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Nemesis as Customer

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A character with a job might have fun with it, or they might hate it. But no matter what their thoughts on their occupation are, all bets are off once their Arch-Enemy or some other person they dislike walks through the door. Because now, their job requires them to serve that person they hate! If they were enjoying their job, then this will probably be the start of the Disaster Dominoes. If they hated their job, then expect their Rage Breaking Point to be coming up soon.

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This trope is when a character working now has to suffer through providing service to a person they hate. While it's possible that they could focus on completing their job over their personal thoughts on the customer, Rule of Drama means that it's very likely that their hatred of their customer will get in the way. They might begrudgingly perform their duties, attempt (and probably fail for the sake of the plot) at refusing services, or sabotage the customer. If the customer hates the worker too, they might try to be as unhelpful as possible, assuming that their mere presence isn't enough to cause the worker intense anger. A put-upon protagonist might go and declare Take This Job and Shove It.

This may happen during Villains Out Shopping to the hero's work place. Contrast Go-Karting with Bowser, where enemies have fun spending time with each other. Unlike that trope, this one will always be a source of conflict. Also compare Enemy Mine, where two enemies work together to complete a common goal. See also Revenge Is a Dish Best Served, when the protagonist is tempted to mess with (or actually does mess with) the nemesis's food or drink order.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Carnival Phantasm: Episode 8's "Saber at Work" has Saber work as a waitress at Ahnenerbe, and problems don't start for her (if anything, it's the customers who are caused trouble because of how she treats her job) until Gilgamesh arrives with his usual attitude. After being reminded by her manager that he is a customer and that she must do what he says, Saber takes Gilgamesh's order while having trouble containing her hatred for him. Once Gilgamesh says that he would like Saber for his takeout, she finally snaps and turns into Saber Alter to give him a piece of her mind.

    Comic Books 
  • One arc of Gold Digger held a variant: because of being flat broke, Gina Diggers accepted a dare from her rival Penny Pincer that if she could make it through a day working at an extra-crappy Expy of Taco Bell, Pincer would give her the money she needed and bury the hatchet for good. Gina not only had to endure all of the typical comedic horrors of working for a bad food establishment, but also the humiliation of the actual part of the prank that Penny planned, which was to have Gina's archaeology professor at college come in and see his most promising student working there.

    Film - Live Action 
  • A Cinderella Story: While Sam is working at the diner a few hours before the dance starts, she's forced to wait on a table of students from her school, which includes the local Alpha Bitch who proceeds to make fun of her (with everyone but Austin joining in). To make matters worse, they then ditch almost immediately, but Austin hangs back to pay Sam.
  • In Clerks II, Dante and Randall are working at Mooby's (a fast food restaurant) when Lance Dowds, a classmate of theirs that they used to antagonize, comes in and reveals that he's now a dotcom millionaire. Randall sabotages Lance's food, but Lance is clever enough to not eat it and gives it to Jay and Silent Bob.
  • In The Dictator, Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen follows a former member of his inner circle to the "Death To Aladeen!" Restaurant in Manhattan. The restaurant is, unsurprisingly, run by his enemies, all of which he had ordered executed.note  They aren't fooled by his ridiculously obvious Line-of-Sight Name (nor his three equally stupid attempts to replace it), and come within a hair's breadth of assassinating him before the guy he'd been tailing stops them.
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    Literature 
  • In the fourth book of Tales of the Magic Land, Supreme Chef Fregoza is the only servant not kicked out of the Violet Palace after Urfin Jus conquers the land. She is therefore forced to cook for the new dictator whom she despises. Fregoza thinks of poisoning him, but abandons the idea since Urfin employs a food taster.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Breaking Bad pilot, Walter is pushed by his boss into washing a car despite it not being in his job description, and is further humiliated when it turns out to belong to one of his obnoxious students who immediately lords his position over him while his girlfriend excitedly gossips to her friends about their teacher's side job. It's one of the many things that leads Walt to hit his Rage Breaking Point and abruptly quit after he receives his cancer diagnosis.
  • Comedy-drama Cold Feet sees David Marsden, a former high-flying city financier who has fallen on hard times, filling in as a barrista/waiter in a coffee shop run by an old friend who feels sorry for him. One day, the party of customers who walk in are his old boss, who sacked him, and the former colleagues who abetted in his sacking. He has to be a model waiter to them and realises the large tips he is given as they settle up and leave are meant as a condescending insult. he snaps, and launches a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • In the The Bold Type episode "Snow Day", Kat finds her new bartending job imperiled when she discovers one of her customers is Ava Rose, daughter (and personal attorney) of R.J. Safford, whose career she ended with her activism. Despite her efforts to avoid Rose, they end up in an argument and Kat is nearly fired.
  • In Veronica Mars, Veronica starts working at Jabba the Hutt in Season 2 when she leaves Mars Investigations. She's forced to serve Jackie Cook who is snobby and demanding from the beginning, which only gets worse when Jackie brings other guys to the coffee shop while toying with the feelings of Wallace, Veronica's best friend. However, Jackie and Veronica becomes friends after Jackie goes through Break the Haughty and starts working at the coffee shop herself.

    Music 
  • Mean: A high-school girl has a Bad Job, Worse Uniform working in a fast-food restaurant where she has to dress like a five-pointed star. A lot of her mean classmates show up to mock her.

    Visual Novel 
  • In Rules of Engagement, Jess already has a very stressful job at a restaurant and gets to serve several unpleasant, picky customers, but the culmination is when she has to organize a party for Spoiled Brat Claire Pierce, who is way nastier than the previous troublesome customers and, unlike them, deliberately tries to get Jess sacked.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Achieved by proxy in Sequential Art when Alpha Bitch Hilary Locke visits ad studio Wiquid for a women's wear campaign. Once she discovers that Art works there, Hilary immediately goes into jerkass mode. It's not because she bears Art ill will; instead, she's aiming for her nemesis, Kat Vance, with whom Art shares a flat.

    Web Video 
  • In Emma Approved, Emma has to organize the engagement party for Senator Elton. They are mad at each other after her disastrous attempt to set him up with her assistant Harriet. Worse, Elton's fiancee is Caroline Lee, now not bothering with the sheep's clothing she wore in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. During the preparations for the party, the happy couple does everything to humiliate Emma and especially Harriet, both of whom have to put up with it somehow.

    Western Animation 
  • Daria: Invoked in the episode "Mart of Darkness". Andrea works in the local big box store and thinks her classmates Daria and Jane are there to mock her, so she tries to run from them. However, Daria and Jane are just there to make a purchase and agree not to tell any of their classmates about her job.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Mr. Krabs generally averts this when it comes to Plankton by refusing him any service at all, because he knows that Plankton only needs one Krabby Patty in order to copy the Krabby Patty secret formula. However, in "For Here or to Go", Plankton calls the Bogus Business Bureau so that the Krusty Krab will be shut down if Mr. Krabs doesn't let him participate in a contest for a free Krabby Patty. Once he wins, Mr. Krabs spends the rest of the episode attempting to stall or find ways to avoid having to give Plankton his reward.
    • In "Pickles", SpongeBob is alarmed once he sees that Bubble Bass has arrived and acts a little smug after Bubble Bass takes the first bite. Bubble Bass hides the pickles from his Krabby Patty under his tongue so that he can pretend that SpongeBob forgot them and can get his money back for an unsatisfactory order, and the grief this causes SpongeBob sets the episode's conflict into motion.
    • In "Squid's on a Bus," Squidward is enjoying his job as a bus driver until annoying neighbor SpongeBob rides the bus. After some mishaps with SpongeBob, he asks how things could get any worse; other annoying neighbor Patrick appears and boards the bus.
  • Sonic Boom: "Three Minutes or Less" is about Sonic working as a deliveryman at Meh Burger with deliveries made over three minutes being free. Dr. Eggman tries to sabotage Sonic so that he will be late and can get his order for free, and is the only customer that gives Sonic trouble.
  • The South Park episode "You're Not Yelping" revolves around customers using the review app Yelp in order to gain special privileges and belittle the staff of the restaurants they visit, eventually deluding themselves into thinking they're each the leader of a revolution. The criticized restaurants eventually resort to banning the Yelpers, only for the Yelpers to actually attack them. Finally, the restaurants exploit the Yelpers' egos by issuing special badges to them that ensures special treatment, by which meaning they get served food secretly garnished with boogers and cum.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In "Buster's Guide to Part-Time Jobs" (part of "Career Oppor-toon-ities"), Buster and Babs get jobs at Weenie Burger. Their boss is very rude and ill-tempered and his policy is "Service With a Smile" no matter how much an obnoxious jerk the customer is. When Montana Max is their customer, Buster and Babs try their best to serve him and still follow Weenie Burger's policy, but Monty continually gives the two bunnies trouble. Eventually, Buster and Babs decide to get back at Monty by kicking him out of Weenie Burger, which gets them fired (Buster describes this as "the best time to quit your job").
  • This happens often between Popeye and Brutus (1960s) or Bluto (other decades). Some examples:
    • In "Motor Knocks", Popeye and Olive visit Brutus' service station for car repairs, but Brutus sabotages Popeye's car while pretending to repair it.
    • In "Popeye's Pizza Palace", Brutus is the Unsatisfiable Customer, demanding a type of pizza Popeye doesn't make.


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