Working retail is not easy. Eight-hour shifts appeasing the ridiculous demands of people, making small talk, being ignored, yelled at and occasionally thanked. It’s mental and physical labor- yes, physical as is in you’re on your feet for eight hours straight. You are in constant motion, and you absolutely must be able to multitask – even while other human beings treat you as deplorable creatures. “No ma’am I can’t waive the taxes, unfortunately, you’ll have to express your dissatisfaction with the government…you want me to shove that up my what? You’re never shopping here again? Oh! you want to speak to a manager? I’d be happy to get her for you (insert eyeroll)”
It’s a demanding job, but it is also immensely rewarding (most of the time). Retail really does wonders for the resume too. Retail provides valuable skill sets, it gives you the opportunity to enahance communication skills, build confidence in your ability to handle customer service, both the good and the really terribly awful- and it really does wonders for public speaking. Handling people is not some simple mindless task, so having a glowing recommendation from an employer regarding your added contribution as a valuable asset to the company really demonstrates character and hard work. Seriously, it’s not an easy job.
However, there is nothing better than hearing a customer say thank you, or express their appreciation for your help. Not because it’s an ego boost, but because you genuinely were able to assist them and they are truly greatful. They found the perfect gift for their mother, the perfect new accessory for their first date, a beautiful new piece for the house they just bought -whatever it is, you helped them find it.
On the other hand, you learn a lot about how genuinely terrible people can be and how dehumanizing someone can get over 13% tax or your lack of a seniors discount, or how three stores over has a sale and its “utterly outrageous” that you don’t have one as well. I’ve been yelled at, ignored and blatantly disrespected. Sounds fun right? ya well that part of it is not. I have, however, learned valuable lessons from my experiences that I wouldn’t have anywhere else.
Here is what I’ve learned about people.
1. Nobody wants to pay 13% tax- I DONT EITHER PEOPLE BUT I DONT MAKE THE RULES SO DONT YELL AT ME.
2. People have 0 limits on their persistence to bargain. “No ma’am, the lack of a price tag does not indicate that the item is free” and no you are really not funny, you’re rather annoying. Oh and no, you cannot have my discount that’s not how this works.
3. Language barriers are hard sometimes, but even when there isn’t one please do not wave your hands at me pointing and gesturing like I am here solely to serve you- I don’t actually respond to that, nor do I understand what you’re saying other then “read my mind and do what I want” News flash, I can’t read minds.
4. If you don’t accept American Express you might as well hate yourself because apparently you’re the only place in the world that doesn’t accept it. (Actually LOTS of places don’t, so don’t act like I’m this huge inconvenience) YOURE THE INCONVENIENCE.
5. NO the employee bathroom is NOT public please do not walk into the staff area and help yourself, especially when you were asked NOT to go back there (true story)
6. People think they’re better then you, and they love to tell you all about it. Oh, you do what for a living? Oh you think my jobs cute? That’s nice, but I have to apologize we don’t sell personalities here.
7. Do not, for the love of sweet baby Jesus himself, argue with me over the price. We can both see the sticker, it is Infact an 8 and not a 0 please do not argue because you won’t win.
8. Yes you can have the damaged item, or I can get you a new one from the back – either way it’s the same price so please don’t waste my time expressing how much you want it but it’s broken when I’ve offered you a perfectly fine one.
9. For some reason people always assume retail workers are lying.
YES ITS ALL 925 STERLING SILVER DO NOT ASK ME 650 TIMES IN 5 MINUTES THE ANSWER IS STILL YES AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE YES
“Is this 925 sterling? Yes ma’am it is, all of our silver is.” (35 seconds later) “is this 925 sterling silver? Oh yes ma’am it is, all of our product is”
“So this is silver right? “Yes it is, how did you know?”
10. People are shitty. Yeah there’s lots of really nice and kind people who are patient and understanding. However there is an abundance of selfish, egotistical and narcissistic assholes who would love nothing more than to make your life hell.
*Retail is awesome, I love my job and mostly I love my employers and I have lots of regular customers who are amazing.