Physical Confrontation....What would you do?

Intense situation occurred today at my mystery shop and reveal (if the cashier is not wearing proper attire including a name badge) gas station. She wasn't wearing a name badge. I produced the notification and mentioned the purpose of the visit and explained that one of the things I needed to do was take a picture of her, from the neck to waist. The cashier was startled and asked me a series of questions about announcing the visit in advance and conducting it doing normal business hours. Then she positioned herself for me to take a picture, but said, "I am really uncomfortable, could we do this after this customer (who had entered and was in line). I told her OK, I will just go check the restroom.

When I returned, I was going to inform the cashier that she did not have to take the photo if she is uncomfortable, and I would just take a picture of the counter. However, when I returned from the restroom I discovered the line was longer and the cashier on the phone. I did not want interrupt her, so I headed toward the door to to double check the exterior.

That's when a customer looked at me and in a serious, confrontational manner, and asked me in a confrontational tone where I was going. This guy was athletically built, about 32 years younger, had about 4 inches more in height, and a Cholo look. But I stopped, and looked at him and said, "Why?" Silence. He stared at me and asked me again. A little confused, I looked at him and asked, "Why?" He stared at me, and I told him I'm not going anywhere I'm just going to take a picture of the exterior. A few seconds later, I stepped back inside and the dude tells me to "get the f*** outta here." I was like dude, this isn't worth it, I'm just trying to do my job. He called me a pervert and a few other names, repeating get the f*** outta here. Meanwhile, I could tell that the cashier was on the phone talking to someone about me and the compliance visit. I heard her tell the person on the phone that she was uncomfortable about taking a picture.

I made a step or two toward the register, (I was about 10 ft away), and the customer walked towards me, blocking my path, and said several things including that I was not going to get near the cashier. I got the cashier's attention and told her not to worry about it, and she did not have to take a photo. But this dude is basically daring me to make another step. He said a few more things including get the f*** outta here again.

Now, my dilemma was, do I take another step and sucker punch this guy, or walk away? Do I take another step undoubtedly insuring a physical fight? Was this worth $15? Was not fighting worth the diminishing of my manhood?

After I was reasonably sure the cashier understood that I did not have to have the picture and not to worry about it, I went to my car. I looked in the rear view mirror and the dude is sprinting full blast towards me. I grabbed a weapon I keep in the car. I did not know what was going to go down at this juncture. Anyway, the guy just starting filming my car, license plate, and me. I casually exited.

I know one or two things I would have done differently. Do you think I handled this situation appropriately? What would you do?

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You walk away. Obviously he knows the cashier and felt some sort of protective instinct toward her. You don't know her - maybe she was stalked/attacked by a previous customer. Given that people are being beaten to a pulp these days for a lot less, give him the benefit of the doubt that he honestly is trying to protect her, and leave.

No, definitely not worth the $15. These aren't worth $15 even when they go perfectly.

"Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you - and why?” ~Walter Williams
Wow. First of all I'd say it doesn't "diminish your manhood" to walk away from a sociopath. Sucker-punching him is not an option because even if you successfully lay him out, now you're the assailant, cashier calls the police and you spend the night in municipal accommodations. The cops won't care that he baited you, they'll handle the fact that you punched someone's lights out and let the legal system sort out the rest.

And it goes without saying that defense attorneys cost a heck of a lot more than $15.

I think you handled it right. Tell the MSC exactly what happened and let the chips fall. I also would consider contacting the police myself since his behavior was clearly threatening. I don't know that they'll do much about it but it never hurts to report.

Did you get a vibe that he was the cashier's boyfriend or husband or brother or something? I'm having a hard time squaring up the idea of a disinterested third party going that haywire over something that didn't affect him.
@ Koko... "Did you get a vibe that he was the cashier's boyfriend or husband or brother or something? I'm having a hard time squaring up the idea of a disinterested third party going that haywire over something that didn't affect him."

Don't know. It is pure conjecture. I think he might be a local who frequents this place, and perhaps knows the cashier to that extent. I have no idea what he may have overheard when I first spoke to the cashier, or what conversation took place when I was in the restroom. Clearly, someone got the wires crossed.
It was good that you did not touch the dude.

It was not good that the cashier might have set you up for this incident.

That dude might be security or another employee.

It can seem creepy to get some images.

Ya' done good, kid!

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/07/2020 09:10AM by Shop-et-al.
You handled it fine considering how it unfolded. I've run into similar situations, although it has never escalated to that point. I usually ignore the person and talk past them directly to the clerk. They usually figure out that it is none of their business, or that I won't be baited, and back off. Unfortunately in your case the clerk was busy so this didn't help. If ignoring them didn't work, my next approach would be to ask the person if they worked there or if they owned the business. Next I would ask if I needed to call the cops, although it has never gone that far. I would never punch the person no matter how much they deserved it - no doubt I would banned by the MSC regardless of the circumstances.

Also, I doubt this guy had any connection to the cashier or store. Just an a-hole loser trying to feel self-important.
That is why I carry pepper spray. Too many tough guys and their female counterparts itching for attention and hero status. I will not perform those shops or inspection app/gig jobs. Definitely not worth the $$
I would never ask to take a photo "from neck to waist" because that does sound a little perverted. I have always just stated that I need to take a photo now, "Smile, please". The "neck to waist" probably sounded weird to the clerk, who may have shared it with a customer and although I am a geriatric female I likely would have questioned your authenticity and motives as well.
Since when does not fighting diminish one's manhood?

In my very personal opinion, fighting reflects only a lack of manhood.

Or maturity, if that's less sexist!
@Flash wrote:

I would never ask to take a photo "from neck to waist" because that does sound a little perverted.

Ditto

OP who told you to use that phrase?

I always say, “ I need to take a photo of your uniform because you’re not wearing a name tag today.”

Generally the only people that balk are 20-year-old males with low IQs.
Twice, I have taken photos of them from the neck down, and then I show them the photo on my phone before I turn to leave. Weird and ignorant. I’m not sure why they think they’re all that and a bag of chips that I would want their photo personally?
Wow!

Personally, I take pictures of the cashier discretely and from a distance.

You carry a weapon in your car?

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Maybe you could have said to the guy that you were leaving and would call the police if he continued. What "weapon" do you keep in your car? It sounds like this could have really gone south.
@Flash wrote:

I would never ask to take a photo "from neck to waist" because that does sound a little perverted. I have always just stated that I need to take a photo now, "Smile, please". The "neck to waist" probably sounded weird to the clerk, who may have shared it with a customer and although I am a geriatric female I likely would have questioned your authenticity and motives as well.
Yes, this is why I don't do audits of this nature.

"Hi, you screwed up. Now please cooperate while I collect the evidence I'm going to use to narc on you and get you in trouble maybe."

Of course you wouldn't use that precise language in such a situation but you might as well.

It's called "MYSTERY shopping" for a reason. If I'm going to confront someone for their wrongdoings in a public manner I'd better be a duly deputized police officer. And get paid like one.
@HonnyBrown wrote:

You carry a weapon in your car?
You don't?

"Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you - and why?” ~Walter Williams
I never tell anyone I NEED to take their picture. If a photo is to be captured for one shop that is unrevealed EXCEPT if the CSR is not wearing a name tag, I present the option that I can take a picture the counter or them, if they feel comfortable. I do the same thing for another revealed audit. I try not to be threatening or perceived to strong arm. I also always tell them that their face is not seen and show them the picture. I have had some employees get visibly nervous, but that is when I try to de-escalate the situation. I then explain in the comments. I figure that the client has video 99.9% of the time and can check themselves, if in doubt about what happened. Now, I am an older woman and do not look at all threatening!
I live near a Sonic gas station and have been offered up to $50 to do audits and pictures. I never did one since these places always give me a dangerous vibe. I read some really dreadful experiences of a few members on this forum about their gas station audits and I am pretty sure, it wasn't even worth a 100 bucks.

But you did good! Walking away from a scary situation like this is the best any sane person would do. You had nothing to prove there.
I guarantee your picture, car, and tag are plastered all over the local 'news and views' Facebook page. Be careful!
The exchange between me and the cashier happened very quickly in real time. The cashier got in position to take the photo, and then said she felt uncomfortable and asked if she could do it after she helps the customer in line. Ordinarily, I would have immediately told her she could decline and that's OK. Instead, I did not want to delay her helping the customer, so I told her OK and went to check on the restroom (something else I usually would have already done). My intention was to just talk to her once I returned, and take the picture of the counter. Ordinarily, I would have just stepped aside and waited until she finished helping the customer. Wish I would have done that because it was a different world when I returned from the restroom.

Also, when the cashier, who was not wearing a mask, positioned herself to take the picture, she told me (as she did this) let me put my mask on first. That is when I told her that the picture would only be from the neck to the waist to let her know her face would not be included. Then she said she felt a little uncomfortable and asked to do it after she helped the next customer. The entire dialogue was seconds.... And the rest is history.
It's not worth an altercation over the low fees that we get paid to do these shops. In sue-happy America, you never know how an altercation will unfold in the long run, but I would be willing to bet that none of the outcomes would be good ones. I think months from now you will be happy to have walked away from the situation rather than engage the amped up guy.

I rarely do these types of shops (although I have) ever since I got "busted" trying to take a covert picture of a clerk not wearing their nametag per the guidelines. He called me out on it and I was forced to reveal myself. I explained the whole situation and he agreed to let me take the photo after he put his nametag on.

I think these whole covert or revealed pictures are stupid! If the company doesn't trust me and my fellow shoppers to report honestly, then simply review their videotape. If I said the clerk was not wearing a nametag, then they weren't wearing a nametag period. Allowing a clerk to put the nametag on for the picture renders the whole ordeal painful and stupid...

Just my opinion of course.

"We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl -- year after year..."
Or another option, pay up the bucks to have these shops changed to video shops. Then the MSC can watch the video clip to their hearts content...

"We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl -- year after year..."
My first thought was the customer was an abusive spouse or boyfriend. Someone asking to take a picture of their "property" isn't going to go well.
I think this is the actual reason.

@amorrison50 wrote:

My first thought was the customer was an abusive spouse or boyfriend. Someone asking to take a picture of their "property" isn't going to go well.
Several times after the reveal, I've overheard customers ask a clerk why they let a cop take photos of everything. I look like a nonthreatening granny! At least the "entrepreneurs" usually leave the convenience store and parking lot until I leave.
There’s a lot of videos and pictures posted on the internet about pedophilia and women being abducted that has certain people on extremely high alert. I’m also certain that this man did not personally know the cashier. I wouldn’t be surprised if the video or pictures that he took of you and your car are circulating online somewhere telling people to be on the lookout
Wow, that's a scary situation. I think you handled it well.
How exactly does that work, you go in, evaluate the situation then take a picture if they're not in compliance?
I think the company's may need to reevaluate the process.
I have done the same place twice and both times the older gentleman did not squawk about a picture being taken but then he was an older guy and no one would want to kidnap him at least I do not think so.
Even though we already know that anyone can take our pic at practically any time, it is disconcerting to wonder about who is taking our pic and what they are doing with it. I won't think about it just now...

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
I'm still blown away that an MSC would have the crust to make you confront a non-compliant employee as if you were Joe Friday and "book 'em" with an announced photo. I take back everything bad I've said about Market Force and their gas station shops that fit poorly in my high-population area. They at least trust me to look for the tag.

Photos of a dirty bathroom, bad landscaping, handwritten signs, dirty floors, bird nest in the canopy etc. etc. etc.? You bet.

But "Hey, you're not wearing the required name tag, let me get the goods on you and turn you in"? Go pee up a rope, MSC. If I say they weren't wearing the tag, they weren't wearing the tag, I don't make stuff up.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2020 10:29AM by KokoBWare.
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