Usually I lurk around on the /r/talesfromretail sub, but I started looking around here... and I love you guys.
As a quick preface, I work retail, am a culinary school student, and worked game days at a NFL stadium.
And, since I wasn't crazy enough, took a part-time gig as a cook in a small pizza chain a large Midwestern movie theatre company was expanding.
Pay is what you would expect from a movie theater (read: horrible), but I really enjoyed my job and the people I got to know there.
Well, that and the fact that if a pizza crust would break, I would show off my culinary skills to the concession guys.
You would not imagine how many high school kids hated tomatoes until I made them a pizza Margherita (not on the menu, of course)
This may give the chain away, but Tuesdays and Saturdays were our biggest sales days of the week. Tuesdays are big because they offer discounted admission, and Saturdays, because, well...
It's Saturday. This happened on a busy Tuesday night.
I was slinging pizzas and fixing beer taps (we sold beer and wine, too; I got a $5 tip for pouring a "perfect" tap for a Chicago customer), when we got into the mid-show slump.
Sometime between 7:30 and 9PM there's a slump when all the screens are showing films and no one is in the lobby getting popcorn or pizzas,
and we end up popping fresh corn and cleaning our pizza-making line. I was standing by my register when a guy (NC for Nut Case) comes over to me, and the exchange went something like this:
Me: Can I help you, sir?
NC: You were talking shit about my daughter. How dare you.
(NOPE. Me and one of the ushers were talking about gas mileage in cars and hybrid usage, no female talk of any kind)
I was a bit flabbergasted...
ME: Um, I'm sorry, sir?
NC: You know DAMN well what I'm talking about. You two were over here talking shit about my daughter, and I don't like it. AT ALL. You don't want to mess with me.
I am not a nice man to deal with.
ME: Um, I believe you were mistaken, sir, we were not saying anything of the kind.
NC: DON'T FUCK WITH ME. I HEARD YOU.
ME: (By this time reason and logic have fled the coop, I need to call in the Marines). I'm sorry to hear that, sir. Let me call over my assistant manager.
NC: Yeah. Bring him over. He probably was talking shit about her too.
Now, before I took the theater job, I worked retail at a big box store, and have graduated from the Retail 101 course "How To Deal With Bat-Shit Crazy Customers".
The first rule is to take small steps backward to make sure you are (at least) outside fist-throwing range.
Second, take a quick whiff of the air to see how loaded/high/stoned this guy is (I've never toked or touched marijuana before, but after working concessions at my theatre,
I can smell a high 17-year old a lobby away). The guy didn't smell like weed or alcohol, so now I'm thinking he got a few pills mixed up in the morning.
Therefore, I grab my trusty walkie-talkie and ask my awesome Star Wars-tie wearing Assistant Manager (ASM) to come over.
Not only is this guy a cool nerd in his 40's, he's got a Masters Degree in counselling and conflict resolution. Win.
ME: This gentleman would like to--
NC: These guys-- All you-- People here were talking shit about my daughter. How dare you.
Everyone here-- uh-- these guys (gestures at me and the usher) were calling her fat and being disrespectful and talking shit about her and, and, her dress was ugly...
ASM: Hmm. Is that so? Were you here when they said those things?
NC: NO! I WAS NOT!! (Calms down) I was not. But my daughter was, and I believe everything my little girl says...
ASM: Well, sir, I was near here for the past 30 minutes and I didn't hear anything wrong... What were you guys talking about?
ME: We were just talking about cars and hybrid cars. Nothing else. Could it have been that someone in the lobby was saying something, sir?
NC: I'm telling you f**kers it was YOU!
ASM: Sir, I don't appreciate the kind of language you are using. I need you to please calm down, or I'll have to ask you to leave.
NC: Da f**k I will! I'm just telling you this: you do not want to deal with me; I am not a nice man to deal with.
And with that, he takes his beer belly and Grateful Dead T-shirt and heads into the theatre showing Annabelle.
We all look at each other with "%)*&$*???" on our faces.
ASM: Well, I'm keeping an eye on him.
ME: Yeah: sneak in there and see if he actually has a daughter...
To make a long ending short, we know when the showing ends for each feature.
Me and the usher decided that him not seeing our faces was the best solution to the problem, so we sat in the hallway behind the concession stand for a few minutes until the ASM gave the all clear.
He and two other lobby ushers stayed out in the lobby to make sure he left without causing a ruckus (which he did), and that he left with his "daughter", which he also did.
Never said another word to anyone in the theatre.
Sorta let-down ending, I know, but they (evidently) have had to deal with much worse before I was hired, so this must've been par for the crazy course for the month.
I've since quit the theater, because my schooling has gotten more involved and I've had to take on an internship at said NFL stadium,
but I still occasionally go back to say hi and get a free bag of popcorn.