So a customer walks into the store, an elderly lady with smeared eye make up. She stands at the front of the store yelling, "Can someone help me?" A little surprised (mostly because I'm standing right there) I say, "What are you looking for today?" She tells me that she needs a small one pound propane tank for a weed burner that her daughter sent her from California. I tell her that I will get her one. I go back and grab one from our welding section, neglecting to note that it is a 14.1 oz instead of the full 16 oz. She tells me this is not correct. Bob grabs her a 16 oz tank from up front. It is a two pack. She picks it up and studies it. "This weighs more than this," she complains, holding the two tank package up in one hand and the single 14.1 oz that I brought up first in the other hand.
Bob and I look at each other. "Yes, it does," I explain. "Because there are two 16 oz. bottles in this package and one 14.1 oz. in the other. "Well, it's too heavy," she complains. "Even one of those bottles will be too heavy."
Bob and I look at each other again. 16 oz. is a pound, no matter how you slice it. 16 oz is still going to weigh a pound. Impatient that we were not advising her, she snapped, "Are you sure this will fit?" I explain that if she needs a one pound bottle, the screw is universal, so the bottle will fit anything that takes a one pound bottle. She tells me that the handle is from California and that things are different there.
Bob and I look at each other.
She then heaves a aggravated sigh. She needs salt to pour down her well, the kind of salt that sinks to the bottom. I tell her that we have water softener salt but I've never heard of a salt that you poured into the well itself. She started to get angry because she had a paper from the EPA that told her about this product, and she 'couldn't believe that we didn't sell it.' I said, "I'm not saying we don't sell it. I'm saying that I've never heard of a product labeled for that use, and I'm loathe to sell you something that might be harmful to your well and your pump. Salt is corrosive." She explains to me again that EPA sent her some information. I said, "Well, I'd need to see the paper because I don't know what you're looking for." She begins to be quite angry. "I've TOLD you what I need..." she began, "...the EPA sent me information..." I said, "Ma'am, I know what you are looking for, but I do not know how to advise you. We have nothing in the store labeled for that purpose." Just to be on the safe side, I discussed it with Bob. Bob looked confused. "I've never heard of that," he said. "Seems like the salt would be rough on your pump."
In any case, she bought the propane tanks and something else, and she snatches her bag and marches out the store muttering angrily "I can't believe they don't carry salt."
I watched her go, with an unspoken but relieved 'Whew!'
I wait on a few more customers, and much to my surprise, she is back. She is also mad. She's holding the 2-pack of 1 lb propane cans. "These are green," she snaps. "I called my daughter, and she says that she uses propane in a gray container. I say, "But ma'am, propane is propane, no matter what color the container is. If you need a one pound propane tank, this will work." She tells me that she need a COLEMAN l lb propane tank. I tell her that we don't sell Coleman, just the Worthington brand. She got quite agitated. She knew that we sold what she needed, and if I would not help her, she'd find it herself. She slapped her receipt on the counter and demanded a refund.
I did the return and handed her $6.35 back. Angrily she tells me that I've shortchanged her. She paid more than that when she bought them just seconds before. I'm starting to get frustrated. I take a deep breath and I show her on her original receipt that she'd only paid $5.99 plus tax.
She says, "I gave you $18. I said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you did not." She then pulls out her wallet, and empties it on my counter. She knows how much she had when this started. She begins counting the money in her wallet. The customer behind her stood there with a 40 lb bag of dog food on his shoulder, looking just as astonished as I was. "Why don't I help you at the other register?" I said, and I stepped over and began ringing up customers there.
The woman decided (apparently) that I had not shortchanged her. She began to walk up and down the aisles looking for the product she needed.
She's back. She's mad. We have the exact same handle that her daughter sent her from California. It says right on it that it takes a 20 lb tank. "Yes, ours take a 20 lb tank," I said, "but you told us that you needed a 16 oz propane tank. I did not know what kind of a gadget YOU had...I was just giving you what you asked for. I didn't question you." She was furious then. I should have known she needed a 20 lb tank. Moreover, I probably had the salt she needed too. She went out the door, and she was even madder.
I watched her go, and once again, I thought, 'Whew!'