The Career Complainer: Traits of a Retail Asshole

They’re out there. You know who they are. And they won’t stop until they’ve got the shirt off your back on top of a generous discount for their troubles.

The Professional Complainer, or “Serial Complainer” is that person who comes into your job and complains until they get a discount or something for free. When I worked at the movie theater it was a daily occurrence as theaters are notorious for giving out free tickets just to shut people up.

I have a list for my book of the ten most common customer types you’ll have to deal with and the Professional Complainer actually shares attributes with three worst offenders:
Customer #8: The Bargain Hunter
Customer #9: Danny Ocean (The Scam Artist)
Customer #10: Your Royal Majesty (The Entitled)

They are not fun to deal with and can ruin your day. They don’t have any qualms about getting you fired to get their way. We joke a lot about the idle threats of “I’m calling corporate” from people, but with this person it’s anything but idle. Sometimes they double-down and make a complaint to corporate even after you’ve given them the keys to the store because, most likely, they’re going to get another freebie out of it.

Ways to spot a Pro:

Chances are, you can spot these people a mile away. But just in case you’re new, here’s some tips.

-Physical description
Sorry if I offend anyone, but the most common of serial complainers are middle-aged to older white women, usually decently dressed with a short “can-I-see-the-manager” haircut. Not all the time, but most of the time. Hey, I didn’t invent racial profiling, I just know the type when I see it.

-Comes in with unverifiable complaints
Today’s pro came in complaining she had a delivery order that was missing an item. She had no receipt or record of the order. And when the manager offered to give her the item she insisted on an upgrade to what she already supposedly paid for. This is typical. It’s always something that happened on their last visit. If pressed for details, they don’t remember who waited on them or, sometimes, what day they were even there. If you’re working in a service industry the complaint will come directly after the service has been rendered (they complain about a meal after they’ve eaten it or had an issue in a theater after they’ve watched the entire movie). If you press them even a little they go on the offensive since you’re now accusing them of trying to scam you.

-Nasty with floor staff, nice to the manager
This is because the manager has the power of appeasement that you do not. Also, if they can turn you nasty then it all works out better for them in the end. They really just need to paint a picture that they were treated like garbage and recompense is needed.

-Threats
They’ll threaten to hurt your business by ways up to and including; never shopping there again, telling all their friends not to come there, contacting corporate, blasting the business on social media, blogging or tweeting (always with an inflated number of followers), writing to the local papers, and contacting the Better Business Bureau. All of these threats are 100% NOT IDLE, except, of course, that they’ll never come back. If they get what they want, you bet your sweet bippy they’ll return. And sorry, you can’t avoid them acting on one or more of these threats. As I said, even if they’re appeased in the store, they can still get more.
So what can you do about it? Sorry to say, most of the time the answer is “not a damn thing”. You can either sit there and be abused or just give them what they want. One way or another, they’re going to get it. You know it and, more importantly, they know it.

If you’re a sales employee I’d recommend referring them to a manager before they get a chance to blow it out of proportion. Hopefully your manager is cool and won’t blame you for pissing them off. In my experience, you have a 50/50 chance of them taking your side after the incident. But you know your managers. Try to call one who knows the drill and won’t make it out to be your fault that you made their job harder. It helped at a former workplace to have an inconspicuous code you can call them with so they know what to expect. One thing managers hate is being blindsided with this crap.

If you’re the manager you have two choices; give them what they want or turn them away and deal with the complaint when it inevitably comes. The sad truth is most home offices don’t want to deal with complaints, legitimate or not, and will tell you that you should’ve dealt with the issue then and there.

So there you have it; my take on this ever annoying customer. You can’t avoid it, they’re coming and they’re coming today. Be on the guard and do what you can to survive. This one’s a motherfucker.

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And, We’re Back! Join Us For The 2018 52 Week Short Story Writing Challenge!

SM CADMAN

And, We’re Back! Join Us For The 2018 52 Week Short Story Writing Challenge!

To see what we did during 2016 with this, you can check that out here:
https://smcadman.com/2016/09/10/the-52-week-short-story-writing-challenge/ and https://smcadman.com/?s=52+weeks.

We’ll be doing this across a few websites this year, and @FuckinPrompts at https://milklunchbiscuits.wordpress.com is back again to help with the writing prompts. The first prompts will go up on Saturday March 17th, 2018 and they will be St. Patrick’s Day themed prompts. Like last year, we’ll put up a prompt (or several) every Saturday and the short story will be due the following Friday. We’ll be on @millandonemag and their website/magazine where I’m doing content, writing and graphics for them at https://amillionandonemagazine.com. And of course, be sure to follow @iamkjmarshall at https://authorkjmarshall.com/ and @BudgieBigelow at https://budgiebigelow.com/ too. The rules and details are below. 

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Say Goodbye to Madame George

George entered his one-bedroom apartment, pulling Gene behind him by the hand. At least he said his name was Gene. It didn’t really matter, George supposed. Not that “George” was his given name either. It was par for the course, as they say.

This moment had actually been a long time coming for George, or “Madame George” as he called himself that evening. It took a long time to build up the courage to finally stumble into that sexy blue dress he bought so many months ago, strap on the perfectly matched heels it had taken him forever to find in men’s sizes, do his make-up like he’d been practicing and put on that shockingly pink wig he’d bought for the occasion.

He hit the bar scene in Ybor City that night, knowing which area would welcome him for what he was. Flirting with men made him nervous at first, but it got easier as the night went on. Apparently, he made an attractive woman, which made him feel more comfortable approaching or being approached. And it was nice when the men bought all his drinks for him.

And Gene was one such man. He approached innocuously enough with that old “I haven’t seen you here before” line. George thought he was handsome enough with his tight curls of light brown hair, face stubble, and just-a-little-doughy physique. They chatted for a while and, eventually, George decided to invite him home.

“I’ve got a bottle of wine if you’re interested,” said George.

“Sounds good,” said Gene as he put his jacket over a kitchen chair.

Gene seemed like a good fit for George’s first foray into this life. He was more masculine than the men George expected to encounter in the Ybor gay bar scene. But here was this man, a real man, who wanted him. It was exactly how George wanted the night to go.

As George turned the corkscrew he said, in his best womanly lilt, “I’m so glad you decided you come by. I thought it might have been a little forward for me to offer.”

“It’s all good,” said Gene.

The cork freed from the bottle. George pulled two glasses from the counter next to the sink and poured out two healthy servings. He turned to Gene, who was closer now than he realized, and handed him one. They stood facing each other in the small kitchen, clinked glasses and smiled at each other.

“To new experiences,” said George.

“Oh,” said Gene. “Is this your first time?”

George swallowed a sip of wine. “It is actually,” he said. “Is that okay?”

“Fine with me,” said Gene. “I mean, I’ve been with a trans woman before, just none as good looking as you.” He laughed nervously.

“That’s sweet of you to say, hun,” said George, actually feeling his face flush. “I’m not actually trans though, just saying.”

“Oh no?”

“Nope!” said George. “I’m just me; Madame George!” He smiled.

Gene didn’t return the smile. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I just assumed because you were at the bar in that dress that maybe you were transgendered. I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.”

“It’s fine,” said George, taking another sip of wine. He noticed Gene hadn’t been drinking his. “I like to dress as a woman, but I don’t see myself as a woman, if that makes sense.”

“It makes perfect sense,” said Gene. “There’s plenty of gay guys out there who like to crossdress at the bars.”

George knew he should have let it go, but now the wine was mixing with the various other cocktails of the night and he found it hard to keep his tongue.

“I mean, wouldn’t really call myself gay, either.”

Gene’s eyebrows contracted. “So, bi?”

“I don’t know,” said George. “I try not to think about it.” He finished off his wine in one final gulp. “It is what it is, you know?”

“Well, I mean, it’s one or the other right?” said Gene. “You’re not trans, you’re not gay, but you come into a gay bar in that dress and let me pick you up and take you home. It’s something.”

“I’m sorry,” said George. “I just never put a label on it is all.”

“But I just don’t see how you’d want to fuck a man while wearing a dress and not, at the very least, be bi.”

“Just don’t worry about it, okay?”

“I don’t know,” said Gene. “I just don’t get it.”

George lowered his voice. He reached out and took Gene’s hand. “You don’t have to get it. You got me, okay.”

Gene was looking down at George’s hand in his own. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just kind of like, what even are you?”

George let go of Gene’s hand. “Why is this such a big deal? It’s just something I want to do.”

“I just thought I was taking home a transsexual is all,” said George. “Transgendered. Shit. Sorry. And if you’re just a crossdresser, that’s fine and all, but now you won’t even say that you’re gay and I have no idea what you’re even getting from this.”

“I get it,” said George, forgetting the pretense of his feminine vocal act. “You’re one of those chasers. You just go around looking for transwomen. It’s just like a fetish to you guys. You don’t really care about the person at all, do you?”

“Look, I’m sorry okay,” said Gene.

George looked away, refusing to meet his glance.

“Come on, baby,” he said, taking George’s hand again. “You’re beautiful, okay? I couldn’t wait to get you home.”

“Yeah?” said George.

Gene moved in closer. “Yeah.”

Gene’s arms were around George’s waist now. He tried to kiss him but George turned his head away.

“Come on,” said Gene. “Don’t be like that.”

He kissed George’s neck. George inhaled sharply through his nose and closed his eyes.

“I’ve just been dying to suck your dick all night,” said Gene.

George pushed tighter into Gene’s body. “Oh yeah?”

Gene removed an arm from George’s waist and reached under his dress, stroking his hard cock against his silk panties.

George moaned softly in Gene’s ear. “That’s nice,” he said.

“You want it, don’t you?” said Gene.

“Mmmhmm,” replied George, feeling his breath become heavy.

“I knew it,” said Gene. “I knew you couldn’t wait to be my little cum-slut.”

George shoved Gene off of him and into the kitchen table.

“Okay,” he said. “You need to get the fuck out of here.”

Gene put his hands out to his sides. “What?!”

“This just isn’t how I wanted this to go,” said George. He swallowed the ball in his throat as best he could. “I wanted a real experience and not just to be someone’s fucking fetish.”

“Oh, you’re going to get all judgmental on me?” said Gene. “You get the high road here? You’re not even trans, you’re not even gay, so you say, and you’re out in a dress lookin’ to fuck a dude? And I’m the one trying to satisfy a fetish?”

“That’s not what this was about,” said George, unable to look at him.

“No?” said Gene. “Then I’m sure as fuck at a loss, because none of this shit makes sense to me. Seriously, what the fuck even are you?”

The tears came to George’s eyes. “I don’t… I don’t know, alright? I’m just… just…” He put his hands in the air. “Madame George.”

“Yeah, about that,” said Gene. “If you’re going out as a woman, why is that the name you go with? Why not a woman’s name for fucks sake?”

George had one hand on his elbow and the other covered his face. He shook his head. “It’s… it’s a song. ‘Madame George’ is a song. Van Morrison. It’s a song.”

Gene shrugged. “Well I ain’t ever heard it.”

George finally looked at him, his eyes a blotch of tears and make-up. “Can you please just go?”

“Fine,” said Gene grabbing his jacket from the back of the chair. “Whatever. If you’re just gonna bring me back here to be a fuckin’ dick-tease then whatever. It was nice seeing you. Thanks for inviting me over for your existential crisis or whatever this was.” As he walked out he said “Waste of a fucking evening,” and slammed the door behind him.

George pulled out a chair and collapsed into it. He hung his head and put his hands over his face. The memories of everything that lead to this night looped in his head:

The first time he masturbated wearing his girlfriend’s panties. Trading dick pics with random guys he met on the internet, sometimes with the panties on. His girlfriend leaving when she found out about it. All those months of dieting and hours in the gym just to be fit enough to pull it off. Shopping for months just to find the perfect blue dress, perfectly matched heels, and that vibrant, pink wig that would be absolutely perfect for Madame George’s debut.

And it all led to this night. This night. This is what it led to. And that was just too damn much.

George whipped off that pink wig and hurled it into the trash can across the small kitchen and brought his hand back to his face. He couldn’t help the heaving of chest as he began to sob. He couldn’t even say why.

Wasted Talent, Wasted Years: A Cautionary Tale

Today I had had a conversation with another writer and was inadvertantly reminded of my past with the craft. She basically praised me (unduly I’d say) for how smart, creative, and talented I was. This brought up some memories for me.

I actually started writing in high school. I had an English teacher, Mrs. O’Leary, who loved any writing assignment I turned in. She convinced me that I couldn’t ever be anything other than a writer. This continued into my creative writing class in college (one of the only courses I actually completed) as well as my dealings with other writers on the internet and even some friends and coworkers I shared my work with. I was constantly being praised.

I was certain I was going to be God’s greatest gift to literature. I didn’t need to “find my voice”. I already had my voice. And my voice was fuckin’ awesome!

And I did write a lot in my early twenties. Most of it was, looking back, romantic wish-fulfillment almost always featuring a protagonist named “Kyle Turner” who was just so obviously me. There were a few works I still feel had potential, but they were all either unfinished or rushed, with no real meat to them.

In 2006 I mashed together a few different ideas in my head that would form an outline for what would be my first novel, “Paint”. I even bought a $1700 laptop on which to write it.

But when it came time to hunker down and write the fuckin’ thing I found the scope of such a project, combined with the fact that I had no idea how to end it, just too intimidating. I failed to get past the first 2,000 words and, instead, decided to go back to smaller projects to hone my skill. Most of those projects were never completed or, more accurately, barely started. And “Paint” is still something that plays out in my head to this very day.

So what went wrong?

It all goes back to how in love with myself I was. Again, I was certain, absolutely certain, that I was going to be a great writer. I was going to be rich and famous. I was going to be taught in high school. I spent hours contemplating what my pen-name would be. I practiced answers to interview questions in my head. I already decided what songs would be on the soundtracks of the movie adaptions. I was looking into publishers for work I hadn’t even started. I was working out my autobiography to detail events that hadn’t even happened yet. I mean, shit, when Mrs. O’Leary died I wasn’t even upset that she died, I was upset that she never got to read all the amazing prose I was sure to produce. What a self-adoring little turd I was. You’d think I would just ejaculate words from my fingertips.

But no. The words dried up pretty quickly and never came back. I was so intimidated by my own expectations that if what I was writing wasn’t fourteen-carat gold then it wasn’t worth writing. I was so caught up waiting for the inspiration for the next great work of literature or for my writing to magically get better overnight that I didn’t pen a single, goddamn, motherfuckin’ word. And I probably left a lot of decent work on the table because of it.

Now that I’m older I can look back and see that many of those people might have just been being nice or that the reason they saw so much potential was because I was so young. But I couldn’t see that I still had a long way to go to hone that ability that I assumed was an innate truth to my character.

Recently, I’ve had a personal renaissance with my love of writing. True, I still barely write anything, but I can look at where I have to go as a writer and what I need to do to get better in a more realistic way and not expect to be goddamn Leo Tolstoy right out of the gate.

And I do have a lot of people to thank for this resurgence in my literary passion.

All of the followers of my Twitter account, @FuckinPrompts, to start. You all made it possible for me to find myself again as a writer through the ridiculous writing prompts I post every day which were originally intended for my own personal use.

And my new bestest friend, Sari (@SMCADMAN), who lauds everything I post and tells me all the time to keep going. She really seems to want to keep me writing.

And, of course, there’s one person who pushed me into this more than anyone. That would be my twin brother, Budgie (@BudgieBigelow) who truly surprised me, and I think all of us, by becoming a great writer himself. It was he who convinced me to undertake Fuckin’ Prompts! to begin with and keeps pushing me every day to start writing again.

And I admire for every way he’s not like me. He doesn’t go around telling everyone what a great writer he is. He doesn’t let the notion of not being universally loved for all time intimidate him into cowering. And he writes. He just fucking writes.

It’s weird to say since we don’t get very sentimental in our family, but you’ve been the greatest inspiration to this part of my life, and for that I am truly grateful, whether I follow through or not.

My advice to the writers out there is to keep your own ridiculous expectations off the table, no matter where they come from. Every day I try to forgive myself for losing so many years to thinking I just wasn’t good enough for how good I was. Don’t talk yourself out of following this path. And for the love of god, just. Fucking.WRITE!

And I did eventually think of an ending to “Paint” and still fully intend to write it. One of these days.

The 52 Week Writing Challenge is Returning!

I recently talked to my bestest friend, Sari (@SMCADMAN on Twitter, https://smcadman.com/ on WordPress), about bringing back her 52 Week Writing Challenge. I do this because I want to support her and I see enormous potential in her to get people writing some truly great works.

The theory behind it is based on a quote from Ray Bradbury that basically says it’s near impossible to write 52 bad stories in a row. So the challenge poses a different writing prompt each week and asks that writers craft a short story based upon it. I feel like she could have the next nanowrimo here except without all the judgemental trolling that makes their program unfathomable, but that’s just me.

So why now? My motivation to talk Sari into bringing this back comes from the trolls themselves (“donks” as she calls them). One particular donk posted an invitation to join the 52 Week Challenge, complete with a link to her Pateron where you can pledge $5 in order to participate! What a deal for something that should be free to all!

So we’re bringing it back. I’m excited to say I’m going to give it another shot and see what happens and so should you be. Keep an eye out over the next couple of months. Follow Sari’s Twitter and WordPress to get in on week one. And remember, if anyone is asking you to pay to participate, let them know from us that they’re a donk.

Tag Team

ZipZop and Beanbag had been wrestling together on the GZW circuit for some time now. True, there was no bead on Vince McMahon coming to their door to sign them to a six-figure contract, but they did it because they loved to entertain. They knew, as midget wrestlers, they were a niche performance, a novelty act to bring some comic relief between bouts. Sometimes they’d team up against a full-sized wrestler and climb him like a tree. Sometimes they’d fight the women and try to pull their shirts off. Sometimes they’d even fight each other and show some real skill. It was degrading, but they loved it.

Being the only little people in the stable made them outcasts. Sure, the other wrestlers were friendly, but they always seemed patronizing. And nobody likes to be pitied. So ZipZop and Beanbag, having never met prior to GZW, became fast friends. They did everything together; ate together, fought together, shared shitty hotel rooms together, and yes, on occasion, even fucked together.

This particular dry Albuquerque night found the pair in another seedy motel room with only a queen bed, dresser, and two Mexican hookers they picked up after the show. Esmeralda had long, curly hair, stretch marks on her thighs, and sandwich-tits. Selena, the shorter one, had straight hair, track-marks, was pencil-thin and flat-chested. She looked like she’d been on the Jenny Craig all-meth diet.

ZipZop and Beanbag stood across the room dressing while the girls, still completely naked, leaned over the dresser, speaking Spanish with their heads together.

ZipZop zipped his fly and ran a hand over his greasy, bald head. “Well, that was fun,” he said.

“Sure was,” said Beanbag, who had a dust mop of blonde curls and a handsome face. He might have even done well with the ladies were he not four-foot-six.

“Sorry about the crossed daggers, by the way,” ZipZop said.

“Not a problem,” said Beanbag as he pulled his boxers to his waist. “Just, you know, don’t bring it up.”

“Sorry,” said ZipZop. “Just, you know, sorry.”

“Every fucking time,” said Beanbag. “What part of ‘don’t talk about it’ do you not understand? It’s like the rule and shit.”

“Sorry,” said ZipZop. “For mentioning it I mean. Not for… never mind.”

Beanbag sighed, shook his head and began pulling on his socks.

The girls continued their conversation, casting sideways glances to the pair.

“I wonder what they’re talking about,” said ZipZop. “Doesn’t sound good.”

“You know, I picked up some Spanish doing the luchador circuit with Half Nelson back in the day,” said Beanbag.

“So what are they saying?”

Beanbag’s eyebrows tensed in concentration while he listened for a beat, sounding out the words silently with his mouth. After a moment of rushed Spanish Beanbag’s eyes widened and his face slacked.

“What is it?” asked ZipZop.

“Grim up,” said Beanbag. “This is about to get dangerous.”

“What?”

“They mean to rob us,” said Beanbag.

“Oh yeah?”

“Oh yeah.”

“I mean, you did use our stature to negotiate a discount before,” said ZipZop.

Beanbag shrugged. “Seemed fair at the time.”

Esmeralda said something to Selena and they both started to laugh.

“What was that?” asked ZipZop.

“Something about digging…” said Beanbag. “Something like ‘We won’t even have to dig that deep.’”

“Oh man,” said ZipZop. “That’s just fuckin’ ignorant.”

“I know, right!”

“Fuckin’ cunts.”

The whores leaned in closer and started speaking softly. ZipZop and Beanbag just watched, still only half-dressed.

“Well, ZipZop,” said Beanbag, “I think we’re going to have to whoop these bitches’ ass.”

“Looks that way, Beanbag,” said ZipZop.

The girls kept talking, taking sneaky glances, perhaps aware they were in for a fight.

“In case the worst should happen,” said ZipZop, “I always wondered; why ‘Beanbag?’”

Beanbag smiled. “My trainer thought it would be funny for some reason,” he said. “Like a nut sac. You?”

ZipZop kept his eyes on the girls. “I always liked Bill Cosby.” Beanbag chuckled.

The girls were done talking. They stood from the dresser and started to walk toward the wrestlers, Selena with, god knows where she hid it, a switchblade.

“Well, this is it,” said ZipZop.

“Yup.”

“Which one you want?”

“Hey!” said Beanbag, slapping ZipZop in the arm with the back of his hand. “Déjà vu!”

ZipZop laughed, looking at the floor and shaking his head. He sighed. “I love you, man.”

Beanbag smiled. “You fuckin’ queer.”

Selena came at Beanbag, threatening him with the switchblade. But Beanbag was too fast for that. He sprung forward and managed to wrap his arms around her waist, locking his fingers together. With a practiced skill, Beanbag spun behind her. He leaned back, using gravity against her, and executed a perfect suplex, slamming her head into the floor. Hopefully, if he was lucky, he’d have broken the bitch’s neck.

ZipZop squared his feet and hit Esmeralda in the gut with a quick haymaker. As she doubled over he took a few steps back, got a running start, and scissor-kicked her in the face. She fell backwards, the small of her back hitting the bed frame on her way down.

Beanbag jumped onto the corner of the mattress, letting the creaking springs propel him into the air, aiming to hit Selena with a hard elbow-drop. But she acted fast, rolling out of the way just in time for Beanbag to land face-first on the ground.

ZipZop saw this and ran forward to throw Selena into a sleeper hold but felt a cheap hotel towel around his neck. Esmeralda had gotten up to choke ZipZop out while he was distracted. She was on her knees, holding the towel tightly around his throat. ZipZop swung wildly in her direction, but it was hard to connect at such an angle, especially with such short arms.

Darkness started to creep into the edges of ZipZop’s vision as he watched, over the corner of the bed, Beanbag struggle on the floor, pinned down underneath Selena’s naked thighs. He was hitting every bit of her he could reach, but his moves lacked their normal fluidity. He was desperate.

ZipZop thought he might pass-out as Selena leaned over and picked up the switchblade. ZipZop tried to scream but couldn’t get the air to his mouth. He let out a long, loud grunt as Selena plunged the knife over and over into Beanbag’s chest and sides as he tried to roll away.

ZipZop lost all control of his thoughts. His head went forward and then whipped back fast at Esmeralda’s face. It connected and ZipZop felt the towel slack as Esmeralda fell backward.

Sprinting forward, ZipZop leapt into the air, brought his hands together above his head and crashed his fists hard onto the bridge of Selena’s nose. He felt it crack. Selena fell off Beanbag with her hands over her broken nose, blood streaming down her face.

“Beanbag!” he croaked through his shredded throat as he went to his knees at his best friend’s side.

Beanbag tried to answer but no words came out. Only something between a cough and a hiccup as blood poured down his cheek to the floor. His breath stopped.

ZipZop got up and started towards Selena. Fuck this bitch. He was going to beat her to death if he could.

Selena had a look of terror on her bloody face. ZipZop ran at her as she thrust her hands over his face to try to hold him at bay, screaming in Spanish. ZipZop swung like crazy, unable to see anything past her fingers, arms aching worse than any other fight he’d ever been in. He connected again and again with Selena’s arms, but couldn’t get any closer.

ZipZop felt the knife scrape against a rib as it entered through his back. In all his rage and grief he had completely forgot about Esmeralda. But he didn’t care. He pushed with all his effort against Selena’s arms, still trying to get at her. He tried to pump his legs and step forward but could only feel himself falling forward, never hitting the ground.

Special thanks to Twitter buddies @BudgieBigelow, @ClownOrb and @lowericon for providing the prompts that inspired this story.