Anyone who’s worked customer service has their customer horror stories, whether it’s a customer having a meltdown in the middle of aisle 10 or a mom changing her child’s diapers on the restaurant floor (don’t ask).
But what happens when the person being forced to deal with customer shenanigans isn’t even being paid for it?
On the Reddit page, “I Don’t Work Here Lady,” Redditors share the moments when they were mistaken for employees. We hand-picked some the best stories, from the awful to the audacious to the adorable.
“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 WILL 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.” (xxthegirlwhowaitedxx)
“I was filling my truck with gas at the station when I was about 21. This guy in his 40’s pulls up, waits about a minute before saying “So do you only do one [expletive] vehicle at a time, c’mon fill her the [expletive] up.” I proceeded to apologize and started filling his Cummings diesel with gasoline. He ended up trying to call the cops but they couldn’t do anything as I played stupid.” (canadiantravis)
“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 seconds and I proceeded to find the lock a couple aisles down.” (ben904)
“I was the only one who wore a suit to my grandmother’s funeral so this happened to me. A random old lady asked, “Excuse me, can you do something, she’s leaking.” She was. Embalming fluid was drooling out of the corner of her mouth. The only person there from the funeral home was a receptionist so I ended up standing by the casket with a handkerchief so nobody else had to see that. Bad day.” (deleted)
“My buds 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.”” (deleted)
“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.” (deleted)
“Once while I was in college, I was meeting a friend for lunch at Chipotle after class. Because of the way you order at Chipotle, I figured it would be better to just wait outside for him to get there. His class ended up running a little long so I was just standing outside for a good fifteen or twenty minutes. Eventually, this fellow comes up to me from the bus stop across the street and asks, “Hey man, you got any bags I can get off you?” At first, I thought that was a strange question, then I processed that he was looking for drugs. I just said “Sorry man, I can’t help you” and he went on his way. That was a strange experience, to say the least.” (natnupf712)
“A few years ago, I was visiting the zoo. Ever since my grandfather told me to always wear clothes in the same color as the zookeepers, I wear similarly-colored clothing. It’s an amazing trick that causes a lot of the animals to come closer, as they think you are bringing food. I was enjoying the view when suddenly some vicious lady pulled me aside and told me I should give her spoiled brats a tour. I told her as kindly as possible that if she wanted a tour, there were guides she could hire near the entrance, as well as follow the free explanations at fixed times. Of course, this was returned with a look of disgust and fake eyelashes, followed by a scolding during which she explained that she already paid tickets and that she would call her husband, who was friends with all of the people in charge of the zoo. She then dragged me to the nearest cage and demanded I start explaining to her children what these things did that was interesting. The obnoxious little things immediately started banging the window and yelling at the animals. I was coming to peace with it and thought, well, might as well do something useful. So for the next hour, I gave the kids a tour while the mother went drinking, explaining to them in detail how touching the glass or rattling the cage of every specific animal is actually dangerous, with an explanation for every animal, such as that everyone knows that the roar of a bewildered cockatoo can actually make the cage vibrate so violently that it cuts through skin (showing a nasty scar I have), or that a child once banged the glass of the chimps, who then broke out and figured out where he lived and kidnapped him a week later. After I made sure every animal had a horrific reason as to why not to touch the glass or yell at them, I delivered those suddenly very pale-looking kids to their mother, failing to mention that the kids had given me her mail address and phone number, which I used to fill in every form there to support the zoo or a specific animal, as well as afterwards I subscribed her to every animal welfare organisation I know.” (Stinny VB)
“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.” (scurvio)
“So I was in everyone’s favorite store, Wally World. (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, 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 fucking do! Now help me find a [expletive] 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.” (DashingSands)
“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 isle 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 the ladies left to close 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.” (MonkeyRugger)
“After getting off work late one night I went straight to Steak ‘n Shake to meet up with some friends. At the end of my meal, I got up to pay when my arm was jerked back by who will now be referred to as Crazy Lady (CL.) CL: “EXCUSE ME! I can SEE my food in that window! Go bring me my food NOW! AND a manager!” Me: “Oh sorry ma’am I don’t actually work here.” CL: “Well you stacked those plates! And you’re wearing the uniform!” Me: “Sorry for the confusion ma’am, that’s why I have the sweater on. I actually work at a different restaurant.” In this moment I could see not only the embarrassment on her kids’ faces but the pure anger on hers. I know that face all too well and prepared myself for the worst. CL’s face went red and the yelling commenced: “YOU LYING B***H, I JUST WANT MY FOOD! I’LL HAVE YOUR JOB! GET. ME. A. MANAGER!” Followed by CL throwing her milkshake, glass and all, at me. Normally I try to be calm and de-escalate situations, I’m a military brat and have dealt with too much crap to be angry over petty shit. But you do not assault anyone, especially someone working for you. Me: “Lady I’ve told you, I am not your server. I really hope throwing that milkshake was worth the assault charges I will be filling” CL: “I will call the police right now! Not serving me my food is theft!” In the end, the cops sided with me and arrested her for assault and in the end, resisting arrest. Most satisfying night of my life.” (putthehayinthebarn)
I was at a local computer & game store and this elderly gentleman asked me where they put the controllers for PS3. I told him sorry I don’t work here so I don’t really know. He goes “Seriously why do you even work here if you don’t know where anything is, dumba**.” 10/10 would go to that store again. (moathismail)
“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, “Okay.” It was one of the most amazing, awkward exchanges I’ve ever witnessed.” (GhostandGrace)
“I was browsing movies at HMV when a lady came up to me and asked if I had Star Wars on Blu-ray. I was like “yeah, of course, they’re my favorites” then she asks where they are… “umm, at my house”. That’s when I realized she thought I worked there and wasn’t just wanting to talk about Star Wars.”
“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 they put the clothes on 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 keeping her rant not really listening to her 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 don’t 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 looked kind of bad so she started to apologize and I was just like “No really, I quit!” (CoconutTime)
“I used to work in a bar that was about a five-minute walk from Tesco (a grocery store). Every Saturday afternoon, the bar would hit a lull between 4 and 5, so I’d get sent to Tesco to pick up fruit, mint, and juice for the night. And seemingly every Saturday, some customer in Tesco would come up to me and mistake me for staff there (my work uniform didn’t even look similar to the Tesco uniform, I never understood it). 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 shitty 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.” (TinyDonkey)
“I should probably start this with the fact that I am black, my child is white, (yes, biologically. Genetics are weird) and I live in one of the most expensive zip codes in the U.S. I was at Safeway, in the alcohol and cold mixers aisle, and out of nowhere I hear, “Where are the Ritzes?” I understandably do not answer. Louder this time, “Where are the Ritzes?” I look around, and it’s just me in the aisle and a seventy-ish-year-old man. “I don’t work here?” He asks, again, “Where are the Ritzes?” “Aisle four.” Aisle four is the “Ethnic Foods,” (their words, not mine.) I wonder if he ever found his Ritzes.” (kaaaaath)
“I was late to my interview because I was helping a customer.
I was on the “waiting to hear back from my drug screening and background check” end of a long and painful job hunt. I applied to every hardware store in my area because that is something I’m interested in and I could use that employee discount. Well, I get a call for an interview for one at 2:30 pm.
I get there at 2:25, and head to the back of the store. The dress code is very casual, but there’s a lot of blue. My interview shirt is also blue, but I hadn’t even thought about me looking like the store employees. I’m halfway to the back when a little old lady (OL) stops me:
OL: Excuse me, ma’am do you work here?
Me: Well, no ma’am, but I am here trying to today. I can see if I can help you though if you’d like?
OL: Oh, thank you! I’m looking for [brand] all-purpose caulk.
I help her scan the shelves but I can’t find it.
Me: Well, ma’am. It looks like they may not carry it. There are some associates over here, I’d double check with them if you’re set on that brand. If the brand isn’t too important though, I’ve gotten very good results out of [different brand].
OL: My daughter lent me hers and I wanted to buy her the same thing, but thank you, sweetie. You have a good day.
I wish her well and end up being five minutes late for the interview, but I told the hiring manager the story and I got the job so it was worth it!” (NothingIsLocked)
“This day on my break, I decided to go into Primark. I was casually browsing the shirts and completely in a world of my own.
I must have been looking around the same area for a few minutes when I felt a presence to the right of me. Now, this isn’t unusual, busy store, middle of lunchtime and a fairly tight space between the clothes rails. I get fed up of looking at the shirts, and turn to walk away, only to hear: “OH F***ING CHRIST!” I turn to see the man that was stood close to me with a look of sheer terror in his eyes, staring at me for a moment in disbelief. This confused me, a lot. I was about to ask if everything was okay and this guy’s terror turns to a relieved laugh. Covering his face and turning quite red at the scene he’d just made in a busy store, he said: “I thought you were a mannequin.” ( glewis93)
“A while ago, while I was on my break, I was shopping in the electronics store directly next to the store I work at. I was wearing the store uniform which is a very distinctive red and khaki with a jacket on top as well as my name tag which very clearly states what store I work at. Anyways enter crazy mom and her four kids. I hear this piercing whistle from behind me a few times so I looked over my shoulder because it was loud. And this lady is barreling towards me with her kids in tow. As I turned to her to see what all the hustle and whistling was about she grabbed my wrist and knocked my phone out of my hand. I then look down and can see glass shards everywhere as the phone is smashed to hell. So I give her the classic “What the f*** lady” to which she responded by hysterically screaming that employees should not be texting while working and that I should be ashamed of keeping her waiting because I was texting. I then turned away and she kicked my ankle as I walked away. I tripped, sprained my ankle, face planted and nailed my shoulder on the shelving. Her kids started laughing and pointing. About this point was when an employee arrived and was able to help me up and see if I was okay. Now she finally thought for a second and a whole new look came over her face as she realized that I didn’t work at this store in the first place. Then another new look as I told the employee to call the police. She started pleading with me that it was just a mistake and that she was just having a bad day. Long story short, she was arrested on assault charges and eventually had to replace my phone, was given 350 hours community service, and pay for and attend therapy sessions for the next 3 years on account of her rage issues.” (deleted)
“I work in a flower shop inside a mall. Yesterday, on my lunch break, I ran into the supermarket next door to grab some food. I was wearing the uniform of the flower shop chain: a green shirt, black jeans, and a green apron. The supermarket employees wear red shirts, black pants, and a black apron if they handle fresh food directly. I walked fast, weaving between slow-moving customers to spend as little of my short break as possible stuck in a supermarket. I had almost reached the sandwich counter when a man and a woman blocked my way.
Man: Hi, do you work here?
Me: Hi, I work at the flower shop!
Man: Where is the aspic?
Me: I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that. I work in the flower shop and am on my break.
Man: I don’t care where you work. Just show me the aspic.
Woman: (rolls eyes at man)
Me: I’m sorry, we don’t have that. We have a lot of beautiful orchids on sale this week though!
Woman: (laughs loudly and drags the man away).” (FlowerShopStories)
“I have a different take on this.
I worked in south Baton Rouge, I lived in north Baton Rouge… traffic in this town sucked (sucks?) so to kill time, I would ride on over to Barnes and Nobles and hang out after work every day, 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, amirite?
So during 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.’” (Worlds_Best_Coffee)