Had possibly the stupidest customer you could wish for the other day. He was about seventy at a guess. Tall and lean. Checked shirt. Trousers belted up impossibly high with his shirt tucked in. Now don’t get me wrong, none of that is stupid. Just pretty funny. He spent ages looking carefully at things. Turning them over, seeing how they are made and what the price was…that’s not stupid either. No, its just when he talked.
“When I was here last, he began, there was something on the wall and I really liked it. I’ve been thinking about it and I thought I might buy it. Its not there now, but I’m sure it was on this wall” he said pointing.
“Aha, and what was it?” I asked in my super nice, yet still efficient sales assistant way. “I don’t know, he replied. I can’t remember”.
Soooo….thats kindve stupid but I worked with it.
“Can you give me some clues? I asked politely. Was it made from copper? We had a copper display here before this.” …No, he was sure it wasn’t. It was kind of a picture. Not a painting but a picture ‘sort’ of thing, he went on, and it made him laugh. He thought ‘wow, thats clever’ and now he wants to buy it. At this point I still didn’t think he was stupid. I mean this happens all the time, tho, just quietly, people usually do have a bit more of a clue about what it was they liked.
“Hmmm Ooookay, I answered. When were you last here? Just so I can try and remember the different displays we have done.” He looked skyward as if he was just trying to place the time and then answered… “It was about six or seven years ago.”
I stood and stared at him and then asked, “…did you mean six or seven months ago?” “No, years“, he answered a bit abruptly, as if I was a bit stupid. When dumbfounded, I didn’t answer him immediately, he asked me if Id been working there long. I replied that I owned the business with my husband and it was in fact our eleventh birthday that month. There’s been a lot of different displays in the last six or seven years, I added, with a little tinkling laugh to make light of how stupid he was starting to look.
He then gave me a couple of clues as to what this mysterious thing might be in amongst a tirade that finished with, “Well if you owned this business you should know, he demanded. You should know whats come and gone from the shop.” At right about this stage I had a sudden idea that I might just know what the thing was that he was talking about. “You should remember”… he continued nodding his head as if I was the stupid one. “You can tell me where to get it.”
Now, I have to say I was a little pissed at his tone and decided that even tho I might know what he wanted, I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him.
Ignoring his condescending attitude I smilingly told him, “I have no idea and I guess the old saying ‘If you love it, buy it cause you may never see it again’ (that I made up about ten years ago), certainly holds true for this”, and turned to my computer where eyes squinted I feigned a sudden need to analyse sales data for the last year. He wandered around a bit longer and left without speaking to me. I have learned that while the customer is always right, you don’t always want every customer. You have to just shake your head sometimes. Either that or poke him in the eye with a sharp stick. Just kidding guys!
Painting titled ‘Judgement Day’ by Barry Ross Smith