Retail Therapy (Part Une)

11 Aug

As Anne Frank once said, “Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.” En route to my destination today after nearing the end of my trip, I realized a very disturbing thing: it had only been a week, and I missed work. Not to sound cliché, but it really felt like my life wasn’t one hundred percent complete. Since I have been away from the rigorous and riveting (alliteration station!) world of retail, I figured that I would dedicate a post to retail that touches on exactly what working retail means to me.

Retail (and the company I am with) was my first job when I was seventeen. I was going to a high school that I absolutely hated, I felt completely out of touch with the world and uninspired, and I was going through a phase where I was really quiet and felt like it was impossible to be myself. In the midst of all of this, I found myself a job. When I began working as a cashier, I was forced to talk to strangers and work as a team with other employees. At first, it was extremely hard. I still remember ringing up people during that first month–I spoke to people in a whisper that I can only describe as something akin to a “church voice”. I was such a perfectionist and so worried that I would make a mistake that my hands would often shake while I was handing customers change. On top of all of this, I would come out of work being on the verge of tears every day. I had absolutely no idea that customers could be so mean, and I took it all quite personally. I think my understanding of those first few weeks of working at a new store is why I’m always chosen to be the person to help train a new employee on the register. “If you feel like crying every day, it’s totally normal,” I would always say. “People here are vicious, but you’ll learn not to take it personally after a while. Just stick it out.” And, to my delight, they always did.

Looking back, I realize that working a part-time job helped to push me out into the real world and face some of my fears–like facing altercation and making conversation with complete strangers. Even though I am at a wonderful (and pricey) university, I still believe that the best education I ever received about the world happened right at my part-time job. After a few months I had a small group of regulars that I enjoyed talking to and I stopped tearing up every time I had an angry customer. I realized that, beside the moments when products had to be straightened on the shelves or when I had to clean the bathrooms (embarrassing as this is, I’ll confess: the first time I EVER cleaned a bathroom in my life was at my job….my mother probably knew that if she had ever asked me to do it at home that something would go terribly wrong), I found that working in retail was like being in the world’s tallest lifeguard chair and looking down at a sea of people who each had something to teach you or show you about the world. These findings are, to this day, what I like to call my OWN version of “retail therapy.” I will touch on these findings in my next post! 🙂

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13 Responses to “Retail Therapy (Part Une)”

  1. Hurky August 27, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    Hey,

    I just finished reading this blog and I feel the exact same way when it comes to working a cash register. I work in a grocery store and I’ve had my shares of the good, the bad, and the ugly customers. I, too, have realized that in this world of retail, I have been educated in ways that my parents or teachers never would have taught me. I also used to tear up when it comes to mean customers, but when I had one a week ago, I may have been shaking, but I wasn’t crying. I applauded myself for that one. But I love what you’re writing so far. Keep it up!

    • rezuri August 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

      I would imagine that grocery stores would be harder to work in just because there isn’t a lot of down-time. I think it’s pretty sad how many customers there are out there that make employees (and other people) want to cry each day. Thank you for reading and if you have any funny/sad/scary stories that you want to share, feel free to contact me! 🙂

      • Hurky August 28, 2010 at 9:25 am #

        Oh, I’ve got tons of stories to tell! Enough to write a few chapters of a book! I’ve only been at my job for two years but it’s a lot so far. Today sucked because a lot of my customers were foreign cheapskates. This lady from China or Taiwan got mad because the Doritos were on sale for $1.99. We can’t go lower than that! That was just today, lol.

      • rezuri August 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

        Ahh yeah I get a lot of those too. I noticed that a lot of customer complaints involve lack of being able to read signs/ads properly. That’s one thing that I took away from working in retail–ALWAYS read a sale in its entirety! And two years is a long time to be at the same place in retail…especially if you are young (I’m assuming you are). When I turn 22 in several months I’ll have been at the same store for five years—I seriously sit back and think “Wow, I am totally crazy for still being here” sometimes! 🙂

  2. Hurky (changing it to something else in a day or so) August 29, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I’m only 22, worked at my work since I was 20. I’ve gotten pretty cynical at times. I agree, customers should go back to school to learn manners. A lot of our customers were from Asia since the town I work in is pretty much run by them, so I understand that their manners are a little different. I just wish some would learn English and learn proper manners. I hate how they try to shove their club cards (discount cards) or coupons at me while I’m almost done with another person’s transaction. I also hate it when not only them, but other people talk over me when I try to greet them. I say, “Hi, how are you today?” and instead of saying hi back, they say, “447-blah blah blah.” or “Paper plastic.” Wanna bop them on the heads. Send people back to school to learn how to read and to learn proper manners. I’ve got plenty more. I need somewhere where I can write down all the crap they pull! 😛

    • rezuri August 30, 2010 at 12:19 am #

      Ugh you’re telling me…I can totally sympathize. Well, you need to start a blog then! Do it!

      • Hurky August 30, 2010 at 9:23 am #

        How did you start yours? I like this site. I tried to start a blog in LiveJournal, but it got annoying after a while. Maybe cause I didn’t get any actual readers. I just came across yours on Facebook scrolling through one of those groups.

  3. rezuri August 30, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    You just create a wordpress account and then you’re on your way! Wait my blog is on facebook? Mind giving me the link? I am one of the very few people who actually still uses my Livejournal…I created it in 8th grade! I wish I had more readers >_> But I just enjoy writing and I do it for my own entertainment. If you create a blog I’ll promise to read!

    • Hurky August 30, 2010 at 10:02 am #

      I forget which one….I go to like 4 threads, “I Hate Stupid Customers”, “If Customers Could Read My Mind, I Wouldn’t Have a Job”, “Working Retail Taught Me To Hate People,” And yeah, I’ll go create my new account. You MUST read about what goes on at my work.

  4. rezuri August 30, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Ah okay…Yay! Looking forward to reading it

  5. mightydustbunny August 30, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Alrighty, here’s my new account! I shall write in it tomorrow. I’m going to go to bed right now cause tomorrow’s the first day of school. I’m continuing my journey to get my degrees so I won’t have to put up with customers forever. How the people who have been there 30+ years did it, I don’t know. They’ve got nerves of steel.

  6. rezuri August 30, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    Lol yup I start back tomorrow too…can’t wait to read your stuff!

  7. mightydustbunny August 31, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Alrighty! My first blog is posted! 😛

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