I’m in a shop and someone comes up and asks for help, thinking I work there. It’s definitely not them asking another customer, because the questions are phrased “Where do you keep” and “Do you have?” It has happened dozens of times in various shops, and there’s no reason they should suspect I am an employee, except that I look like I know what I’m doing (which is true).
I don’t own red or blue vests like at Costco, I don’t own blue or black polo shirts like at Best Buy, or red ones like in Circuit City and Target, I don’t wear name tags like in Borders Books, I don’t wear lab coats like in Rite-Aid (unless I’m in my own lab, but the coat stays behind).
If I know where the item is, or if they are asking for advice and I can give it, I’ll help. If not, I’ll direct them to an employee. In either case, they usually just walk off afterwards, it doesn’t matter if I tell them I don’t work there or not.
Sometimes I get asked for advice on something (gadgety, computery, video gamey, DVDey, etc.) and I give an honest opinion. The managers at the movie theater I worked at one summer didn’t like it when I did that. Not my problem, nor my concern. You ask, I answer. That’s how I think “Information Booths” should operate, just general, all-encompassing information.
The most recent instance that inspired this entry: I was in Rite-Aid looking at the Tylenol shelf. Some younger guy comes over and asks about lip balm and Chapstick. I tell him my opinions about the various products they have, even suggesting he look at Walgreens for better prices (a sure tip off that I don’t work at Rite-Aid). I find something that sounds like what he is searching for, which he agrees with, thanks me, and leaves the aisle with the product. Then another older guy starts asking about aspirin, then asks if I actually work there, noticing I wear nothing like the store uniform. I say no, he says “Sorry, I saw him asking you, so I thought you knew.” Of course I knew, that’s what I do. Then when I was paying for my stuff (Big Fizz FTW), Chapstick guy sees me in line and doesn’t seem to put the logic together.