44 thoughts on “September 6, 2015

  1. This happens all the time.

    1. Nothing ever just takes a second.

    2. We do get breaks and lunches.

    3. It would take 2 seconds for someone else to come and help you.

    4. You get a break at your job so let us have ours.

    • In regards to numbers 2/4, a lot of customers don’t understand that. Hell, I once had a customer comment on the fact he thought we were robots who were unplugged and stored in the back after our shifts ended…to this day I’m still not sure if he was joking about that. My suspicions are that he wasn’t.

  2. I’ve had this happen, but I didn’t have the spine to do what Cooper did. Especially after I asked my manager later on what I should do in that situation, and was told very sternly to help the customer. I was basically scolded for voicing an alternate scenario, even though I DID help the customer. :/

    I think I remember reading a similar story to this strip in Norm’s “Pretending You Care” book. I was like, “Whoa, you can DO that?”

    • You are salaried? If not you do not help them. You are not covered by work comp, or under the strep liability policy. And you own time is yours, your boss is an ass. The most you do is call for a employees on the clock and keep walking.

    • You work for free? I don’t. If I’m not on the clock, I’m not not getting paid and have no obligation to help anyone. I’ve had customers ask me for help when I was IN LINE, holding items and my purse and wearing my jacket at the store where I work.

      No. Just no.

    • It happens to me sometimes, personally as long as it is just a simple question I know I will answer it. If it is going to be complicated I tell them I am on break and can get them someone to help them.

  3. I think Cooper’s “mistake” is saying that he was going to lunch. What if he said “that’s not my area, let me get someone who knows it.”?

  4. I once worked at a store where the timeclocks were on the sales floor so the customers could always see us. I told a customer i was on lunch and a co-worker threatened my job when i got back. He said that giving the customers your lunch break was “the way it should be.” I gave my two weeks the next day. I tried to start a #union at my next store for this very reason.

    If retail Workers went on strike, the customers couldn’t get their toys. If the customers walked out, the Workers would collect unemployment. Who needs who?

    • And that’s the problem.
      They expect me to help them even when I’m at a DIFFERENT store.
      Different TYPE of store, different company.
      It’s my day off! I’m not in uniform and it’s not even my STORE. “$&#* off, %*%#^ !”

      • Stories abound regarding entitled asswaffles who have actually tried to get someone fired… who doesn’t even work at that particular store. With regards to what @david shick said above, unions still serve an important rôle, and if they’re needed anywhere, they are desperately needed in retail where management is motivated to give the customers everything and treat workers like something they scraped off the bottom of their shoes.

  5. This happens far more often than I can imagine at my store. I’ve developed ‘tunnel vision’ though in that I make a direct charge to the exit not making eye contact with anyone (or pretend to fiddle with my phone and act like I am just another customer!) It is pretty effective although my manager once said that I also put on a the fiercest scowl she has ever seen (she thought it was hilarious!)

    • The situation I absolutely hated was when I’d be facing a shelf, halfway down some aisle, and some customer would stick their head around the corner at the end of the aisle and ask me where something was.

      Without saying “excuse me” first. I can’t put into words how much I hated that, so one day, I began to treat the phrase Excuse Me as a password.

      There were many times that customers would walk up to me and ask me where something was, and if they didn’t say excuse me first, I’d ignore them.

      They’d raise their voice, they’d repeat their request, but until they said Excuse Me, I’d just keep facing that shelf.

      Of course, when they did get around to Excuse Me, I’d acknowledge them cheerily and ask what they needed.

      None of them EVER made the connection.

          • More like how dare s/he expect the world around him to conform to his own set of rules without letting anyone else in on the game. Customers are not mind-readers, they don’t know of his stupid “secret password”. What if they had said “Sorry to bother you, but…” instead? Would that have been good enough? Or would he have gone on ignoring them until they guessed right? Of course no one ever made the connection, they didn’t even know they were players his own personal game and probably just figured he was a jerk. Sorry, but to just outright ignore them multiple times is plain rude and deserving of a reprimand.

          • Cal, he/she is not expecting them to conform to anything. He/she is expecting them to be polite and decent human beings. They didn’t list every possible “secret password” that they accept because that’s absurd. Until someone says “excuse me” or a similar phrase we don’t know if they’re speaking to us or having a conversation with someone they’re shopping with. We just hear talking. “Excuse me” let’s us know they are addressing us and need our assistance. So no, they’re not being an asshole, they’re attempting to get even a smidge of the bare minimum of respect.

  6. As a quick reminder to anyone who’s ever had a supervisor tell them they should help a customer while on lunch, the best answer is a sort of puzzled “Huh? No, that’s not what the Department of Labor website says… I don’t want to get the company in trouble….” Most of them will get the hint at that point.

    And if they actually write you up for not helping someone while off the clock, make sure you get a copy of that writeup. That’s pure gold to the DoL.

    • Oh yeah – I’ve actually done this and the manager backed off. I told them if I am off the clock, even for break or lunch – then I am off the clock. I do not work for free. This is not a volunteer position.

      I too, perfected the tunnel vision walk when I was done for the day and leaving to go home. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

  7. This happens quite a bit. I work at a grocery store, so if I’m picking up a few things after my shift, I will often get stopped even though I’m pushing around a cart with my things in it. I know it’s “wrong” to work off the clock, but oddly enough I always help them. It’ll pay off someday…I hope.

    • Bander,
      No it won’t pay off and you’re just making it harder for everyone else. If you are off the clock, you are off the clock. You don’t give customers the impression that, for them you are always on because then you are training them to expect that of everyone , not just you

      • Ot it could be some human decency. I know people who chose to work off the clock and I know people who don’t. Neither is right or wrong, if it is that person’s choice.

        When I have helped people, even while holding my purse, they are grateful and understand that I went out of my way to help. It’s all personal preference. I’ve done it. My boss has done it. We aren’t salaried at my store. To us, it is a matter of personal choice and each option is supported by management.

      • If I’m off the clock and shopping for myself in the store, I first take efforts to make myself more “customer” and less “employee” (remove a vest if there is one, take off my nametag, put on a jacket if I have one). Then I only give people who ask me for help the same level of courtesy I would give (and have given) as one customer to another. If they ask where something is, I tell them whereabouts in the store it is but I’m under no obligation to actually walk them to the item like I would if I were on the clock. If they ask for something off the top shelf near us, I get it down for them because I’m tall. That’s about it. Any other requests I redirect to a coworker who’s actually still on the clock.

    • It certainly might pay in terms of human karma, and how you feel about yourself, and that’s important. But unless you happen to be working in a small family-owned grocery store in the 50s where the owner values human qualities, pays attention, and promotes his or her workers accordingly, it will only make other workers look bad and give management a reason to expect that very behavior.

  8. During the latter end of my job at a fast food place, and this is the main reason I eventually quit working there, I would often be scheduled as the only English speaker during my entire (closing) shift. I speak Spanish, too, and I loved working with my coworkers, but that meant I was the only person who could help the customers. I asked them to stop scheduling me as the only person who could help customers, at least until after I’d had a chance to take my lunch break, and they did, for a while. Then they started doing it again, so I put in my notice.

    I was instructed to clock out during my lunch break as usual, but to stay in the restaurant and help anyone who came in. Instead, I didn’t clock out, stayed in the restaurant, and helped anyone who came in. If they can insist that I still work during my break, I can insist that I still get paid.

  9. I used to get talked to a lot because I would stop at the deli or the freezers and buy my lunch before I went to the break room to punch out. I told the manager that it never fails that while I’m buying lunch, somebody will ask for my help, and if I’m going to be required to help, I also require to be paid for providing that help, then I’d remind him of the store policy against working off the clock.

  10. I really enjoy reading this comic, but it is so accurate, I feel like these situations are actually happening to me. I have to say, I actually get that tightening feeling in my stomach reading them.

  11. Hmm, I wonder what customers would do if you charged them your ‘personal rate’ to help them since you’re off the clock and don’t work for free? Sure, I’ll help you, but it’ll cost you…

    • I have two jobs, and at one I bill $120 an hour for rush service, 1/2 hour minimum. That’s a fair rate for me to waste my lunch break.

  12. During my orientation at my retail job they put a emphasis on not working when you are not on the clock. They said if you are off the clock remove your name badge and vest so you won’t be approached by a customer. Their reason was if you get hurt while off the clock the store can get in serious trouble.

  13. I worked in the cafe at a Barnes and Noble, heading off on break, when a customer asked if I could help them find the Goosebumps books. Normally I would have said “sorry, I’m only cafe, I don’t work the book floor, and I’m on break; let me find someone to help you,” but since I knew that the Goosebumps display was on the way to the break room, I decided to help him out.

    • That happens to me all the time at Barnes and Noble. Probably because I’m the girl holding a pile of books, they can’t see that I never have a nametag lol.

  14. I’ll help in any way that i would if i were a fellow customer. I will not walk them to an item, i will not scan or check the back, or do anything that only an actual employee would be able to do. The fact is that in my state, in my store, working off the clock is cause for corrective action up to and including termination. On the other hand, until you are actually clocked off for lunch, or “off station” for break, you are still the store’s #%&+#. Once you make it out though, no obligations.

    • This exactly. The only help I give when off the clock is the same help I would give as a fellow customer. Pointing where an item is (but not walking to it), getting something off of a high shelf (because I’m tall), but that’s it. And if the customer pushes for more I point out that I’m off the clock and can’t help beyond that.

  15. Working off the clock was taken pretty serious when I worked for Big Blue. Managers were afraid to even ask you a quick question when they saw you on lunch.

    If I was walking on the sales floor while off the clock, how I responded to customers depended on what the were asking, and how polite they were. If they just asked ‘what department is _____ in?’ I’d answer. It took literally ten seconds and most of the time I didn’t have to stop walking. If they needed actual help, I’d tell them I’ll page someone when I got to the back, and I did that. If they were rude, yelled or whistled (yes, that happened A LOT) at me from across the aisle, I’d either flat out ignore them, or if I couldn’t, say I was off the clock and keep walking.

    There was one lady who stopped me as I was headed out the door, purse in hand, coat on, and on the phone with my ride. I told her I didn’t work there. She said ‘but you’re wearing blue and khaki!’ I looked her dead in the eyes and said ‘right, cause no one else is allowed to wear this color combination besides employees here,’ rolled my eyes, and walked away. Idiots.

    • Reminds me of a time when I was about 13, maybe 14, I happened to be wearing a similar outfit to what managers wore at the store I was shopping in, and a customer got irate that I would deceive her by wearing clothes that looked like a manager’s clothes.
      Three things.
      1. In what world do you confuse a 14 year old with a manager? I know that retail managers tend to start off kind of young, but that is really pushing it when you consider minimum age to work in my state is 16 for most circumstances.
      2. When I picked the clothes I was going to wear that day, I was thinking more about meeting the dress code requirements for my middle school, I didn’t even know I was going to be going to this store when I was putting on clothes.
      3. Even with my clothes being similar to what the managers wear, all the managers also had a lanyard with a name badge identifying them as a manager, I had no lanyard, no name badge, it should have been easy to see by the lack of those items that I was, in fact, not a manager.

  16. I would be more than glad to help you out on my very limited break, just fill out this form giving me your work information so I can do the same to you at your work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *