Sometimes customers don't realize how their own actions affect a business and their staff. Not that having their business is a problem, far from it.

Having worked in retail for many years myself, I can tell you we've dealt with a lot of clueless customers before. Some of which have absolutely no concept of time.

Take closing time, for example. I'm sure most of us at some point have been in a store right around the time they were preparing to lock their doors for the day.

For those of us aware of the time, we try to make our trips quick so the staff and crew can close up shop. And for those of us who aren't as aware, it can be a whole different ball game.

close up of a 'CLOSED' sign hanging in a window
kai813 GettyImages

A conversation I had recently with a friend of mine helped bring back memories of customers who couldn't care less at closing time. The ones who, despite seemingly knowing what time it was, couldn't put two and two together that they needed to leave.

I spent around 12 years working in retail myself in New Jersey and have seen all different types of customers. But that one customer at closing time usually got to the staff simply because they didn't seem to care that they were shopping later than they were supposed to be.

I remember a handful of times of this being the case. One of the businesses I worked for closed at 9 P.M. most nights, except for Sunday.

Business Hours

Just before getting to the doors to lock them, a customer would come walking in. As long as they got in before the lock was flipped, we had to allow them to shop.

Customers who were aware of the time were often apologetic and tried to be as quick as possible. We always tried to help hurry them along since they made it obvious they didn't want to hold us up too long so we could wrap up for the day.

And it usually wasn't that bad since those particular customers typically spent no more than five minutes in the store. They just grabbed what they needed and got out.

Have a nice day - Smile

But then, there's the other type of late customer who really didn't care that they were shopping after closing time. And it's that type of customer I think any of us in retail can say we absolutely hate.

In the case where I worked, this particular type of customer would show up around one minute before closing time and get through the door before we had the chance to lock it. Then, they would take their sweet time getting what they needed.

I remember one time when the customer only purchased a few items, but kept us way later than we should've been.

Same scenario as above arriving about a minute before closing. And no matter how many announcements we made that the store was closed, they just ignored it and continued to shop.

Woman shopping at the supermarket
Minerva Studio ThinkStock

Unfortunately, it was frowned upon and discouraged to rush a customer out so we had to let them be. We could remind them we were closed, but we couldn't force them to move more quickly.

That was the policy we had to follow whether we liked it or not. Even the manager going up to her and asking if she needed help to finish so we could close did nothing.

Finally, more than a half hour after closing she came to the register with her few items. But then, a problem came up with the price of an item that she began to argue about.

Sale price tag

It turned out she misread the price. As a result, she changed her mind about this particular item and didn't want it.

So what did she do after? She went to go back to find something similar that was less expensive.

Once all was finally said and done we finally got her out around 40 minutes after the store officially closed. Needless to say, that also delayed some employees from being able to leave for the night on time.

A worker is punching his time card with the automatic clock

Now this particular woman wasn't necessarily rude, but she wasn't polite either. I would say the best way to describe her attitude was entitled.

And those entitled late shoppers are just one type that retail staff absolutely hates, with frustration only amplifying when policies are in place preventing you from telling them to leave. It's not that we don't want their business, we just want them to come during business hours.

Add in that entitled mentality and it really can get under your skin if you're stuck working late because of it. Yes, we're forced to keep the store open late just for you.

Inscription on a door: Sorry we are closed. Conceptual photo or table on door with information of work. Announcement or work schedule

My friend had a similar situation recently come up but with two key differences. That customer only stuck around 20 minutes after closing and ended up not having enough money to make the purchase they wanted.

So in his case, the customer left without buying anything 20 minutes after closing time. And when I asked about the customer's attitude, it seemed to be the same entitled mindset.

There are so many things certain customers do that we as retail workers have to put up with. But at the same time, I feel those experiences help make us better people when we're customers at other retail locations.

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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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