Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Me (holding a pair of jeans that weren't exactly what I was looking for): Do you have these jeans, but without the design on the pocket?

Her (20something sales clerk): Over here, what size?

Me: 32/34

Her (handing the jeans I wanted to me as I set the ones I didn't want on the shelf where we were both standing): Awww, nooooooooo! (Foot stomp, full shoulder shrug and look of complete contempt with exaggerated audible sigh)

Me (look of total disbelief): Don't you think you're overreacting just a bit?

Her (still completely flummoxed -- slowly trying to regain her composure): You wanna know why I said that?

Me: No, not really. I'm just trying to buy some jeans.

Her: Because I was told that whoever puts pants back in the wrong slots would be fired.

Me: Well I don't work here.

Her (angry and sneering): I KNOW you don't work here, but I do and this is MY bread and butter (turns back and starts walking away)

Me: Well, I think you're being kind of rude

Her (turning around): Well, I think YOU'RE being rude to me! (storms off)

Me to Michael (as I place the jeans deep into a pile where they do not belong): Well, I'm not going to be buy something here. Let's go.

Me to Her (who is near the front door now): Good luck finding that pair!


Stick it to the Pants Nazi said...

Sorry, Ken, but this time you get the thumbs down. I know that you told this story to be funny and it is true that perhaps the clerk overreacted; however, millions of people in America and elsewhere are barely eeking out an existence in low-paying jobs with little chance of advancement. This person was probably terrified that she would lose her job and all that might mean for her life. I humbly suggest that a better approach would have been to put compassion into action, empathizing with her and then making some creative, wicked comment to skewer her obsessive-compulsive, maniacal boss.

jared said...

So you asked for help, she helped you immediately, and you then put the pants you were holding in a place they obviously didn't belong, which makes her job harder.

I get that you think she was being rude to you by pointing out that you were being rude (how would you like it if your blog readers kept rearranging your posts?), but I think you acted like a real jerk by hiding another pair.

"Miss! I'm not sure you know who I AM! I'll treat you and this store as I please! I have a blog."

I'm sure that when you come back with richard gere in a couple days she'll realize her folly.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Stick It to the Pants Nazi: Your point is well-taken, but I've worked enough minimum-wage jobs in my life to know that there's no excuse for being hostile toward a customer, no matter the situation -- especially one that is being friendly and looking to buy.

All she had to say was, "Here, I'll put those back for you" -- like EVERY OTHER RETAIL CLERK in America does -- and I'd have bought the pants.

Given her profession, she must have experience with this situation a thousand times a day and should know how to handle it in a way that doesn't make the customer feel bad for shopping in her store. The "bad economy" excuse just doesn't cut it with me.

@Jared: I wasn't being rude -- I couldn't take the pants out of her hands without setting the ones I had down, so I set them exactly where she was standing.

Also, I'm not sure what having a blog has to do with this.

Adam said...

I'm on Team Kenneth. I thought this was hilarious and I once spent a hellish summer working in retail.

Mark from NYC said...

I agree with the boys. Cut the worst paid, going nowhere, probably worst educated worker a break. It's not going to hurt you in the least, and it may well help her. Or else buy your jeans at Barney's Co-op where you pay more, and therefore the staff is paid more. But if you shop for super cut rate jeans at OMG and complain that the barely minimum wage worker doesn't give you luxury service, you're only getting what you pay for. And your participating in a discount culture that discounts people... Odd that you would miss this quite obvious point when we all had to read about your woe-is-me job travails on this blog. One thing is obvious. You're not management material, Kenneth, because you can only see things from your own point of view.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Mark From NYC: It's funny you should bring up "management" because I actually have extensive experience and am highly regarded for my abilities. How so, you ask? Because while others avoid confrontation and allow the staff to mail it in, I actually confront people when they're doing a sub-par performance.

The jeans were full price, BTW. Everything else in the store was on sale except what I wanted!

John said...

Kenneth, the girl obviously needs or has never had any kind of customer service training. I think you might have did her a favor and gave her something to think about-- like does she really want that job or not. You didn't need to hear any of that crap she told you during her tantrum. Like you said, you were just there to buy some jeans!

Marc said...

Step back from the particulars of this story, and you can see how the same scenario plays out in businesses everywhere, everyday.

Low-wage employees get dumped on by their managers, so they turn around and give lousy customer service (or outright abuse). Customers then abandon the business so it loses money, making the worried managers dump even more on the employees, ad infinitum.

The same scenario plays out every day at Verizon, and AT&T, and McDonald's, and AOL, and GM, and Microsoft, and...

Think about it -- when's the last time your phone company or cable provider gave you good service at a reasonable price? 1986?

(Oddly, I was just talking yesterday about OMG as my favorite place in NYC to buy cheap street clothes. And when I used to shop at the store on 14th St., the girls were always really helpful--though the slit-eyed sphinx looming over the elevated cashier stand always seemed a bit sadistic.)

Tony (LT) said...

I have to say that there was a misstep on both sides.

If she was frustrated about the jeans being in the wrong place, there was really no need to let a customer know it. The customer should not be punished because the clerk has a bad boss.

At the same time, there really was no need, Mr. Walsh, to act out your frustration (no matter how valid) by hiding another pair of jeans. You had already made your point that you were unhappy. From there, all you had to do was rise above it and leave to shop elsewhere.

Both of you let your frustrations lead to treating each other without respect.

ON A SIDE NOTE:level of pay should not be a factor in how well someone does their job nor give gives them license to take it lightly. If you have a job, do it well. Besides, these days, folks need to step back and look at how fortunate they are to have a job. Ideal or not.

Topaz said...

She was being ridiculous. I can't believe people are defending her. That's the real reason customer service is non-existent these days -- people like her and her advocates have no idea what constitutes proper behavior. And it has nothing to do with the poor economy.

Anonymous Wolverine said...

Oh Ken, You've lived here so long you've become a prince. ... I am also from Michigan ... and though the majority here say you were in the wrong ... you, "Prince like" defend yourself and put the blame on everybody else being an idiot for not seeing things your way. Just because you cover A list events, does not make you (sorry to say) A list. You are just a normal person, like the woman you demean here in your blog. Your actions seem to make it sound like you only care for yourself and not the well being and employment of anybody else ... you had to listen to a few words from her, but your actions cost her, perhaps, hours of work to rectify your intentional punishment of her, and maybe her job. Drink some Vernors Ken, and remember where the dirt on your feet comes from ... Michigan.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Tony: OF COURSE you're correct -- and I'm not just saying that 'cause he's, um, "large."

Sure, my (always) having to get the last word wasn't nice -- but I'd have never done it if she hadn't "started" it.

As for the anonymous Michigander: I really don't see what being -- or not being -- A-list has to do with anything. I didn't like it any better when people at Farmer Jack('s) were rude to me than when New Yorkers were rude. Where is this coming from?!!!!

corny said...

From a fellow New Yorker who grew up in the Midwest - Ken should know better. But it doesn't surprise me. Most of his posts are tinged with elitism. I keep coming back because there are a few posts a day that interest me. But I usually get the sense that I'm reading the writing of one of the popular kids in high school who dumps on other people to make themselves feel even cooler.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@corny: I was the LEAST cool kid -- and adult -- EVER! Where are you getting this?!!!!

I kind of love that ANYONE would ever think I'm cool -- or even think that I THINK I'm cool!

Tim said...

You're completely in the green in my book, Ken.

Having just gotten out of the clothing retail world after nearly three years (paltry time served, compared to some), I can say that if I had tried that at either of the places I worked, I would have been fired on the spot. This isn't to say that I didn't want to give a customer a piece of my mind nearly every day. :)

As much as I hate it, the thing about retail is that, as an associate, you're there to serve the customer with the store's best interests in mind. You smile, put your happy pants on, and grin and bear whatever the customer throws at you. Literally. The breakroom, stockroom - or, better yet, HOME - are places to rip on customers.

On a completely unrelated (kind-of?) note, keep up the great blog!

Hang Your Head said...

Today is a sad day for me, Ken. I've lost respect for you because of your actions. Like Tony said, it would have been better for you to have taken the high road. When you say you have skills in management because you are willing to confront people, since when does effective addressing of issues equal childish pranks like hiding jeans? Sad day in Mudville, is all I can say. The Mighty Kenny has struck out.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Hang Your Head: Believe it or not, hiding pants from bitchy sales clerks is NOT one of the management skills I cite in job interviews, silly!!!

Mark from NYC said...

@K212: Sticking a pair of jeans into the wrong stack and storming out the door is not facing confrontation; it's the epitome of passive/aggressive behavior.

Dirk said...

All this arguing is even more hilarious than the actual incident.

The girl totally overreacted, by the way. Why couldn't she just pick up the pair of jeans after she was finished with helping Kenneth and put them where they belonged? It's really that simple. No need for tantrums or theatrics.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Mark from NYC: Now I ""stormed" out? LOL! I actually walked slowly for maximum effect when I made my snotty comment.

The confronting part was when I -- directly to her face as she was being completely inappropriate -- told her she was overreacting and rude. There is nothing passive-aggressive about calling someone out on their behavior, but I suppose you know more about what did or did not happen than I do!!!

Brian said...

You know...it's not so much the actual behavior in the store as much as it is the impish glee with which you recount it. I think that's where your problem lies here.

I had T-Mobile fuck with me in a really horrible way recently that involved them preying on my disability (I'm deaf) and not delivering the services they promised and that all of their competitors offer.

On the third of three visits to the store, I told the salesgirl that I thought her attitude sucked and that the situation was inexcusable.

I didn't disrupt any displays or belittle her job. I just left the store and started planning for switching to a new carrier. And the next day, I felt a tinge or regret for taking my frustration with her employer and their policies out on her.

There's my $0.02

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Brian: I appreciate your comment, but what you describe is nothing like my situation at all.

Everyone wants to pin the blame on her "Nazi" employer -- who did nothing to me and whose reputation is being dragged through the mud based on something said by someone who had just been called out on for being rude so was looking for a way to shift the blame -- but the person at fault is the sales clerk. And there's no "tinge of regret" because I told her EXACTLY how I felt about her rudeness.

Maybe if you had directed your anger at the correct place -- corporate communications, perhaps -- instead of at an innocent salesgirl (as you refer to her), you'd feel gleefully impish too instead of remorseful for your actions. Trust me, it feels good.

Matthew Rettenmund said...

Anyone who takes her side is deluded. It's her fucking job to put things where they belong, not yours, and you did not go out of your way to replace them improperly...you just set them down. A huge part of her job is also making your shopping experience carefree so you will buy things and not think in your head "I'm never coming back here." Her manager is nuts if he/she said someone would be fired if anything at all ended up in the wrong place, but I don't believe that and that's not what she said...she said they'd be fired if THEY reshelved things improperly. And that's not what happened. That's like clerks who say to you, "Hi, how are you?" and you politely reply, "Fine, how are you?" and they say something like, "TIRED. I don't want to be here." I don't care. All of this is not to say people should be rude or imperious to people in the service industry. On the contrary, I'm always superpolite. But what you did was not in any way rude or imperious, and people bringing up this idea that you were entitled due to your blog or something are realllllly projecting a lot of resentment on the situation...they must secretly know that bloggers make wads of cash and are treated like kings and expect it. (Eye roll.)

Joe said...

I'm on TEAM KEN in this situation. "Her (handing the jeans I wanted to me as I set the ones I didn't want on the shelf where we were both standing): Awww, nooooooooo! (Foot stomp, full shoulder shrug and look of complete contempt with exaggerated audible sigh)"

You set the unwanted pair of jeans right next to where you and her were standing. There was no need for her to make a comment at all. She should have just picked up the jeans and put them in the correct spot. That is her job. She is getting paid, minimum wage or other, to keep the store looking nice and orderly. Did she really expect you to refold the jeans you didn't want and put them back? Usually the store associate would say something like "I'll take those jeans for you." So what if you hid a pair somewhere else. One thing I've learned about people is you never know who you might be dealing with. She doesn't know if you are having a bad day too and her actions make you snap. Lord, you could have done much more "damage" to her store. She's lucky you aren't crazy!
What is up with all the venom from your readers? Eeeek!

Birds of a Feather said...

@Matthew. Uh, I don't think you read K212's comments correctly: He DID go out of his way to replace a pair of jeans improperly (ref: his final remark to Michael).

I'm not condoning the clerk's behaviour. She should have been more professional, given that it is her job.

But there doesn't seem to be even a hint of remorse demonstrated by K212. Both he and the clerk could have acted more appropriately.

K212 does acknowledge that his "getting the last word" wasn't nice, but then goes on to act like my 6 year old brother when we were both young. "He started it!" "No, I didn't." "Yes, you did." (Sticks tongue out).

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Matt: Maybe I left out the part of the story where I said, "Don't you know who I am?" (!!!!)

@Birds of a Feather: And speaking of trying to get the last word, look at you!

Well, you're WRONG! Matt's talking about the jeans that I set down on the shelf right next to the sales clerk that sent her into a tizzy, which I DID NOT go out of my way to replace improperly. The truth is, if they hadn't had the other pair, I was still considering getting them, so I don't see what the big deal of keeping them "around" was anyway.

robb said...

kenneth is 100% in the right and the rest of you are wrong. and a bit "touched" in the head, i dare say.

Christopher said...

I have just had it with you self righteous queens who feel the need to be all fuckin "Oprah" and project your own guilt for being bitches onto Kenneth. I challenge each of you whiners to come clean about your own disgusting elitist behaviors. While I'm sure all of you are too busy fundraising and attending equality brunches to understand the simple pleasures of sarcasm and humor; this post was hilarious. Frankly, I would have done more. Perhaps asking for the bitch's manager or coming back daily to hide pants to drive her insane. I hope she got in trouble and was forced to perform sexual favors to keep her job. It's bad enough that Kenneth was forced to shop at discount store. Must he endure shitty customer service too? Get a grip you "live your best lives" queens!! You annoy me. What happened to our community's cutting wit and sense of flair. You were "born that way," remember?!?

Brian said...


I get it. I really do. I respectfully disagree.

You're a smart guy who lost his cool. It happens. I'm just not sure celebrating losing your cool is, for lack of a better word, "cool."


Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Brian: I was hesitant to publish your most recent comment because I didn't want to embarrass you by pointing out that you were completely off-base -- AGAIN -- but since I publish all signed comments (as you can see, most aren't exactly flattering), here goes it -- AGAIN!

I did not "lose my cool" in the slightest. You weren't there, so I'm not exactly sure why you're so confident you know more about what happened than I do -- or more importantly, why you even care -- but it was more of a passive disbelief that someone could be carrying on so dramatically over nothing. (An errant pair of jeans in a JEANS shop!) I was having a hard time not giggling -- no anger, no lost coolness -- but didn't want to come across as laughing at her, so I just told her I thought she was overreacting and then she went even crazier. It was at that point my guy and I decided to leave before she completely lost it, so I calmly made my parting comment (which you apparently did not find as humorous as I did, no worries there!) as we walked out and busted up laughing when I got outside. I wasn't upset then and I'm not upset now. I just thought the whole thing was kind of silly, much like this exchange with you has become!

Will J said...

Hey, at least you placed a pair inappropriately and told her so she could find it.

Just imagine her consternation if you had put the pants back in their proper place and then told her that you had put them back in the wrong place -- or that you weren't sure. Her job would not have been in jeopardy, but she would have spent days looking for then to no avail.

Harry said...

All she truly needed to say was "Hey, let me get that other pair from you - I'll put them back where they belong". Having been in retail - I know her rant would have cost her her job.

It's hysterical that it happened at O.M.G. The customer service(at least the Chelsea location) is borderline obnoxious. I can't even look at underwear without having a salesgirl guide me through the process. It's not uncommon for me to ask the salesgirl if certain pairs are designed to accent my package and ass. All said in the voice of Corky St. Clair.

Why do I tolerate it? Because sometimes - their prices are pretty damn cheap.

MIchael said...

Ken -

I've been a big fan of your blog for a long time. I love how you have grown as a writer and as a person through your writing and humor.

Of course, we all weren't there to witness the "event." When I read your entry, my first reaction was that you didn't fair too well on this one. It kinda of left feeling a bit like I wish I didn't just read that interaction. Bleh.

Yes, being "snarky" has its place and in the right context/story and story, it's hilarious. I know she pissed you off, but I do agree with TONY(LT) that you did make your point prior to your exit. Also, just walking out was a loud enough statement to the store and to her.
Yeah, people piss us off, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to play their game or get even with them.

But at the same time I do understand about standing up for oneself and the frustration you must have felt.

I think she was most likely having a bad day, there was obvious pressure she was feeling about her job. I know - not your problem - but a little compassion goes a long way, even in NYC.

Just sharing MY reaction after reading today.

Still a fan.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Michael: Thanks for the vote of confidence. See my response to Brian at 3:42 p.m. for a better understanding of what happened!