swimming turtle

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Sea turtle in clear waters off Lady Elliot Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef

Seriously though, the number of grown adults who pitch a WHINY HISSY FIT when I tell them that they can’t take an animal home is astounding.

My favorite one from this holiday season was a man with a young girl (about 5 or 6 years old) and a teenage boy.  The man approaches me and, without me even asking what I can help them with, says:

Man: So we had a goldfish in a bowl and my son changed the food and it died!
Son: (clearly offended, yet texting) It wasn’t MY fault!
Me: Actually the reason it more than likely died is because goldfish REALLY shouldn’t be kept in bowls.
Man: Well it’s a big bowl, like this! (mimes about a gallon-sized bowl shape)
Me: Yeah, that’s actually pretty darn tiny.
Man: Well anyway, we want to get another one.
Girl: I want three!
Me: Unfortunately I can’t sell you a fish today– your setup really isn’t going to work for a goldfish.  You’re going to need at least 10 gallons for just ONE and even then you’re going to have to upgrade within a month or so.  Goldfish really aren’t a beginner fish…

As I say that I brace myself knowing what’s coming up.  Almost every time I refuse sale of a fish, I get the same reaction: outrage and demanding to talk to the manager, etc.

Man: Well I HAVE a tank.
Me: …I really don’t feel comfortable selling you the fish since I really feel like you’re not going to give it the proper care it needs for a long and healthy life.
Man: What?! I said I have a tank!  Why won’t you sell me the fish?!
Me: How big is the tank?
Man: 10 gallons!
Me: I still don’t feel comfortable selling you the fish.  I’m going to have to refuse the sale, I’m very sorry.
Man: What do you mean?!
Me: I’m not going to sell you fish today, I’m very sorry.
Man: I demand to talk to your manager!!!
Me: -points to nametag- Sir, I AM the manager.
Man: -takes a full pause, not expecting this-
Man: So you’re not going to sell me a fish, really?  These 15-cent fish that you feed to turtles, you’d sell it for that but not to me??
Me: If you had the setup for it, I would be more than happy to.
Man: I told you I have a tank!
Me: You told me you had your fish in a bowl.  I honestly believe you are just saying this to get the fish at this point, sir, I’m sorry.
Man: What do you I have to do, bring in a picture to prove I have it??
Me: -calling his bluff in a cheerful tone-  Absolutely!  I would love to see pictures of your tank and I would be more than happy to help you stock it after seeing your setup!
Man: (He takes another full pause) I’m going to call the company and COMPLAIN about you!  This is ridiculous, what’s the number to complain??
Me: I’m afraid I don’t know that off the top of my head sir.
Man: You don’t know the company number???
Me: No sir, but I believe it’s on our website.

While this was going on, the teenage boy was in the reptiles aisle texting and the girl was watching the turtles swim around in our tank nearby.  The man then grabs his daughter by the hand and does this in front of other customers:

Man: Let’s go– the lady’s not going to sell us fish.  She’s a MEAN LADY. (he’s staring directly at me as I stand there with no expression on my face)
Girl: Oh we’re not getting fish?  -not even upset-
Man: Yeah because she’s a MEAN LADY. (he says these words at a higher volume and with more emphasis)

He continues to repeat that phrase as he exits down the reptile aisle, making customers uncomfortable and I just shrug and go back to what I was doing before this scene.

An hour later I get a call from corporate.

NC: Hi, this is the national center, we just wanted to ask about the conditions surrounding a complaint we received about you.  A customer has complained that you wouldn’t sell him a fish even after stating he had the correct setup.  We just would like to hear your side of the story.
Me: (I tell him about the fact the guy had a goldfish in a bowl and then changed his story saying he had a tank and that I refused sale because I didn’t feel he was being honest or would care for the animal)
Me: And then he left the store, calling me a “mean lady” several times in a loud voice and said he would call you guys.
NC: Ok Christina, I just wanted to let you know that we agree with you 100% and that you did everything you were supposed to.  We wish you a very happy holiday season and I hope your shift goes well!
Me: Thank you!  You too!

I did a little happy dance and told the other manager on duty, who didn’t believe me when I said the company would have my back on the issue (he thought the company would bend over backwards for the guy and it would bite me in the butt)

BUT WAIT IT GETS BETTER

The next day I come in for work at 2PM to find out from my general manager that the guy had called the store (after the nat center told him I was correct, mind you) to complain about me and saying that my behavior was “irresponsible” and that I was “unprofessional” and that I should be reprimanded or fired.

My general manager just said “Well I’m sorry to hear that sir but you see, she has NEVER gotten a complaint as long as she has worked for the company and the national center has already stated that she has done everything according to policy.  Sorry you feel that way, man, but there’s nothing I’m going to do against her in this situation.”

Made my week.

So, yeah, my company defended the life of a 15-cent “feeder” goldfish.

I’m pretty damn happy about that.