Black Women Are Sharing Photos Of Themselves Posing With The Mona Lisa To Spread A Powerful Message
28-year-old podcast host and journalist Darian Harvin was going through photos from a trip to Paris when she noticed a photo of herself in front of Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Looking at the photo started her thinking about the contrasts between herself and the painting, and what people's "ideals around beauty and what's acceptable."
Harvin took to Twitter to share her thoughts, and to encourage other black women to share photos of themselves with the iconic painting.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News about the thread, Harvin said:
"I was missing Paris more than usual and decided to flip through photos in my camera roll from my last trip, and came across my photos at the Louvre. I remember the experience; slowly making my way to the front of the Mona Lisa, as close as I could get, and finally taking my photo."
I want to start a thread: Black girls in front of the Mona Lisa. I'll start. https://t.co/BBo1Hefs4H— Darian Symoné Harvin (@Darian Symoné Harvin) 1550091236
This may not go anywhere; I hope it gets seen. My default is to underestimate the timeline algo. But would be an absolutely epic thread.— Darian Symoné Harvin (@Darian Symoné Harvin) 1550091366
this was NOT meant to be a black elitist traveler thread (LOL). I just feel like Mona Lisa has been fed as this "tr… https://t.co/ehvgCaQl2a— Darian Symoné Harvin (@Darian Symoné Harvin) 1550097392
and it makes me feel good!— Darian Symoné Harvin (@Darian Symoné Harvin) 1550097494
Mona Lisa has shaped the way many people think about beauty.
The painting's pervasiveness in the public consciousness as an ideal of beauty and rarity has skewed the idea of what is beautiful.
"Anyone who has seen the Mona Lisa in real life knows it can be underwhelming, as it is pretty small; however the image is significant due to her mysterious gaze and because it's by Leonardo da Vinci. But I also think the painting has, over time, contributed to ideals around beauty and what's acceptable."
"My hope was that if I shared my photo, other black girls would feel encouraged to as well, and we could reinforce the idea that beauty comes in all forms. Like I said in a subsequent tweet: I just feel like Mona Lisa has been fed as this traditionally beautiful woman, and when I see black women stand confidently in front of it, I think it pushes back against this notion of who is beautiful."
Plenty of Twitter users were happy to join in, and Harvin was ecstatic with everyone's enthusiasm.
She told BuzzFeed "I have to tell you that I am shook by how... people are reacting to this thread. Nothing in me was expecting this much positivity."
@dariansymone 🙋🏽♀️ https://t.co/O9fgK1CNMT— Katia (@Katia) 1550122703
@dariansymone Heeeeyyyy 👋🏽👋🏽👋🏽 https://t.co/BJQpGpfg9O— Jasmyn (@Jasmyn) 1550098699
@dariansymone And my sister @tea0608 💁🏽♀️ https://t.co/9TTVAnx6bD— Katia (@Katia) 1550123182
@dariansymone Huge throwback but a thread I can participate in! https://t.co/sVhbdpF5em— W.E.B DePressed (@W.E.B DePressed) 1550125933
@dariansymone @_CallmeKY Finally a thread I can contribute to https://t.co/bj6fbKk4Gu— Darrien (@Darrien) 1550120818
@dariansymone Here for this 🤗 https://t.co/8nGABR7i5I— malissa anthony (@malissa anthony) 1550093476
@dariansymone @jamaicawest312 My first trip to Europe (2014)! I can’t wait to go back someday soon ♥️ https://t.co/shxpOyRR4U— leigh•ann (@leigh•ann) 1550116429
@dariansymone This was wildly specific but... 😂 https://t.co/tKdEufnIor— Mazikeen (@Mazikeen) 1550129299
Darian's thread challenges people to consider the stereotypes they carry about what is beautiful, and in doing so has helped to spread more beauty through the world.
Reddit user Jacob4L asked: 'America is having a house party. What does your state bring and do?'
Different regions around the world are known for specific foods and customs.
In the United States, each state becomes officially and unofficially known for certain things.
Like if you think of Pennsylvania you might think cheesesteaks or the Amish. Nevada might bring thoughts of gambling.
California might evoke beaches or Hollywood. Alaska is known for it's wilderness and fishing industry.
If you say Florida Man you associate batsh*t escapades in the news, transphobia and book bans—we're looking at you, Ron.
Each state has their own flag, motto, bird, flower and in some cases an animal or food.
The Maine Coon cat is the official state cat of Maine.
Bee Felten-Leidel on Unsplash
So what if all the states held a big party and everyone brought what they're known for?
Reddit user Jacob4L posited:
"America is having a house party. What does your state bring and do?"
"North Carolina: We show up as twins, one brings pulled pork with Eastern NC sauce, the other shows up with ribs covered in Western NC sauce. We proceed to get drunk on shine and argue bitterly over which is better."
"Our little brother (South Carolina) shows up with some grilled chicken covered in mustard based sauce, and we forget our argument and gang up on him for being a complete disappointment to the family."
"South Carolina brings a Bible and spends the first part of the evening preaching and the last part getting drunk and fighting about BBQ sauce."
"Tennessee. We bring whisky, a guitar for a sing-a-long and Dolly Parton."
"Virginia: Eastern Virginia will bring chips with that white sauce that confuses so many people."
"Central Virginia will bring tons of different craft beers and wine."
"Northern Virginia will bring company-branded fleece vests to hand out as party favors."
"I got no idea what goes on in the western part of the state, to be honest."
"Western Virginia? Moonshine."
"Georgia brings several party trays of fried chicken and waffles as well as an obscene volume of IPA beers."
"Spends the evening standing around the trucks outside with Alabama, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Florida, and Mississippi talking about mudding, camping, fishing, and hip-hop."
"Louisiana here. We will bring crawfish, gator bites and beer. It’s the best we can do."
"Florida dances on the table, but falls off and puts a hole in the wall."
"We bring Florida man, he brings national news coverage."
"We’ll bring the folding chairs."
"Kentucky—we come in riding a horse. We bring Kentucky fried chicken, good bourbon and tobacco. After the bourbon we drink mint julips."
"West Virginia brings the couch to burn on the porch."
"West Virginia will definitely bring pepperoni rolls."
"We bring cheese dip! It was invented in Little Rock, Arkansas! Then we call the Hogs!"
"Arkansas. Gon' bring possum stew and cheese dip, then insist on saying grace."
"My state has a state meal, so I'm apparently bringing all the things: 'The official state meal of Oklahoma consists of fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries (state fruit), chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas'."
"Texas. We'll bring Barbecue Beef Brisket and all the guns & ammo for the shooting events."
"Texas brings steaks and a Bible for everyone. Then proceeds to let your 9 year old play with their gun."
"Eeeeee! New Mexico shows up late with his homies in a low rider and brings several 30 packs of Bud Light. Then his abuela brings some green chile enchiladas and biscochitos for dessert."
"Arizona, We'll bring Sonoran dogs and tequila and turn the thermostat to 110º."
"Nevada. Gambling and hookers baby!"
"Colorado is bringing weed and also bringing the psychedelic mushrooms. We’re pretty much the best party guest anyone could ask for."
"Utah brings the Jell-O and turn their nose up to all the sinners."
Pacific Coast Vibes
"Oregon would bring weed, craft beer, and Tillamook cheddar with crackers."
"Alaska. We are driving down and I’m gonna beat up Texas (who’s been telling everyone they’re the biggest guy)."
"Also I’m gonna tell everyone I like Hawaii, but Hawaii is gonna say 'I barely know Alaska'."
"Washington is our friend. Washington always lets us come over and hang out."
"Washington and Alaska. Both would probably bring salmon, crab and Indigenous dancing."
"California is hosting the party and paying for everything you damn cheapskates."
"From Hawaii we bring lau lau, Kalua pork, hula and aloha!"
"Hawaii, can you bring spam masubi too?"
Head Back East
"A drunken Montanian riding a horse inside, with a plate of Rocky mountain oysters."
"Idaho. We're bringing the potato salad, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, potato chips, potato bread, French fries, tater tots, and vodka."
Did anyone remember to invite Wyoming?
"South Dakota will just be outside on its Harley drunk, revving the engine trying to impress chicks until 3am keeping the neighbors awake."
"The Juicy Lucy. 100 years ago Minnesota discovered you can put cheese inside the hamburger and we've been riding that high ever since."
"Please talk to us we're surrounded by corn and Wisconsin."
"Iowa. A couple of cases of Busch Light, corn and the Pork Producers trailer grill to start grilling chops. We spend the entire night with Minnesota and Wisconsin making fun of Nebraska."
"Nebraska shows up with a massive Snickers Salad in an old, gallon-sized ice cream bucket and a 30-rack of Busch 'Lattes' shouting 'GOOOOOOO BIIIIIIIIIIIG REEEEEDDDDD' in the blind faith that someone, somewhere will respond 'GOBIGRED!!!' And they will. They will."
"North Dakota is bringing lefse, rolled with butter and sugar."
"And you’re all gonna love it!"
"Wisconsin. I show up undetectably drunk. I bring Cannibal Sandwiches which is ostensibly raw ground beef on white buns."
"I'll have a better time talking to your grampa than any of you and I'll sneak out the back door when I'm ready to leave so that I don't hafta say 'bye'."
"Missouri brings toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake, then gets trashed on Boulevard, Logboat, and Schlafly beers, while the under-21s have Fitz's and Vess."
"Also, a fistfight with Kansas breaks out and Branson plays country music."
"Kansas. We bring bread. We stand in the middle of the party but everyone ignores us except to make jokes about The Wizard of Oz. Unless it's March, when suddenly everyone wants to talk sh*t about our basketball teams."
"At some point we'll get in a fight with Missouri, but we will throw down with anyone who attacks Missouri when the inevitable BBQ war starts."
Home of Industry
"Michigan. We bring coney dogs, ginger-ale, and superman ice cream (you're welcome)."
"What do we do? Get drunk, play some Motown, start a fight with Ohio, then get them to join us to help us throw down with California about who had the real music center of America."
"We (us and Ohio) lose, but we spend the rest of the night licking our wounds, commiserating about how much California sucks, and texting Canada trying to coax her to join the party."
"Illinois. Probably bring the Malort, Italian beef, deep dish pizza, and hot dogs with mustard, onions, green relish, diced tomatoes, and sport peppers on a sesame seed bun and some celery salt on top."
"Indiana brings some big a** tenderloins, plays cornhole the whole time, and takes 90 minutes to say goodbye."
"Ohio’s party contribution is a mixed bag."
"Everyone is obsessed with the Buckeye candies they brought but are so sick and tired of the bragging about OSU national championships from a long time ago every time they go to grab one."
"There is now a hefty supply of Bloody Marys at this party thanks to Ohio bringing a gigantic shipment of its state beverage tomato juice."
"Fortunately, Ohio has also brought Smuckers jam to go on toast when everyone’s hungover in the morning."
"Pennsylvania is the second person to arrive, just behind Delaware. It’s a good thing that PA arrives early, because PA brings the best food items—Turkey Hill Ice Cream, Utz Potato Chips, Hershey’s Chocolate, and Wooder Ice."
"Despite smelling slightly like cow manure, PA is generally liked by the rest of the party attendees, but when the conversation shifts to football, PA suddenly wants to fight everyone else at the party."
"Pennsylvania and Ohio will also bring the Amish—who will build us a shelter for if it rains."
Mid-Atlantic In the House
"With an armful of Half Smokes and DCBrau, Washington DC tries to explain to the bouncer that he is not exactly a state but he belongs at the party."
"The bouncer begrudgingly let’s him in after examining his DC drivers license for a full minute and conferring with the other bouncers."
"Once inside he bops his head lightly to the music and tries really hard to restrain himself from asking everyone 'So what do you do?'.”
"Maryland is bringing steamed crabs. But we’re late because we drive 20 miles under the speed limit."
"Delaware: that awkward guy that just shows up first and most people don’t know who he is. But hey we brought drinks for everyone and we won’t tax them."
"New Jersey. The best Italian food in the Western Hemisphere. Maybe an old mobster for protection if you know a guy who knows a guy."
"New York brings pizza and won't shut up about how it is better than everyone else's food and they just HAVE to try it. He also interrupts people and claims he is better than everyone."
"Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the South hate him but California doesn't mind hanging out with him for a little bit."
"Vermont, We bring maple syrup, b*tch and moan about all of the out-of-staters that we’re driving to said party, craft beer, and weed."
"Connecticut brings lobster rolls and weird craft beer and cries because New York and Massachusetts ignore it. Then it goes off and drinks with Rhode Island and is okay."
"Connecticut with airpods in, quietly sitting in between Massachusetts and New York on the couch while they scream at each other about the Red Sox and Yankees."
"The great state of Rhode Island brings a crock of seafood chowda and complains about how far we had to drive to get to the party."
"Massachusetts are bringing alcohol, chowder, lobster rolls, and some fluffernutters for those who’s drunk food is sugary. Dunkin’ donuts, munchkins and coffee of course."
"We will also bring our sports superiority complex and argue with everyone about it so everyone will learn why Maine calls us Massholes."
"New Hampshire. We’ll bring lots of liquor from the state-run tax-free liquor stores, and we will spend the party chanting 'Live free or die!' And probably arguing with Massachusetts."
"Maine rides in on a wicked huge moose with a Dunkin' regular spiked with Allen's Coffee Brandy in one hand and a Tim Horton's double-double in the other. We bring red hot dogs, whoopie pies, Moxie, Humpty Dumpty all-dressed chips and our buddy New Brunswick, Canada so we don't have to talk to New Hampshire."
"We tell the flatlanders wanting lobster we don’t give that away for free—it’s wicked expensive for a reason."
"We'll throw a wicked beat down on Massachusetts after they say for the hundredth time we used to be part of their state and they used 'wicked' to describe everything before we did."
"When it gets wicked dark, Stephen King and Joe Hill show up to scare the crap out of everyone with stories around the bonfire."
"New Brunswick, Canada, Maine's next door neighbour, arrives with enough poutine to feed the multitudes."
"Quebec, Canada files a noise complaint against their loud neighbour. Ultimately, it's ignored."
"British Columbia, Canada is the neighbour next door slightly jealous for not getting the invite but also a bit scared to visit because those neighbours can be a bit crazy. California, Washington, Alaska and Oregon finally convince them to come."
"Ontario, Canada brings an LCBO 8pk of 8 different craft beers you’ve never heard of, and immediately starts trying to convince New York that Daylight Savings Time is garbage, and bitching about Quebec."
"Alberta, Canada brings steaks, while Saskatchewan, Canada brings home made bread. Both of them spend most of the night hanging out with Texas and start sh*t talking Ontario."
"Manitoba, Canada brings mosquitoes."
"The other Canadian Maritime Provinces—Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—show up piss drunk and have a loud and obnoxious conversation amongst themselves, excluding New Brunswick who's too chummy with Maine and Newfoundland just because they're Newfies.
"Newfoundland, Canada brings a cod fish and rum, and insists that everyone present kiss the fish and take a shot."
"Quebec, Canada finally decides to come bringing ridiculously strong beer. Complains about Ontario to anyone who will listen. They try to flirt with Louisiana en Français, but they get weirded out when they realize they’re cousins. Ends up going home with Ontario at the end of the night."
"Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut tell the First Nations the colonizers are all gone and they shut down the border before they can come back."
"Then Kaná:ta has a BIG party."
"Scotland and Ireland would be taken into the fold with the moonshine and hard liquor group. Everyone would just be sitting around a bonfire passing around sips of the tasty stuff. Each country/province/state has to bring their best storyteller to this fire."
"Don't worry, all of our accents are basically the same when we are drunk. The slang is where things get dicey, but if the storyteller is worth their weight in salt, it's going to be fine."
"Minnesota will sneak in Norway and Sweden as Cousin Olaf and Cousin Sven. Oof, da!"
"Australia shows up already drunk and proceeds to drink all the beer and complain that it's weak as piss. But we did bring party pies and sausage rolls."
"The UK is imposing upon the party unannounced. England is intoxicated and attempting to dominate blasé Scotland; Scotland has copious amounts of whiskey to appease America’s indignation at the UK’s indiscretion."
"Wales has rarebits and hovers disconcerted behind Scotland. Northern Ireland brings Irish whiskey and a Bible and strides over to the Bible Belt states for a bit of religious contention."
"England makes everyone cups of tea at 2 hour intervals."
"Mexico shows up at around 2AM, seven deep, and with a worm as a mascot."
"Texas immediately picks a fight with them and at the same time tries to get them to share their food."
Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
It certainly sounds like a wild time.
Do you think your fellow citizens nailed your state?
What would you add?
We can all agree that, while it's supposed to be fun, navigating the dating scene is hard.
But since the world has never before seen the technological tools it has at its disposal now, never before will we have seen how this technology could impact our relationships.
But it goes much deeper than people sitting in the same room with each other while only engaging with their screens.
Seeming to be getting fed up with the dating scene, Redditor princeflare asked:
"What do you think is the true killer of modern dating?"
No Third Places Left
"A lot of commenters are saying "dating apps" but I think that misses the mark. The true culprit is the loss of community and, as someone else mentioned, the Third Place. We wouldn't need dating apps if people were still able to meet organically as much as we used to."
Fear of Being Approached
"A lot of women nowadays freak out if asked out even organically. A friend and I were at the bar a bit before the pandemic and we were having a good time and started talking with a mixed group near us. Eventually, groups merged and we were all having fun."
"We ended up having a lot of conversations with two of the girls in that group. One went to the bathroom and the other right after she left was all like, 'You should totally ask out my friend,' and all that."
"Fast forward through the night, and eventually, we are playing pool, and that girl and I are kinda in the corner by ourselves, so I asked her for her number."
"She just freaked out, like, 'I gotta get out of here' style freakout."
"We hung out for like two hours, laughed together multiple times, we're were in public place near people she knows, we had a small bit of physical contact initiated by her, her friend thought I should ask her out, I didn't do it within earshot of everyone to not put her on the spot, etc. I very much can't imagine a scenario where I could make someone more comfortable beforehand."
"I'm married now to a great woman but when you try off dating apps and it's looking like the stars aligned and you get that response, it's just like, what the h**l is wrong with people."
"Wow, just when you think the signs couldn’t be any clearer, she pulled a complete 180."
"Glad you ended up finding someone good, though."
What (True Crime Podcasts) Heck?
"Is it crazy to link the explosion to true crime content and it largely being consumed by women to their fear of an organic dating scene in the last 20 years?"
"I’ve heard some crazy stats about women EATING up true crime content which can induce paranoia, I listened to that s**t for a summer and couldn’t look behind myself at night as a 6’2 male, lol (laughing out loud). Terrible and anxiety-causing stuff."
"Dude, not at all crazy to link it all together. I actually had to have a small intervention with my ex-girlfriend a couple years ago because all she listened to was podcasts about murder... etc. and she was becoming so insecure and anxious, and it absolutely was changing her personality and sense of safety."
"We even had a similar talk about following nothing but Instagram models… things like that will completely warp your view of the world."
"Not crazy at all. Studies have shown that watching crime dramas, the news, and true crime type stuff can all lead to unrealistic perceptions on how dangerous the world actually is."
Too Many Options
"The true killer of modern dating is the paradox of choice, where endless options often lead to indecision and commitment issues."
"It's amusingly called a frictionless market. There's no cost in continuing to look for the 'perfect' partner, so people skip over the good matches they could build a happy life with."
"I wanted to add: There seems to be some confusion about what the costs are, and what the side-effects of this scenario are. In a non-frictionless market, there's a cost in time and effort to continue looking."
"For example, if you're looking for a perfect apple, and you can't find it in your store, you drive to store after store. That costs time, gas, etc., costs that you don't have in online dating, because to continue looking is just another swipe on the dating app. So there's no deterrent to continue looking because to continue looking is 'free.'"
"The side-effects are around failure to have successful relationships, emotional costs due to frustrated expectations and relationships."
Lack of Shared Experiences
"Call me old-fashioned, but it’s the complete lack of mystique, in my opinion. Part of the fun of dating pre-internet was learning about a person and getting to know them through conversation and shared experience."
"We are more connected than ever before but there is a loneliness epidemic happening. It all seems so cheap and seedy nowadays."
"I'd add getting to know them by actually talking to them instead of sleuthing around to find stuff about their life."
"Totally agreed. Shared experiences are such a huge factor, and nobody wants to give anyone time anymore."
Level Up: Dating Gamification
"The gamification of swiping left or right on hundreds of profiles based off of two-second first impressions, typing one-word messages, and then ghosting them or unmatching because you’re bored. Not treating them like actual humans. There’s always a new profile to move onto."
"I say this as someone who literally met their current spouse on Tinder, but online dating apps are (for the most part) very demoralizing. I couldn’t wait to get off the app and meet up in person to have a real human connection."
"This really rings true to me. I was already with my husband when dating apps took off. I vividly remember watching some friends check their apps and just saying, 'Nope, nope, ew, doesn’t make enough money, too short, nope.' It was all based on their immediate impression of the photo and bio."
"Then they’d start messaging someone and obsessing over exactly what to say, how quickly to reply, what did the other person mean by that. There was so much analysis and decision-making before they ever met someone in person."
"I know several couples who met online and have great relationships, so it can work for some people, but I know many more who have struggled with online dating."
"I think this is definitely it. My husband and I met on Tinder, but he doesn't even have social media, and I only use it to post big things like our wedding and literally nothing else. So not avidly. Our first date was like five days after we matched and moving off the app to meeting in person definitely changes the dynamic and trust and should be done as soon as possible."
"Social media is a killer of interpersonal connections and has created a shallow society."
Getting Paid to Date... or... Paying... to Date... Wait, What?
"If we consider that modern dating is largely just online dating at this point."
"Then the clearcut killer of modern dating to me is monetization. A decade ago Tinder was AWESOME. It was very easy to match with people, land dates, and participate in hook-up culture if you wanted to. OKCupid was fun and based on personality, lifestyle, and chemistry. Bumble was a decent alternative to Tinder."
"Then they all I think got bought out by one company and all started to care more about profit than purpose."
"Bumble, you get like ten likes a day max. Sometimes five. It’s inconsistent."
"Tinder you have a ton of bots and ads and spam accounts. You have to pay money to access the same features that you got for free before."
"OkCupid went away with their great formula and went for a swipe feature instead and now it sucks."
"Hinge could be good but it locks away the most essential, basic filters for finding suitable dates behind a paywall."
"Work-life balance. People are too tired or too broke to go out and do things. Any spare time and you are just too tired to want to do anything. This is how dating apps took off and led to objectification and judging people in five seconds."
"Yeah. It’s so exhausting to do anything after work. Friday is just recovering Saturday is the day to do everything and Sunday is for preparation for the week. How can you get the time to get to know new people?"
"Oh gosh, I thought I was alone in this! The couple of times I have started seeing someone I end up completely overwhelmed because I never get a day to just do nothing. I’m too tired during the week, so would have to cram seeing family, and friends, and going on a date on a weekend. I feel much more relaxed single."
"I wish I could’ve met someone in school where it seems like it was much easier to see them during the week."
The Search for Perfection
"The fact that, thanks to a steady diet of social media and brain-dead entertainment, everybody seems to think that they deserve a partner that checks all the items in their cartoonishly unrealistic list of requisites while at the same time they, at their best, would have basically f**k all to offer their fantastical ideal partner in return. And odds are they're not at their best anyway, so they have even less than f**k all to offer."
"And to top it off, everybody seems to think that this imaginary ideal partner should put in all the work and effort in the relationship, including pursuing them before the relationship even starts, while they sit back and do, well, f**k all."
"'You’re not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense, this girl you met isn’t, either. The question is, whether or not you’re perfect for each other...' I think that quote is what people miss."
The Need to Share
"Social media and dating apps. How on earth is not broadcasting your life a red flag? To me, that is a neon green flag."
"The last place I would look for love is on an app. Maybe I am old-fashioned... the instant filtering is just plain weird."
Increased Opportunities to Cheat
"I've been cheated on in every relationship I’ve ever been in because of Instagram and Snapchat, obviously not 'because,' but they make cheating a lot easier and seemingly less 'painful,' which it’s not."
"I’m sick and tired of this s**t, man. I just want a loyal woman in my life, I’m tired of being f**king hurt. All my friends have been cheated on at least once, some physically and most on social media. Mine all of the above. So tired of it, for real, man."
"Where the f**k did true, loyal, adorable love go?"
Knowing Your Worth
"I would say egos, and people that think they have a high perceived value to the point they feel like others should bend over backwards to be in their presence."
"I've been saying this for years. The phrase 'know your worth' is ingrained into everybody nowadays, but nobody is willing to have a frank conversation with themselves about what they are worth."
Too Many Main Characters for One Story
"Main Character Syndrome."
"I came here to say this, you know, one NPC (Non-Player Character) to another."
One Word: Escapism
"I mean, life in general. But getting more specific, I'd say escapism. Social media, gaming, drugs and alcohol. It's all a way to escape reality and while it feels good in the moment, it takes you away from the process of growing as a person and growing with another person."
"It causes resentment, contempt, f**ks with insecurities, and has shifted the point of partnership from PARTNERSHIP to access. We're all traumatized and we're all running from something."
We Just Need a Nap
"We're tired, boss. Just plain worn out, burnt out, run down tired. Work-life balance is dead, society is mentally draining, and literally everything worth doing costs money. When the h**l are you supposed to meet that person when you get home from work and immediately go to bed so you can be up at 4:30 A.M. to do it again tomorrow?"
"This is everything, buddy. I feel this and I don't see my self getting married and for sure not having kids. I don't want to introduce a new life into a decaying world that refuses to fix its older generations' mistakes. This whole attitude of 'I will be dead before it effects me' f**king sucks."
It's totally understandable that each generation, with its own priorities and relationship with technology, will see a shift in how their social lives look.
All of that being said, it's still surprising how extensive of a reach technology and social media now have in our dating lives, going from people not really knowing how someone looks until seeing their in-person... to hardly ever have the opportunity to see them in-person anyway.
It's not uncommon for certain products to end up being used for purposes different than their initial intention.
Cotton swabs, or Q-tips, are the prime example, as nearly all who buy them use them to clean earwax from their ears despite the box expressly warning customers not to.
Then there are the products made for specific customers but whose clientele proves to be quite different from their initial target market.
Specifically, things or experiences intended for children but primarily enjoyed by adults, ruining any excitement the young folk may have had about them.
Redditor opposeThem was curious to hear about all the things magic grown-ups stole away from children, leading them to ask:
"What was meant for kids but adult consumers hijacked it and ruined it?"
Who Doesn't Need Something Soft And Cuddly Every Now And Then...
"People trying to resell these literal stuffies 3x the price online."- sighcommagroan
Seems Like They Were Looking For The Wrong Kind Of Bears...
"Build A Bear."
"As a former employee I don't care if you came in and bought some stuff animals."
"Hell, there's some cool ones like Pokémon."
"HOWEVER, just cuz I worked there doesn't mean I have a whole collection myself and watch every show and movie that's partnered with the company."
"Yes I was an adult man working at a stuffed animal store."
"Yes I bought a couple Pokémon for myself."
"'No I don't wanna hear another grown man passionately talk to me about My Little Pony and PLEASE I DON'T WANT TO SEE A CUTIE MARK TATTOO YOU HAVE ON YOUR A** CHEEK EVEN IF THERE'S NO KIDS IN THE STORE CURRENTLY."- That_Guy_Pen
Fun Can't Be Forced
"After school hobbies!"
"Around the age of 47, I decided to pick up guitar again."
"So I went to a local school and enrolled as an adult."
"I would see parents harassing their kids and berating them for not being better."
"I think the majority of them have lost the idea that extracurricular activities are too help your child out of their shell and also to have fun."
"Not to make them a professional of any sort or the best of the best of the best."- BisquickNinja
I Mean, They Are Pretty Cute
"I remain baffled as to how and why minions, of all things, became the thing of choice for unfunny boomer memes."- moonbunnychan
Collect Them All... To Sell Them Later...
"Every card hobby."
"It’s literally just about prices now."- lol022
"Scalpers were so down horrendous they were raiding McDonald's during the pandemic."- Sol-Blackguyash ketchum pokemon GIFGiphy
"When I was a kid I felt so bad for that rabbit."
"I still don’t understand the idea behind that marketing campaign."
"Was it- being greedy and mean is hilarious."
"Buy our cereal?
"Just give the bunny some cereal you sadistic little sh*ts."
"They ran an ad for a little while that was a campaign that allowed you to vote on whether or not the rabbit would get some Trix."
"I think you had to mail in a box top with your vote or something."
"I voted 'share' with all of my sensitive little heart."
“'Greed' won by a landslide."
"That’s when I first became disillusioned with voting and people in general."- Iamtevya
You Can Keep The House, But You Can't Take My Babies...
"Beanie Baby collectors."- bigredthesnorer
" [A] photo of a divorcing couple dividing their beanie baby collection in court always makes me laugh."
"So ridiculous that people thought they were like stocks."- Delores_HerbigBeanie Babies GIF by HBO MaxGiphy
"Parents who film their kid’s lives for likes and subs are sh*tty."- da_predditor
The Edward Vs. Jacob Fued Will Never End...
"I'm an adult that reads them."
"But the characters are TEENAGERS."
"People get upset that teenagers act like teenagers, in books targeted at... you guessed it, teenagers."- PumpkinPieIsGreat
So Much For Love Of The Game...
"When I was a kid 30 years ago, you’d have a practice or 2 a week plus a game on Saturday."
"Then if you loved sports, you’d get together with buddies in your ample free time and mess around playing super fun pick up games."
"Now, many kids are having full weekend tournaments like every weekend."
"And tons of practices.'
"They rarely have the free time to just play with their friends for the fun of it."
'Sure they are better athletes than we were, but are they better off?"- omgphilgalfondhomer simpson pitcher GIFGiphy
Can You Say "Re-Sale?"...
"Pretty much any kids' toy."
"The scalpers are working harder than ever to f*ck it up."
"Pokémon/whatever is popular cards?"
"Check as f*ck."
"Fuzzy egg furby like critters?"
"If scalpers can leech money out of people with it, they'll do it."- chris14020
Car Salespeople Can Be Ruthless...
"Hot wheels."- Snow-Dog2121
"Worst memory I have of comic con."
"An exhibitor gave a kid what must’ve been an exclusive at their booth."
"Grown men rushing and crowding the kid pressuring him to sell his toy."
"His parents moved him away promptly but I imagine he was shaken up by the experience."
"Went from a cool moment of unexpectedly getting a toy to grown weirdos getting in his face."- Dwike2
Where To Even Begin?
"Harry Potter vibrating broomstick."- PursuitTravel
"I have one found at Goodwill about 11 years ago."
"I'm a big HP fan, and I was excited to buy it."
'I realized it turned on, and I was hoping for cool sound effects, I was disappointed it only vibrated."
"I remember looking it up online just to check out info on it and found out why it was discontinued shortly after its release, thought never occurred to me until then."- NecranissaHarry Potter Halloween GIFGiphy
One has to wonder how the manufacturers or marketing departments feel about these alternative uses?
Sadly, one can only guess that as long as they are turning a profit, they couldn't care less...
The stupidity and ignorance of some people can be flat-out flabbergasting. Do they live under a rock? Were they dropped on their head as a child? You’ll be asking these same questions after you read these stories. These are more than simple “push on the pull door” moments, as Redditors in the service industry tell stories of clueless customers who left them puzzled, perplexed and perturbed.
This Ship Has Sailedperson sitting front of laptopPhoto by Christin Hume on Unsplash
This is a conversation I had with one customer trying to buy something online. “Hello, I made an online order and I see that you've charged me the shipping cost twice.” “Hmm, that's weird, let me check. No, I see that it's the right amount, sir.” “You’re wrong, I've made two orders and I've already paid the shipping cost for the first one. I shouldn't have to pay twice.”
“Oh, I see! You've made two orders, sure, we can make it one package and only charge you once for the shipping, but can you tell me the order numbers for your orders, because the system shows me that you've only placed one today.” This is where it unraveled.“Yeah, the second one was not placed today.” “When was it placed, sir?”
“I don't know, like three or four months ago, but still, I've paid for the shipping cost before. Why would I have to pay again?”
The Price Of Ignorance
This is a dialogue I had to have with a grown adult. It was a man who was looking to purchase a shirt in our store. He pointed at the price tag on a shirt and said, "Excuse me, what do these numbers represent? I said, "The numbers right after the dollar sign?" He said, "Yes.” "That's the price of the shirt." "Oh, I see! Thank you!" At least he was friendly.
The Usual Suspects
During high school, I worked at a grocery store that also offered home delivery. Several times daily, I would have people calling in to ask for “the usual.” It was a fairly small store so we didn't have any systems to keep a history on customers, so we had to ask for their address as well. Half the time they would refuse to give it because "it's in the system."
Sense Of Entitlement
I worked at a college and had conversations with helicopter parents that went like this: The parent would ask, “Can you look up the transactions on my child’s account and send them to me?” “Nope.” “Why not?” “Because your child is an adult and we protect their privacy.” Their response was always unsettling. “I’m their parent. They don’t need privacy from me!”
“That’s between you and your child. The laws protect their privacy from everyone, including their parent.” “I’m their guardian and entitled to this information!” “Without a court order, 18-year-olds (or 22-year-olds for that matter) do not require guardians.” “I’m going to report this to the Dean!” “Please do, as it will let them know I’m doing my job.”
I had a woman one time use our computers to place a hold on a book that was on the shelf at another library, then come to the desk five minutes later to ask for it. I had to explain to her that the books don't just magically appear from other libraries, they get driven over after the holds get pulled. She seemed genuinely confused that someone wouldn't drive it over right away.
Idea Doesn’t Mixwoman wearing brown apronPhoto by Steven Cleghorn on Unsplash
I worked as a waitress for eight years. I had a patron order a salad with oil and vinegar as the dressing. I brought the salad to the table and asked if anyone needed anything else. Everyone was happy and I went on my way. A couple of minutes later, I got that hand signal “Please get over here” style. I come over and ask how everything is going. That's when I heard the dumbest question of my life.
No joke, my patron asked me why the oil and vinegar weren’t mixing. I did my best to explain the reason why oil and vinegar hate each other. But she wasn’t having it. She told me she’s had oil and vinegar dressing mix before at other restaurants. I explained that there was likely a bonding agent in the dressing and it was not just oil and vinegar at those other restaurants.
She just looked at me. I then asked if she wanted a different mixed dressing. She said she would be happy with the dressing she ordered, she just wanted to know why it wasn’t mixing.
Here are just a few examples I had to deal with while working at a hardware store customer service desk: If you wish to return an item you must present the item and your receipt. I cannot process a refund if you have neither. No, we do not sell asbestos. No, I cannot order some in for you. When water boils, it does indeed produce "bubbles."
So if the water is bubbling once it reaches temperature, your kettle is working properly. Zip ties are not simply "disposable handcuffs." They can be used for other purposes and it should not be concerning nor surprising that a hardware store sells them.
Burst Your Bubble
My first job at 16 was at Party City. One day, I'm blowing up balloons at the balloon counter and a lady comes up to buy some latex balloons. I asked if she wants us to fill them and she said no, she'd do it at home. Making small talk, I remarked that she must have one of the Party Time helium tanks at home. Her reply made my jaw drop to the floor.
She said, "No, I blow them up with my mouth. You just put the string on them and they float!" I do the multiple blinks, trying to work out in my head what she's just said. She fully believed she could blow up the balloons with her mouth and the magic was...attaching a string. I tried to give this woman an impromptu chemistry lesson. She insisted. I still think about that magic woman to this day.
A Cocktail Of Absurdity
Here are a few favorites as a bartender: A drink is a liquid, and it’s a bad idea to shake it around. Yes, the "This is a smoke-free area" sign also applies to people who are addicted. Yes, the people on the tables around you are inebriated. No, I'm not going to kick them out. Seriously, what were they expecting when entering a bar at 2:00 am?
You still have to pay for the entire meal even though you only ate half of it, especially if you asked us to pack the other half to take home. No, you're not allowed to test our beverage menu by taking a shot...unless you buy a shot. Exposure doesn’t pay my bills. Your kid is not going to get adult beverages from me, I don't care that it's his birthday.
No, we're not running a smuggling business in the back, you just watch too many movies. Also, did you believe that I'd tell you if it were the case? No, you can't pay in some weird cryptocurrency here. I don't know you are a "regular." You've been here twice, and one of those times I wasn't even working.
Clear your schedule, put on a pot of coffee, and make yourself comfortable—I am about to tell you the story of, hands down, the most idiotic customer I have ever seen in 10 years of working retail. A very grumpy high-society woman came to the store saying her brand new 3,000-dollar Microsoft surface bought by her husband was defective because she could not get internet when she was on the move. I quickly realized she was talking about Wi-Fi, so I tried explaining to her how Wi-Fi actually works. Boy, was that a mistake!
I told her that she could not use her Wi-Fi outside her house, but that she could share her smartphone internet connection. She would have none of it. She said I was lying to her and making fun of her. She even asked to speak to my manager, who then proceeded to tell her the exact same thing, almost to the word. She left screaming.
Moms Who Need To Changea baby laying on a bed with white sheetsPhoto by Pavlina Baudysova on Unsplash
I’ve had to tell a restaurant customer that you can’t change your baby on an unoccupied table. Would you take a dump on a restaurant's table? No, so why should it be any different for your baby? Poop is poop and that is a health code violation to be around food, not to mention people eating in a restaurant don't want to smell poop while they're eating.
Lady, that's what the bathroom is for! Why are some parents so disgusting and inconsiderate?
A Penny For Your Thoughtlessness
I used to work at Aaron Brothers, and they had a famous buy a frame, get another for a penny sale. People would try to return one frame, which isn’t allowed because then you’re getting one frame for a penny. You have to return both frames. Seeing the blank stare of confusion as I explained that to people was always entertaining.
I had to explain that if you order ice cream for four people on a hot summer day, but the four people are still like 30 minutes away, said ice cream is going to melt before the four people get there. And no, that is not my fault.
Father Knows Best
Years ago, I worked in student housing at a university and had to explain to a father, for well over an hour, that I could not make sure that his daughter was in her room by 8:00 pm and ensure that she never spoke to boys.
I worked at a CVS in high school. Many weirdos shop at CVS, but the weirdest among them were the ones who bought diapers and then asked me if I knew how to put them on a baby. Maybe it’s just my personal opinion, but if you’re at the point in your life where you have to buy diapers and put them on a baby, you should’ve figured this out from someone other than the teenager at the cash register.
Doesn’t Have A Hot Clueperson holding white ceramic mugPhoto by Chad Madden on Unsplash
I worked at a coffee shop and a woman came in saying that the mug she bought is defective. I ask what is wrong and she goes, “It says it's microwave and dishwasher safe. I put it in the microwave to heat it and it got hot!” I explained that the text on the mug means it can be used in a microwave without breaking...but that anything placed in a microwave will still get hot.
She maintained, “Well, then it's not safe.”
As a pharmacist, this is a conversation I’ve had with a customer: “I’d like some OxyContin.” “Okay, sure. Who’s your prescribing physician?” “My what?” “Sorry, who’s the doctor that told you needed OxyContin?” “Oh, there wasn’t one.” “Uh. Okay. Do...do you have a prescription?” “No.” “So. You just want some OxyContin?” “Duh. Is there someone smarter than you working?” “Next!”
A client bought a car from our dealership and called two days later to say that the back doors were not opening from the inside. I knew exactly what the problem was. I asked him specifically if the child lock was on, but he denied it. He brought the vehicle back to us and one of our salespeople opened the door and deactivated the child lock while getting in.
He opened the door and the client’s mind was blown that the door was suddenly opening.
We sell organic skincare where I work. A client called saying the seal on her moisturizer she just bought came off too easily and she wanted to return it. I asked her to bring it in so we could exchange it for her. When I checked her product, there was a straight-up finger-shaped hole in the foam seal. When I asked her about it, she said it happened after the fact.
Sure. I told her I would happily exchange it. She didn't seem thrilled but didn't say anything. At this point, I figured it was a case of buyer's remorse and she wanted a refund but was blaming the seal. So I hand her a fresh product. She takes it out of the box in front of me, saying she just wants to check the seal. She proceeds to pull up on the edges of the seal hard enough until it pops off.
She stares at me, I stare at her. She tells me, "See, this one is unsealed too." I told her, "Nope, that one was sealed. That’s an acceptable seal so the product should be just fine for you. Enjoy your day!" She didn't come back, but I put notes on her account in case she called the head company to complain about the so-called "seal" problem.
Forgot Your Password?
As an IT guy, I once spent 56 minutes on a password reset call with a dude who just could not get it. The new password requirements were simply beyond the limits of his comprehension. Over and over, around and around, we went through the process. I must have reset him half a dozen times. I didn't think it could get worse, but it did.
Finally, after I had long since made peace with the idea of getting fired for simply hanging up on this dude, he exclaims, "Wait a minute! Is that number supposed to be a lowercase or an uppercase one?”
Weather Or Notbrown and black grilled meatPhoto by Fábio Alves on Unsplash
I worked as a server at a higher-end steakhouse that had a beautiful patio. I was working a lunch shift on a day that was completely overcast, and it looked like it could start pouring rain any minute. Because of this, we didn’t “open up” the patio. The patio always had tables and chairs, but we didn’t open any umbrellas or set any tables.
A lady came in and asked for a seat on the patio, weird due to the weather but whatever. I walked her out to the patio and set up a table for her, and as I was walking away she asked if she could sit in a sunnier spot. None of the umbrellas were open, and there were no sunny spots because the sun was not out. I just looked at her and told her she could have her pick of any of the tables.
She looked around and it finally dawned on her that this was not patio weather. Years later, and I’m still not sure if she thought I had some magical weather powers or if she thought if she just wanted it to be sunny strongly enough, it would be.
My co-worker and I work at a deli. One day, a customer came up to them asking why their meat smelled weird. My co-worker asked, “How long have you had it?” and then the customer said, “A few months, why?” The dude never even knew that expiration dates existed. He said that his ex-wife always prepared food for him and he has never cooked for himself.
He pointed at various other foods and asked if they had expiration dates too, so my co-worker had to explain that each food had a different lifespan.
A Cut Above
A customer in our store cut up a shirt because she couldn’t get it off. She pulled scissors out of her bag and cut up the sleeve and down the side, handed it back to me, and walked off. I called after her and said, “Ma’am, you have to pay for this.” What she said next blew my mind. She said she didn't want it because it was damaged.
I then explained to her that as she was the one who damaged it, and that we can’t sell it, that she has to pay. She just looked at me and said “Well, can’t you just sew it back up?” No, that’s not how it works, lady. In the end, I contacted security and a store manager and she ended up paying for the shirt, which was $160 (it was a rather pricey brand).
So many times I'll be at work preparing to open before we open, and a customer will walk up and yank on the door without even looking and then stand back in confusion. Then I watch them read the sign that says we're closed and then inspect the sign with our hours that clearly says we don't open for another half hour, and then they start rattling the door and waving at me.
If I have to open the door and tell them to their faces that we aren't open yet, they usually just say "Oh." What is the thought process? What is going on?
Please Be Specific
Back in the late 90s, I was working retail at a dollar store. One fellow came up to me and asked, and I kid you not, "Do you have the thing with the thing that comes out?" I gave him a second to see if he would realize what he had said and provide some detail. After a beat or two, I said, "I'm sorry, sir, you will have to be a bit more specific. What thing are you looking for?"
He made hand gestures, almost as if he were pulling open a door or something, and said, "You know...one of those things with the thing that comes out." Managing not to lose my temper, I said, "Sir...What does the thing do?" He said, "It makes coffee." I said, "Are you asking if we have coffee makers that have filter baskets that can be pulled completely out?"
"Yes," he said. I replied, "No, sir, we don't have the thing with the thing that comes out, we only have the thing with the thing that swivels out. Sorry." Later, he came up to me. He held up a box of 35-gallon trash bags. He asked me, "Will these fit in that?" and he pointed at a trash can that was marked, "50 Gallons." I said, "No, sir."
He asked, "Why not?" I said, "Because that is a fifty-gallon trash can, and those are thirty-five-gallon bags." He looked at me blankly for a moment. I added, "Thirty-five is less than fifty." "Ah," he said, nodding sagely.
Weak Signalsperson holding smartphonePhoto by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash
I have had to explain to a shocking number of people that cellular signals can be blocked by structures and garages and that large buildings are well known for blocking cellular signals. I have also had to explain to a shocking number of people that battery life will vary based on usage. It will drain faster while you use it and slower while it's doing nothing.
And even more surprising is that I have to explain signal performance to people who lived through having to step outside to make a call because there was no signal inside.
Caught In A Jam
I used to work in a pancake restaurant. One day I was serving a customer, and he didn't even bother to read the menu. He asked for pancakes with some specific jam. I told him that we do not have that jam on the menu. His answer was eyebrow-raising. He said that I should go to the nearby shop and get some for him because he doesn't want to eat pancakes with anything else.
Yes, I needed to explain to an adult man that that's not how restaurants work.
I worked in a coffee-shop/bookstore. We specialized in manga and comic books, and you could either buy them or take a drink and read for as long as you wanted. Like, we didn't have any restrictions; you could read for eight hours by buying a coffee. However, I still had to explain multiple times a day that yes, you must order and pay for a drink if you want to sit and read.
There was a good library where you could go to read for free, but we were a business and needed to make money. I've had people insulting me because of this.
Making A Case
I worked at an electronics store, and some lady came in to buy a charging case for her iPhone. The case has a battery that can charge your phone a couple of times. Well, she was asking what the cable inside the box was for, which was a micro USB cable. I explained that it's to charge the battery in the case. She didn't understand.
I explained that the case has a battery in it and that you need to charge up that battery. Then, your phone goes in the case and if your phone battery is low and you are out and about, you can turn on the case and it'll recharge your phone. It has enough battery capacity to charge your phone usually once. There was a long pause as I anticipated what she would say next.
She goes, "Wait so you have to charge up the case?" I say, "Yeah." She responds "Oh well, that's stupid.” So I ask, "What's stupid about that?" She says, "Well that's stupid that you have to charge it, you shouldn't need to do that." So I say: "Ma'am, if the manufacturer figured out the global solution for unlimited electricity I don't think they'd be selling phone cases."
She gave me a super-angry expression, you know the one where she thinks she's still right and stormed off.
A Server’s Regret
I’ll always regret that I made my manager do this because I honestly didn’t know what to do. An old woman came in, she didn’t look too old, probably in her early 70s, and she comes in with her daughter and grandkids. I seat them at the only open section with the only waitress who is on at the moment. That waitress happens to be Black.
After I seat them with her a few minutes later, the old lady comes up to me and asks for a non-Black waitress. As a teen, I had no clue what to do and just got my manager. Now I wish I told her how awful she was.
Smoke Signalswhite toilet paper roll on brown wooden tablePhoto by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
I had to explain to a customer that toilet paper rolls shouldn't be returned to a store because it was not a decent thing to do. Oh, but it got grosser. She had used them all. I also had to explain to this same woman that the disabled staff member who couldn't talk didn't intend to scare or offend her by making noises at her and smiling.
I live in France. Here we use AZERTY keyboards instead of QWERTY. That's just how it is and it's been like that for decades. I had to explain to some foreign dude that no, unfortunately, we did not have any QWERTY keyboards in stock, but he could order one online and that no, it wasn't a conspiracy. He started shouting in the store that this was an attack on human rights and brainwashing.
That’s A Stretch
I had to explain to an adult woman that the rubber bands that were accidentally left on her lobster's claws were indeed not edible. I had assured her that they were safe for the food, you just couldn’t eat them. Not a minute later, I was called back after she attempted to eat said bands. Her teenage child just stared at her like she had three heads.
I worked furniture retail over 20 years ago before we had a name for "Karen," but they certainly existed. I had to explain, slowly like I was talking to a child, to a grown woman that she could not return her glass-top patio table that she left out all winter. The glass top was smashed, swept up, and put into a box that was now in front of me.
She couldn't fathom why I was saying no. She had kids with her watching this behavior. Future Karens.
On Thin Ice
I teach kids to ice skate. Parents are asked out of the rink once the kids are ready. A parent of a two-year-old insists that they cannot leave their child alone. I explained that the coaches are here to help and look after the child, but the parent just kept repeating, “I will not be leaving him, he is unable to walk.”
Come on! Why do you sign up your two-year-old for skating if your child is unable to walk on normal land, let alone with skates on? I didn’t think I’d have to have this conversation with an adult. Multiple times.
Loonies, No Greenbackswaving Canada flagPhoto by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash
That this is Canada and we do not take US cash in exchange for goods at our store, despite being a US-based multinational brand. I never thought someone would scream so hard and so close to my face that my hair blew back. It was a surprising exchange that I still think about 15 years later. Ma'am, we are a different country entirely.
“Don’t Throw A Fit”
That when I tell you we are out of stock, it means there is zero inventory. There isn’t some magical special inventory we keep for special customers who complain and dance around the subject. No matter how much you try to weasel it out of me, we don’t have it! So tired of having to explain to adults, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
While I worked at Wal-Mart, a middle-aged couple danced around me in the aisle I was stocking for a good five minutes before the guy just straight-up asked me where he could find the batteries for his vibrator. His wife was hiding around the corner. I calmly asked, well what kind of batteries does it take? He looked at me with shame and told me he didn't know.
I then asked if they had brought the vibrator with them so we could take the batteries out to see. For my sake, they hadn't brought it in with them. I suggested they go home and open it and find out what kind it needed. I also suggested maybe a hearing aid battery or watch battery because I had never used a vibrator before and didn't know what they needed.
They went away yelling at each other for not opening it up to see what it needed.
Too many times I need to explain the basics of business to grown adults. For example, to process a return, you need either the receipt or the physical product with you. Realistically, you should have both. If it’s just the receipt, you could have just kept the “defective” item. If it’s just the item, you could have stolen it or bought an identical thing at a cheaper retailer.
Most stores are fairly lenient with this because they don’t want trouble, and most customers are at least 60% honest. You can’t just go up to a register and say, “I bought some produce here and they went bad too fast. I don’t know what they’re called or how much I paid, I want a refund.” Beyond that, people think that the absolute basics of a business are a “scam” when they first start figuring out that what we charge for items is more than what we pay the farmer or factory or artist.
When customers at stores or restaurants “do the math” themselves, they are constantly thinking things like, “I can make this dish for $5 at home if I also use my existing pantry staples, why is it $22 at the fancy gastropub?” or “I can get yarn at JoAnn’s for $7, why does this sweater cost $40?” They usually come to the extremely wrong conclusion “You just want to make money!”
Yeah, we do. In addition to the 900 other things that create higher costs for consumer goods other than raw materials, yes, businesses want to make a profit. And it’s impossible to explain that to an infuriated customer in a polite way. Once a customer starts saying that “big businesses only want to make money,” the only way to answer their questions is both involved and extremely condescending. Turns out the response is not to answer their concerns at all.
Taking The Temperature
I never thought anybody would need to be told “Yes, the ice cream cake, made only of ice cream, has to be kept in the freezer. No, the refrigerator won’t suffice. It will melt.” This has happened many times over the years.
When Pigs, And Buffalo, Flyfried chicken and with green vegetablesPhoto by Alexander Kovacs on Unsplash
No madam, the buffalo wings are not real buffalo.
In A Puddle
A customer once stood in a puddle that was outside our store and asked me what I was going to do about it. I had to explain to him that I do not control the weather and I can’t make it stop raining or get rid of the puddle.
Here are my top three retail experiences: 1) Yes, the can of Crisco has a picture of crispy fried chicken on it. No, the can does not contain crispy fried chicken. 2) No, birth control pills are not 100% effective. This was explained to a woman quite near her delivery. And 3) No, we don't have fans that only blow cold air. I'm sure I could come up with lots more, but these are the first three that come to mind.
In a couple of different lines of business, I've had women start to give me the "I'm a single mom" sob story. I have the perfect response. I say enthusiastically "I am, too!" and you can see the wind go right out of their sails. Yeah, I'm not going to cut them a deal out of pity.
Tough To Swallow
I once picked up my prescription for an anti-emetic and the pharmacist gave me suppositories. My prescription was for pills. The pharmacist insisted that's what my doctor ordered. I pointed to the label that specified to take one by mouth every four hours as needed. She still insisted she was correct and my doctor intended for me to swallow a suppository every four hours.
Any Port In A Stormman in brown jacket beside carPhoto by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
Customer: "The package carrier says they delayed my package due to a hurricane! I paid for overnight shipping! Your company is trash." Me: “Sir, we didn't delay your package. The carrier is a different company. And there is a literal hurricane over the distribution center.”
A Pain In The Rear
As a pharmacist, I had to explain to a man that you need to take the suppositories out of their foil packaging before you use them. He complained that they didn't work and were uncomfortable. I bet they were.
No Book Smarts
No, the library does not stock every book in existence.
I worked at the airport and someone wanted to go through TSA with a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. I calmly explained that liquids weren’t allowed through security. The man gave the most genuine chuckle I’ve ever heard, and revealed the bizarre truth. He said, “This isn’t Coca-Cola! It’s gasoline!” My coworker beat me to a reaction when he very loudly exclaimed, “What the HECK?”
Life Is A Box Of Chocolates
This conversation ended with a customer throwing a large bag of Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion potato chips at my head. It was a woman who came into the store looking to buy a box of chocolates. But there was one huge problem. She didn’t have any money. So this customer proposed that she take the chocolates now and come back later to pay when she had money.
“Do you expect me to go all the way home and bring back the money?” she asked. I said, “Yes, because other than that it’s called shoplifting and we will call security.” “But I need these,” she pleaded. I just said no. That’s when the chips started flying.