*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
I was working the late shift at a convenience store that closed at 11 p.m. One night, I locked the doors at 10:55 p.m., five minutes before we were supposed to close. A regular customer tried to get inside the store at 10:59 p.m. He pounded on the door and gestured at the clock, indicating that we were supposed to be open for another minute. Against my better judgment, I relented and let him in.
The customer went straight for the coffee machine and poured himself a cup of stale coffee that had been brewed hours earlier. Then, he got a bag of chips from the shelf and made himself comfortable on one of the metal folding chairs we had in the store. It quickly became apparent that he had no intention of leaving any time soon. I tried to hint that it was time for him to go, but he just shrugged and said he wasn't ready yet.
I didn't feel threatened; I felt furious and wildly inconvenienced. After all, I still had to grab dinner, get some sleep, and be up at 6 a.m. the next day to get ready for my day job as a bank teller. Once my day shift ended, I'd be right back at the convenience store again. I needed to go home.
The customer had all the time in the world. He could have gone home and gotten a good night's sleep. He could have made himself a fresh cup of coffee. But instead, he spent those hours in my store, taking up my time and energy.
He didn't even have a job. So he could stay up as late at night as he wanted and sleep all morning while I didn't have the same luxury.
It was a rude and thoughtless thing to do, and I've never forgotten it. I don't work there anymore. I lasted exactly a month, and customers like him were only one part of the reason.
The minutes ticked by, and I got worried that he would still be there when the morning shift arrived at 6 a.m. Finally, after several hours, the customer got up and left... at 2:15 a.m. three hours and fifteen minutes after I was supposed to have closed. I was so relieved that he was gone and that I could finally lock up and go home for the night.
It's always a tricky situation when customers try to come into your store right as you're closing up shop for the evening. On one hand, you don't want to turn away business; on the other hand, you just want to go home. The next time you're in a similar situation, just remember my story about the customer who wouldn't leave... and try not to let him in, in the first place.
Do you have any stories about customers who wouldn't leave? Share them in the comments below.
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