TalesFromRetail: I'll be the judge of that.
I spent a long time at a big box craft store, I sometimes worked in the framing department. We did all kinds of same-day services, one of which was mat cutting. One story really sticks out in my mind and I thought I’d go ahead and share it.
A father and daughter team come up to my table with some 8x10 photographs. The elementary aged daughter quietly watches as her dad barks at me about what he wants.
“My daughter is a photographer and this is going in a competition! What do I need to make it presentable for the judges?” He says with a mixture of exasperation and irritation.
I get on the friendliest smile I can muster and chime, “Did they give you any kind of requirements or guidelines?”
I get back an immediate, “No!” followed by a more hesitant, “I don’t know!!” followed by an angry, “No.”
I shrug, “Well…if it’s for a fine art competition, they will probably want…” Goes into detail on specifications.
He looked tad overwhelmed, so I was ready to try and simplify my explanation…but it turned out he was only worried about the cost. “How much would that be?”
I gave him an amount under 15 dollars. He determined this was too much and that he and his daughter would simply do something themselves at home.
So I watch him drag his daughter to the art supplies and pick out a large sheet of watercolour paper. I go about my business, wiping my hands clean of the matter.
But no…such is not the way of retail, is it?
A couple hours later the DYI-father returns, but without his daughter. The father completely botched his brilliant plan to cut the mats out of watercolour paper with a pair of scissors. He’s now more irritable and rude…especially without his daughter.
He demands I go ahead and cut mats for him, but won’t take any of my suggestions. After he decides how I should help him, he impatiently watches as I start assembling the pieces.
Amidst the silence of my working, he grumbles and repeatedly critiques my work. He decides to remind me, “This is for an -ART- competition. Don’t mess it up. If my daughter doesn’t win, I’m blaming YOU!”
Something kind of clicks in my brain.
Now outside of work I spent a lot of time in the art community and a school district had invited me to come judge their art competition. I figured it would be good on my resume if I ever made it out of the craft store. With the deadline for the competition tomorrow, I had to check…
So I look up from my work, “Is this for blahblah competition?”
"Oh! Yes, yes it is! Have lots of people come in for that?”
“No, I’m judging it tomorrow.”
Immediate shock. He goes completely white. His blank, saucer-wide eyes stare at me in desperation.
I look back down and finish up his order. I wrap the finalized pieces up in plastic, slap a price ticket on the package, and hand it over to the ghost with a cheerful, “Have a good evening!”
He thanks me in the softest voice known to mankind and walks away slowly.
To anyone wondering, I wasn’t judging the elementary photography section of the competition, but the look on his face was completely priceless. I sometimes wonder how his version of the incident goes.
Edit: Formatting…my mortal enemy.