When a person decides to take a job in retail, they might think they’re prepared for anything that might come their way when dealing with the public.

That said, handling complaints, irate customers, people who can’t make up their minds, and the like are expected. I wouldn’t say the same thing about people who bring things back and make you burst into tears in the process.

If it were me behind the register, though, these 12 tales would have done exactly that.

12. Life is short, my friends.

“I used to manage the warehouse at an electronics store and occasionally sold stuff and did returns and whatnot. A younger guy came in, about 19 or 20, said he just got his first real job and wanted to buy a big screen TV to celebrate his first paycheck. So I sold him a good TV, did the normal testing for him, gave him a slight discount on warranty and whatnot cause I’m cool like that. He was super happy.

I packed everything up for him and put it in his hatchback.

A week later, I saw the TV in my warehouse with a return tag on it. I asked around a bit but nobody really knew, until our usual customer service girl came in to start our shift.

What I was told was that after I sold the TV, he was on his way home when a deer jumped out in front of the car and went through the windshield. The guy was killed instantly.

The TV was undamaged because I had laid it down on the floor in the back all wrapped up in bubble wrap and the box.

His dad had come in and returned it.”

11. A little human connection goes a long way.

Apparently, he was almost 30 years old, still lived at home, no job, and had recently outgrown his XXL pants and underwear and she needed to find some 3X. She mentioned that he didn’t really leave the house much and relied on her to do his shopping because he had attempted suicide a few months previously. Since then, he had become even more of a recluse than he had before. She got misty-eyed and stopped talking rather abruptly.

I normally hate being the guy who brings up his mental illnesses in public, it just makes everyone involved uncomfortable, but I felt like she needed to hear some words of reassurance.

I told her that two years previously I was in a place just like her son. That I was a shut-in with no ambition, had pretty crippling depression, and struggled a lot with self-harm. I also mentioned that I had attempted suicide a year or two previously. Her hand was on the counter so I lightly touched it and just said: ‘If I could get from where I was then to where I am now, your son is going to be just fine.’

She started to lose it at that. I gave her a 20% discount on all of the stuff she was buying and she left. I never saw her come in the store after that. I still think about her a lot. I really really hope her son’s doing better.”

10. You have to do the right thing.

“My supervisor shared a story with me about an old woman who placed a large order to redecorate her and her husband’s house.

She had selected several thousands dollars worth of merchandise, a lot of it was special order so it was being sold non-returnable. The woman ended up passing away shortly after everything was delivered and the husband couldn’t deal with all the new stuff. He wanted to keep all of their old things exactly the way they were, so my supervisor made an exception to have it all returned/refunded.

Somewhat similarly, someone created a registry for their upcoming baby, they had a ton of baby stuff picked out. Unfortunately, the husband had later called in to say his wife had miscarried and the baby didn’t make it. The wife was okay, but in no condition to talk on the phone. so again, my supervisor allowed everything to be returned, no questions asked.”

9. I bet she’s sorry she asked.

“This happened a little over a year ago, a frail old woman came in to return an unopened box of a very expensive brand of cologne.

She didn’t say much past, ‘I need to return this’ and me being the people person I am, tried to jokingly mention, did her husband not like the brand? She sighed and said: ‘It was his birthday present and when I went to visit him in hospice to give it to him, he had already passed away.’

I was speechless and profusely apologized and ended up talking to her about my mom passing away a few months prior to this and we ended up crying together in the store and talking for an hour and a half. She left with a smile on her face, but the initial reaction still haunts my dreams.”

8. It can be hard to hold your tongue.

“I worked at a clothing store that was popular with teens. A spoiled tween came to the register, accompanied by her mom, and laid out easily $500 worth of clothing – probably around 20+ tops, five pairs of jeans, a jacket, shorts, and sandals.

As I’m ringing up this absurd amount of items, another girl (I assume the first girl’s friend) joins the tween and her mom. As she approaches, I realize the friend must have recently undergone chemo.

She was probably a tween as well, completely bald, and frail. She approaches the girl and her mom with a single tank top.

Friend: ‘Is it okay if I get this?’

Mom: ‘Sure, but Susan needs to put back one of her items.’

Daughter: ‘No way, mom.’ (Profanity laden verbal assault on her mother ensues).

Mom decides to purchase about $500 of clothes for the daughter, while the cancer-stricken friend returns the $10 tank top.

I continue despondently ringing everything up, hating the world.”

7. Some people are just awful.

“I was working at a large pet store in the tropical fish department. One busy weekend a very well-dressed, rather snobby woman came in and bought six baby angelfish, each about the size of a dime (plus the fins).

The store I worked in was inside a huge high-end shopping mall, so we had a ‘holding’ service where we would bag up fish, cash the customer out, and float the fish, in their bags, in a warm tank until the customer had finished ALL their shopping and ready to leave for home.

So I offered to hold this lady’s baby angelfish. She said she was ‘all good’ and left. We thought nothing of it.

Four or five HOURS later, she stormed back into the store demanding a manager, and a refund. She was shaking the bag in our faces for emphasis, yelling that her gorgeous angels were all dead.

On close inspection, we discovered that the silly bimbo had put the poor fish in her car, presumably so she didn’t need to carry them while she shopped for other things or return to the store to pick them up.

Unfortunately, because it was January and the temperature outside was about -15°C, the tiny babies had frozen to death. She simply couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that tropical fish cannot withstand freezing temperatures, even when we took a tiny fish out of the bag and showed her that not only had ice formed on top of the once 84°F water, but the dime-sized fish was actually frozen stiff.

Some people just shouldn’t have pets.”

6. It can be hard to stand behind your products.

“I worked at a vitamin store. The most commonly bought item was weight loss/control pills that had ephedra in them. Xenadrine and the store brand equivalent were the most popular of those (next to Hydroxycut).

Our store sent memos that due to recent problems with the products we would be honoring full refunds even if the product was opened and mostly used.

The people returning them were tweaked to their follicles.

Shaking, sputtering saying: ‘I-I-I c-can’t take this stuff an-anymore. It-it’s m-m-making my heart p-pound to f-fast.’

I was just like, ‘Okay…it’s okay.'”

5. I have secondhand rage.

“I worked at a plus size clothing store.

I helped a woman pick out a wardrobe for a two-week cruise that she was going on with her boyfriend of six months.

A few weeks later, she returned all the clothes unworn. I asked her if the cruise was canceled.

No, it turns out that there never was a cruise. Or a relationship. This guy was ‘dating’ her as a prank, and he and his buddies schemed to see what they could get the girl to believe.

She thought he was in love with her and wanted to move in together soon; his parting words to her were ‘Like anyone would really date a fat woman like you.'”

4. You don’t realize how involved you can become in others’ lives.

“I worked in an upscale department store, selling handbags. Most of ours started at $200+.

An early 20’s woman and her mom, probably mid 50’s come in together. The young woman pulls me aside and tells me her mom sacrificed everything to raise her alone, working two jobs to put her through the local prep school rather than public school, and then to put her through college so her daughter could focus on her studies.

Now the daughter had graduated and recently landed a great job and had come home to visit mom and take her out for the day. She wanted to buy mom a beautiful purse to take to church, as mom had denied herself anything nice for so long because she’d given everything for the daughter.

That mom was so reluctant to let her daughter buy her anything, but finally caved in and they chose a classically styled bag for about $250.

Nice construction, well suited to her style, and the kind of thing that always looks good. I wrapped it up in tissue and a box and packed it carefully in a shopping bag.

A few days later, the mom came back with the bag, and inside was the purse still wrapped just as I had done it. She felt SO guilty accepting the gift from her daughter and told me to just credit the daughter’s account. I processed the return but wish she could have understood the sheer happiness and joy I’d seen in her daughter’s face when she had made the purchase when she could finally start to repay her mom for her sacrifices.”

3. Sometimes it’s not the happiest place on earth.

“I used to be a manager at a Disney Store. We had a regular old man come in with his wife regularly. They were a SUPER cute couple, I mean – matching outfits, holding hands, just cute as could be…

We used to sell these HUGE stuffed animals (like, ginormous). The couple came in about once a week and would just walk around, laugh and smile, buy things here and there.

One night he came in on his own and bought one of these gigantic Mickey’s we had (it was $300 I think).

He was SO excited. He told us all about how he was going to take her out to dinner and it would be sitting there on the bed to surprise her when they got home.

Anyway, two days later he walked back in, carrying the gigantic Mickey Mouse plush to return it. He had bought it to surprise her for her 75th birthday. She passed away in her sleep the day before her birthday.

He thanked us and said goodbye, and that he would not be coming back because our store reminded him too much of his wife.

We found out he passed away a week later. It was just 7 days from the day his wife passed.”

2. This one is a different kind of sad.

“I had a gentleman come into my store one day to buy an iPhone.

After talking with him for less than a minute, he opened up and told me about how he had just been through a divorce where his wife cheated on him and left him with nothing. But somehow he seemed pretty joyous about buying a $950 phone. He then explains to me that the phone isn’t for him but his girlfriend! My spirits lift a bit thinking, ‘Wow, thank goodness he found someone.

I hope things are on the up for him!’

After talking about how kind she is and how she travels the world, buying art for different art exhibits at museums, he decides to show me a picture of her. The picture he shows me is probably the same Instagram model type picture we’ve all seen. A girl that could be no older than 16 or 18, with enough makeup to make her look flawless and more like an adult, posing with a bottle of sugarbear gummies for hair growth.

The picture was literally a screenshot of her Instagram account and he had more and embarrassingly said that they’d be inappropriate to show me since I’m at work (thank goodness).

So I tried to turn the conversation away from the clearly F*ke girlfriend to anything I could think of. Too late. He went on to tell me about how sad it is that they’ve never met in person but he KNOWS that if he can get her the phone she wants, she can finally be able to call him and they can talk and hopefully finally meet.

He bought an iPhone 6s Plus in rose gold 64GB with a protection plan, three cases, and a screen protector. It was over $1000 worth of stuff. Then he proceeded to pay with a check that he told me ‘may not work’ because he hasn’t gotten paid yet but wanted to try anyway. It worked and that’s the moment my heart broke. He left the store, hugging me, and told me that one day I’ll find someone like he did.

I watched another salesperson and a manager handle him when he came back into the store extremely upset and wanting his money back after being scammed.

I don’t think they could give him any money back since she kept everything.”

1. I cannot with these stories anymore.

“I work in customer relations for a luxury car dealership. Basically, I get paid to interact with customers and make them feel more at ease during the buying and servicing of their vehicle. That being said, I get to know and like a lot of our customers.

So last year, around Halloween, we had a young family come in looking for an SUV since the wife was pregnant and the husband had just gotten a huge promotion.

They had a kid already that was around 4, if I remember correctly, and were just actually cool people. I actually spent a lot of time getting to know them through their buying process and was excited to have this family get their dream car.

Fast forward to this August and I see their SUV out in the parking lot (when you work at a dealership you learn your favorites plates and cars, or I’m a fre*k, both are possible).

I ask around and no one in service is working with them, so I ask our sales manager thinking they’re switching into the redesigned model of the SUV (we’d talked about it when they’d bought their car), he gave me an uneasy look and said it was the wife’s mom and I should talk to the sales guy. Weird, but okay.

I find the sales guy and he’s also uneasy, but after a few minutes he tells me to go to the back office and he’ll fill me in.

Apparently, the husband lost it and ended up shooting himself and his wife a few months prior. She had just had the baby and I suppose that stressed him out. Her mom was called when the toddler went to a neighbor and said his parents were ‘messy and still sleeping.’

Basically, the mom was there to see if we could buy the vehicle back after getting everything else taken care of, which we did.”

It’s fine. I love the flavor of tears in my coffee – it really gives it that something extra.

Do you have any stories like this? Let us know in the comments!