Archive | July, 2010

Retail Break!

31 Jul

I will be out of state and away from my lovely retail job for a week, so there will not be any updates for a week or so. With that being said, I leave you with this video! The guy laughs a bit too much in it, but I totally agree with everything he says. It definitely makes me think twice about wanting to be a manager of a store (and yes, I have considered it). See you in a week or so!

“You Can Keep the Receipt!”

28 Jul

While waking up to read the daily news (you know, checking my Facebook), I came across an actual news piece posted by one of my fellow Facebook friends. This article, written by the Washington Post, discusses a rather alarming fact: 40% of receipts found in supermarkets contain bisphenol-A, which can cause many health problems, birth defects, etc. The most important part, of course, is how this all relates to retail workers. Another article that I found states that retail workers carry 30% more BPA in their bodies than other adults. In other words, working in retail not only kills your back, ruins your posture and decreases your faith in mankind, it also appears to be slowly killing us as well.

I wish I was a biochemistry major, but sadly I am not and, therefore, am not quite familiar with what exactly this means to fellow retail workers. Just based on the small amount of research I did, it seems that many people are overreacting to the existence of BPA in products. I believe, however, that a solution is easier than many may think: why don’t we just get rid of receipts? I mean, come on, I can’t even remember the last time I actually saw a customer use a receipt for its original purpose (to see how much their items cost and how much money they spent)! Most receipts are chucked into the trash unless a customer wants to return an item or if there is a coupon printed on it. Most of the time customers would much rather ask the cashier how much their items cost than look at the receipt that they have been given for that sole purpose. With this being said, I think it is time that retailers across the counter seriously take removing receipts completely into consideration. It would reduce the amount of paper used, it would decrease the risk of having elevated BPA levels in the body, and it would just make the lives of cashiers a hell of a lot easier. Coupons could just be added onto the various cards that retail stores have, and the transactions could probably be easily tracked through cards as well for refund purposes.

I’d love to hear what people think about this issue. Do you think the lives of retail workers are in peril? Do you think that carrying a receipt in your purse/wallet/pocket could be potentially harmful? Are you so sick of hearing about how basically everything in the world can cause cancer or some other terrible illness? Do you enjoy being asked questions?

I anticipate some very good responses!

Things You Should Know About Retail Employees: Part Two

25 Jul

After another lovely week of working in retail heaven, I decided to pay special attention to things that I felt should be included in this post. So let’s continue with where we left off, shall we?

5. Use your hands! By the way that a large majority of my customers act, you’d think that we, as employees, all have leprosy, poison ivy, or some other terrible thing that screams “Don’t touch me!”. Ask any retail employee and I am sure that they will all agree that one of the most frustrating things a customer can do is hand money to a cashier by doing any of these things: 1) Throwing it/tossing it/flicking it onto the counter, 2) Setting it down on the counter, or 3) Setting it down on the counter so far away that the cashier has to bend across the counter to grab it. Yes, we do handle more cash in a day than probably even the most successful hookers and strippers do, but it doesn’t mean that we are crawling with germs. In fact, my hands are probably cleaner than yours considering each of the registers that I work at have economy-sized hand sanitizer bottles near them. In addition to that, we clean our counters and card readers religiously because we don’t want to get sick from any of you sniffling and coughing customers. With that being said, please hand your payments of choice to us by hand. Doing otherwise is disrespectful to us, and in most cases it also slows down the line. If a customer hands me crumpled-up bills, they are going to have to wait longer for the transaction to be completed just because, yes, I do have to straighten them out to put in my register. Also, it really makes me sad to see how many customers just literally toss change and bills onto the counter only to have half of the money dive across the counter and onto the floor. I once had a conversation with my father about how much it frustrates me when customers don’t hand me money, and he told me that he doesn’t like touching people’s hands so he puts the money on the counter. He also mentioned that he never once considered what he had been doing to be rude. So, with that being said, if you weren’t smart enough to figure out that putting money on the counter is rude, consider changing your ways for the better!

6. Preschool 101: Let’s Form a Line, Kids! Lines in stores are part of everyday life, and they should be respected for the impeccable way, when done correctly, that they maintain order. It saddens me to see when such preschool basics are violated by customers that, at one point, I considered intelligent. Since when has it been socially acceptable to just jump to the front of a line with five other customers waiting? I know it sounds crazy, but people actually do this, and it really upsets me and the rest of the customers patiently waiting in line. And, while we’re on the subject, I’d also like to point out that waiting in lines is a part of life: going to the bank, the airport, traffic jams and stoplights, heck there’s probably also a big-ass line for wherever we all go when we die! What I am trying to say is that customers need to take a chill pill (yay for 90’s phrases!) because, no matter how many times they huff and puff, the line still will always go at its own pace, and I can only ring as fast as I can! This world needs to learn a bit more about patience, I think.

7. Preschool 101: Wait Your Turn/The World Doesn’t Revolve Around You This has a lot to do with the much-needed patience that customers need to have as described in #6. If you have a question, comment, or complaint, please do not try talking to me while I am helping another customer or ringing another customer out. I find this to be so incredibly rude. Since when do people think that they are so amazing that a cashier will stop what they are doing with another customer and serve their needs? And don’t ask me to check a price for an item while I am scanning someone else’s items, either! Once again, this all goes back to patience and manners. Sadly, it seems that a lot of people don’t have these things.

8. Embrace Your Reading Skills “Excuse me, do you work here? Can you tell me if this is on sale?” I cannot tell you how frustrating a question like this is. Every drug store in America is required to have little weekly sales fliers in the store. These sales fliers highlight the sales for the week, the specifications for the sales (for example, a certain sale on Gatorade might only include bottles with the specific ounce listed), and when the sales will end. In addition to these handy fliers, retail workers spend about an average of six to eight hours a week taking down and putting up little sales stickers underneath every item that the store is having a sale on. Given such clues, one would think that finding at item and deducing whether the item is on sale would be quite an easy feat. It seems, however, that customers would rather take the easiest route for them (i.e. not taking time to read things) and just ask us. Frankly I am starting to wonder if sale stickers are even necessary at stores because it doesn’t seem that they are being utilized. With the economy being the way it is, people need to learn to be smart shoppers–this includes reading about sales and the fine print of all sales! Yes, a lot of retailers will try to trick customers with small print, but if you take the time to read an entire sale you will always be able to read the fine print yourselves, which hopefully will allow you to avoid making such comments as “That’s not what the sale sign says!” or “Why isn’t this ringing up on sale?” to me.

9. Be Polite I could go on and on about all the things that customers do that completely annoy me, but I believe the best way to sum all of this up is by asking, no–pleading, that customers at least attempt to be polite. I understand that everyone has bad days, but cashiers have bad days too and we are required to keep smiles on our faces, take criticism, blame, money thrown at us, and standing on our feet. If we can be at work and be polite, so can you! And you know what? Being polite and nice to others is a great happiness booster. The world is full of enough rottenness, and everyone holds the key to bringing happiness to themselves and others. Yes, I know this all sounds cliché, but it really seems to be true, and it is the main reason why I truly love working retail: the more I am up there focusing on being positive and nice to even the most terrible customers, the more happy and fulfilled I become. If customers could just avoid being rude, have some patience, and leave their problems at the sliding doors, the world would certainly be a better place.

Well, I think I’ve covered all of the important things! Feel like I need to add something? Let me know!

An “Unpleasant Experience”

23 Jul

I know I said in my previous post that I was going to continue my topic about what customers should know about retail workers, but I have decided to push that to the side and focus on/rant about a customer that I had today. I would like to preface the story by saying this: I am going to start counting all the bad customers I get on certain days, because I’m pretty sure I get the most annoying ones when I have the shortest shifts…it’s like they can sniff it out!

Today I only worked for five hours, but it seemed like it was just one lunatic customer after another. First of all, I am pretty sure today was an unofficial “Bring Your Tumor to Work Day” because I saw not one, but TWO customers walking around with what can only be described as very large tumors. One was bubbling out of a man’s arm, and the other one was the size of an orange and protruding from the back of another man’s head. Gag me. Then, after Tumor One and Tumor Two were gone, I had another customer come in and bring her bike into the store, and then she walked around asking us all questions about how much things cost (Here’s a little tip: the prices are always underneath the items, and if they are all sale, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s a sale sign underneath the item too!). She returned something without a receipt, so we had to give her a company gift card instead of money back, and then she made a point of running around trying to give her gift card to random customers because she “Doesn’t live here” and the card “Means nothing to [her]” due to the fact that she lives in Israel. Apparently crazy people from Israel just decide to fly into our city, rent bikes, and return random items! Not a single customer ended up taking her gift card, so she ended up buying a shit ton of pretzels for herself. All’s well that ends well, eh?

A few other crazy customers came in, one of which was actually a pleasant crazy customer considering we had a nice ten-minute long chat about how you should totally keep wearing your retainers even years after you get your braces off. My dentist thinks I’m crazy, but teeth do shift! Oh, and I also had to attempt to take a three-month old’s passport today, and the baby kept crying with her one fist up, so every picture I took made her look like an angry old mafia man. I really hope the mom keeps that picture for when she’s older!

But enough of the mildly-crazy people–let’s get to the juicy center of what happened today. To put it plainly, I had the most ignorant, unintelligent, rich old lady that I have ever had in my store. And trust me, I’ve had a lot. This particular elderbitch (this is my new nickname for elderly bitchy women…I also think Stephanie Meyer might use the same term for one of her little Twilight vampire clans. If not, you read it here first) was dressed in a nice silky-looking top and bottom, and she seemed like a sweet old lady. After watching her shakily grab things from her cart and put them on the counter, she began asking me why a certain bar of soap wasn’t on sale. So, I grabbed the flyer and I put on my Preschool Story Time voice and read to her the exact details/specifications of the sale. She still didn’t get it, and kept insisting that she wanted to get the sale. So I continued repeating what it said in the flyer in hopes that something would eventually click. Finally she decided to not get the soap…whatever. Then, she became confused because she happened to grab the one kind of weird-ass tuna that wasn’t on sale, I explained to her that she needed to grab another kind if she wanted the sale, and she argued with me about that too. I invited her to come back to the aisle so I could show her the sale sign, but she refused.

To make a long story short, this woman managed to find five things that were very similar to the other five items that we on sale, and then she acted like I was retarded because I wasn’t “understanding the sale.” I was with her, I kid you not, for about twenty minutes, and I was getting more and more frustrated because she was obviously upset and the more I tried to explain to her about the sales, the angrier we both got. I could actually feel my face heating up because I was getting so infuriated. Then, when I finally rang up the items that she decided she wanted, she started complaining to me about how her shopping experience today was “very unpleasant”. I felt like saying “Yeah, well this wasn’t exactly a bowl of ice cream for me either, elderbitch.” Then she started to walk away without paying! So I had to call her back and tell her the total. I said, “Okay, you still need to pay. Your total is $7.77” and she thought I was talking about one of the items on sale, and she said, “No! I thought the sale was for seventy-seven cents!” So then I spent another ten minutes trying to explain to her that she still owed me money. Throughout the whole transaction, two of my co-workers were up there laughing to themselves because they could see I was pretty much ready to smack her.

If there is anything anyone could take away from this rant, it is this: Please please please read sale signs and fliers carefully before you decide to come up to a cashier in line and argue about why things aren’t on sale. And if you are an old lady and used to just complaining and scaring people in order to get your way and get sales for things that really aren’t on sale, don’t come into my store because I will not give you want you want. Also, if you tend to discover that you are one of those people that never gets the sales right, never feel ashamed to walk up to a cashier and ask them to just find the sale items for you…it takes up a lot of less of our time as opposed to arguing with you about it while you are getting ready to pay. I feel bad that the woman was upset and confused, but she could have saved both of us a lot of trouble if she would have just read the signs carefully.

Things You Should Know About Retail Employees: Part One

21 Jul

I have noticed that there are quite a few articles and blog postings about what customers should know when they walk into retail stores. Unfortunately, many retail workers only seem to get treated decently when their customers are fellow/veteran slaves of retail. With that in mind, I would like to create a few simple blog posts that highlight what I believe are the most important things customers should know about the local retail employees that they encounter on a regular basis:

1. We are not retarded. Customers may deny this, but I have noticed quite a large difference in the way that certain customers treat pharmacy technicians as opposed to front-store retailers. Most customers assume that the people who work up front are less intelligent than the people handling pharmaceuticals in the back of the store. Not true! In fact, about 85% of the people I have worked with (I’m one of those people who enjoy making up random statistics…just go with it) who have been fired worked in the pharmacy and made some really stupid mistakes. A lot of customers ask me questions, and whenever they find out that I go to a local private university, they act completely surprised. Just because I am young and working at a store does not mean that I am not intelligent or planning to have a (hopefully) better-paying and more respectable job in the future.

2. We don’t really care what you are buying, or what combination of items you are buying at one time. I notice that a lot of people tend to sweat bullets when they have to go into drug stores to buy condoms or lubricant. I am here to say that there is completely no reason at all to feel embarrassed about what you are buying. Most of the time, scanning items is something that we like to do very quickly and, therefore, what you buy just ends up becoming a blur. Want to buy sour cream, chocolate brownie mix, and a five-pack of Fleet enemas? Go for it! We really don’t judge any of the purchases we get just because we understand that we all have to buy embarrassing things every once in a while. We do, however, enjoy watching you squirm if you do choose to feel nervous/embarrassed. A few years ago, I had a fourteen year-old boy come up to buy a bottle of flavored personal lubricant, and he looked and me and told me he forgot something and that he would be right back. After thirty minutes of setting the bottle aside for him, I realized he had probably chickened out. With that being said, if you are young and buying something that terribly embarrasses you, maybe you should reconsider what you are doing, hmm?

3. You all smell. Okay not to be completely mean, but this is one of my own personal problems that I have with customers because I have a very sensitive nose. Men: Dousing yourselves in Axe cologne in the deodorant aisle does not make you more attractive, and it only results in a lot of elderly people hacking up lungs in the adjacent aisles. Women: If, for any reason, you feel compelled to buy Shalimar or Wind Song perfume, please feel free to contact me or your local department store…there are far better-smelling fragrances out there! Also, I really have a problem with people who come to our store right after having/cooking dinner. You may not notice it, but we all can smell whatever it was you were cooking or eating before you decided to hop into our store. Please consider a shower, a decent spray of perfume, or one of those handy Febreze bottles we sell down aisle 14.

4. If you really don’t need a plastic bag, please tell us. And if you need things double-bagged, please tell us before we start bagging your items! I believe that the amount of plastic bags that I hand out every day is completely sick, which is why I always ask customers if they want a bag for small items before I just go ahead and give them one. So please, if you have a cashier who is eco-conscious enough to ask something like that, please don’t be as rude as one customer was to me (“Um, of COURSE I want a bag….what are you thinking?” was her response, and even though she was wearing sunglasses in the store I could totally tell she was giving me the stink-eye). We ask because, really, God gave us two hands for a purpose. You really don’t need a tiny plastic bag to carry a lipstick that you can put in your purse or, heaven forbid, hold in your hand. On another note, I really find it rude when I bag all the items for a customer and try to be fast, and then they just stare at me for a while and then say “Oh, I kind of want those double-bagged.” Trust me, I wish that it was a requirement that all cashiers had to be psychic to work in retail, but sadly we are not. If you want things double-bagged, please tell us in the beginning of the transaction because it takes a lot more time to do if we have already placed all of your bags on the counter. Sheesh!

Feel that I am missing something regarding this topic? Have any suggestions? Let me know!

Mr. Trouble

16 Jul

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that I would be dedicating an entire post to my favorite elderly customer, Mr. Trouble.  In retail, finding an elderly regular that you actually enjoy seeing is just as rare as seeing an elderly person running around the store without a walker (with the green tennis balls attached at the ends, of course). I’d like to believe that every person who works in retail can admit to having that one older customer that they just can’t help but love. At my old store, my favorite elderly customer was actually an elderly couple who still acted like they were two eighteen year-olds in love. Their good nature and abundance of humor really made me excited to see them when they were in the store. In addition, they also proved to me that it is possible to find a partner that you can share the rest of your life with…the key ingredient to a long-lasting marriage, it seems, is having a great sense of humor and an ability to not take things too seriously. In addition to always laughing at my jokes and poking fun of each other in front of me, they also constantly asked if I had met their “handsome grandson Tiger” at my high school yet. I secretly wished that, one day, they would bring him in so that I could meet him. Even if he wasn’t my type, I probably would have dated him just so I could have been around his awesome grandparents more! Towards the end of my stay at the old store, this couple stopped coming in as much and it really made me sad.

I do not enjoy Mr. Trouble coming in because we have good conversations. Instead, I enjoy seeing Mr. Trouble because he enjoys annoying people and being a goof ball just as much as I enjoy doing that myself. The first time that I met him, he slowly walked over to my counter and said “Here comes trouble!”  And with that, the name stuck.

Mr. Trouble is probably in his late seventies or early eighties. He always wears dress shirts with a front pocket that is accoutered with enough pens and pencils to open his own small stationary store, a wallet that is falling apart, and several other pieces of paper. He usually wears a tan pair of dress pants, and one of the pockets in the back also contains many other cards and articles of paper jammed into it. Mr. Trouble, armed with a wooden cane, always walks slowly into our store. He used to be a tall man, but he now is hunched over so much that he is almost parallel to the ground. Even if he thinks nobody is paying attention to him, he always has a small smirk–a kind of look that is a mixture of both amusement and a constant determination to not completely burst out laughing–on his face. I remember one time I was taking a family’s passport photos and I was trying very hard to get an infant’s attention so that she would look at me and I would get a good photo of her, and I caught Mr. Trouble watching us and laughing silently to himself.

The thing I love most about Mr. Trouble isn’t that he always holds tightly onto the twenty dollar bill he always uses to buy his two daily newspapers (I always have to literally pry the bill from his fingers) or the fact that he often stands there after I tell him the total and says “Put it on account…on account of I don’t want to pay!”, but it is the fact that whenever I asked him how his day was going, he never really seemed to volunteer any information that could possibly be depressing. I found out through another co-worker, however, that Mr. Trouble’s wife was actually terminally ill and had been in and out of hospitals for almost four years. Mr. Trouble spent so much time with her that he became a pastoral volunteer at the hospital. To see a person walk around with such a good sense of humor despite what I imagine would be a constant battle to keep his wife healthy really helped me to understand that some things in life, especially the bad things, really can’t be helped…the show must always go on. For Mr. Trouble, that show always consisted of him trying to make us laugh, even if it meant him standing to the side and waiting for me to finish ringing up customers so he could tell me a funny joke.

It is so easy for elderly people, and even people in general, to become bitter when things do not go as planned in their lives. I think a lot of people could learn so much from a man like Mr. Trouble. The last time I saw him, I overheard him telling someone that his wife was finally back at home and out of the hospital. I think there’s a lot to be said for good humor and positivity in the face of such distressing times. I hope to be seeing Mr. Trouble as much as possible before I hopefully leave in a year to find a real job…I think there’s a lot I can learn from him in that time.

Sir Scam-a-lot

13 Jul

When I used to work for the same retail company in a much smaller town (which didn’t have any security cameras or even a manager’s office that overlooked the front registers), we had shoplifting incidences about once every fourth months. At the new location I am working at, I often feel like I’m part of that opening sequence in Aladdin: there’s people trying to grab and steel things left and right, and most of it is right under your nose–or over your head. In the past month, for instance, I encountered a man who was about to walk out of the door carrying a pack of Heineken and I asked if he had his receipt, and he showed me his prescription and said “Oh I paid for this back in the pharmacy.” I let him go just because he seemed to be telling the truth, but on a whim I decided to go back in the pharmacy to confirm that he made that purchase. Well, he didn’t. Ever since then, it has come to my attention that I need to get rid of my small-town mentality and accept the fact that, when you work much closer to the city, people get crazy…which brings me to the event that happened today.

I came to work and my manager immediately asked me to come into his office, and he showed me a paper where one of the shifts had written him a note about a woman calling up and saying that purchases were made on her credit card, which had been stolen from her. The amount was around $700. I remembered a man who came in last week and bought two gift cards that totaled up to this amount, and I explained to my manager that I carded the man and his ID completely matched his card. It turns out that there is a scam going on where two separate men are going around to the local stores and buying gift cards (and paying with IDs that match) and then a “concerned customer” calls in and says that she needs the cards refunded to her account because it was her stolen card. Basically, the whole thing is a huge scam and I was lucky enough to be the one to ring the guy out.

With this in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain exactly why stealing is bad–not from a moral standpoint, but simply an economic standpoint: Most people steal and scam people because they do not have money to afford things (and yes, I do realize that some people also steal just for the thrill of it…what ever happened to going on roller coasters?). Basically, when you steal, you are screwing yourselves (and others!) over for the future. How, you ask? A total amount of money lost through stealing (called shrinkage), which includes employee theft, is calculated each year for retail stores. This shrinkage costs retailers quite a few billion dollars a year. In order to make up for the lost money, prices are raised on the top stolen items (from my experience this seems to be condoms, pregnancy tests, makeup/perfume, and batteries) and then the prices continue to get higher and higher as more people steal!

With this in mind, and as a person who has been affected by workplace theft, it is important that people remember that not stealing could actually help you to be able to afford things in the long run if you don’t contribute to overall shrinkage. In addition, it’s just plain stupid. If you steal in a store, you can rest assured that a good majority of the employees in the store do know what you are up to, and they’re waiting to make their move and hopefully arrest you…so don’t do it.

That’s all for today…keep clipping your coupons, people! 😀

A Kiss on the Hand May Be Quite Continental…

7 Jul

I find it amazing that the most ballsy men in my store are far from what most people would imagine. Instead of expecting to get hit on by young, self-absorbed men who reek of expensive cologne (or, God forbid, Axe), wear shirts with various sexual innuendos written on them in obnoxiously large fonts, or individuals who pull out crisp dollar bills from Gucci wallets, I have attracted men from a complete different end of the spectrum: they reek of ‘Lectric Shave, wear dress shirts that would look nice if they didn’t have mysterious coffee (well, let’s hope they’re coffee) stains on them, and their wallets consists of pant pockets that contain bills crumpled up so much that they are about the same size as the coins they carry that jingle around to create their own personal musical scores. That’s right–about 95% of the men who hit on me at work are elderly men and, after some discussion with fellow co-workers, I have discovered that this is certainly a common and almost “normal” thing for any young female cashier to experience.

This entry would be far too long if I described all of the past elderly male encounters that I have had, but I am certainly willing to touch on a few instances that were especially memorable. The first and most recent experience has been with a man that I call “The Chocolate Man.” He is an elderly man that still dresses like he probably did when he went to work every day, and always has a smile on his face that seems to be part happiness and part mild senility. The first time I met him, he asked me if I could help him find razors that would refill the new razor he bought a while ago. Lucky for me, he even brought IN his old razor, with stray hairs still nestled in between the blades, so that I may find exactly the one he needed. I brought him over to the razor display, explained to him which razor he needed, and brought the razors up to the counter for him. As I was ringing him up, I noticed him fishing in his pockets with a determined look on his face, and honestly I was starting to get a bit freaked out. After ringing him up, he finally pulled his hands out of his pockets and handed me two pre-wrapped pieces of Dove chocolate. He then told me how I was a “very beautiful girl” and asked what my name was. I told him, and he told me his name, shook my hand, and then he pulled my hand toward his mouth andkissed my hand. So, to sum it all up: I had my hand kissed and was given chocolate by an old man. Ah, if only these kinds of things happened with handsome, young men! Then again, I supposed chivalry really is dead (or about to die). I’m just amazed that this particular elderly customer had the gull to smack his lips on my hand in front of other customers! He’s attempted to do this since, but I’ve learned to pull my hand back quickly after he shakes it.

Some other more mild encounters I have had with elderly men include: an old man being so astonished by my kindness that he yelled “Marry me!” to me in front of about five different customers in line, another man who told me “I would be put in jail if I married you” (what the heck does that mean?), a man who told me that if he was fifty years younger he would have had the biggest crush on me, and a man who seems to enjoy coming into the store to rant to me about why everyone cares about celebrities and reality television but nobody cares about the war going on in Iraq.

My favorite elderly customer, however, is a wonderful regular who comes in that I like to call “Mr. Trouble”, but he deserves his own entire entry which will be written up very soon.

%d bloggers like this: