Monday, February 2, 2009

Book Review: The Customer is Always Wrong ed. by Jeff Martin

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.

17 comments:

Liviania said...

I may try to find this at the library. I like work anecdotes.

Alea said...

When I get back to this I'm definitely starting at the end!

Charley said...

This sounds funny. I also enjoy that you used the word brazen in your review - it is one of my favorite words.

Yan said...

It sounds like a fun book! Reminds me a bit to David Sedaris' work.

Belle @ MsBookish said...

This one sounds fun. I'll make sure to start at the end.

KD said...

I love the title for this one!

jessi said...

You might enjoy Not Always Right - it's one of my favorite websites. Having worked clothing retail for the better part of 10 years, I can definitely relate as well! :)

Heidi said...

What a great idea for a book, and a great title! I'll look this one up!

Linda J said...

I'm going to have to read this. Now that I'm managing the classified inside sales staff, I have to deal with customers more frequently. And I have some stories to tell too! HA!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice review. I think this sounds fun!

-Lauren

Amber said...

This sounds really interesting - I will try to find it at the book store.

Becca said...

I'll have to check it out. I'm a fan of Elaine Viets' mysteries.

bermudaonion said...

I've worked retail so this one appeals to me.

Doret said...

I wonder if I could put this on staff picks. Probably not. You should check out Pretending You Care - Its Dilbert for retail workers.

Alyce said...

This sounds like a fun read. I'll have to check it out.

Joanne said...

Sounds like fun, my new job is retail (kinda) I work in a used bookshop. We have lots of regulars, some of who are pretty weird. But every so often I encounter a new customer who makes me wonder how the human race has survived :P

Anonymous said...

This subject was covered by an author who had over 40 terrible, disrespectful jobs like this.. see blgotalkradio.com/punk princess.

DAY JOBS is the name.

The book title really caught me.. I also highly recommend 'Nickle and Diming it in the USA' . Sorry I can't recall the author's name but it is available through Amazon.