Why I Would Hate to Work in Retail

Black Friday came and went again this year, and I managed to extend my personal streak of not doing a goddamn thing on Black Friday to 23 consecutive times.  And to top it all off, I also managed to set a personal best for total amount of time spent Christmas shopping (two stores, 19 minutes, and $230).  But one thing that I noticed that kind of bugged me was when I was walking from my car into one of the stores.  One of the employees was standing outside having a cigarette (This wasn’t even by the entrance, it was by one of the loading docks that I had to walk by to get from the car to the main entrance), and this little old lady had gone up to him to bitch about how she had bought something from the store he worked at and then went back and saw that the stores ad had it marked as $30 less than what she paid for it.

Now, I understand that the lady has a right to be upset, but why the hell would she think it’s a good idea to go complain to the guy who’s outside smoking a cigarette.  I heard him say multiple times that if she went in to the checkout, they would be able to help her out, to which she replied, “But I’m talking to you about this, young man.”  All frighteningly realistic impersonations of my grandma aside, this crazy lady reminded me how lucky I am to not be working in retail.  I mean, I’ve always enjoyed jobs where I stay as far away from the general public as possible, both to the benefit of myself and the people who employ me (I usually make a habit of saying things I probably shouldn’t.  It’s not my fault that jokes and general talk about sex makes people so unreasonably uncomfortable).  But every time I see something like that scene makes me even more happy that I don’t work with customers.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do not feel bad for people who work in retail because of the holidays.  I don’t feel bad that they have to get up early on Black Friday to go to work.  I don’t feel bad for when they have to work holidays.  I don’t feel bad for them when there are long lines.  That’s part of the game.  That’s how it works.  But I do feel bad for them when it comes to dumb people.  We’ve all been there.  We’ve been behind the coupon lady at the checkout counter.  We’ve seen them stop the cashier in the middle of ringing up their purchase and they realize that their coupon only counts toward a different particular type of a product, so they take the incorrect item, run back to the aisle they got it from, and come back with the correct one.  We’ve seen the person debating prices with the cashier. We’ve all been in the situation where we were one item away from being ready to check out, and so you go to the oral health aisle to pick up the floss, but the overly-rotund lady is standing directly in front of ALL of the floss (including the generic and off-brand floss) and she’s talking loudly on her cell phone and she sounds pissed so you don’t want to ask her to roll a little to the left, but then she starts to turn toward you, and not wanting to piss her off more by staring at her, you look directly at the shelf and pick up the first thing you see, which happens to be the cute little Hello Kitty toothbrush, and then you realize what’s in your hand so you turn to the lady to see if she sees what the hell you’re doing (which she has), she just stares at your pink toothbrush, glances up into your eyes, back at the toothbrush, rolls her eyes, turns around, and wobbles over to the toothpaste section.   You just say, “whatever,” to yourself in your head, grab the goddamn floss and get the hell out as fast as you can.  (Not that that last one has anything to do with people working in retail, but I’m still bitter, so fuck it.)

But on top of that, there are two other absurd situations that I was in that really showed me what working in retail would do to you.  The first situation was when I went to Lenscrafters to try to get new glasses.  It turns out my prescription card was out-of-date, and so the guy at the store called my doctors office to see if my more recent visit would count toward renewing my prescription.  While he was on the phone, he got put on hold, he looked agitated, looked over at me and said, “I swear, all of these people are just fucking retarded.”  Now, I normally find it amusing anytime anybody says anything that most people consider completely inappropriate (hence the reason I always have thought talking about sex in public is awesome), so I laughed at it.  But at the same time, I thought, ‘That was completely unnecessary.’  It’s one thing if the lady had done something stupid or wrong, but she was only put him on hold so she could pull up my file.

The next situation was earlier in my life when I went to college.  I was shopping around for futons, and I was walking out of the store when the guy who worked there started to talk to me about the potential purchase.  He, apparently, considered the quality of futon that I have in my dorm room as something that would have a drastic affect on the outcome of my life.  So, I was doing the whole slowly moving closer and closer to the door, checking my phone, praying that someone would call me, until finally I got outside.  I told the guy, “Well, I’ve got to check out some other stores, but I’ll keep you guys in mind.”  He looked at me and said, “Yeah man.  Go, shop around, and I’ll see you later, bro.”  Bro.  Bro. Bro.  Did this middle-aged motherfucker seriously just call me bro?  Now, I’m six feet tall, pale, 210 pounds with blonde hair and a brown, manly beard.  I wear flannel shirts and blue jeans that have the wholes worn in, not designed in.  I don’t drink Coors fucking Light.  I’m not a bro.

But there this middle aged guy is, desperate for a sale.  He sees that I’m a college aged kid, and he has to assume that all college guys refer to other college guys as bro.  It’s nothing different than the eyeglasses guy calling my eye doctor’s receptionist a retard.  He saw that I was a young male, and assumed I would think it’s funny (it kind of was, but it was more funny because he was such an egregious jackass about it).  Retail turns you into nothing more than a stereotyping bastard.  Do you think the eyeglasses guy would have said that to a customer if the customer was a woman?  Or middle aged?  Would the futon guy talked that way if my mom was with me?  Or if the customer was a female, would he have called her a, “betch?”  Hell no.  Because these retail working assholes do nothing but stereotype everyone that walks through the door.  They don’t want to, but if they want that sale, if they want their commission, they pretty much have to.

So that’s why I don’t want to work in retail.  Not that working in the service industry is all that fun (at this point I’m about one bad day away from quitting, finding a new job, and moving at least an hour away from Milwaukee.  Or maybe just one more time listening to my boss telling me smoking is bad for my health), but at least I can act like myself and not give a shit about what anyone really thinks about me.

Take it easy,



About erfnompanda

Life can be anything you want. Or anything you don't want, for that matter. Me? Well, after four years, too many thousands of dollars in student loans, and a piece of paper that says that I can write the English language well, my life is somewhere between 2005 Charlie Sheen and 1980's Danny Bonaduce: Nowhere to go but down. So on my way down, I figure I'll pitch my last ditch effort at making my world-view known and, more importantly, take as many people as I can down with me. And so this, my friends, is Life According To The Panda. View all posts by erfnompanda

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