The Customer is Always Wrong, a collection of essays by writers who have “done their time behind the counter and lived to tell the tale” attracted my interest because I love a good on the job anecdote and I have a slew of horrifying stories from my own time in the retail trenches (I worked at Subway where I was promoted to assistant manager after one day of work because all the other employees were perpetually stoned, for Aramark catering which was waitressing without the tips, and at a call center in customer service for an office supply company).
The essays cover a broad range of topics from brazen tulip theft to customers trying to DIY and failing miserably. There is mildly offensive venting (Deviant you, Deviant me by C.A. Conrad), a bizarre and surreal chronicle of working at a Muffin and Coffee shop (Klaus by Timothy Bracy) and an interesting look at a mystery novel author who takes entry level retail positions to research her Dead End Job series (Minimum Wage Drama by Elaine Viets).
I’d advise you to start reading from the back because that’s where all the real gems are. My absolute favorite essay is by comedian Wendy Spero (Free Spatulas) about her knife selling days. It is laugh out loud hilarious. I also really enjoyed the sweet charm of Jane Borden’s The Popsicle Shop about her after school job at a baby clothing store for society women and the beautiful truths of Fine Wine and Liquors by Becky Poole where she rhapsodizes about really getting to know her neighborhood while working at a liquor store.
The Customer is Always Wrong is out in paperback now.