Handling Complainers

Yesterday morning, I went to Wal-Mart to pick up groceries for Mom and a few things for myself.

When it came time to check out, I spied one un-busy register and made a beeline for it.

That’s when I noticed the “20 item maximum” sign hanging over the checker’s head.

She assured me it was fine to enter and even to pay with two separate cards, so I started unloading my cart.

A lone man appeared behind me, his planned purchases well within the 20-item limit.

When I apologized, he said he’d rather wait in this line than move on.

Shortly thereafter, an older couple showed up behind him, and they proceeded to complain — LOUDLY! — the entire time I was working.

“I thought this was the fast line,” the woman grumbled.

“The sign says 20 items,” her hubby agreed, with a pointed look at the gal who was holding them up, ME!

It’s not like this was the only register open. The Complainers could’ve moved along, or used the self-check area, if they’d been in a rip-roaring hurry.

On a Sunday, no less.

Well, I ignored their nasty comments as long as I could, but when they kept at it, I whirled around and barked at them that I’d asked and received permission to line up with my items.

“Well, there’s your problem,” hubby said, trying to shove the blame from me to the store employee.

I’ve got to hand it to her, though. She kept her cool and told them, “Look, everybody’s going to get served, okay?”

That seemed to shut The Complainers up (probably didn’t hurt that I was finishing by then, either!)

There will be a time when loud-mouthed, incompetent people seem to be getting the best of you. When that happens, you only have to be patient and wait for them to self destruct. It never fails. — Richard Rybolt, author

23 thoughts on “Handling Complainers

    • Yes, it was, Suzi. We all hate to wait in lines, but I’m afraid that’s just part of the world we live in. I’ve found that acting all impatient and in a hurry just makes things worse for everybody concerned.

  1. Debbie, this has happened to me several times while in the grocery store. I felt bad about going into a line that said “10 items or less”, however, the check-out person allowed me to step in.

    “There will be a time when loud-mouthed, incompetent people seem to be getting the best of you. When that happens, you only have to be patient and wait for them to self destruct. It never fails.”

    LOVED that quote!!!!

    Have a FAB Monday and week, my friend!

    • I hadn’t heard that quote before, Ron, but it seemed so appropriate here. I wonder if this store clerk had heard it? Or if she’d been so well-trained (or just naturally patient!) that the complainers didn’t faze her? Maybe a combination of it all?!

      Thanks for stopping by — here’s hoping your Monday ROCKS!

  2. Ahh Debbie – been there, done that. Reminds me of the advice that you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Catchy adage that’s often hard to remember in the moment.

    • I LOVE that advice, Barb! “You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” How catchy — I’m going to have to remember that one!

      Typically, I have a short fuse, thanks, I’m sure, to my Irish/Italian heritage. I try to rein it in, but oh, my, sometimes it’s just easier to explode and be done with it, ha!

  3. I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been in the express line with too many items (without special permission) and been complained at. Like you, I usually apologize to the person behind me and offer to move. I’ve also scowled at people’s complete disregard for the express lane sign. I think it’s up to the cashier judgment whether to serve someone or not. And I’m glad she spoke up on your behalf. After all if she isn’t busy and offers to save someone from a longer line, that is called customer service.
    My son on the other hand is an express lane Nazi – and believes a 6 pack should be counted as 6 items. Parenting fail. Maybe, there is still hope.

    • Cole sounds like Domer. No way would he wait in line behind somebody like me, special permission or no. Nor would he wait behind somebody like his grandma, who uses coupons and ad-matches! If that’s a parenting fail, I’m as guilty as you, ha!

    • You are sooo right, Monica. Besides, it’s not like this was the ONLY checkout line! I’ve found that, when I have just a few items and don’t want to wait, the self-serve lines work just fine — and if you run into a problem, an employee is standing right there, waiting to help.

  4. I saw it myself, this weekend. I was in a 15 items or fewer line myself, when I watched a woman in the express lane next to me unload an entire grocery cart. She didn’t have permission, she simply did it while the cashier was busy with the customer ahead of her. I don’t mean she had 30 items, either. It was a stacked-high cart, with both levels full.

    I employed my time-tested technique. I caught her attention, pointed to the sign, and said, “Do you know what’s wrong with that sign?” She looked, looked again, and said, “What?” I said, “It says 15 items or less. It ought to say, 15 items or fewer. The grammar’s wrong.”

    She spent the rest of her time in line trying to figure out what just had happened. 😉

    • Oh, Linda, I absolutely LOVE this!! So true, my friend. At least I had permission, and the store wasn’t at peak capacity. Nevertheless, I refuse to line up behind people with overflowing carts. Invariably, they’re buying two or three items for Aunt Alice, paying with food stamps or their kid’s piggy bank full of change, shuffling through a two-inch high stack of unorganized coupons, or what have you.

      In the store’s defense, “less” is easier to fit on a sign; “fewer” requires w-a-a-a-y more thought!!

  5. People like that are a test to my wish to be a kind person. Sometimes they do get the better of me and I give them a piece of my mind (which I really should probably keep for myself.) I’m glad everyone was served and food didn’t rot while a few extra items were scanned.

    For me, a sincere apology makes a huge difference. You apologized… time to move on and complain about something else!

    • I really try to be nice, Janna, but stupidity and rudeness bring out the worst in me! I’m not sure whether they were angrier at me or at the checker; regardless, it’s not like we were forcing them to stay in line. Looking back, I marvel that I was able to bite back at strangers like that, ha!

    • Hearing a steady stream of complaints is like listening to a dripping faucet, don’t you think? After a while, it gets sooo annoying, and it’s hard to keep one’s cool. I’m not proud of reacting in this situation, but they pushed me to it. Lucky for them, I didn’t say MORE, ha!

  6. I have come to believe that some people are only happy when they complain. How else can you explain why certain people always find a reason to moan. Hope the grumblers didn’t ruin your Sunday.

    • Thanks, Pat (they didn’t!!). I understand frustration, but once it’s voiced, let it go. To stand there and repeat the same tired complaints does nobody any good — and makes the grumbler look quite ridiculous.

  7. I think we all have a tendency to want to complain when others don’t seem to be following the rules. I’ve been guilty many times. But I try to remind myself that I don’t know what’s behind every situation. A driver on the freeway speeding – maybe he’s got an emergency situation. People treating others harshly,rudely or disrespectfully is the hardest thing for me to deal with. I try (and often fail) to think what might be happening emotionally inside the offending person to cause such nasty behavior. Bottom line – complaining does little to remedy any situation. But I love the quote! I will definitely remember it next time I’m inclined to start griping.

    • Thanks, Terri. I tend to be a problem-solver. If people ahead of me in line are taking too long, I’ll just up and move! Nobody gets feelings hurt that way. But these two seemed quite intent on merely complaining — as if that was going to get them served any faster! In retrospect, you’ve just got to feel sorry for people like that, huh?

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