face, in an impressive upshot angle. I concluded the machine was fine and I'd take it in, so then began the lengthy paperwork checks and signing things in order to give him the cash. As soon as he had the cash in hand he sprinted out the shop. This was very much not an isolated incident – there were many instances of games consoles being traded in with incredibly abrasive screen names or porn DVDs in them. - Lizzie
When I worked in Ann Summers, we had a woman come in to complain that her Rampant Rabbit vibrator had broken, and she wanted a refund. When she pulled it out of her bag it was covered in white crust. My manager flipped and refused to serve her until she bought it back clean, the woman got very angry and flipped a stand with a load of clitoral stimulators on it. - James
I once had a guy put his crying child on the counter so that I could explain why Christmas was cancelled and how it was my fault. I worked in Zavvi at the time. We'd gone into administration and we couldn't accept his £20 gift card. - Ben
One time I was working in a library and a woman tried to leave her toddler with me while she went to get a mani pedi. I said, "Ma'am, you cannot leave your child with a stranger you've never met in a public place, even if that public place is a library." She was insistent that she had seen me in the library before and was sure I was trustworthy and she simply HAD to make this mani pedi appointment and I was SO UNREASONABLE for not just making this easy for her. There was lots of huffing and sighing and threatening my job. In the end the only thing that swayed her was that the library was closing before she'd have to be back, but she was still very mad at me for inconveniencing her. The fact that I knew she was being absurd made it slightly less stressful, but I was really upset at the idea that this poor kid was being treated like an annoyance and a burden by her mum. And it was so frustrating that I couldn't convince her to care. - Kris
I was working in Morrisons. One day, a middle-aged man came into that weird little space between the two sets of revolving doors where they keep the baskets and the big ass bags of soil for your garden, dropped his trousers and pants and just shat everywhere. Like everywhere. He then rushed off to the toilets just inside the store, and by the time anyone got in there he'd managed to disappear out the window having: a) left his pants in the middle of the floor and b) smeared his own shit over every wall, cubicle, mirror and ceiling surface available to him. Management bought the cleaners a four pack of beer each before they went home that night. - Stephen
One time when I worked at a call centre, an old woman stayed on the phone and shouted at me for close to five hours. At one point, when I let out an audible sigh, she just said, "You think I'm going anywhere? I'm 86, I've got nothing else to do with my day." - Tom
More on VICE: