As in any retail job, sometimes you have to kick people out of the store at the end of the day, whether they’re just oblivious to the time of night or don’t care enough about wasting your time. I have two stories about having to do such a thing. Both take place while I was closing the store alone.
Even though our store closes at 9:00, I often start the closing tasks around 8:30, especially when I’m working alone. By 8:50 I’ve generally got everything cleaned up and one of our two tills shut down. A man – tall, broad build, shaved head – has been browsing the store since about 8:45 and so would have been at least vaguely aware of me scurrying around doing all my end-of-day tasks.
When 9:00 rolls around I shut one of the doors and turn off our overhead TV that blares trailers in order to let customers know it’s time to leave without having to actually tell them to get out. The man in the store with me (it’s just the two of us at this point) either didn’t notice or didn’t care about my subtle signs that it’s time to leave, so from my position behind the counter I gently say, “Hey there, afraid it’s time for me to close up now.” He looks over his shoulder at me, then turns back to staring at the Playstation wall with a disinterested “Okay.”
I don’t deal with confrontation well but I also know I can’t have him in here any longer. So, a little louder, I say, “Unfortunately that means I’m going to need you to leave, so I can close the store.” The man faces me and says, “Oh, it’s okay, you can go ahead and close. I’m just looking.”
“What?” I am seriously confused by his reaction. He continues, “I don’t actually plan to buy anything today, I just want to look around, so I won’t screw up your tills or anything. You can close the store with me in here, right? I’ll just leave when you’re done.” At this point I am open-mouthed gaping a little, willing a response to come out of my mouth. I can’t believe someone actually believes that I would be okay doing something like that. When I recover, I firmly tell him, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. You’re going to have to go.” Fortunately, there was no altercation beyond that. But did he realize how scary of a situation that was to put me in? I’m going to guess probably not. So I’ll say this:
Men: you have to be aware of what your actions can look like or feel like to a girl, even if your intentions are harmless. I’m sure the man in the above tale really did just want to peruse PS3 games. But a tall man with a big build requesting to be locked inside a store with a lone girl? That looks bad, and feels very scary.
This story starts very much the same way as the last, except this time the male customer was playing the MLB 15 demo on our Playstation 4. Now, it’s important to note that the PS4 is set up immediately beside the door, so when 9:00 hit and I made a bit of a show of closing one door, pulling in the bin in the doorway and turning off the TV, I expected a reaction of some sort. He didn’t even flinch.
Since I was near the door, I had to pass by him to get back to the counter, and said, “Hey, sorry, but it’s closing time.” which was met with a quiet “Okay”. But he didn’t move at all. I glanced at the TV and saw that he was mid-inning in the game, so I figured maybe he just really wanted to finish with that one batter and would go after that. So I shuffled around a little bit, organizing the walls and whatnot, waiting. When that batter was done, I expected him to set the controller down and leave. Nope. He selected “next” and the next batter stepped up to the plate.
In a bit of a firmer tone, I said, “It’s past 9:00, so I really need to be closing up now.” Again, he said, “Okay.” But he still didn’t budge. I was so confused. Did he not understand that what I was saying meant I needed him to leave? I watched him for another few seconds as he lined up yet another batter.
“So… I really need to lock up now.” I repeated from behind the counter. No response, just a fixed gaze on the TV. The situation had quickly become unnerving. It’s not like I could forcibly remove him from the store, and if I got any more aggressive I wouldn’t be able to predict how he’d react. I thought about calling security, but when the mall closes they’re all stationed by the banks, so it would probably be a long wait for them to respond… if there was even anyone in the office to take the call. I decided to try one more time.
“Look, I hate to say this, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” I was a little louder and more forceful that time. As if I had just asked him for the first time, he went, “Oh, okay.” and immediately put down the controller and left.
Putting me in a situation where I need to get aggressive in order to get you to leave a store where I’m working alone is just not okay. If someone tells you it’s closing time, that means it’s time to leave. Please be aware that it’s awkward and uncomfortable, and girls are afraid to assert themselves when they don’t understand what the possible ramifications of doing so could be.