Crossed Boundaries

My husband was watching the show Sullivan & Son the other night when I heard a clip that sent me running to the living room to watch. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the humor of watching a train wreck unfolding…and not just because it involved a karaoke contest in a bar. The scene that caught my eye and made me giggle uncomfortably? Mother/son dirty karaoke. Obviously bars are a great place to find inappropriate behavior. Check it out and see if you don’t find yourself both laughing and embarrassed!

Okay, so in the course of life, awkward moments happen. It adds to the humor in life. In fact, I’ve seen some pretty interesting things back when I worked in hospitals. Retail has had more than it’s share of “unique situations”. There have been moments where I thought maybe I should bring a sign to hold up as a warning so people would know when they were crossing boundaries.

Boundary Warning

Boundary Warning

Sometimes people are unknowingly inappropriate or at least they pretend to be. My first year in retail began during the Christmas holiday season. I still recall a little old lady that looked like one of those little old church grannies. You know, the type who still get dressed up in their Sunday best to go shopping? I’d be surprised if she was a day under 80. I was working by myself one morning when she walked up to me and asked where we carried our “massagers”. Me, I pictured one of those manual ones…with the giant bumps or rollers that you run over your skin. Yeah…not at all what she was talking about.

Her: Where can I find your massagers?
Me: (Looking at her dumbly and thinking, you do know this is a retail electronic store, not Walmart, right?) Massagers?
Her: Yes. Personal massagers. I saw them in this Sunday’s advertisement.
Me: (quizzical look on my face) For here? As an electronic store, we don’t normally carry massagers. What did it look like?
Her: (Makes hand motions that look an awful lot like stroking a cock) The personal massager is cylindrical shaped…(hand motion) like this. I don’t recall if it plugs into a wall or uses batteries.
Me:(Blinking and thinking “personal massager”, my eye! Granny’s looking for a vibrator. Wonder if I should send her to Giggles up the street?) I’m sorry, ma’am. We don’t carry anything even vaguely resembling that here.

Sometimes inappropriate behavior can be a bit flirty. I still remember a guy who came to one of my retail locations with a water damaged phone. Apparently it had vibrated into the sink at the airport when he left it sitting on the soap dispenser to wash his hands and he received a call. After I’d pulled his battery and put it back in, I powered it back on. The screen didn’t come up, but the device showed signs of life by the strongest vibrations I’ve ever felt in a phone.

Him: Did you fix it? Were you able to make it work?
Me: (I placed the phone in his hand) Not exactly. Here, feel.
Him:  (With a wink and a smile) You’re welcome to keep it, darlin’. I think it’ll do more for you than me.
Me: (Laughing) Wow! I’m impressed. You really went there. I think I like you.

What can I say, he was flirty, fun, with a southern accent…and kind of hot. I really didn’t mind!

Unfortunately, there are also the ones that will completely creep you out. There was a man who approached me for help in selecting a webcam back in the early 2000’s. They were just becoming popular so I didn’t think much of it….until he decided to elaborate.

Him: I want the best possible webcam I can buy under $50.
Me: I’ll be happy to help with that. Webcams are this way.
Him: It’s gotta be good enough so people can see real good. You heard of voyeur dorms? My girlfriend and I are gonna do something like that.
Me: (trying not to roll my eyes or make a rude comment…the guy was in his 40’s with a scraggly beard and not very clean. In fact, he kind of looked like a meth head.) I see.
Him: We’re gonna get rich. People are going to pay a lot of money to watch us. It’ll be me, my girlfriend and her daughter.
Me: (blinking) These are probably the best webcams in the range you mentioned. For what you’re planning, you may want to consider investing in something more than a webcam.
Him: Maybe once the money comes rolling in. For now, I’ll get one of these. You know, I like you. You seem like a cool chick. Wanna see a picture of my girlfriend and her daughter?
Me: (attempting to subtly back away) Uh….
Him:(Pulls out a picture of two women who were definitely related by blood and totally naked, together in poses I never wanted to see) That’s my girlfriend and that’s her daughter (he points them out). Hot, huh? She had this done for me for my birthday.
Me: (Nodding and lifting hand in goodbye gesture) Have a nice day.

Yeah, after dealing with that guy I felt like I needed a shower in the worst way. He was totally sleazy in the creepiest sense of the word.

Personally, I’d take the two Italian guys from Jersey over that guy any day. That one was odd on a totally different level. It wasn’t appropriate, but it was at least in a universe that didn’t involve potential mother/daughter action. Yuck. As for the guys from Jersey? I walked into one of my retail locations one day to find my supervisor frustrated and in need of advice. Apparently the two guys one of my reps was dealing with had a tendency to come in, be as loud and obnoxious as possible…and chose not to censor their vocabulary. This meant curse words flew frequently. They were business customers and high revenue, so my supervisor didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the account. The problem was that they rubbed everyone the wrong way with the exception of one of my reps. She had a tendency to be a bit gossipy and loudmouthed herself.

That particular day was the first time I’d seen them. Observing them from a distance I noticed that they were scaring off some of my other customers, particularly the ones with small children. Unwilling to lose the business and used to dealing with this particular type of personality, I decided it was time for me to step in.

Me: Hi gentleman, how are you today?
My Employee: Guys, this is my boss.
Guy:(Though there were two guys, one only greeted me, the other was the real loudmouth) So what kind of discount can you give us on our shit? We want to upgrade. We spend a lot of money here.
Me: And we appreciate your business, but before I discuss those options with you, let me be clear about something. You need to lower your voice and watch your language. This is a family friendly establishment and my employees are on commission. I really don’t appreciate you coming in here and scaring off my customers. If you are unable to conduct yourself more professionally I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Are we clear?
Guy: (Hands up) We were only having fun.
Me: And I appreciate that. We want you to enjoy doing business with us. It’s completely unacceptable when your “Having fun” (And yes, I used air quotes on him) causes me to lose business and scares my customers away. If this happens again you can do all your business by phone. Do we understand each other?
Guy: Yes, ma’am!
Me: (Nods) Great. I’m glad we understand each other. Have a nice day, gentlemen.
Guy: (Leans over to my employee and stage whispers) Oh, my God. How much do you think I’d have to pay to have her smack me around?
My Employee: (Nods) Now you’re talking about the right woman.

Yeah…there’s no question the employee was reprimanded for making a comment like that to a customer. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t entertained, though. Apparently he was very wealthy, unhappily married and headed for divorce….and was serious about paying me to spank him. Did I do it? Nope.

What about you? What kind of wild, wooly, inappropriate or downright creepy things have you run into in your workplaces? Help me start Monday off with a bit of disbelief and laughter…

36 thoughts on “Crossed Boundaries

  1. Professor Taboo says:

    Dealing with “the public” is always an unexpected adventure; (in my best Forrest Gump voice) “You never know what you’re gonna get…”

    As you may remember Kitt, I once worked in a psych-A&D hospital as an intake coordinator for possible inpatient admissions. One evening a 40-50 year old schizophrenic woman, off her meds, came in wanting help. Our receptionist in the front lobby asked her to go right down the hall to our library (often used for walk-in assessments by our staff) and she’d have me speak with her. I walked in and there she sat in all her glory… no blouse or bra on; just she and her swollen headlights starring at me. You see, she COULDN’T keep her clothes on because “ants or some kind of insects kept getting inside her shirt and bra.”

    I did the fastest, most professional 15-minute assessment I had ever done in my psych-A&D career! When I walk back into my office my two coworkers are rolling on the floor laughing at me. A day I will never forget. 🙂


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Oh, yeah…if you clicked on my link to the “Awkward Emergencies” post you know that I have a true appreciation for the wacky and weird that happen in hospitals.

      You know…I didn’t even mention in this post the guy who walked into our store first thing in the morning wearing nothing but “the emperor’s new clothes”… Yes, pretty sure substances or a psychotic break of some sort were active participants in that moment.

      Life is so interesting because off these off the beaten path moments. Thank you so much for sharing gave me a laugh.

      On a side note…because of the gender difference and her not being “all there” did you keep a door open for your protection? You know, do she couldn’t late sue claiming you might have done inappropriate things to her? Sad that it even has to be a concern, but between harassment and assault, things have been known to go awry quickly.


      • Professor Taboo says:

        You make a great point. Unfortunately, I can’t remember. However, due to the context and being a psych-A&D hospital, we must adhere to laws of confidentiality. Our supervisor (female) was already gone for the day, but 24-years later now I guess I should have called a nurse from our Acute Unit to do the assessment, huh? Count my lucky stars there! 🙂


  2. brickhousechick says:

    Oh Boy! You’ve got some doozies, Kitt! Retail is the perfect scenario for such behavior from inappropriate people! I used to manage a bank and saw my share of “behaviors”. I had to tell a customer to stop coming on to my tellers to which he responded, “the customer is always right”. I calmly escorted him out of the bank and told him he was not welcomed.


  3. filbio says:

    Ha! Now these are some funny, and creepy stories. Good Monday so far! So many creepers in the workplace nowadays. No wonder every year now HR makes us all watch that sexual harrassment video.

    I never watch Sullivan & Son. I have seen a few bad karaoke scenes just like that between family members and I literally want to vomit.


  4. jansenschmidt says:

    Okay, Susie sent me, but I already knew how to find you. I didn’t realize you had such juicy posts in the past. I’ll have to make it a point to swing by here more often.

    (I tried to subscribe, but I don’t ever receive any notifications. I signed up again today.)

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  5. susielindau says:

    When I first started reading this, I thought I must have some equally uncomfortable moments from working retail, but nothing like these! Whoa!
    Thanks for bringing this to the party! Great stories!


  6. 4amWriter says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog during Susie’s party.

    This was a funny post. I don’t have any stories that quite measure up to yours! I don’t know what I’d do if any of those incidents happened to me — I get embarrassed so easily!


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