In my book, “Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook,” there’s a whole section dedicated to the kind of customers one is likely to encounter as a retail drone. Each customer “archetype” is named after the very specific kind of chronic and annoying behavior they exhibit, and most of the descriptions have an appropriate Retail comic accompanying them. To get myself back in the habit of blogging somewhat regularly, I thought it would be fun to do a quick humorous sketch of the different customer types in the book and post them here occasionally. I’ll start out with the “Pack Rat”. Enjoy!
“Pack Rats” fill their shopping carts with items that they don’t necessarily intend to purchase. A typical pack rat will wait until they get to the counter before they decide which of their items they want to keep, with total disregard for the line that inevitably forms behind them. The pack rat will then leisurely contemplate each of the many items in their carriage and unload all the unwanted merchandise on you.
More efficient pack rats will make their decision before they get to the register and hand you their voted down items right away, or ditch them among the impulse merchandise displayed near the counter.
Most retailers will supply each register with a plastic bin to accommodate the steady stream of pack rats the cashiers will get throughout the day. Ideally, the merchandise in these bins would be periodically returned to its proper location, but realistically it just gets dumped into larger bins behind the customer service desk until the end of the night. Then all the employees spend hours whittling away at the giant pile of random merchandise after the store closes.
Curiously, pack rats seem to think their methods are normal. Often a pack rat will start unloading items onto the counter without a word, then act genuinely surprised when you start ringing them in. Astonished, they’ll say, “Whoa! I’m not buying that!” As if it were presumptuous of you to think they planned on purchasing all the items they took off the shelf, put in their cart, brought to the register and placed on the counter.
Like “displacers,” there’s nothing you can do to dissuade pack rats. Just try to appreciate the instant karma those same customers get stuck with when they can’t get any help on the sales floor because the entire staff is constantly busy re-shelving merchandise.