Monday, April 27, 2015

Culture Corner: The Life of a Retail Worker


Shopping is an integral part of our society. We can't live without shopping, and some of us (like me) should have the word "shopaholic" tattooed to our foreheads. You would think that, with shopping being really important and all, retail workers would get treated with some respect, right?

The answer is nah, not really.

I work for an underwear store (I actually can't mention names because I'm going to be slinging a lot of mud around and I could get in deep trouble) but I'm sure most of you have heard me complaining about it in the office. At first, I thought that working with ~garments~ and perfume would be a glamorous job, certainly more glamorous than the arduous food service business. My father is a restaurant manager, and I knew that I was not thick-skinned enough to handle the borderline ridiculous situations he has to deal with on a daily basis. I thought that selling bras and panties would be a walk in the park.

NEWSFLASH: It's not.

The hours are wacky. They change every week. I have no stability and I can never plan things in advance because knowing my luck, I will have a shift scheduled at the exact time I planned to hang out with friends. Or do homework. Or feed my cat. If I request a day off in advance, my manager will just reject it because apparently forcing people to buy uncomfortable-looking pieces of twine (AKA lacy thongs) is more important than a healthy work/life balance. The pay to work ratio is absolute garbage. The breaks are so short, you don't even have enough time to take a piss and have a bite to eat. THE BREAKROOM IS INFESTED WITH ANTS FOR CORN'S SAKE.

But forget about all that. What's really terrible about retail is the people.

NEWSFLASH: 99% of the human population was raised by a pack of demonic beasts that leave nothing but destruction in their wake. If you already had a creeping feeling that there is no hope for humanity, let me tell you right now: there is definitely, 100% no hope for humanity whatsoever. We are a sick, depraved species. Here are a few things that get on my nerves:

People Who Refuse My Help
I hate talking to people. But alas, here I am stuck in a job that requires talking to people. If I don't ask people if they need my help, I will never make my sales quota. If I don't exchange names with the customers, then I don't make my sales quota. If the customer forgets my boring-ass basic name, then I don't make my sales quota. When I don't make my sales quota two things happen:
1) The manager embarrasses you over the walkie-talkie and basically screeches at you to make more money in the next 15 minutes or else we lose.
2) The managers will say the dreaded "we need to talk" and take you into the office of doom and give you a stern talking-to. If you're terrible, there's always the fear of getting fired.
So, when customers refuse my help, talk down to me, tell me to get away from them, tell me "WHAT?" when I try to ask them anything, or physically push me away from them, it sucks because I can almost feel my sales numbers draining. I don't want to talk them, but I HAVE to. There isn't a retail worker out there that genuinely wants to talk to these strangers. If people don't need my help, then it would be nice if they could politely decline, like civilized, evolved beings. That at least would take the edge off the rejection.

People Who Make Outlandish Requests
Just yesterday, I had the pleasure of helping a woman who asked me about a one-size-fits-all pair of underwear that the store apparently used to sell. This is an impossibility. The same size of underwear that would fit, say, Taylor Swift, would definitely not fit me no matter how hard I tried. When I politely told her that we do not carry any such item, she insisted we had it, stating she saw it at another store location several years ago.

Several years ago.

At the store I work at, we switch out fashions every couple of months.

However, I of course, got verbally beaten over the head over for it because according to the customer, I don't know anything. About the store I work at. Okay then.

There was another time in which a woman asked me which perfumes had caps that screwed off. No one would know such information offhand ever in their whole life because it's the weirdest thing you can ask, but she ended up buying all the perfumes that had those caps, so I can't complain I guess.

There was yet another time in which I was working at the register and a couple was purchasing eleven perfume gift sets. They wanted each set in its own shopping bag. Eleven shopping bags. Then they complained when they couldn't carry it all. Well...

Then there was the time in which a woman was making about five or six different returns. She had one item to return from each purchase and she had no idea what receipt went with what item. She also refused to give me all the receipts in one shot so I can figure it out quickly on my own. Instead, she insisted on pulling them out one by one like a shitty magician pulling handkerchiefs out of his sleeve.
"Oh. That receipt wasn't it? Here, try this one?"
I was starting to wonder if she had a secret horde of receipts hidden in every orifice of her body or something. If she started pulling them out of her nostrils, I would not have been surprised.

People Who Would Do Anything for a Discount
The store I work at is ridiculously overpriced. I never shop there, even with my employee discount. $50+ for a bra? No thanks, man. However, there are people out there that will pull the craziest shit just to get stuff at a discounted price. Some people like to divide things into 2374665236941 different transactions so they can use 3743604374632 different coupons and then complain about how long the cashier is taking. But others would try to buy damaged goods or deliberately damage goods just so they can get it for free. One time, I was at the register and a customer told me "That's the last bra they have in that size and it has a pen mark on it. It's damaged. Give it to me for free." However, store policy dictates that we cannot sell a customer a damaged product. When I told her, guess who go a shitstorm of verbal abuse hurled in their face? Yeah. Me! Others have tried on panties, deliberately stained them, and tried to get them for free. Yes, people really are disgusting aren't they!

People Who Complain About the Prices and Expect Me to Do Something
The prices suck. Everyone knows that. However, I always get customers that spend a half hour bitching and moaning of how the prices have gone up since the last time they shopped here (which was maybe a decade ago). Then after their tirade they would quietly look at me, waiting for me to magically change the numbers on the price tag. There I am, standing there silently saying "I don't know, man. I can't do anything." The workers at the store don't make up the prices and we definitely cannot change the prices. Maybe they can go complain to the mystery suits that are personally responsible for ripping you off.

People Who Act Like Tornadoes
Some people are flat-out messes. They mess up the shelves, they throw unwanted items in the wrong sections, they let their hellish children run around wild and free, destroying everything with their deadly, stubby fingers. When you're not allowed to leave your zone for any reason, it's REALLY hard to pick up after customers who throw their unwanted stuff everywhere. You'd think people would be nice enough to pick up after themselves, but no, alas. I also wish children can know that perfume bottles are not toys and perfume blotter cards are not meant to be thrown around the second after I fix them. People should also realize that you aren't supposed to squeeze lotion on those blotter cards either.

Wow, that was one angry post! Now I gotta go and deal with all the people I just described above. Here's a picture of me when I'm at work:

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