Ah, the infinite joy of working with customers - helping them make their product selections, giving them advice, pointing out the restroom, and scowling at little kids who slap the fish tanks. Such things I expected when I actually went out and got a job at PetsMart, but doing HTML stuff for a company had not prepared me for the multiple instances of stupidity I have so far encountered after a month in the fish department.

What follows is a phone conversation I had with a person about a week ago. Parts of it I remember verbatim, and the rest is approximated.
Me: "Speciality, how can I help you?"
Customer: (after a 2-second pause. There was always a 2-second pause before this guy said anything) "Yeah, do you all have fish for ponds?"
"Yeah, we've koi."
Customer: "Koi? How many of them do you have?"
"Probably about a dozen. We're running low right now."
Customer: "Do you have anything else?"
"We've got tropicals, but they won't survive in an outdoor pond."
Customer: "Oh. Well, could I come in and look at them before I buy them?"
"Yessss....." (some slight incredulity leaks into my voice at this point...OF COURSE you can look at livestock before you buy it! Duh!)
Customer: "And, these koi will survive in my pond?"
"Yeah, as long as it doesn't freeze solid. I've never known a pond to freeze solid here in Oklahoma."
Customer: "Is that so? How cold does it get here in Oklahoma?"
"I've seen it get down to 0 degrees Farenheit, but if your pond is deep enough, you will only get ice on the surface. How deep is your pond?"
Customer: "*long pause* um, *short pause*, well, um, I can walk across it with out going under... it's 40 feet long..."
"Well, is it one foot deep, three feet deep, what?"
Customer: "*short pause* um, I'd say about four feet."
"Nah, it won't freeze solid. They'll be fine."
And the next thing out of his mouth blew my mind:

Customer: "What happens when it freezes solid?"
"They die." The 'what the hell do you think they do when it freezes solid, asshole?' effect has definately altered my voice here.
Customer: "Oh. Well, what about bird cages, do you sell bird cages?"
"Yeah, we have all different kinds of bird cages."
Customer: "Okay. What about reptiles? If I was going to buy a reptile, what should I get?"
"Have you ever kept reptiles before?"
Customer: "No..."
"Well, then I'd get an anole. They are small, easy to care for, and only cost about $4 or $5."
Customer: "Do you have anoles?"
Customer: "What other kinds of reptiles do you have?"
"We have geckos and Chinese water dragons."
Customer: "Do you have anything that changes color?"
"Nope. If you want something that changes colors, I'd try for one of the local pet stores that sells reptiles. Just look in the phone book, there are several that sell fish and reptiles, and some of them have birds too."
Customer: "Do I have to go to one that sells fish and reptiles, or can it just be reptiles?"
"It doesn't matter. There are stores with birds and reptiles too, and some stores that sell all three."

Customer: "Well...won't birds and reptiles eat each other?"

I pause a moment to prevent myself from hanging up on this guy.
"Not if you don't keep them in the same cage." I am getting somewhat pissed off now.
Customer: "Oh. Well, so what kind of bedding would I need for an anole?"
"I don't know off the top of my head. You could just come in the store and ask one of the associates, and they'd help you."
Customer: "Why don't you know?"
"Look, I've got 10 years of fishkeeping experience, but I've never kept a lizard in my life."
Customer: "Then why am I talking to you?"
"Because I'm the one who answered the phone."
Customer: "Well, how would I know if you told me something wrong?"
"Look, sir, if I didn't know the answer to one of your questions, then I'd tell you I didn't know, like with the lizard bedding."
Customer: "Well, then, how would you know if I told you something wrong?"
"Like what?"
Customer: "Like the number of lizards." (I swear to god this is what he said)
Customer: "Like the number of lizards."
"Like the number of lizards where? Look, sir, I've got customers waiting, so unless you have any more questions..."
Customer: "Yeah, I've got more lizard questions."
"Well do you want me to connect you with someone who knows more about lizards?"
Customer: "No, I want to talk to you."
"Alright, what are your questions?"
He hung up.

I'm pretty satisfied with the way I balanced the line between not calling the guy an idiot to his face and still trying to answer his questions.