J usually works as a bagger. Even during all-hands-on-deck rush times when the lines at the registers are five people deep, J makes sure to have a long conversation with the customer at the register as she slowly packs up the bags. This is not the normal polite we-are-in-a-business-interaction chit-chat that every other staff member in the store has mastered. This is a few pleasantries, heavily sprinkled with "I cannot wait to get on the bus and go home, they've called me three times this week in to cover these kids' shifts, FINE I'll go and do a price check" grousing and eye-rolls. Eggs or bread may go at the bottom of the bag under cans, but what is that to J? You're leaving anyway, and she just wants to go home. I have sometimes specifically avoided the register she's stationed at just so I don't have to interact with her.
I went in to the store on Saturday to pick up a few things, and hit up the deli for some sliced cheese. Before I even reached the case, I could hear J complaining at full volume (she has a distinctive voice). Behold! She was lurking at the deli instead of at the bagger's station, and she was well into a rant directed at the poor woman in front of me who just wanted some ham. There was nobody else working the deli at that moment, so she wasn't even commiserating with a co-worker (which I still would have considered unprofessional with customers around).
The woman in front of me: *flees with her ham*
Me: Hi, I'd like --
J: I HAVE BEEN COVERING FOR ANDY SINCE 2:30, AND NOW I MISSED MY BUS. I AM NEVER ANSWERING THE PHONE AGAIN. IT IS SATURDAY AND I HAVE THINGS TO DO.
Me: I'm sorry that happ--
J: *spots another staff member and yells the same thing at him.*
The Other Staffer: *Mutters a quick platitude and also flees*
Me: I just need ---
J: *repeats her rant at the sweet other deli lady who has just appeared from the back, as well as the butcher counter guy who is just passing through on the way from produce. Both look like they just want to sink into the floor. She finally turns her harridan stare at me and grits her teeth into an unconvincing smile.*
Me: Yes, I just need a quarter-pound of medium cheddar, sliced.
J: *is so worked up at this point that she mis-hears me and thinks I said I wanted a whole pound, and rolls her eyes at me when I correct her. As she bags it up after taking the weight, I'm pretty sure I see some cheese drop to the floor, which any other time I would have mentioned. But by this time, I just want to get out of there.*
J: Well, I need the money anyway.
ARRRGH. I've worked in retail before, and I understand that it can be frustrating. Your shift can change, or you are called in to work when you weren't expecting to, or sometimes you just plain don't like your job. But, if you are in a customer-facing position, you do your job and at least pretend to be pleasant (or at least not be actively unpleasant), and you commiserate with your co-workers or your dog or anyone but the customer about the sucky situations that inevitably come up. I can even understand when an employee at this store sort of light-heartedly complains a little to me about inconvenient things that come up during the day. It sucks that J was working a longer shift than she was expecting, and that she had to wait an hour for the next bus. But EVERYONE in the store knew that she was absolutely furious about it, and she made her problem everyone else problem too.
When an employee has reached this point of basically throwing a hissy-fit, I feel like it would have been better for everyone if management had just let her leave instead of having her work an extra few minutes. She would have had to wait an extra 30 minutes or so for her next bus, but at least everyone else could have been spared.
ETA (Copypasta from commentlandia):
Okay, I was absolutely fine with just complaining cathartically on the internet and just kind of looking back at that incident in vague amusement, mostly because unless someone is actively trying to harm me, I hate getting people in trouble. However, I think that there are reasonable points from the commenters here:
A) Regardless of her situation (I am not remotely qualified to speculate on any disabilities she may or may not have), her managers need to work with her to make her more successful at her job, and they need customer feedback to do it. If she cannot be successful, this feedback from me will help them with firing proceedings.
B) I am reasonably certain that she is unpopular with her co-workers, and the stuff aforementioned in point A may help.
So, here's the feedback I just filed through the store's website (I removed her full first name). Thanks for your thoughts, everyone!
Comment On: Employee Attitude/Conduct (Inappropriate treatment)
Message: Hi. I'd like to leave a little bit of feedback about an employee named J. She's usually working as a bagger, although I've seen her fill in elsewhere. I am a regular customer at [store]. When I was picking up some things last weekend (Saturday, 8/3 at about 6pm), J was subbing for [co-worker] in the deli. She was very unhappy about having to sub, and was complaining at full volume to employees and customers alike that she missed her bus. It took me two tries to place my very simple order (both times I was interrupting her complaints), and then I had to correct her when she mis-heard my order (because she was still on a tear while I was ordering). Twice at the deli counter, she shouted over my shoulder to employees passing through the bakery area about her displeasure with the subbing situation, and again complained to the other deli employee. Since she was so obviously upset and clearly not able to maintain reasonable politeness toward customers and colleagues alike, I feel that she should have been relieved from subbing that day and sent home. I'm not sure what J's situation is, but her disposition is often unpleasant. I hope that this helps your management team have a candid talk with J about improving her customer service skills. I understand that not everyone enjoys every second of their job. However, maintaining a personable facade even on bad days is a good skill to cultivate.