If you have ever worked in a place where you have to deal with the general public, chances are high that you have had to deal with a customer and it hasn’t gone the way that you planned. For anyone with Autism, interaction with other people for long periods of time can be quite the challenge and to have to do it everyday of the week, that’s really difficult! I myself find myself needing to have some time to myself because it can leave me feeling run down and stressed after a while so time to recharge is vital.
It can be tough to have to be social in the workplace with Autism which may be why you always find articles saying that so many people who have it are unemployed because it isn’t their strong point, having to deal with so many people in a day can be strenuous and sometimes…impossible! On some days I feel like I need a minute or two to just catch my breath but that was more when I’m starting at a place but after a while, things settle down and I feel like it’s not such a challenge anymore but it’s those first few months that are the challenge.
I have worked a few jobs and all of them have included interacting with the general public for long periods of time and for a little bit, I worked at a fast food restaurant. I’ll be honest, it had a few more negatives than it had good and it wasn’t because of the job title, what I was required to or anything like that but of how others interpreted it as and how I was viewed by others. No job should be beneath us in any way but because so many of us look down on certain jobs, the people that do them for a living or mock and called stupid daily, to which I will say is sad because we are all humans and many are not fortunate or lucky enough to be in positions where such high paying work is accessible, some have to spend years working hard up the ladder.
I remember an incident that happened in my final week at this place and I’ll share it with you here because it’s good to share certain experiences with people. I was on the till that day and so far, it had been an easy morning, the customers had all been friendly and easy to deal with but as you all know, someone is bound to of had a bad day somewhere and you would have to deal with them at some point but for me, I didn’t directly interact with this gentleman but a new worker whose first day was this one had the pleasure of handling her first angry customer, I was on the till next to her. It’s something that made me realize that whilst most people are genuine and kind, you will always get that one customer…you know the one I mean.
Worker: Hello and welcome to … how may I help you today?
Customer: Give me a large burger meal with no pickles please and don’t skimp on the sauce!
Worker: Certainly and what drink would you like?
Customer: I don’t care, lemonade or whatever?
Worker: Will 7 Up do?
Customer: FINE! JUST HURRY UP!
She rings up his order and he pays before standing impatiently for about two minutes before his meal arrives and he grabs the bag and storms off. I remember the disgruntled look on his face as my co worker tried to keep a smile on her face, I could tell that his tone had gotten to her.
Me: Don’t get down about it, we’ve all had one of them, don’t let it ruin your day
She smiled and seemed to move on from the moment and started serving a family before a minute or so later, the customer from before comes storming back in and storms over to my co worker, slamming his receipt and bag on her counter, startling the family who were having a friendly chat with her.
Customer: You think your funny, don’t you?
Worker: Excuse me?
He throttles the food bag in front of her face, some fries fall out onto the counter.
Customer: I wanted to have no pickles on my bloody burger, are you deaf or something?
Worker: I’m…I’m so sorry about that sir, I’ll sort that out for you once I finished this customers order
Customer: I don’t care about that little brat or her sprogs! I pay your damn wages and I demand that you get me a brand new burger!
Worker: Of course but I’m already half way through this family’s order, it will just take a moment.
Customer: Are you wrong in the head, I’m not waiting for anyone, either give me a new burger, PICKLE FREE! or refund my money!
Worker: I know but-
Customer: GET ON WITH IT!
Me: Sir, I can sort you out.
Customer: I’m not asking you, shes the one who f***** up!
Me: Sir, we have children present, please don’t swear!
Customer: The customer is always right! Don’t tell me what I can or can’t say!
A Queue was forming, meaning that they were all coming over to my till, which made me even busier but it wasn’t my co workers fault, sure she made a mistake but he could wait a minute at least. She was slightly shaking, I thought she was about to cry.
Me: (under my breath) You know you can just take the pickles off right?
Mother: It’s fine, I don’t think we’re hungry anymore…it’s not your fault though.
The children looked disappointed as they were leaving. The customer grinned, like he was satisfied and stood right in front of my co worker. The other customers were getting angry with him, mumbling amongst one another.
Customer: You messed up, are you an idiot? Was school to hard for you so you ended up here?
Co Worker: No…I go to college!
Customer: Sure you do…people who are smart do important jobs whilst the scraps work here or clean!
Me: Sir, if you keep on going with this, I’ll have to ask you to leave.
Customer: Let me see your manager!
The manager was working on some meals but could hear everything from the back and he wandered over to the front, meaning that production will slow down.
Manager: Sir, she has already said she will sort you out once she finished serving with her current customer, the one you drove away! I apologize that you order was not sorted correctly but you have no need to cause a ruckus like this onto everyone else!
Customer: I only asked for extra sauce and no pickles, it isn’t rocket science! Burgers aren’t hard to make!
Manager: I understand that sir but it is her first day, the odd mistake will happen…I’ll get your new burger and even refund your money as well for the inconvenience.
Before any of this could be done, he looked over at my co worker who looked intimidated, I remember her looking down to the black trainers she had on, avoiding his disturbing gaze.
Customer: Say sorry to me, right now!
Manager: That’s enough now!
Customer: I demand an apology, for her gender’s stupidity! (He genuinely said that!)
Me: For real?
The Manager paused and turned around, he was fed up now and looked prepared to remove the customer from the premises.
Worker: …I’m sorry
I remember that look of satisfaction on his face as she looked like a hole was about to swallow her up. I felt disgusted that a human being was getting satisfaction out of all of this, one little error and all of this had to occur? He picked up the bag with the first burger in it and stared at it for a moment or so, we all looked puzzled at him.
Customer: Here’s to a stupid failure of society, a b**** doomed to work a dead end job forever for she is too stupid to do anything of worth.
Before I knew it, my face was met with his discarded burger, all over my face, I still remember the smell of the sauce and the burger as it slid onto the ground, I almost lost my cool and jumped the counter but held back…I still don’t know how.
Needless to say, he was kicked out of the store, I’ll remember the screeching of the tires from his car as he drove away. The last thing I remember about that co worker was her running to the back, crying her eyes out, I didn’t see her after that but once I had wiped the remains of that burger from my face…I was given a few minutes to calm down before resuming with my work.
I think its sad that some people go to extreme measures because of a small issue here and there, when remaining calm and explaining the situation will more than likely resolve it, is there any need to go of the handle and utterly humiliate someone on the first day…because of pickles and before you ask, he wasn’t allergic to them, he muttered that during the process of ordering, something about not liking the texture or something, all he had to do was wait a moment and I know people have places to be but the world doesn’t revolve around one person! We all have places to go man!
Moments like this can happen and it always amazes me how some people lose their cool over such things, I know that mistakes can happen in a shop, restaurant or other business etc But is losing your cool and acting like a child going to change anything, especially since everyone video records most things nowadays so your going to end up on the internet and besides that, the employees will just talk about you in a negative way afterwards anyway. Is resolving a matter in a calm matter on both sides not possible or something, I mean type in customers vs employees on YouTube and have a blast!