How to deal with odd customers...

I shouldn’t say odd, but it’s the best word to describe what I mean.

There is a customer who doesn’t seem to be 100% mentally there, but only talks to me about how bad racism is and the importance of equality. Of course this is 100% true, but it’s an unprompted discussion and I think it stems because her mom “helped” someone that looks like me. I’m thinking it could be a bit of Alzheimer’s with something else just by the way they keep talking about the past. Today was different because an interracial couple was finishing up their wine tasting and we were all still talking…

As you can imagine for a person who only talks about how bad racism is… the customers were like ??? and ended up leaving before we finished the conversation, understandably so. I don’t want to offend this customer that comes daily if not more than daily to by a bottle of inexpensive white wine. The other customers and I were trying to tell them they could buy their wine since they already bought wine and just wanted to talk a bit more. The older customer didn’t seem to understand and responded with “I can wait. I don’t have pigtails” then she muttered something about being a farm girl.

Would you let them know that the conversations are bothering others or just try to shrug it off? It wouldn’t be too bad but they come by daily sometimes 2,3 times in a single day.

If they’re coming by 2-3x a day to buy a bottle of wine their “oddness” may be compounded by their consumption.

I work part time in a winery tasting room and when someone gets into an uncomfortable conversation I politely say “excuse me for a second” and walk over to another customer. Usually does the trick.

I’m sure it doesn’t help, but generally routine is good for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Getting blasted daily is probably not the correct routine.

Sadly, our store is small so there really isn’t anywhere to go to. I’m not 100% sure if I confront the issue she’ll even remember it.

Been there in the past. It’s a difficult situation but, if it’s negatively impacting business, you will have to do something. If you’re lucky enough to know a mental health professional I’d look for advice there. If you have a way to connect with someone in her family, give that a try. Direct confrontation would seem to require a very soft and empathetic touch but may just work.

The bottom line for me would be that you ultimately have a right to conduct business unimpeded. Without being there it’s impossible to call it, but this sounds like the kind of situation that is part of the discussion about what public authorities are properly trained to deal with mental health issues. I’d start as small and as non-confrontational as possible in any case.

Do you know if she walks to your store or drives? When she comes 2 or 3 times in a single day, does she acknowledge that she has already been there earlier that same day? From my personal experience with two parents that suffered from Alzheimer’s, they often drive long past when they should and the risk to themselves and others is significant. If she is there multiple times a day and doesn’t acknowledge it, she may not even know. If someone points it out to her and she reacts poorly to that it might also indicate issues.

Most patients ignore signs believing they can still function. Families often ignore symptoms either thinking things aren’t really that bad or because they don’t want to take the keys from mom. I can tell you, it’s not fun but it is required for the safety of everyone.

I don’t know how to help with this specific situation. If it is Alzheimer’s, she probably won’t remember any talk you have. Maybe she will but what you describe sounds like she is at the point where she wont. She will remember clearly things from her youth but not that you talked about her behavior yesterday or even earlier the same day.

If she is driving, maybe there is a local government office you can contact to have them investigate in the name of safety.

You should post this in Asylum.

Is there a way to move a thread over? or just delete it and re-post?

PM a moderator.