Working as a clerk at a convenience store on the Graveyard Shift (10 PM to 6 AM), I get to see a lot of different people. I see pleasant people, unresponsive people, incoherent people, and hostile people. But most of all, I see a lot of people at their worst. Sometimes it's not really their fault - their mind is on what they're going to do when they get where they're going, or their current social crisis, or the load of stress they have to deal with at work, or any of a thousand other things. There's nothing wrong with that, in and of itself. But letting your problems affect how you deal with others is something you can control, if you take the effort.

I do my best to ignore the rudeness and lack of consideration, but when you get the same thing every night, it gets kind of hard to ignore after a while.

Here are some of the things I deal with constantly (On a nightly basis, each and every one):

  • People who can't be bothered to read and/or assume they already know how to do it. There are instructions on how to operate the gas pumps on the front of each and every pump, but people somehow assume that the problem is with the pump, not themselves, when they can't get it to work. This is the functional equivalent of a PEBKAC error.
  • People who assume that we lock the doors. This crosses over on the "can't be bothered to read" one, as there is a sign in the window above the night slot, right at eye level, that says to come inside to pay, yet they'll stand by the slot and bang on the window. Also in this category are people who ask for the restroom keys, when the restroom is kept unlocked.
  • People who want to buy cigarettes or alcohol, and get pissy about being asked for their ID. It's not that you can't buy the restricted items without ID... I just can't sell to you. Some people are unable to grasp the distinction. It's a restriction on me, not you. I'm the one who would get nailed with a penalty.
  • People who leave the parking lot at mach 2. Our driveway isn't a drag strip starting line, and I don't want to see any accidents in the street in front of our store. Endanger yourself somewhere that you won't take anyone else with you, please.
  • People who think we're a full-function supermarket, parts store, and liquor store all rolled into one. No, we don't have tampons (By sheer coincidence, someone came in and asked for tampons as I was writing this!) Or Bran Crunchies. Or an alternator for a 1986 Dodge. Or Glenlivet. What you see on our shelves is all we have... and brother, it ain't much.
  • People who assume that since I work in a gas station, that must make me a mechanic. Sorry, I can't check your oil, or fill your tires, or tell you what's wrong with your car. I can't tell you what oil you should put in your car. I know what goes in my car, but not necessarily what's right for your car. I'm not even allowed to go outside the store once the sun sets.
  • And the topper: People who assume that since I work in a gas station, that I must be an ignorant idiot. This happens to be one of my instant piss-off buttons. Odds are, I know the laws and regulations that govern my job far better than you do. I make a point of knowing them. I work this job because applying for it is a one-hour matter; I don't have to wait for a call-back next week, or next month. Plus, on the Graveyard shift, I have ample time to read, or write, or study, or even play video games if it suits me (Or node!). The job is usually extremely low-stress, which is more important to me than the salary.
And here are some other things I see occasionally:
  • People who drive in drunk. By god, this is one of the dumbest things I see. Legally, I'm not even allowed to sell gasoline to someone who's drunk, but arguing with a drunk about it is a nightmare. Arguing with a drunk about anything is a nightmare.
  • People who drive off with the gas nozzle still inside their car. What the hell is your mind on? I mean, seriously! And more important, what goes through your head when you get where you're going, and find our gas nozzle (They're made to break away, for just such an occurrence) sticking out of your tank? I want to know!
  • People who dash in at the last minute, looking to buy beer. Sorry, too bad. I don't care if your watch says it's 1:55, the coolers are locked. If you'd used a little forethought, you wouldn't be in this situation. (It's even funnier at the station I work at currently: We don't carry any alcohol at all, and the nearest place that is still open after midnight that does is over a mile away.)
  • People who think I have an obligation to break their $100 bill. Sorry, this is a small store, and we keep cash levels very low at night. I don't have it, and no amount of shouting, screaming, pleading, or whining is going to change that fact. Adding, "But I'm going to fill up," doesn't change matters.
  • Rice boys who think our station makes a great meeting place before they go drag racing on the freeway. I don't care that you've spent $5000 souping up your dinky RX-7 or Civic. You're blocking up the island, and legitimate customers can't get to the pumps. Plus, you're scaring away some people who are afraid you're some kind of street gang. Also, doesn't the fact that three of your friends are dead from this same sort of stupidity (Taking out a few innocent bystanders in the process, as well) enter your thinking at all?
If you see yourself in any of these examples, please take a look at yourself before you do it again. A little forethought and consideration is all it takes.
This list is based on my own experience as a clerk in a convenience store. If you follow every advice on this list, you will make the employee's job a lot more easy.

Do not put stuff on the counter, then walk away to get something else (unless you know exactly what you're looking for). If there are other people waiting, the employee won't know if he shall attend to them or wait for you.

Smile and be polite. The employee has to be nice to everyone no matter what, and it's nice to get some smiles in return too. It's not any fun to deal with grumpy people all day, as mood has a tendency to rub off on other people. It takes 10 happy customers to make up for 1 grumpy customer.

Do not complain about how bad the store or the merchandises are. The employee is normally not the person in charge of ordering stuff or making decisions on where to place the merchandises. If you have any complains, tell it to the boss in stead.

Pay with the most exact amount of money. The employees loves small change. If you pay for a $0.5 candy with a $20 bill, he will lose most of his valuable change.

If the store sells magazines, do not read them for 20 minutes just to put them back in the shelf. Feel free to browse them to see if there's any good articles, but if you're interesting in reading the entire magazine, buy it or go to the library.

If you plan on shoplifting, remember you're not stealing from the large store chain, but the manager. Managers usually have to pay for stolen goods themselves.

Remember, clerks can have a bad day too. If they're not too polite or smiling all the time, try to cheer them up instead of making them even more sad.

Those of us who are adherents to common sense and the natural order of things are in full grasp and understanding of the knowledge that convenience store clerks exist for two reasons. They exist to serve the monied public in any, and I mean ANY, way we see fit to make them serve us, and they also exist to live off of government handouts and free lunches served by idiots without paying jobs.

If your convenience store also provides petroleum products for automobiles then you should be well prepared to explain the use of the devices, aka gas pumps, because you are too lazy to pump the gasoline for the customer yourself as was done back when men stood strong and tall and ladies wore dresses. Another issue is with the propaganda that gasoline is not good for the environment. Gasoline comes mainly from the great state of Texas and it helps positive role models for our youth such as Larry Hagman live the life he deserves to live for bringing these petroleum products to bear. When I go into a gas station convenience store place I expect the clerk there to give me a full and complete explanation of use of the gas pumps as well as making strong statements in favor of the use of gasoline as a vehicle propellant. When I go into one of these places and see a layabout with his feet up on the desk reading pornography and acting disinterested in me when I enter his employer's place of business I become angry. At times I have taken lives.

I will assume anything I damned well please when I come into your pathetic convenience store. I will assume doors are locked and I will assume that restrooms are locked. This is my right under the constitution because I am a paying customer. A paying customer can make assumptions and demands as well as they do not break established state and municipal laws. I could give a damn about the federal ones.

Do not ask me for my ID. I have heard the various ruses about requirements for asking customers for identification when buying products like alcohol and tobacco. I will not provide this ID. The reason is very simply and involves the fact that the information garnered in these unreasonable searches is used for internet scams and putting people on federal watch lists. If I showed you my ID card every time I bought beer in your store, I would be getting so much junk email and telephone calls from people selling dog insurance that I would go mad. And then I would have to live with the fact that I was on the government watch list for alcohol drinking and that every time I bought another six-pack I was going higher on the list until I reached the point where I was up there with teenagers. No thank you. I have a respectable job and I can't risk losing it by being on lists.

If I want something you better have it. If there is a product I want and you don't have it on your shelves, I have the right to tell you to go get me this product elsewhere and bring it back to your convenience store. What part of "convenience" do you people fail to understand when you agree to take up space in the lobbies of these establishments earning free money without working for it? If I want a bottle of Scotch, get the hell off your sorry ass and run down to the liquor store and get me a bottle of Scotch. If I want a pornographic movie, get the hell off your sorry ass and run down to the porno store and get me the damned movie. If I want you to replace the alternator and give me a lube job, you will do it. I am so very weary of the whiney, "We don't carry that" line followed by treating me like I have two heads. This is the reason I carry a collapsable tire iron in my coat pocket now.

You do, in fact, work in a convenience store because you are an idiot. I don't think there is any debate on this point. You might have been sharp in school when you were younger, but a head injury or abuse of methamphetamines at some point brought that to an end. People who aren't idiots are making so much money in this plentiful society of ours where hard work and dedication allows us to pick thousand dollar bills off trees like candy canes and therefore have no reason to be clerks in inconvenient stores. Working in a convenience store and living off government handouts is something an idiot does, especially idiots who think making the store inconvenient for customers when the sign says convenient makes sense. That thinking is bred of ignorance. This is why you will serve me in any way I see fit. If you had a lick of smarts you would be offering customers hand jobs after pumping their gas for them. This is American ingenuity at work. Utilize it to get ahead in business.

If I use your bathrooms I will use whatever products I see fit to use, including paper towels to wipe my rumpus room and if I think the toilet seat is unsanitary I am well within my rights to expedite disposal of bodily resources on the floor. And it is your job to clean it up. With a smile. Think about the hand jobs. Get a leg up on business. Or continue to be an ignorant idiot working in a convenience store.

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