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‘Talking to me like I’m a search engine’: Walmart worker says customers just shout items at him

'Can customers just talk to me like I’m a person?'


Rachel Kiley


Posted on Nov 21, 2023   Updated on Nov 28, 2023, 11:12 am CST

Working retail can be a pretty thankless job, especially in busy box stores. It’s essentially inevitable that you’ll have to deal with a wide range of customer types, including ones that make every day just a little worse, even if that isn’t their intention.

A Walmart worker (@pisshead333) recently drew attention to one specific type of customer like this in a TikTok that went viral. “Customers have this weird habit of, instead of just saying, like, ‘Excuse me, can I ask you a question,’ they just say like, ‘kitty litter,’” he pointed out, comparing it to “talking to me like I’m a search engine.” 

“Even if you’re not looking at them, you’re just supposed to know that they’re talking to you,” he said. “You turn around and go, ‘Aisle 14.’”

While it may not seem like a big deal on the surface, it’s also easy to see how constantly being spoken to in that manner could snowball into becoming a point of frustration. It’s dehumanizing, even if the TikToker is sometimes able to find a way to laugh at it.

“The funniest one was the other day,” he continued. “This guy just goes, ‘Excuse me, young sir,’ and I figure he’s talking to me. I turn around like, ‘Yes?’ And he’s like, ‘ingrown toenail.’ And I pause for a moment, I said, ‘What are you asking?’ ‘Medicine for it.’”


talking to me like im a search engine

♬ original sound – clover

It was abundantly clear from the responses the TikToker received on his video that this has been a common experience among retail workers—although everyone has their own way of dealing with it.

“Customer yelling across the store ‘CALAMINE LOTION!’ I responded, ‘WHAT ABOUT IT?’” wrote @bibipumpkin.

“I always just say ‘I’m sorry?’ And look at them confused until they treat me like a human being,” @lodizzle09 admitted.

@iloveriverotters also said that he opts to ignore customers “until they communicate like an adult,” specifically citing issues with folks who simply “stand and stare and wait on me to ask if they need something,” while @twocoldfeet added, “This happened to me at a job and people would say ‘bathroom,’ so I’d say, ‘I love this game! Ummm…Shoes! Your turn!’”

Quite a few folks agreed with the TikToker’s original assessment that it feels like something born of utilizing search engines, with @girly.popstar.7 theorizing, “It’s like they’re used to googling it so they are vocalizing it to a person in real life the same way they would type it in.”

But those who worked retail even before the rise of google pointed out that this problem actually predates search engines—although it certainly may have exacerbated things. 

It’s possible some customers may actually think they’re sparing the employee pointless conversation by keeping things short and succinct, but it sounds as though most people would rather customers just act normal than try to save a few seconds.

“Can customers just talk to me like I’m a person?” the TikToker suggested. “Be like, ‘Hey, can you help me?’”

The Daily Dot reached out to @pisshead333 via TikTok comment.

Update 11:11am CT Nov. 28: In an email to the Daily Dot, the TikToker shared the following:

“I wish customers would acknowledge us as people with feelings and that it’s dehumanizing to have things just blurted out at us. It makes us feel like we’re service robots.”

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*First Published: Nov 21, 2023, 6:00 pm CST