The Customer Is Always Right

A brief tale of desire and discipline in a recessional economy, this story first appeared in Tamsin Flowers's Erotic Advent Calendar, December 2015.

blue box underpaintingJessie kept her arms at her sides as she’d been told while Mr. Henderson pinched her nipples, hard, but she couldn’t help instinctively trying to pull away. This had the effect of pulling her breasts into taut cones, and she watched Mr. Henderson—Dale—smile that cruel, teasing smile of his, his blue eyes piercing right into her.

“Now, Jessica,” he said—he only called her Jessica at times like this—“remember, you chose your punishment.”

“Yes, sir,” Jessie said, struggling to stand still. He tightened the pressure between his thumbs and forefingers, and she gasped, watching him watch her. Finally he released her, and she exhaled in relief.

“Now, what are you going to do?” he asked.

“I will go and apologize,” Jessie said.

Dale nodded. “Mm-hm, yes you will. What do we say here?”

“The customer is always right, sir.”

“Very good. Now put your bra and uniform back on, and go back out to the sales floor. That poor lady’s waiting on you.”

“Yes, sir.” Jessie picked up her bra from his desk and fastened it behind her back, then threw the bright blue polo shirt on over it, tucking it into her khakis. “Thank you, sir,” she said as she left his office. He always insisted that she thank him for setting things right.

Dale—Mr. Henderson—sat down behind his desk and didn’t look up. “Offer her a 20% discount for her trouble,” he said.


Jessie made her way past the giant flat-screens, the laptops, and the tablets in the cavernous showroom. She tried to ignore what must have been the day’s fiftieth repetition of “Holly Jolly Christmas” over the store’s PA system. Her nipples ached from the pinching, but also from the sudden absence of pinching. She noticed with embarrassment that they were still visibly erect beneath her Blue Box shirt.

Jim, her coworker, noticed her condition as well, his eyes dipping for the briefest of glimpses as she passed him. “Another reprimand?” he said, looking back at his clipboard.

Jessie ignored him and took her place at the Customer Service counter and faced the impatient-looking older woman who’d filed the complaint. “You are completely right, Mrs. Jackson, and I was very wrong. I apologize for disagreeing with you. The Yoshiba is a far superior tablet to the Taewoo. Would you please accept a discount to make up for my previous attitude?”

“Well, I’d expect nothing less,” the lady said with a satisfied look. Jessie had seen her here before, helped her even, and there had never been a problem. She took the box and slid it across the laser and punched in a discounted price. Stupid Yoshiba piece of crap.

More than anything, Jessie wanted to massage the ache out of her nipples. And turn off that insipid Christmas music.


“I was told the customer is always right,” the man said. “Perhaps you should get the manager.”

Now what? “All right, Mr. Harris. I’ll go get him.” Jessie didn’t understand. She had helped this man select a large TV several weeks ago, and he had been very happy with her advice. She turned to walk to Dale’s office at the back of the store.

“I think there’s something going on,” she heard Jim whisper to another coworker. “I saw the employee performance records. None of these reprimands are in her file.”

Lord, if they only knew.


“Choose your punishment, Jessica,” Dale—Mr. Henderson—said as Jessie stood in front of his desk.

Jessie sighed. “I choose…the drawer.”

Her boss smiled. He opened a side drawer to his left and reached in, rummaging, never taking his eyes off her. Dale brought out a slender riding crop from the drawer, some eighteen inches long, a thin black rod with a small leather flap at the end.

“Ah,” he said, pleased. “Drop those khakis and panties. And bend over the desk, Jessica.”

Jessie did so without speaking, unfastening her fly and letting her pants and undies fall to her ankles, then bent over the desk onto her elbows as Dale stood and walked around behind her. The crop was a fairly quiet means of punishment, quieter than, say, his empty hand.

“Lower,” he said, and she pressed her sore, and once again hard, nipples against the desktop. “Count them,” he said.

“Oh, Dale, come on,” she said, then stifled a cry as the crop struck against her naked ass. Jesus, it stung.

“That one was for improperly addressing me. It’s ‘sir’, or ‘Mr. Henderson’, here. Now we’ll start over. Count them for me.”

Ow! One, sir,” she said, as the crop struck her again. “Two, sir!”

At ten, she was nearly crying. “Ten, sir,” she whispered. So much for doing any sitting at the Service desk. She’d be on her feet all day, now. She waited, still pressed against the desk.

“My God, look at those stripes,” Dale said, and Jessie flinched as he ran his finger along one of the welted lines that she knew must be very bright red. Her ass was on fire, but she knew not to move, not to rub out the sting. Dale—Mr. Henderson—was a stickler for rules.

His fingers ran along another sore stripe, then wandered downward, gently down the crack of her ass, and then even further. She arched her back as he reached the lips of her sex, gently stroking them. She felt his fingers slide easily between them, barely entering her outer labia. She moaned.

“My. Feels like someone’s enjoying her punishment a bit more than she should,” Dale said. He slid his fingers against her inner labia, stroking but not quite entering them. “So wet.”

“Please,” she said, backing herself against his fingers, which were now pressing on her swollen clit.

“Please what?” She looked over her shoulder and saw the swelling in his khakis.

“Please. Fuck me. Sir.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Put—”

“My afternoon break is in a few minutes. I’ll come back. Please.”

“Jessica. No. Not at work. Pull up your pants and apologize to the nice customer. The nice regular customer. Offer him the discount.” He withdrew his hand.

“Besides, I’ll see you tonight. I’ve made reservations at Pritzi’s.”

Jessie stood and pulled up her underwear and her khakis in one motion. “Dinner out? So you’re going to make me wait even longer, then.”

“Yep. Nice, long dinner at a very nice place.”

“You bastard.”

Dale just smiled that evil smile, the one he wore when he knew he was winning.

“That’s ‘You bastard, sir’. Now what will you tell Mr. Harris?”

“The customer is always right, sir.”

“Good. Now back to work.”

“Yes, Mr. Henderson.”


“Jeez, Jess, I think you’re really pushing it, with these reprimands,” Jim said, after Jessie had shown Mr. Harris all the new speakers and he’d taken his discount. “And it’s only Monday. I mean, we’re lucky to have jobs at all.”

Jessie knew better. Blue Box was doomed, the brick-and-mortar showroom for far bigger online companies. Sales were down; this would probably be their last Christmas. The store should have been full of people, fighting over the newest gadgets for their spoiled children to open Christmas morning. Instead it was nearly empty, mostly visited by older people too timid or old-fashioned to order online. Everyone who worked there would be looking for other jobs after New Year’s; Dale had told her so. That’s why he had been letting things go in the employee-fraternization policy during these cold, dark, waning days. His feeling was, there wasn’t going to be a company much longer, anyway—so why not enjoy ourselves, hmm?

And Jessie certainly wasn’t going to be filing any last-minute sexual harassment suits against Blue Box, or Dale. Besides, her case would be hard to win—it was she who’d approached him, one night over drinks after work, and it was she, after several very intense nights of passion (instigated by her), who had confessed her tendencies toward submissiveness, of never finding the right guy who would take her, bind her, tease and reward her. And it was she who’d then confessed her fantasies of being disciplined, at work, by him. That was the first time she’d seen that smile.

“Oh, hey, it’s almost time to close,” Jim said.


Jessie had an hour to get ready for her dinner out with Dale, and she needed to stop by the store to pick up a few things on her way home. She knew Dale was going to drag the evening out, make her sit on her very sore behind, linger over desert and coffee and drinks, before finally taking her home and eventually granting her release. He liked playing these games with her, with rules and tricks and always, always making her wait.

She was in the shampoo aisle when she saw Mrs. Jackson, the Yoshiba buyer from this morning. Well this was awkward.

“Oh, hello, dear,” Mrs. Jackson said. “How are you?”

“Fine, thank you. I’m sorry about today. I hope the discount satisfied you?” She didn’t even want to have this conversation at work, let alone after.

“Well, of course! I’m so sorry about that. I didn’t mean to seem rude.”

“Oh, that’s okay. I under—”

“I was just following the instructions.”

“—stand. The what?”

“The email from your store. I’m on your list, your email list. Your manager invited only your best customers to a special sale, this week. I’m sure you know.”

“Oh—uh. Oh, yes, of course. The email. What did it say, again?”

“It said to get 20% off of any item, come in and have our best salesgirl Jessica ask for the manager. He mentioned you by name! I hope you’re getting commissions.”

“Okay…” It all started to make sense. That bastard. No, that bastard, sir. Was this his idea of a Christmas present?

“And it said…?” Jessie asked.

“It said, ‘To redeem this offer, be sure to tell her—the customer is always right’.”

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