“There in no such thing as a stupid question.” That’s what my school teachers used to say.
My years of working in retail have proven to me, they were wrong. There are in fact many stupid questions.
No longer is a sales assistant expected to just sit behind a till and scan shopping. Now, we are expected to be an encyclopaedia, a general knowledge expert and a psychic. Customers assume you will know the price of every item for sale in the store. They want you to be able to predict when items they want will be delivered. And if an item is unavailable, it’s your job to know why it’s out of stock.
But even if you do manage to fulfil all those job qualities that are now expected in a shop assistant, sometimes, you still get asked a question that’s leaves you scratching your head and thinking… How should I know??? or Really???
Here are seven examples of questions I have actually been asked while working in the retail profession.
We will kick off with the one that we have all heard before we get to the blatantly stupid.
- Do you work here? No! I’m standing here in a bright blue blouse and belongs in the 90’s and wearing an apron because I enjoy looking like “Shop Keeper Smurf” It’s a fashion statement! I can not figure out why People feel the need to ask this question. No one would willingly walk around in the outfits, most shop assistants are expected to wear, unless at work.
- Can you help me? This is the question that usually follows question 1. It’s a very rare day when a shop assistant will turn around and say, “No, I can’t help,” simply because, if we do say that, we get fired. We can always help. Because we have to! It’s what we are paid for.
- How many shots can I fit in this flask?
I don’t know about you, but I personally have no idea how many shots you can fit in a flask. I can understand why a customer might think I would know. Dealing with the general public, day in day out, is enough to drive anyone to drink. But, as of yet, I’ve not stooped to concealing alcohol in a flask, to sip throughout the day.
- What bulb do I need for my lamp?
First, let me point out that the customer did not have the lamp with them. I was asked what bulb was needed to fit in a lamp I had never seen. When I asked what type of connection the lamp had, the customer didn’t know. They just needed a bulb to fit their lamp.
- Why don’t they make these for dogs? This customer wanted a flea collar for her dog. The only flea collar we stock is for cats but they wanted that specific collar for their dog. Can I put that on my dog? they asked. Now, I’m no expert on these things and was not about to advise them to put a cat flea collar on their dog. This led to a ten-minute complaint about why our company doesn’t make dog flea collars. This wouldn’t be too bad if I worked in a pet shop… I don’t!
- How much smoke do these incense sticks produce? Okay, I hate incense sticks. They give me a headache. But even if I didn’t. Even if I used them every day. I would have no idea how to measure the smoke! Do you know how to measure the smoke? Well, this person figured someone would because they went to look on the internet for an answer before buying.
- Where can I find that thing I need for tonight’s tea? This one is the most stupid question I’ve been asked to date. Not only was I supposed to be an object locator, I was also expected to know this customer’s meal plans for the day. As I stared at them waiting for them to realise what they had asked I couldn’t help thinking this one would be hard to top.
I’m still waiting for a question to beat that one. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure it will eventually because the shopping public never ceases to amaze me.