Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between an employee and a customer, which leads to funny, harmless misunderstandings in stores. And sometimes, when mistaken for an employee, customers simply play along and help their fellow customer (we all like to be helpful, right?).
Other times, however, customers are absolutely convinced that the person they have approached is actually an employee, despite the person’s denials, leading to bizarre, angry exchanges.
Check out these hilarious stories of mistaken identity in stores.
44. “We Can Be”
I was once walking around a store and this lady asked me where the frozen juice was. I was twelve at the time. I said, “I am twelve years old.” She didn’t believe me and thought I was trying to get out of work. So I just took her to the cereal aisle and ran away. I didn’t know frozen juice was a thing.
Another time when my buddy and I had just landed, hadn’t changed out of our flight suits yet (we’re military pilots). As we walked through the hotel to get to our rooms, we accidentally passed through a wedding party. A pair of beautiful women stopped us and asked if we were the strippers. My buddy said, completely deadpan, “We can be.”
43. This Woman Deserves The Best News
I worked for a university police service as a security officer. My uniform consisted of a white shirt with gray slacks and a blue striped tie. I also carried standard effects like a badge, radio, knife, handcuffs, flashlight, etc. On this particular instance, I wasn’t working so I threw my badge in my pocket. I rolled into a grocery store where employees wore brown slacks and green polos and started putting together a dinner for the evening (it was spicy tacos!). While I’m doing my thing, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a woman in her mid-40s, who asked me where are the pretzel buns were. After a second of wondering how she mistook me for an employee, I indicated the general direction of the bread and told her she could head that way to find what she was looking for. Noticeably dissatisfied with that answer, she said, “Do your job and come find them for me.” At that point, it went from simple misunderstanding to annoying entitlement. I told her I wasn’t going to help her and when she asked why, I responded with the truth: “Well, I have no obligation to help you because I’m not an employee here and I choose not to help you because I don’t feel like it.” Apparently, that was an unsatisfactory response and my “lack of initiative” was something my manager was going to hear about. Had she left to find a manager, I’d probably just ignored her. But that’s not what happened. I was obviously lying, so she doubled down and started yelling and involving other customers. “Look! This awful employee won’t help me.”
People other than myself started to be bothered by this woman’s attitude, so I made the decision to end the discussion as quickly as possible. I pulled out my badge and said, “Ma’am, this is your only warning. I’m an officer with [university] police. Back off now!” She stopped for a moment, muttered something I didn’t catch, then walked away still steaming from the ears. I went back to my soft vs. hard shell debate. Less than five minutes later, guess who showed up with what looked like the oldest employee she could find. (The old guy HAS to be the manager, right?) She moaned, “Your employee is pretending to be a police officer!” The old guy is a cashier who recognizes me from previous late-night visits and greeted me with a “What the heck?” look on his face. He turned to the woman and said, “He’s definitely not an employee and I’m pretty sure he IS a cop!” She just wasn’t having it. “Fine!” she grunted. “I don’t care. Don’t help me.” She turns to the cashier, “All I wanna know is where are your freaking pretzel buns?” He looked at her and delivered the best news I’d heard all night, “Ma’am, we don’t sell those.”
42. I’ll Help You, Out
Sometimes when I go to Home Depot I’ll be wearing my bright orange construction work shirt. One time I had someone come up to me and give me an instant attitude.
He said something like, “You’ve walked past me three times now without asking if I need help! People like you are the reason why Home Depot has such a bad reputation. I’m trying to find the sprinklers. Are you going to help me or not!?!?” I told him they were all the way in the far back corner of the store, even though I knew they were the next aisle over.
41. I Quit!
So I’m trying on a pair of jeans at Hollister. I exit the changing room and there’s a ton of people waiting, and it’s not a big changing room so it’s super crowded. The worker is MIA so I go over to the shelf where they put the clothes you don’t want and it’s a MESS. The thing is stacked high with clothes, stuff was falling off onto the floor and everywhere. I feel bad so I attempt to tidy a bit but it’s too far gone and not my job so I just go to leave the dressing room when a grade-A d-bag mother appears with her mini-me carrying 10+ jeans.
This woman starts going on and on about how her daughter isn’t a 2 or a 4, and why don’t they make a size 3, and how come these jeans are ripped, this woman isn’t giving me a chance to breathe but I clearly know she has mistaken me for an employee ( I am young and somewhat surfer-y). I just let her rant, not really listening to her, and waiting to explain myself when she starts picking me apart. She starts saying they should hire workers who have brains that know how to actually help customers and not just stand there to “look pretty.” She finally gives me a chance to speak but instead of telling her I don’t work there, I pretended I was super offended and said: “I quit!” Her daughter looked all embarrassed and people were watching and you could tell she felt kind of bad so she started to apologize and I was just like “No really, I quit!”
40. Playing Stupid
I was just minding my own business, doing some shopping in H&M, when a woman comes up to me. Bear in mind that I am holding several items I intended to try on later and was in no way wearing all black as every member of staff was. She asks me where the tights were. I panicked, told her that they were on the next floor up, on the left (I had no idea), put down my items, left, and never went back.
But the best one was when I was filling my truck with gas at the station when I was about 21. This guy in his 40s pulls up, waits about a minute before saying, “So do you only do one freaking vehicle at a time? C’mon, fill her the heck up.” I proceeded to apologize and started filling his diesel with gasoline. He ended up trying to call the cops but they couldn’t do anything as I played stupid.
39. Wait For Me In Vain
I wear blue polo and khakis at my work. They don’t have to be blue but that’s my color so that’s what I usually wear. I stopped in to Best Buy to check out some computers one time and a lady and her 13-year-old son came up to me asking about computers.
I told them all the pros and cons of some of the computers they had on the shelves, and then said, “We have some better ones in the back if you want me to go get one.” They said, “Sure!” Her son got all excited looking and I could tell she was about to purchase one. I walked back towards the back of the store and then kinda around the edge back to the front and just left.
38. Where Do You Keep Your Eggs?
About a year ago, I was in Tesco staring mindlessly at a shelf full of drinks when an old fella came up to me and said, “Where do you keep your eggs?”
It didn’t even occur to me that he thought I worked there so I just said in “In the fridge.” There was a few seconds silence and a puzzled look on his face before I realized what was happening and I told him I didn’t work there.
37. All Because Of Josh Groban
My ex-girlfriend worked in sales, and she worked all the time so for a while there her brain was just wired for it. We were in a store on Sunset Boulevard, and she’s got her head buried in the racks of clothes, not really paying attention to anything. Next thing you know, Josh Groban walks in, but she doesn’t notice because she’s too busy rooting around. Eventually, they’re standing pretty close together when she finally looks up and they make eye contact. She’s so surprised to see Josh Groban that her brain immediately kicks into the instinctual mode and she asks him, “Hi, can I help you with anything?” “Oh, no thanks, I’m just looking.” Josh Groban tells her.
Immediately, she realizes what she’s done and then tries to correct it by freezing completely still for what seems like forever and then telling him, “I’m sorry, I don’t actually work here.” Josh Groban was just like “Okay.” It was one of the most amazing, awkward exchanges I’ve ever witnessed.
36. Just Like To Wear It
When I was a teenager, I worked in Virgin Records (renamed to Virgin Megastores in the UK now). I had finished my shift and I’d had a pretty bad day, I was browsing to buy a couple of CDs to cheer myself up. A customer walked up to me and started asking questions. I’d dealt with customers all day, so I breezily replied, “Sorry, I don’t work here.” The customer responds, “But you’re wearing a Virgin uniform.”
There was a super awkward pause during which I could easily have said I’m off duty and about to leave and recovered, but in a panic said, “I just like to wear it” and walked out of the store. You know those moments when years later you recall an awkward encounter and just shudder? That’s my douche brain’s go-to moment.
35. Game On
This happened a few years ago. A friend and I decided to hit up GameStop to see if there was anything worth buying. I just happened to be wearing a polo shirt and had a lanyard/ID around my neck because I had just left the office. This kid came up to me in the Xbox section and asked me if a certain game was available for PS3. He must have been about 12, and, knowing a fair bit about video games, I happened to know that yes, the title was available on multiple consoles. I went ahead and answered him in the affirmative, yes, this title was available for PS3. He simply says, “Get it for me.” I paused and looked down at this kid, “Excuse me?” The kid said, “Get it for me; I want to buy it.” I told him, “How about…you go get it for yourself; the shelf is right there,” and point off into the distance. I started to turn away and he forcefully demanded again that I get him this dang game. I went ahead and kneeled so that I was eye level with him and told him, “If you want that game so bad, walk your little butt over there and pick it up. I’m not your slave.” The kid ran off and got his mom. My buddy and I were having a good chuckle at this; we got our games and headed off to stand in line. While we were making our way through the line here came the kid again with his mom in tow. This GameStop was attached to a bookstore, so I guess mom decided to let GameStop babysit her little spawn while she sneaked off to look at 50 Shades of Lame. The mom was throwing a hissy fit at the front, saying that some employee told her child to, “walk his fat jerk butt over to a shelf and get a game himself,” and she demanded that said employee be fired. At this point, my buddy and I were stepping up to the register to pay for our games while the mom and her kid were looking for the “employee.” The kid looks up at me and said, “That’s him!” The mom just exploded on me with a ton of vitriol, saying she’s going to have me fired and blah blah blah.
Meanwhile, my buddy and I were cracking up and he told me something like, “Oh no, you’re going to get fired, dude,” and asked the person ringing us up if we can have my employee discount before I’m terminated. This circus is only causing me to laugh harder, which in turn made her even angrier. In the midst of me on the verge of tears from laughing and this lady losing her mind, the manager came up front and asked what was going on. The lady explains how I was rude to her son and refused to do my job, how I used foul language at her child and I was very unprofessional, and that she wanted me gone, etc. The manager looked at me, looked back at this lady, at me, back at the lady and told her, “Ma’am, he doesn’t work for GameStop.” Dead. Silence. My buddy then spoke up, “So, I take it that’s a no on his employee discount?”
34. Bless You!
So I was in everyone’s favorite store, Wal-Mart. (Yes, warning sign number one.) I was leisurely browsing the movies when I became faintly aware of a man dressed completely in black staring at me. Shrugging him off, I continued browsing movies, stopping to look at the horror section. At that moment, I felt a tapping on my shoulder. I turned, and behold, it’s the Man in Black. And that’s when I spot the white on his collar. I asked him if something was wrong. “Yes, I have been waiting for you to help me. I’m trying to find a good movie to show to my church.” I responded, “Sorry sir, I don’t actually work here, and I have no idea what a church would like to see.”
Note, I was wearing a dark blue shirt with Chuck Norris facts on it and tan cargo pants. Not Wal-Mart attire in any way. So he glares at me, and says, “I was told my help would be over here, and it’s you over here, so you must be my help!” “Again sir, sorry, but I don’t work here.” “Yes, you freaking do! Now help me find a freaking movie!” At that point, admittedly, I was shocked to hear a PRIEST say that. So I asked, “Aren’t you a holy man?” The look that he gave me could have killed me. So I gave him The Exorcist and walked away.
33. You’ve Raised A Good Man
I worked a job at Sears when I was in high school. We only had one car, so my mom let me drop her off at work at Kroger and pick her back up at night after her shift. I arrived 20 minutes before the end of my Mom’s shift as a cashier so I was just wandering down the frozen food aisle still dressed in my work clothes when this little old lady approached me looking for frozen pot pies. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t work there so I just found her the pot pies and placed them in her cart then she proceeded to ask me where a bunch of other stuff was, I eventually pretty much become this lady’s personal shopper because most of what she wanted was on the top shelves and she couldn’t reach.
When she got to check out, she took my Mom’s lane and said “That young man that works here is a very kind man and a very hard worker; you should give him a raise” and my mom looked very confused she said “Ma’am, there aren’t any men working this evening; there are only ladies closing up the store.” Then I came walking up with a frozen pizza, and the little old lady said: “This is the young man.” My mom chuckled and said, “That’s my son, and he doesn’t even work here.” And then my mom winked at me and of course, the whole ride home she talked about how she raised me well and blah blah blah overly proud mom stuff.
32. She’s Not Lovin’ It
I worked for McDonald’s. The location of my store was surrounded by grocery stores, so it’s convenient for me to do my grocery shopping when I get off work on a Friday night. I walked in with headphones on, red and black polo that clearly said McDonald’s, untucked, with my McDonald’s hat still on. At this particular grocery store, employees wore black slacks with a white button-down. I was just browsing the pasta aisle when all of a sudden someone comes up to me, pulls out one of my headphones and says, “You work here, right? You shouldn’t be listening to music while you’re stocking. Now do your job and help me find (some toiletry item, paper towels or something).” Um. What? I said, “Ma’am, I’m off the clock and I DON’T EVEN WORK HERE; get away from me and let me buy my macaroni noodles.”
She immediately went to find a manager. She found me a few rows later, the manager in tow, and started screeching. The manager finally got a word in edgewise and said, “Ma’am, she doesn’t work here, she’s a customer just like you.” The woman shouted, “BUT SHE HAS A NAME TAG ON!” Yeah, and that name tag also said McDonald’s on it, as did my hat, as did my shirt. Clearly, I didn’t work at that grocery store.
31. The Look Of Pissed
I was attending a concert in a small-ish venue and thought it was odd that people kept asking me where the bathrooms were as the place filled up before the show started. When the show was going on, a guy in the crowd near me was being a jerk and affecting my enjoyment of the show.
While I was giving him the look, his friend saw me and stopped him. That’s when it finally dawned on me that people were assuming I was a bouncer, based on the fact that I was a big dude wearing black jeans and a black polo. Rather than it being awkward, once I realized I had the power to make people around me behave themselves, I embraced it and started wearing that to every show I went to at that place.
30. Turkey Snatcher
My day started with me showing up to work only to realize that today was my day off. With that, I decided to go and buy a turkey for Thanksgiving. I didn’t go back home to change because the store was near, so I went shopping in a typical office outfit, not thinking anything of it. There were plenty of turkeys, and I chose a nice big one. I was salivating already. As I was about to put it into my cart, this older woman says, “I want THAT one” and reaches for it. I thought that this was a joke. Boy was that a mistake. So I chuckle, until she actually has her hands on the turkey and starts to try to take it. I was shocked and asked what she is doing. She said, “I thought you were restocking the turkey, and since you were holding it I felt it was better to grab it from you then have to bend over and grab one and potentially hurt my back!” I said, “Wait, I don’t work here.” She got really upset and grabbed her husband’s attention. He looked at me like I am some snot-nosed teenager, even though I am pushing 30. Son, you give her that turkey, and maybe I won’t report you to your manager. I just look at him and say, “I don’t work here.” He then raised his voice at me, “I tried to be fair with you! Give her the turkey on the count of three! One…two…!”
Thankfully, the manager was close by and interrupted him The man looks at him and says, “Your employee over here is refusing to give my wife that turkey!” The manager said to him, “Sir, this man doesn’t work here. Please calm down and I will grab another turkey for you; otherwise, I will have to ask you to leave.” His wife looked at me like a teacher would at a misbehaving student and said, “Your mother must have been a horrible parent, if this is the child that she raised.” Oh no. My mother had just died a few weeks ago and this…no. “You know what….here. Take it! Take this stupid turkey. Go. Have it! It is not worth putting up with this Jerry Springer act. So have your turkey!” I slammed it into the their cart and stormed out.
29. From Big Smile To Disappointed Face Real Quick
I spent fifteen minutes helping an old couple pick out a laptop in Best Buy one time. I’m walking through the store to grab a cable we needed at work for a quick repair and this man and his wife are huddled together like Hansel and Gretel and the lady asks me, “Can you please help us?.” I asked them some questions about their usage and steered them toward an appropriate machine. We discussed general maintenance and best practices. I advised them on free software to remove the pre-installed bloatware and perform antivirus duties. Once they had a grasp on it and had taken notes, I excused myself and went to get the cable.
After I make my purchase and I’m heading out, I see the old couple talking to the manager and they crow, “There he is!” I hadn’t even realized I was wearing a blue polo shirt and they had thought I was an employee. They had been up front telling the smiling manager about the wonderful young man who helped them and how this had been a great experience after going to three other stores. The manager’s face fell and he said, “He doesn’t work here.”
28. I Made A Sale
I have and actually played along with it while shopping for shoes. A lady asked me to measure her son’s feet and find the size shoe she was holding in her hand in the back. Her son was a younger teen who I noticed had big feet. Well, at least the beat-up shoes he was wearing. He sat down and I pulled them off. The ankle socks he was wearing were dingy and had a big hole near his right big toe and a similar hole near his left big toe. At least his toes were clean, pedicured and didn’t smell that bad.
I ended up peeling off his socks and measuring his bare feet. I had to take another measurement because from his big toe to his heel, I measured 14″. Wow! The shoe his mom wanted was out of stock, so instead just bought a pair of designer flops for his bare feet. I put his dingy shoes and socks in the box because he liked wearing the flops. I thanked her and said to pay up front. I guess no one really found out.
27. One After Another
I was attending a trade school at the time so I had a khaki-pants-blue-collared-shirt dress code thing going. I was in a micro center buying who knows what (I just really like that place) and a woman asked me a question about a video card for her son. So I give her some advice and five minutes later send her on her way.
As I turn back to what I was doing, another guy was there asking me about routers. I was helping a third person before I realized these people thought I worked there. I left before anyone else could stop me. I like to wear jeans there now.
26. Headphones Culprit On Duty
So I was at Walmart once looking for a simple combination lock but couldn’t find one. There’s this guy in the typical blue Walmart polo messing with the stock of headphones. And I figure I should ask him to help me find the lock. I say, “Do you work here?” He gives me a terrified look and replies with, “No.”
I realized he had a pair of pliers and was stealing headphones. We gave each other a blank stare for a couple of seconds and I proceeded to find the lock a couple of aisles down.
25. What’s Your Number?
I worked in south Baton Rouge, I lived in north Baton Rouge. Traffic in this town is so bad, so to kill time, I would ride on over to Barnes and Noble and hang out after work every day, and read, write, draw…whatever. I did this ALL THE TIME. After work was a given, but beyond that, I would run errands on Saturday mornings, stop in for a coffee and scone at the Starbucks, because if you’re in Louisiana national chains are where you’re going to get the best food, am I right?
So one of my afternoon stops, I was ordering coffee and buying a magazine and I got my total. The employee pauses after the total. “What’s your number, man?” Not being accustomed to getting asked for my phone number. I asked for clarity. “Your number? What’s your employee number?” I explain in a confused tone that I don’t work there. Never have. The employee looks stunned. Apparently, I was at the store SO MUCH that the staff knew I had to be an employee but they couldn’t figure who I was on the schedule or what my job was. He wraps the exchange with. “Seriously though… I thought you worked here. You’re here more than me and I work here.’”
24. Zero Working Days
I was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and my mom and I were looking at the sea otters splashing around in their enclosure. She turned to ask me a question about their behavior and, since I’m a marine bio junkie, responded back with gusto.
A group of five old women came up to us and started asking questions of their own. “Are they mammals?” “Can they walk on land?” Once again, I answered. Eventually one of them asked, “How long have you been working here?” I looked down at the Monterey hoodie I was wearing and smiled sheepishly. “Uh. Zero days.”
23. Talk To My Manager But In My Workplace
The best case of mistaking me for somebody who worked in Tesco was this: a woman came up to me while I had my hands full of cartons of juice. She started complaining about crappy service and unhelpful staff. I tried telling her that I didn’t work there but she kept cutting me off. Eventually, she demanded to speak to my manager. I responded with, “Oh you’ll have to go to the bar around the corner to speak to the manager; that’s where she is.”
The woman looked shocked for a second but then said, “Oh well that explains why this place is run like a poor excuse for a circus. Your manager is off in a bar, drinking on the job! I should have guessed it.” To which I responded “No, I work in that bar and was sent here for stock. If you want to speak to my manager, you can go to my workplace and talk to her.” She realized immediately the mistake she had made and became much nicer and very apologetic to me.
22. My Boss Will Not Like That News
I was on my break, and decided to walk down the mall to The Bon (Macy’s now). I was wandering around seeing what the sales were, when I was approached by one of those high and mighty rich witches. She asked where something was, and I told her I did not work there. She got all huffy and stormed away. I went about my browsing. A few minutes later here she comes again, this time with an actual store employee in tow saying, “That’s her. That’s the one that won’t help me.” The employee, actually a department manager, asked me why I was out of my department, and that I knew better than to not help a customer when approached. She then asked what department I was from. Finally a chance to speak! I replied, “I sell shoes at..,” where I was promptly interrupted, and give another tongue lashing, all the while rich witch is sitting there with a smirk on her face.
The manager told me to get to the office and wait for her. I turned on my heel and walked away towards the exit doors instead. She catches up to me and loudly demands to know if I wanted to be fired, or if I was going to get to the office. I responded, “I am going to my office.” She said there were no offices in that direction and demanded I turn in my name tag and gather my things. I took my name badge off, handed it to her saying, “I don’t think my district manager is going to like you firing his top-selling store manager from Kinney Shoes.” She looked down at the name badge, and back up to me white as a sheet. The manager handed my badge back, mumbled an apology, and scurried away.
21. Sideline During Dinnertime
I was at dinner in a decent restaurant in LA, wearing a suit but had taken my jacket off and wasn’t wearing a tie so it was black shoes/pants and a white shirt. I went to the bathroom and was passing this table and this guy grabbed my arm as I was walking past and said, “Sorry, could you find out where our wine is; we asked you ages ago.” At this point, I hadn’t realized I resembled the staff in this place and was a bit shell shocked, so I said “Sure” and went for a piss.
On my way back I thought I’d be a dutiful human being and go tell the barman, as it was on my way, that this guy hadn’t had his wine. The barman slapped his forehead and said “hang on” and gave me a glass of white wine to take to him, which I did and apologized for the delay and the guy appreciated it too. Then I sat down and went on with my dinner.
20. This Is Not My Hospital
I was visiting a friend in the hospital — not the hospital where I work. I’m just from work so I still have my scrubs on, but we wear a different color than this hospital. Just walking down the hall looking for the right room when a very young, very frightened nurse grabs me by the arm and pulls me into a patient room. “Help! He’s coding!”
I start chest compression while the baby nurse calls for help. Once help arrives, I head for the door. The doctor on site says, “Where the hell are you going?” I said, “Uh, I don’t work here…”
19. The Smoke Show
I was walking to work. I was wearing jeans and some random t-shirt, had my purse and a plastic bag with my lunch, and was smoking. I was 25 at the time, a small frame, so I was regularly mistaken for being younger. As I was passing a bakery, 20-30 high school kids come out and start walking right ahead of me. Since I’m smoking and the wind is blowing forward, I decided to wait for traffic to cross the road to get away from the students. Mrs. Teacher lady must have smelled the smoke and looked back to see me stopped, waiting to cross the road. She basically exploded, “I can’t believe you would try to pull that! You know how I feel about smoking and on a field trip none the less! When we get back to school you’re going straight to detention!”
So now I’m confused, a few students turn to look at me when they’re confused, and apparently, the teacher’s confused as to why I was smoking. “Uhm. I’m not in your class.” Traffic opened up and I attempted to cross, and she stopped me. “That’s not the point! Smoking is against school rules no matter what homeroom you’re in!” I said, “No, like, I don’t go to your school at all. I’m 25. I’m going to work.” Silence. Amazing, hilarious, awkward silence. Finally, a student piped up, “Yeah, no, I’ve never seen that girl before.” A few others agreed. The teacher still didn’t speak. “I’m, um, I’m gonna cross the road now.” The teacher like half nodded and mumbled yeah; a few students snickered and laughed. I gave them the peace sign because I was still only half awake and hadn’t processed what just happened.
18. Fair Faire
This happened on my wedding day. My wife and I are huge geeks, so we decided to have a destination wedding, near her hometown, at a Renaissance Festival. We got custom clothing made for the wedding. Her dress was amazing; my Robin Hood-esque costume was exactly what I wanted it to be. We had a wonderful ceremony, presided over by the king of this particular fair, on the biggest stage they had, with the fair band playing music for the ceremony.
Then, after we left the stage, a few of the other fair-goers stopped us to ask when the next performance was, since they missed the beginning of the show. They were pretty confused when we explained it was a real wedding, that we didn’t work there, and the next wedding was not happening any time soon. The lady in jeans and a t-shirt who then asked us where the bathroom was didn’t seem to understand that we weren’t performers. Honestly, it was kind of flattering, and a huge compliment to the talented women we hired to make our costumes.
17. We Helped Him Anyway
This happened at a big box store in high school (over a decade ago). I lived in a small town, and this store was fairly new. So, to fend off boredom, a friend and I went there to just look around. We’re wandering the aisles, looking at cheap velcro shoes. Suddenly, a small gentleman comes up to us, holding a single shoe.
He asks us in a polite tone, “You help me?” And gestures towards the shoe. Clearly, English is not his first language, but he’s trying. We both apologize and begin to explain that neither of us works here and that employees wear blue… He cuts us off. “You help…ME,” in a polite, but insistent, tone. I look at my friend. He shrugs. We decide to do the right thing. We help this guy look for shoes for about ten minutes.
16. Open Your Eyes, Not Your Mouth
My job requires me to wear a reflective safety vest, which is green by the way, along with a hard hat and steel toes. Well my manager sent me to pick up some supplies we were short of so I’m looking around on my phone shooting my manager messages and what not while wearing my safety gear, when a man comes up and starts talking to me. I’m oblivious because I’m trying to get a response from my boss, but then he raises his voice. At this point, I look and I see him ask me once more in a harsher voice asking where the double-sided tape was.
I look down at my company shirt, the green reflective vest and I take off my hard hat and I say “Oh I didn’t know I was wearing an orange vest that reads Home Depot.” At this point, the guy realizes what has happened and he stormed off looking for the double-sided tape. The funny thing was that the tape was right in front of his face the whole time.
15. Definitely Not The Person To Mess With
I actually witnessed this interaction not too long ago when I was shopping at my local store, with the blue-polo-and-tan-khaki-pants uniform style. Over in the next aisle was another customer, (I’ll call her ‘Customer #1’) — wearing a white button-up shirt and dark khaki pants. Based on her outfit (even though it was non-standard for the store, it looked professional) and general “no-nonsense” demeanor I guess I can partly understand why Customer #2 assumed automatically that Customer #1 was a manager. The exchange proceeded as follows: Customer #2 (making a beeline for Customer #1) said, “Thank God, I’ve been looking for a manager for 15 minutes. I’ve been having a problem with my…” Customer #1 answered, “Sorry, I don’t work here, there should be a manager up front.” Customer #2 (flustered, a bit annoyed), “I’ve been waiting to find you for 20 minutes; you’re not going to brush me off that easily. Now here’s what I need…”
This escalated through several rounds of conversation, with Customer #2 escalating her offense, disbelief, and general attitude of entitlement, while Customer #1 escalated in parallel, finally using her best crowd-control voice…as she pulls out her badge and identifies herself as an off-duty police officer. Customer #1 then said, “My name is Lieutenant [her name] and I’m off-duty with city police. Back off now or I place you under arrest!” Customer #2 (on auto-pilot and taking a while to process): “I’ve never been treated so poorly in my life! I’m going to report this entire store to your headquar… ahh… umm…” Then Customer #2’s face turned various shades of red and ghost-white in turn. Then she fainted. Paramedics had to be called. I got to be an official witness for the police report.
14. The Voice
I always get confused for an employee in the stores I’m in (I have no idea why). People in Barnes & Noble and FYE have thought I worked there numerous times, but the weirdest time happened in Macy’s. I was looking for some jeans when I noticed a big-built redneck following me.
I got really scared because I’m Mexican and he had this big American flag on his back. It has never happened to me, personally, but people always talk about how Americans treat Mexicans like crap, and since I used to live in the border, one would hear that often. Anyway, this big dude is following me until he reaches me and says in this “I’ve killed many people” voice, “Do you have these jeans in 37?”
13. Specific Standing Position
One day I had decided to visit my fiance who was working at Target at the time. I had just gotten done with my workout and was still in my gym clothes i.e. sweats, ratty t-shirt, covered in sweat. I was waiting by the electronics counter so that we could go have lunch together and a middle-aged woman came up to me and asked, “Do you work here? Can you find me this game?”
I was speechless for a solid minute then looked at what I was wearing to see if it could in any way be mistaken for khakis and a red shirt (it couldn’t) and then answered her with a confused “No?” She then said, “Oh. Because the way you were standing made me think that you worked here.” Apparently Target employees have a specific posture that identifies them.
12. Perks Of An Employee
I used to work at a Hallmark in a strip mall. We were two stores down from an Eckerd’s drug store, so I was in and out of there a lot for sodas, aspirin, whatever. Unfortunately, both stores had navy polos and khakis as their uniform, so I got mistaken for an employee a LOT and I was used to it. I’d just gesture at the Hallmark logo on my shirt, say, “Sorry, I don’t work here” and that would be that.
But one time I went in to buy little neon stickers for work so we could use them on our clearance items. I took them up to the counter where the manager was on the phone. She ignored me for a good minute or two, and just as I was starting to get twitchy, she came over and rang me up with the phone cradled between her cheek and shoulder, still talking. She gave me my change and taped the receipt to the pack of stickers, so I checked it as I walked back down the strip. She’d given me the employee discount.
11. The New Guy
When I was a cashier for CVS, we had the blue uniforms and black pants. Well, just getting off work, I went into Walmart to pick up a few things for dinner. I did this quite often, so I thought nothing of it really.
Walking along the bread aisle, one of the workers asked me to help stock an end-cap. I just went along with it. That us until, they started asking questions like, “Haven’t seen you here before, you new?” as I politely say, “No, I don’t work here.” I got an immediate apology.
10. More Knowledgeable Than The Employees
I’m an electrician. I was shopping at Menards in the electrical section and happened to be wearing a shirt of the same color as those worn by Menards employees. A man walked up to me and asked questions about which type of circuit breaker box to use in his garage. So I walked him to the correct section and told him how to do it and what he needed to buy. Then a lady asked about LED light bulbs, so I took her over to that section and did the same thing.
Eventually, the electrical section Menards employee realized what I was doing and came to investigate. He asked what I was doing and I told him. Then another customer walked up and asked the real employee a question about under-cabinet kitchen lighting current consumption. He couldn’t answer it, but I could. So, I took her to the right section and taught her about the differences in lighting for under the kitchen cabinets.
9. Not His Proudest Moment
I’m not particularly proud of this. Last weekend, I was at a big box home improvement store, looking for components for a little project I was working on. I wasn’t dressed remotely like the staff, and I was listening to an audiobook with a set of Bluetooth headphones, with both earbuds in so I wouldn’t be bothered. Apparently, a guy in his early 30s in a pair of tattered jeans and a paint-splattered t-shirt (it doesn’t get more “weekend slack” clothes than that) with headphones in and a piece of scrap paper in his hand is just the person to ask for assistance. This middle-aged dude kept asking me where some-product-or-other was. He asked twice, significantly louder the second time, and I glanced over at him and said, “Sorry, man, I don’t work here,” gesturing at my clothes and the obvious lack of a name tag. I went back to browsing the shelves when suddenly I felt my Bluetooth headphones ripped from my head. I looked quickly to my right, just in time to see the middle-aged guy throw them to the concrete floor with as much force as he could manage. I heard a distinct snap. Which was appropriate.
This was the part I’m not too proud of. I saw red. I grabbed the guy by the front of his shirt and slammed him against the wall. Actually snarling, I said, “I told you I don’t work here, you dang moron.” He started to protest, so I pushed him harder against the wall/shelf. “You couldn’t get that through your dumb suburban skull though, and now you’ve attacked me and destroyed my headphones. What you’re going to do is give me all the cash you’ve got in your wallet and pray that it covers the replacement cost. And if you make a scene, I’ll give you something to scream about.” He’d gone from livid red to pale white. He rummaged, brought out his wallet, and handed over $40. I jammed it into my pocket, snatched up the headphones, and left the store. I got in my car and drove away as quickly as I legally could, eventually pulling into a grocery store parking lot to take several deep breaths. When I got home I had a strong drink, even though it wasn’t even noon yet. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, aside from horsing around with friends in middle school. Now I’d threatened a dude in a store. My headphones, shockingly, were fine, though.
8. Taste Of Complaint
I was in a police academy, and we wore real uniforms, but instead of the city’s actual patch, we had white patches on our shoulders that said “police trainee”, and didn’t wear badges. Also, our weapons were fake and bright blue. We weren’t supposed to wear our uniforms around, except for driving to and from the academy.
After classes one day, I had to stop for gas. So I’m pumping gas into my little Volkswagen, and a woman came running up to me, yelling that a man had just assaulted her at a nearby bus stop. I just sort of looked at her and told her to call the police. She looked offended, and told me I was the police. I said that I wasn’t, I was a trainee and literally had no police powers to help her. She eventually called the police, and tried to complain on me. So I got a taste of BS citizen complaints before I was an actual police officer.
7. Trust Issues
I wear a lanyard everywhere, and even though it clearly holds my keys and not a name tag, everyone thinks I work wherever I am. I was once loitering around a warehouse hardware store when someone came up and asked me if I were doing some project or another, what hardware would I use? I just shrugged and said I didn’t know.
The guy shuffled a few steps and stared at me awkwardly before walking away. About a minute later, I hear someone say, “Sir, she doesn’t work here.” I turned and saw the guy had reported me to a manager.
6. Please Stop Calling Me
For a couple of times a week, for the last several months, I had been receiving phone calls from an employer in my city. They had an employee who apparently worked for them on a contract, on-call basis, and this employee seemed to have given them my phone number instead of his own on his employment records. Therefore, I was getting calls from this employer on days when they wanted him to come into work. I had told them repeatedly they had the wrong number, and I don’t know the person, so I couldn’t forward the message. I told them the same thing later in the day when they call back complaining that this guy didn’t show up for work. It had gotten to the point where I considered the calls to be harassment, and unfortunately, my cell phone service does not give me the option of blocking a phone number.
My responses to their repeated calls had become more obnoxious as time went on, yet they still persisted in calling me. At this point, if neither the employee nor the employer had learned enough from the situation to correct their records, I’m thinking they deserve each other. Employer deserved an AWOL employee, and the employee deserved a lack of employment. I’m over it.
5. You Get What You Give
One day I was in a very busy children’s clothing store, I had finished looking at some clothes on one side of the store and started to make my way to the other side. I was walking by the long line of people and an older lady in line starts saying very loudly, “You see this long line? The least YOU can DO is check some people out?!?” I continue to walk and again very loudly I hear, “Excuse me?!? Do YOU not hear me talking to you???” I turn and I see she is talking to me! “There is a long line and you need to do your job! Walking around when you see there is a line wrapping around the store!” I looked at her and said, “What are you talking about? I don’t even WORK here.” I start to walk away at that point.
So then she starts going off saying, “You know you didn’t have to be all RUDE!” I ignore this. She turns to her friends and starts saying loudly about how rude that was of me and I could’ve been NICE and just told her I didn’t work there I didn’t have to get an attitude and she just kept going on and on talking loudly in my direction until finally I looked at her and said, “Will you just stop!!! I don’t work here. You were wrong and rude as heck talking to me crazily! Just drop it, lady! Get over it and drop it! Let me shop in peace!” That shut her up. I may have been getting ugly looks but at least I was not being badgered anymore.
4. Talk To My Manager
So at the time, I worked in the mall, and this day I was on break. Anyways, I’m heading down the long aisle in the back of the store when I see an older woman who desperately does not want to believe she’s 50+ in a cheetah print jumpsuit. She is standing there yelling at someone to grab her a cart. When I keep walking towards her, she loses it and starts screaming about customer service. At this point I’m nearly right in front of her, so she sidesteps in my path and snaps her fingers in my face. I halt as she yells, “Why aren’t you looking at me?! I told you to get me a cart!” It is here that I realize she thinks I work here. So I gather up my nicest customer service voice (since I’m technically representing the company I work for by having my lanyard on) and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize you thought I worked here, I don’t. The carts are behind you at the front of the store though!” And I go to walk around her.
She stops me again. At this point, I’m upset my lunch break is ticking away and I want to eat. My smile disappears as she continues her yelling, “You are wearing a name tag; you work here! Get me a cart or I’ll get your manager!” That’s it, I’m done. “Lady, I work at [insert store name] and you can find my manager there. Maybe when you talk to her though, you could try being polite as she doesn’t like rude jerks.” I then walk back to my store, clock in, and put the pin that says “manager” back on and wait patiently. About half an hour later she comes in. She sees me, my now pinned manager tag, opens her mouth as I smile and wait. She then must have decided she wasn’t going to pursue it because she just turned around and left. It was the best moment I ever had as an assistant manager.
3. No Comeback For You
Last night, after a long shift at work, I stopped by a grocery store to grab a couple of things on my way home. Keep in mind, I had spent all day dealing with rude customers so I was already grumpy and ready to finish shopping so I could go home for some ice cream therapy. I was wearing my uniform (red polo and black pants) but I also was wearing a sweater, a purse, and had a grocery basket with me. I stopped in front of the frozen food section and wondered if I had enough energy to cook or I should just be lazy and grab something microwaveable. As I’m pondering this important decision, I heard someone behind me clear their throat. Out of habit, I step to the side, assuming I’m in the way. Nope. Then I heard, “Oh my god, seriously?” This got my attention, and I kind of glance over my shoulder and there’s this girl with her boyfriend, but right as I glance at her, she looked up, annoyed, at her boyfriend. Lovers’ quarrel, I assumed and walked down the aisle a little more. Nope! I was wrong again. “Are you freaking kidding? I have a dang question. Isn’t it, like, your job to be helping the customers or are you stupid or something?”
I stopped. I turned to face this girl, who is now standing with her hands on her hips with all the sense of entitlement in the world as her boyfriend looks away, slightly embarrassed. And before I said anything, she continued on. “I’m trying to find something that’s not on the shelf, but I need you to check if you have more in the back. I mean, you can at least handle that right?” Oh heck no. I’ve had enough of this at my work today. I was not going to put up with this brat. “First off. I don’t freaking work here. Second, even if I did, that’s NOT how you ask someone a question. I don’t know what sort of person you think you are that you can talk to people like that, but you’re wrong. If you’re asking someone to do something for you, there should be a “please” and “thank you” in there. So, please leave me the heck alone. Thank you.” I turned around, grabbed myself some Hot Pockets and stormed away as she stuttered and tried to find a comeback.
2. The Way I Look Tonight
I was at the PX trying to pick out a rotisserie chicken for dinner, when a guy came up to me and began asking where a couple of items were located in the store. Knowing that new people were always incoming, I told him what aisle some of the items were in, but then said I was sorry for not knowing where one or two of them were located.
He then got mad at me and said I should know the layout of where I work, and he was about to walk away angrily when I stopped him. I let him know that the people who work at the store wear a certain uniform, and as I wasn’t wearing one, I obviously didn’t work there. He still seemed mad, and said “Well, if you didn’t look like a stocker you wouldn’t have had to deal with me asking you questions!” and then he walked off.
1. Insisting Assistance
I’d just finished a shift in the run-up to Christmas, so I slapped a jumper over my HMV t-shirt and started toward the door, when a customer decided that it’d be okay to block my path and demand to know if I worked there. I said yes, but I was no longer on the clock, and that I’d be more than happy to direct her to one of my colleagues, who she’d see were all wearing visible HMV shirts.
She insisted that I help her anyway, and when I told her no, she flipped her lid and told me that she’d be speaking with the manager and that I should be fired. I still can’t get over the sense of entitlement some people have.