Retail Therapy (Part Deux)

14 Aug

I’d like to spend some time in this entry reflecting on exactly what working part-time in retail means to me. Trust me, I am absolutely dying to write another post about how crazy my customers are, but I realized that customers complain just as much as employees do. With that being said, it would make me feel better if even one customer has the chance to read this entry and can understand why some people actually do enjoy working retail (for the most part).

Like I mentioned in my previous post, retail really has become a kind of therapy for me. I have, and probably always will be, a bit of a negative thinker. And trust me, I think a lot. Then, when I started working, I learned about putting on a “retail smile” and how cashiers were often expected to always be nice, chatty, and happy. Even if I was having a bad day, I would always walk into work and focus all of my energy on trying to be kind to customers. In a way, my mentality was that if I couldn’t have a good day, I could at least help someone else have a good one. After doing this for a while, I found that just pretending to be happy and positive actually had some effect on me! It was then that I realized that the power of thought is extremely strong, and that it is possible to feel happy if you set your mind to it. Now, if I am having a bad day or week, I actually look forward to going into work because I am forced to be in situation where I can’t cry, complain, or just stay in bed and sleep off any emotions that I might have. I find that even if I am only working four or five hours, I usually walk out of work feeling a lot better about life then when I walked in. That’s right, folks–my lame part-time job taught me all about the power of positive thinking, and I feel that learning such a thing at a young age is invaluable.

I’m sure a lot of my readers (I say “a lot” because I can only hope that my blog views will continue to multiply!) are wondering if I’m on crack because I find happiness in retail which, as we all know, can be one of the hardest fields to work in on a day to day basis. I believe that, because retail has such a negative and bad reputation, people walk into retail jobs automatically believing that every day of working there is going to be hell in a hand basket (or shopping cart, or whatever). And yes, some days I really do feel like crying or slapping customers because I am just so exhausted from the way that I am treated. At the same time, many fail to recognize that behind every unhappy person is a story.

About a year into working, I came across a woman in her mid-thirties who looked like she was a complete brat– I still remember looking up and seeing her in line with a completely sour look on her face. But, instead of just ringing her up as fast as I could and letting her be a sourpuss somewhere else, I decided to take a different approach that, in the end, would completely change my perspective on angry customers. When the lady finally came up to my register, she was very short with me and was giving me the whole “I don’t give a shit who you are” eyebrow raise that I’ve come to know and love. As I was ringing her up, I asked her how her day was in a very kind tone and gave her a smile. She let out a huff and said, “Fine, thanks.” And then, I heard her sniffling. This woman who seemed to have such a hard, heartless exterior was at my register shedding a few tears and wiping them away. She looked around and finally admitted that she was having an extremely bad day and she apologized for her behavior.

There are so many people out there who have lives that our imaginations can’t grasp. There are people who have gone through so much that they don’t feel like they owe anything—not even a smile–to the world. In the midst of all of this, I find myself staring past my register at a crowd of bustling people who have taught me that looks can be so deceiving. I have met beautiful girls who are complete alcoholics, customers with severe eating disorders, and customers who have just learned that they have cancer and have to immediately start chemotherapy. And yeah, some customers are just plain-old crazy or mean. But ultimately it is our responsibility as employees to understand that nothing should be taken personally and that, in the end, people just want to be happy, healthy, and loved. That is why I firmly believe that even a simple “retail smile” can do so much more than anyone will ever know.

I’d like to offer a little challenge to anyone reading this who usually would classify themselves as a rude, angry, or impatient customer: the next time that you buy something at your local drug store, be as kind as you possibly can to the cashier and know that we, too, need to feel happy and loved. As we all know, you can only get back what you give away.

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3 Responses to “Retail Therapy (Part Deux)”

  1. Spiral October 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    “my lame part-time job taught me all about the power of positive thinking”

    “I firmly believe that even a simple “retail smile” can do so much more than anyone will ever know”

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and the lessons you have learned. I remember hearing that having a purpose and giving are two things that help people be happier and live longer. How great that you are learning to incorporate them into your every day life. With your insight and writing skills, you could easily turn your knowledge into a book.

    Great blog!

    • Retail Robot October 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

      Thank you for reading! 🙂 I agree..having purpose and trying to put love into what you do can pretty much improve any situation you have in life and, in an odd way, it has made me happier!

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    […]   Here are a few related blogs on this subject: Retail Therapy (Part Deux) « Retail Robot – Retail Therapy (Part Deux) « Retail Robot Part time home base job Prithvi30W | Free UK […]

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