5 Horrible Things You Learn Working at a Convenience Store

#2. Lottery Addicts + Solo Shifts = Nothing Gets Done, Ever

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Despite being hotbeds of bad customers and bad situations, the majority of convenience store shifts are handled solo because it's cheaper that way. The solo worker handles customers and then takes care of other tasks (cleaning, organizing, updating their resume) in between. The second another customer arrives, though, all floor work stops, and it's time to ring once again.

Now, when it was somebody just buying soda, then I wouldn't care. However, when a lottery addict showed up, forget it; I might as well have crumpled up my to-do list and set it on fire, because I wasn't getting anything done for the rest of the day. This is everything I did when a lottery addict was in my store:

-- sell tickets

-- wait 10 seconds

-- confirm they lost; sell more tickets

-- wait 10 more seconds

-- inform them they won two bucks; sell more tickets

-- pray I win the lottery so I never have to deal with the lottery ever again

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"Thanks for the life-changing fortune; now please choke to death on scratch-off dust."

Not one bit of this is exaggerated; the second I would turn my back to stock cigarettes, organize shelves, or do anything, really, they'd come right at me, demanding more scratchies. Until they finally had enough and walked away (which took forever, since they were addicted and all), my productivity was shot.

Probably the worst case of all was when one full-time lottery addict (I'll call her Biff) came into my store and stayed for three hours, just scratching and buying, over and over again. That in itself would have been infuriating, but at various points in her marathon, she was joined by OTHER addicts, all throwing an impromptu worst party in recorded history. It was a revolving door of buy-scratch-buy-scratch-buy-scratch, and I was at their mercy.

I was also at the mercy of management, who gave me heat for not finishing my work. And yet I wasn't allowed to throw all the scratchies in the shredder so those scratching psychopaths would skedaddle sooner. They never liked my great ideas.

#1. The Customer Is Always Weird

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Want to be the ideal bad-store customer? Come in, buy your stuff, and then go elsewhere. It's simple, it's fast, and it will make us love you forever. Well, it would, except our career path has completely sucked us of our ability to love.

Many customers do not observe these simple guidelines and tend to make things more interesting, even when nobody asked them to. Usually, it was just them bitching and swearing because they didn't bring their ID, and how dare I ask for one before selling them tobacco. Then they'd get in their car and drive off in a huff.

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"What, you too?"

But others got more innovative with their strangeness, and I'm able to giggle about them now, after years of therapy. I've had old men pay for their purchases entirely in coins. That in itself wasn't strange, except they stored said coins in old, wet, dirty sweat socks. More than one old man did this, mind you, so this is apparently an old man thing. When I get to be that age, I'm forcing my family to confiscate all my socks, simply so I'm never tempted to travel down that wretched road.

But at least they used quarters and half dollars. I had another woman (I'll call her Biff) pay for a pack of cigarettes with a bag filled with nothing but pennies. They weren't wrapped or anything, which would've been helpful. She then dumped them all on the counter, which was fine because I had nothing better to do than manually count 650 pennies.

"Hi, irate people in line! I'll be with you in roughly 20 minutes. Please put down your knives."

Oh, and when I pointed all this out to her, her response was pure "the customer is always right" narcissism. She simply looked at me like I couldn't possibly be any dumber and exclaimed, "Hey, it's money, honey!" She then took her cigarettes and left, because it's shockingly easy to win an argument when you run away before anybody can retort.

But that's nothing compared to the time I was working the counter and got catcalled. It's not like a bachelorette party had just sauntered in; no, this was a group of very thuggish dudes (I'll call them all Biff). They weren't gay or anything, but I was sporting long, thick, wavy red hair at the time and had my back turned to them. I'm not big or muscular either, so evidently I looked feminine, and quite fetching, from behind.

Jason Iannone
I don't see it.

I turned to look at them, and they immediately realized I was a guy. They turned beet red, made their purchases in record time, and then sped away. I guess they don't require their women to have sexy arms, because mine being hairier than the average ape did not deter them from calling me "baby" and inviting me home with them.

I still look like that, by the way, except you'll never see me double-fisting Budweisers again. Going forward, it's better beer or nothing. Talk about the foibles of youth.

Biff Iannone writes, edits, and should not be allowed near a register ever again. Find him on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, unless you're scared.

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