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One Year Recap: Life Outside College and How to Truly Embrace Your First Job – PART ONE

2 Oct

A few days ago, I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. Only after that first warm, delicious sip did I truly celebrate the one year anniversary of me starting my first job out of college.

Last year at this time, I stopped by the local Dunkin Donuts and sipped that exact same drink as I made my very first one hour commute from my grandparents’ house, where I was living after graduating, to my new job. Though I’m not too slow to adapt to new surroundings, the first week of anything new is usually a huge shock to my system – so much so that my memory usually is completely wiped of that first week. I don’t think I remember more than five memories of my first full year of high school after moving, which was by far the worst mental shock I’d been through. I can’t tell you what I did that first week of my job, but I can tell you this: I was terrified and excited at the same time. I remember staring at my cubicle and having tears well up in my eyes as I thought to myself, “Is this my life for the next forty-some years? Waking up early, trudging to work and staring at grey cubicle walls? Am I cut out for this?”

I have been brutally honest to the several friends that I have who are still in their senior year of college: Graduating and having your first job is a very rude awakening. In fact, it’s best described as a serious of ruthless smacks on the face and shoves into concrete walls that continue for at least two months, maybe more. The beauty, however, is that each day as your brain and heart and body get pushed around, you are transforming into the best person you’re going to be. In a special two part series, I’m going to touch upon a few of the experiences I have had so far a year into my job and how I dealt with them. I truly hope this provides comfort and knowledge to others in similar situations.

pumpkin spice latte

The only time of the year when I’m totally okay spending money on coffee every day.

Making Office Friends

I am the kind of person who wants to be friends with everyone. When I jumped into my job, I was faced with a very tight-knit group of girls in my marketing department who all seemed to have their own inside jokes and interesting stories to talk about. I felt so alone and left out, and it was mostly because (here comes the tip, people!) I was comparing it to college. Only now have I put both things together, but it’s true: In college, it is pretty safe to say that everyone is there to make friends, and it’s pretty darn easy to do it. In the workforce, it’s a bit different. People come and go and there aren’t activities to really ease yourself into friendship like school does, so it’s a completely different approach. My best advice is to be cordial and nice and let the relationships with your co-workers develop slowly. Once you get really comfortable there (and for me it took about seven months), you will loosen up and talking to co-workers will come naturally.  I was pretty shy when I started, and now I joke around and waste time talking to people as much as the next person.

Expand Outside of Your Department

If you work in a medium to large-sized company, there’s a high possibility of you never really speaking to anyone outside of your own department. In your first year, make a mental effort to change that. You will come upon a time where you will have to call someone in another department for help or to assist you in a project, so use that time to your advantage and let yourself become a familiar face to them. Here’s an extra special tip: Befriend your IT department. They are usually full of the coolest, most laid back people and are super approachable. They also will give you extra special treatment when you are having computer issues or need access to top-secret things, such as the color printer or the privacy-protected mobile wifi access.

Don’t Date a Co-Worker

Don’t do this. Let me repeat: Don’t do this. Ever. Ever ever. Even if, like me, you think that it helps you to relate more the next time you read Bridget Jones’s Diary. Dating a co-worker makes the workplace awkward because you have to watch your every move. Word will spread faster than wildfire that you are involved in an office romance and it could potentially ruin your professional appearance and job. In my case, I didn’t start a relationship with a co-worker, but I did go on a date with one. During our (awful) date, I told him that I would “be the biggest bitch and make your life a living hell” if he ever told anyone, which he did. Pro tip: Threatening men isn’t as successful when you are drinking raspberry cider ale. It just doesn’t seem as hardcore. If you do decide to date someone in the workplace, which I hope you don’t, try to date someone in another department. And by another department, I mean one at least one floor down from yours. Preferably two.

Image

Oh hey, Bridget, who’s there? NOT YOUR CHEEKY (those Brits can get away with using that word so well) OFFICE ROMANCE. Nope.

Stay tuned for the second half where I’ll share some more of my wonderful nougat-centered nuggets of wisdom.

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I’m the reason you are grounded this month

15 Apr

Robots get stressed too, ya know

As my last semester of school is finally coming to a close, I have become more stressful than usual. Between dealing with my lazy group project members (one of which was unable to do one powerpoint slide because he was busy with Greek Week…no comment) and sitting through classes where my professors talk about absolutely nothing, I can safely say that I am ready to graduate without any real job prospects. I figure that the suffering that I have endured this semester has to be on a much grander scale of pain than, say, being jobless and homeless.

Last Saturday, however, added immensely to the stress I was already experiencing. I had been scheduled to work with my favorite person, Dudley. The other girl called off for the night, so we were the only two people in the store ringing for eight hours straight. I hadn’t worked with Dudley in quite a while, and he made up for lost time by shoving sunflower seeds into his mouth–with most of them missing his mouth completely–and telling me about how he was thinking about going back to school to become a nuclear mechanic while I stood there trying to keep a straight face. In the midst of me scanning 100 items a minute and calming down a few customers after Dudley had offended them, I experienced something that really made me feel like I was a part of some weird retail after-school special.

While I was scanning, the phone rang and I picked it up. The woman on the other end asked me what Swisher Sweets were, and I explained that they were flavored cigars and cigarillos.

Woman: Ohh….oh no.

Me: What’s wrong?

Woman: Oh no….can I ask you something? How old are you?

Me: 22.

Woman: Okay, I found a Swisher Sweet wrapper in my daughter’s car. She’s 18 and has health problems, and she’s trying to fit in way too much. Should I confront her about this? I’m a therapist and I just…I don’t know what to do.

Never in my job training had I been shown how to deal with dilemmas such as this one, and never in my life had I ever thought that a therapist would come to me of all people for advice. I mean come on–I work at a drug store–obviously I’m not sane.  I told her that I didn’t know what to tell her except that I would give her daughter the benefit of the doubt and assume that the wrapper was her friend’s. The mother just laughed and said, “Oh no, I wouldn’t give her the benefit of the doubt.” She proceeded to ask me what she should say to her.

After telling her that the best thing to do was to talk to her daughter and wishing her luck, I hung up the phone and shook my head in disbelief. Since when had my store become the new teen help hotline? Dealing with a mother who is concerned about her daughter smoking cigars–or cigars with other things in them–was never something that they showed me when I watched the job training VHS’s, with their warped music and actors portraying employees that are way too overzealous to be real, on my first day of work.

Later on in the day, everybody was rushing (you know what I mean, Rebecca Black) and I started to feel really overwhelmed and slightly bitter to everyone. My shift ended well, however, thanks to a really sweet elderly customer that I had toward the end of the night. I left Dudley to ring out our line of ten customers and helped her to grab a package of Depends. When she asked me if I could put them in her car and I said yes, she seemed surprised that I was so willing to do it, and when she asked me to fold up her walker and put it in her car, she seemed even more amazed that I was helping her out and wouldn’t stop thanking me. I walked back into the store, and the long line of impatient customers, with a small smile (or “Buddha smile” as my yoga teacher calls it) on my face because I was once again reminded, like I always am, why I continue to work my once-a-week eight hour shift: I love helping people. And yes, sometimes helping people means that I don’t know what to say or that their daughter may end up getting grounded for life based on my opinions, but at the end of the day it’s about stepping out of the “me me me!” track of mind that I, and most of us, are on and putting my heart out there for someone else.

The Corporate World, the Retail World, and Why I’m Turning into Liz Lemon

6 Feb

When I told my retail co-workers that I was going to have to severely cut down my hours in order to work at a company temporarily to gain some field experience for my major, I received a mixture of shock and praise. One of my co-workers, a 40 year-old surfer dude who has sympathized with me in the fact that I sometimes want to run away to Vancouver and just become a waitress and people-watch for the rest of my life, seemed to be the most shocked. “I just can’t picture you going over to the dark side,” he said while shaking his long hair, which has more highlights in it than my own, from side to side. Another co-worker told me that she admired the fact that I was trying to get out into the real world and away from constantly juggling twenty things at once, helping customers “shop” (in other words, going to fetch items for them while they stand there), and dealing with women who are obsessed with gingerbread houses.

The thing is, the corporate world is vastly different from retail. You certainly have less crazy people to deal with, you don’t have to worry about overexerting yourself physically because you sit at a desk all day, and you don’t have to wear a polyester-blend shirt in unattractive colors (well, unless you have bad fashion sense…then it’s your own damn fault).  Most importantly, it isn’t as newsworthy–coming home from a day at a retail job, for example, might invoke more interesting stories than coming home from a normal job. I can list at least ten crazy things that happened the last time I worked at my store off the top of my head (one involving a dog chilling out in our stock room), and the only thing I can think of that’s even slightly crazy about my “big girl” job is that I discovered that Mac computers don’t have a “print screen” button. I guess Steve Jobs is just too good for that. I also find that I have more to talk about with my retail co-workers: they share my love for Watchmen, Xbox 360, and obscure alternative folk music. I realized, therefore, that a good happy medium would be to apply for a job that embraces my inner geek, which is why I applied to the associate brand manager job listed for the card game Dungeons & Dragons. I think that I will probably always be involved in retail or some way or the other, but my heart is set on finding a nerdy company to work for who will welcome me with open arms.

Speaking of nerdy, I’ve recently realized, after discovering the amazing show 30 Rock, that I am slowly turning into Tina Fey‘s character of Liz Lemon and I actually don’t mind. As I approach the age of 22 being single, constantly slaving away to either school or work, and binging on unhealthy junk food, I see that my future of becoming a Liz Lemon is imminent: living alone in an apartment, putting credit card collectors on speaker phone while eating dinner just to pretend I have company over, and trying to tape together a bra because I am too busy fighting off people to get the last hot dog at the hot dog stand to go out and buy a new one. I will have gone through five short-lived relationships with men who don’t understand my quirks, sarcasm, or preference for nachos and beer over a five-course meal. And you know what? I’m okay with that. The thing is, Liz is kind of stuck between the personalities of the retail and corporate world too: she has to do her job and act responsible, but at the end of the day all she wants to really do is make fun of people and talk about Star Wars (or in my case, Battlestar Galatica). Either way, as I begin my slow approach towards a new  career, I can only hope that I am able to balance the constant tug-of-war between my inner nerd and the stuffy corporate world as much as Liz Lemon does.

Conversations My Customers Should Avoid

5 Jan
gingerbread house

Where the lunch lady lives!

Working in retail has always allowed me to indulge in two of my guiltiest pleasures: eavesdropping and people-watching. Actually, I was trying to find a single word that would describe that, and as always Urban Dictionary came to the rescue with “earhustling”…couldn’t have said it better myself. I am a naturally curious person, and I’m constantly on the lookout for people who are so crazy, messed up, or so unlucky that they make my life look amazing. Let’s take, for example, a regular at my store who I will call Lunch Lady. No, she doesn’t walk around with an endless supply of cold cuts at her disposal along with jewish rye bread and mayo and, no, she isn’t even a lunch lady at a school. But to me, she kind of looks like a lunch lady that would be in the movie Matilda: stocky, hair with a bad dye-job pulled back into a greasy slick, constantly hunched over with a look on her face that is a mix of anger and disillusionment.

Lunch Lady ranks pretty high on the list of the craziest customers I have seen. She usually comes into our store to buy wine, which I have to triple-bag because she rides her bike. On the days when she is actually shopping for other things, she goes to the extreme and buys the most random assortment of items all at one time. A few days ago, for example, she called me and asked me to set aside five gingerbread house kits. She was freaking out about them and told me to keep a close eye on them because other customers might try to take them away. Right she is! Gingerbread houses are always in high demand. I instantly got a mental image of her drunk on the two bottles of cheap wine she always gets and attempting to glue together a gingerbread house, and I laughed quite a bit.

Before Lunch Lady came to buy her various goods, I noticed her pick up her phone and a look of sheer terror appeared on her face as she screamed “Stop calling me!” and hung up. She then proceeded to scream “Why won’t they leave me alone!?!” and started arguing/talking to herself. She ran out of the door and started yelling more. Then, a few minutes later, she came back in and acted as if nothing had happened. Maybe she is planning to build a giant gingerbread house for herself so that she can hide inside it and escape the people that are after her?

But there are customers who, well, make me feel less normal and glamorous. I hate them because it seems as if they are able to look directly into my mind and pick out exactly what is bothering me, and then bring it up. In one week, I had two customers touch on the tenderest of topics for me (and for many others, I’m sure) as of late: love and a career. One customer was an older man, and I’m sure he was trying to be nice, but he looked at me and said “What, no ring?” and I said “Hah! Married? Me? I’m only 21!” and he just looked at me and said “Well I am surprised a girl like you isn’t married yet. But you still have some time.” Another old man came up to me and asked if I was in school, and I told him what university I went to and how I am graduating after this semester, and he asked if I knew what I wanted to do with my marketing degree. I always stay really positive when people ask me this, so I said “No, not really! I am open for just about anything!” and he said, “Well, you should really try to pinpoint it and do something that you love.” Huh.

I do admit that sometimes I take what people say too seriously, but really? Why bring up such annoying topics? Next time someone mentions love or work, I am going to flip. In terms of career, I have no idea what I want to do because all I ever do is work, go to school, or study and any time I have left over is used to relax, and thinking about what I want to do for a career just makes me have mini panic attacks. And with love, well, let’s just say that my male friends have already labeled me a “mindfuck”: I dress like a prep, I sound like a prep, but I also play video games, am a closet nerd, and lack many typical girly stereotypes such as collecting obscene amounts of shoes, gossiping, and constantly being caught in a whirlwind of ridiculous drama. Try finding love and a career in the midst of all that!

Sad to say, but I miss the days when all customers wouldn’t mention such personal topics and would instead inform me  about how they just asked the pharmacist how to get rid of a huge, leaking boil on their back or asking me if there is a difference between “chunk” and “chunk light” tuna.

New Management, Same B.S.

17 Nov

Spitting image.

After a few weeks of doing what any obese child does these days–locking myself in my room and taking refuge in sustenance in the form of Life-Savers Sour Gummies  and water that has so much Crystal Light in it that even the Kool Aid man feels inferior–I am finally back. Being a senior marketing student has really taken the aspect of group projects to an entire new level this semester: I have three of them, all of which involve the laziest people I have ever met. I still don’t understand how students can have Blackberrys and smart phones but cannot do something as simple as reply back to group emails. But I digress.

About a month ago, my store found out that our assistant manager was being promoted to a manager at a new store and that we, consequentially, would be getting a new assistant manager. Throughout my experiences at my store, I have come to terms with the fact that retail is, much like all of life, a series of comings and goings. I have always made it a point to be as welcoming as possible to any new person in our store, even if I knew that they probably wouldn’t be around very long. With that being said, I was extremely nice to our new assistant manager, who I will call Dudley. All in the spirit of the new Harry Potter movie coming out, of course.

Dudley is a 30-something chubby man who is so ADD that he makes even the most Ritalin-overdosed kindergartner seem calm and normal. The first time I met him, he spent the first ten minutes that I was at the register complaining about how much he had worked that week, and failed to clock my time in even though I interrupted his rant about five times to ask him politely to do so. I’m pretty sure I am going to get flagged for being late that day just because he failed to notice me constantly pointing, jumping, and waving, much like a Sim character who has been locked in a room without a toilet, at the sign-in screen. But hey, he was new. I gave him a break.

Last Friday, however, I got called into work due to a “schedule” change. Whatever, I have no life so I was totally fine with working on a Friday night considering it was only a five-hour shift. When I got there, however, Dudley instantly began bitching about how our manager was sick and how he was here on his day off, how he didn’t want to stay till midnight because he had to be back in the store at 6am the next day. I have never heard a grown man complain so much in my life. I laughed and told him that retail sucks and that’s just the way it goes, but apparently he was complaining for a reason: he wanted ME to stay until midnight so he could go home and sleep.

Now, let it be known that I come in and help out my store a LOT. Let me also say that I work about 18 hours over the weekend, and between that and all of my school stuff I never have a single day to rest. I was exhausted that night, and I told him that I really couldn’t stay and that I was very sorry, but my semester was being really stressful. Yet Dudley continued to bug me and pretty much make me feel completely terrible about the fact that he couldn’t go home. It started to make me feel a bit uncomfortable, so eventually I stood up for myself and told him no, point-blank. He spetn the entire remainder of the night sighing loudly, giving me death glares, and taking “bathroom breaks” which really consisted of him calling our manager and begging him to have me or someone else come in so he wouldn’t have to work the next day. Later on in the night, he even came out from the register, stood really close to me, and told me “Just so you know, the manager isn’t coming back until February, so I will be the acting manager until then. Just so you know.” I did what I have learned pisses off people trying to make a point more than anything–I played dumb blonde. “Wow that’s so cool! Congrats!” I said, and I walked into the break room to get my things, leave at the time I was meant to leave,  and go home. If you are an assistant manager who has been with the company for only a year, don’t try to scare me. Just…don’t.

That’s the thing about working retail, though, you really are guilt-tripped into completely overworking yourself. I have sacrificed many of my own free days to come in and help out the store just because, well, I knew things would be really bad for all of my co-workers if I didn’t come in and help. But there is certainly a line which a manager, or assistant manager, or anyone can cross when they complain and bug you so much that the last thing you want to do is help them. Soon enough you find them making up the most ridiculous reasons to leave work early: “Oh, but if I don’t have someone cover this shift, I won’t be home in time to feed the three infants I adopted from Tanzania who, if they aren’t fed at six o’clock on the dot, instantly believe that they are starving to death and start having terrible flashbacks.” Actually, I wish someone would use that as an excuse, I would just tell them that obviously they need to call the Angelina Jolie hotline and get some good adoptive parenting tips.

Days later, Dudley has continued to impress our manager who, as I found out later, really isn’t taking a leave of absence, by completely ignoring customer calls that were put on hold for him, not entering the paychecks properly so that at least five employees in our stores had not been paid enough for the time they worked, and tripping over boxes when he thought nobody was looking (I was!). And, even though I doubt that he will be around much longer, he taught me a very important lesson: sometimes, as much as I want to help everyone out–because that’s what we are really trained to do in retail, after all–I have to take care of myself first. There isn’t an “i” in “team”, but there sure as hell is one in “retail”.

 

 

Some Customers Should be Actors

16 Oct
Finger couple

A happy finger couple

I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: this blog just writes itself. Every single time I start worrying about what my next entry is going to be, something absolutely crazy and story-worthy happens at my store. Today, of course, was one of those days.

An hour before I had to leave work, I had a woman come up to my register to ring some items up. She was probably in her fifties and looked like she was going out somewhere. A man came through the door as I was ringing her up, and he started walking past her, and this is the conversation that I witnessed (thankfully they were the only two people in the store at the time):

Woman, grabbing the man’s arm as he walks past: Hey, do I know you?

Man: Wait, yeah! Ten years ago on–

Woman: West 9th?

Man: West 9th, yes!

Woman: Haha yes! I think we slept together! That was…a good night. I’m Mary.

Man: Oh yeah, that was a good night. Patrick. Never got your name that night…

Woman: So what are you in here for?

Man: Ice cream. Hey, do you want to come over?

Woman: Well…yeah of course I do!

 

You know the look that cartoon characters get when something shocking happens and their jaw drops by like five feet? Yep, that was me.

I was standing there pretty much mid-scan just staring at both of them and wondering how two people could be so, well, open in public about having a one-night stand and possibly planning another one right in front of me. The man walked off, and the woman, seeing the complete look of shock on my face, laughed and said, “That’s my husband!” I just turned bright red and started laughing like a loon because I had no other way of covering up the complete relief that I was experiencing. I told them that they both needed to take up acting because they completely had me fooled!

This incident certainly reminded me that 1)  Marriage really does make you insane, and 2)I have learned so much through retail. When I was younger, I used to be a hopeless romantic and I lost a good majority of that when I got older and realized that being the clumsy, offbeat person that I am would not guarantee me my very own Bridget Jones moment. But, and I know this sounds completely mushy, working in retail actually helped to make me more hopeful and positive about finding a soul mate simply because I have witnessed so many couples who you can tell are still completely crazy about each other. It especially melts my heart when I ring up elderly customers who still hold hands, make each other laugh, or poke fun at one another. As I’ve said to others, I realized through watching some very happy couples that having a good sense of humor is the main ingredient in a happy and long-lasting relationship. And usually, when I find myself thinking of these cute couples and how they have taught me so much and given me so much hope, I get a customer out of nowhere who is screaming and crying to their significant other via the world’s largest and most obnoxious Bluetooth headset. But that is just another life lesson that retail has taught me: life really is just a random jumble of emotionally-charged strangers. Except, of course, when the strangers actually know each other and partake in evil plots to completely bamboozle certain retail employees.

 

 

 

Love is Blind, and So is Retail

4 Oct

Has it been a long month or what? Despite my best efforts, I have been so busy going to school, studying and reading for all my classes, going to group project meetings, and working that I haven’t been able to do much at all. After having a conversation with my boss, my hours have dropped significantly, which means that I have more free time to write on here, get more sleep, and possibly not go insane.

So, my manager hired a new guy at work whom I was finally able to meet yesterday. He seems to have a good sense of humor and likes to joke around, so I think he will fit in with our team of complete crazies perfectly! While he was ringing up my stuff, (I saved around $10 thanks to coupons and employee discounts. Working in retail has made me an awesome shopper!) he complained and told me that he was sick of working already. I said, “Well you only work until ten, so it shouldn’t be that bad.” And he rolled his eyes and replied, “Yeah but if you’ve been working five…consensual….err…days in  a row, it’s different.” And I said, “Consecutive?” and I heard the two customers behind me in line cracking up. Being a smart-ass has always earned me brownie points! Welcome to the jungle, new kid!

In retail land, it is already Halloween and Thanksgiving. Right after Halloween is done, it will be Christmas. In retail, special holiday items (such as candy, decorations, toys) are sent to stores at least a month or two in advance, and these shipments are immediately put out on the sales floor. Why, you may ask? Because even if Halloween candy is put out a month and a half before the actual event, people will buy it. Working in retail and experiencing so many holidays early can sometimes make me feel like I’m in a constant time warp.

The thing I hate most about experiencing holidays in retail is having to decorate the store. Since I have recently moved to a new store and am amongst a very large group of veteran employees, I think that this may be the first year where I am not asked to decorate the store and, let me tell you, it feels great! Apparently I give off an artsy (as well as hippie…I don’t know where people come up with these things) vibe, and at my old store I’d always have one of my managers come up to me and say “You seem artistic…you are going to decorate the store!” I would then explain to them that I struggle to even cut a straight line with scissors. They always seemed to think I was just having fun putting myself down until they saw the actual results of my “decorating”: uneven streamers, gift-wrapped boxes that a blind amputee could probably do a better job on, and various mishaps which involved me standing on the counter to hang something up and almost falling off or hitting someone else. Due to several bad incidents with box cutters, I am officially banned from even using them anymore. Yes, I am that clumsy. With that being said, if you ever walk into a store that looks as if it was decorated by a toddler, it was probably done by me.

Speaking of clumsiness, I had to do something that I have never done in my entire life before yesterday: I had to assist our loyal blind customer around the store. And let me tell you, the experience was most unpleasant.

You see, I am not really a touchy-feely sort of person. If I don’t know someone well and they even pat me on the back, I feel uncomfortable. Occasionally I have had certain senile elderly lady customers go all lezzy on me by touching/holding my hand while I am trying to help them or patting my cheeks and telling me how I am lucky to have such “young skin”. On the outside I try to just laugh it off, but on the inside I’m simultaneously screaming, crying, and running in circles.

When our loyal blind customer–we’ll call him Eddy–comes in, one of us usually stops, walks out from behind the register, and he holds on to the person’s arm and shops around the store with them. Eddy actually lives right next to our store, so he usually walks (with his cane) all alone. Yes, sometimes he falls outside. It’s okay, though, because he’s usually drunk twenty-four seven (I don’t blame him), so he doesn’t feel much.

Yesterday, Eddy came in and I was working with a shift supervisor and Mr. Consensual (the new guy). My shift turned to me and said that I would have to help him shop. I started shaking my head and mouthing “NOOO!” at her, but since she needed to supervise the new kid, I had no choice. Since I am not comfortable with strangers touching me, I had always managed to avoid helping Eddy shop in the past, but for once in my life I was left with no other choice.

I walked out from behind the register and tried to pretend like I had helped a blind man shop a million times before. “Eddy!” I said as I tapped his shoulder, “How ya doin’?” He told me he was doing fine and dandy, and he told me to take him to the “adult section”, which, of course, is the booze aisle. So he held onto my arm and I started walking in my usual fast pace until I realize that, duh, blind people kind of need to take it slow. So I slowed it down and, about ten minutes later, we finally made it to the alcohol aisle. He had me pick up a large jug of that nasty vodka that comes in the plastic containers, and we set off to the front of the store to have him get rung out.

I was actually pretty proud of myself for handling the whole “assisting a blind man” ordeal. Well look at me! I thought, I’m being like the most awesome employee ever because I am helping a handicapped person to shop. Where’s the local news photographers? This is totally a Kodak moment! So there I was with a grin on my face, ignoring the tight grip of Eddy’s hand on my arm, and as we were traipsing to the front of the store, I must have turned at an odd angle, because I heard a crashing noise. Guess what? I had walked Eddy right into a watch display because I wasn’t paying attention.

The watch display, luckily, did not come crashing down, but it did violently swing from side to side. Eddy, being the jolly drunkard that he is, laughed it off and said, “Oh haha! I must have taken a wrong turn!” I looked up to see my shift and Mr. Consensual hysterically laughing at me. Feeling completely mortified, I was tempted to ask Eddy if he could let me have a shot of his cheap vodka.

And that is why, my friends, clumsy people should not be allowed to do anything out of the ordinary when it comes to retail. Whether it is wrapping boxes or assisting blind men, there are just some things some things that I will never, ever, be able to do.

Would You Like To Eat My Nuts?

2 Sep

Up-selling products has been a trend in businesses and retail for quite a while. One of the most common up-sells, as many are familiar with, is the age-old and often dangerous “Would you like to supersize that?” question. While I do not work at a McDonald’s and will hopefully never have to eat any sort of supersized meal in my lifetime, I have often found my managers asking me to go above and beyond my job as a cashier and promote certain items that are monthly “up-sells.” Based on my discussions with fellow retailers, up-selling (or suggestive selling) has quickly become just another typical duty of cashiers all over the country. And, in my opinion, suggestive and promotional selling are not activities that I feel my enthusiasm getting “supersized” about in the near future.

Some cashiers, as I have witnessed, are naturally good at suggestive selling. It could be a completely random product–like loofahs–and they will be able to effortlessly ring up a customer’s items, point over to the promotional item and say something along the lines of “Well, hey! Would you like to buy a loofah for that body wash that you bought today? They’re great value and our customers absolutely love them!” My favorite up-sell was when we had to promote selling nuts, which made us all crack up consistently. “Hey (insert co-worker name), want to taste my nuts?” “Hey, want to try my nuts? They’re extra salty.” Yeah, you can imagine.   My approach to up-selling promotional items is a bit more, well, lazy. I usually put a few of the promotional items near the credit card machine and, after all the items have been rung out, I simply point to the product and say “Would you like to add one of these to your order today?” Through trial and error I have learned that even mentioning the product is often too confusing for customers. A few months back, for example, our promotional up-sell was cookies or some kind of sweet snack. My district manager actually called our store that day, spoke to me (since I was the main cashier) and told me that my goal was to sell 20 of these cookies and then call her at the end of the day and report back my total sales. So I figured I’d attempt to not be lazy and actually focus my energy on selling the product. Here is an example of the results:

Elderly lady puts her Fleet enemas on the counter and I begin scanning them. I point to the cookies.

Me: “Would you like to try some of our cookies today? They’re only a dollar and they taste great!”

Elderly lady: “What tastes great?”

Me: “Those cookies. They are a dollar. Would you like to buy some?”

Elderly lady: “I did not buy any cookies.”

Me: “Exactly, which is why I’m asking you if you’d like to buy some today.”

Elderly lady: “Buy what?”

Me: “The cookies.”

Elderly lady: “Well how much are they?”

Me: “A dollar.”

Elderly lady: “Five dollars? Wait how much do I owe you? Do I have the receipt?”

Me: “Forget it.”

I kid you not, this is how the majority of my transactions went that day. Or if, God forbid, my customer wasn’t elderly and actually understood what I was saying, they often said that they were either diabetic, didn’t like the store brand cookies, or had already bought dessert items/were on diets and didn’t need to eat any more. Oh, and let’s just say I kind of pulled a trick out of the elderly book and “forgot” to report back to my district manager that day. I bet she doesn’t even eat our bloody cookies.

Despite my failed attempts at up-selling, I still managed to nab fourth place in our yearly district competition for people who have done the most up-sells. I blame it on the fact that I work a lot at one of the highest-traffic stores in the area, but who knows, maybe people really do need a lot of loofahs and cookies after all.

Does anyone have any funny/scary/interesting suggestive selling stories? I’ve love to hear them!

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