Tag Archives: Retailing

Retail Robot has packed up its parts…

27 Sep

In the midst of a terrible economy, I did the unthinkable: I managed to find an entry level marketing job that is with a good company. After going through fifteen interviews with about six different companies in August and wearing suits more times a week than even Diane Keaton does, let’s just say that I was exhausted, on the verge of tears and really fucking sick of talking about myself and where I want to be five years from now.

Seriously, if anyone should be protesting anything, they should be fighting against ever having companies ask that question in interviews. During one particular interview–an interview that I knew was going to lead nowhere but decided to use for “practice” anyway–I was particularly tempted to just go all out and say what I really would like to be doing five years from now:

“Well, ideally I’d like a stable income of some sort, a relationship with a  cute, sane guy (preferably with a Scottish accent, but I realize that’s just being picky), an apartment of my own and a cat.”

That’s it. Because, up until now, I’ve tried to stick to such harsh guidelines for myself that I feel like I’ve missed out. And, let’s face it–so much happens within a five year span. All I know is that I want a few simple things, and I could really care less about the rest.

Saturday was my last day in Retail Robot land, and I was able to do a lot of thinking while putting up the sales signs for the very last time. I realized that, as much as I like to say that I enjoy change and enjoy trying new things, I find myself being gridlocked by the allure of security. I think many people do: the boyfriend you’re afraid to leave just for the fear of being alone, the area you’ve grown up in that you’d like to leave but never really do, the job that you have been at for so long that you don’t even know how to be the new person again at a company, and it scares you so much that you just stay in one place. I realized that, at this point in my life, I have to accept that a lot of my security blankets have been pulled out from underneath me. I am no longer in school for the first time in my life, and I have had to quit a place that I’ve been working with for a long time. And even though it’s a bit scary, it’s also pretty exhilarating.

Security is comforting and, yes, it keeps us from being hurt. But being safe can lead to such a stagnant life. Since graduating, and since quitting my internship and my retail job, I’ve found myself slowly peeling away my security blanket and walking slowly through the world without that extra layer of protection on my shoulders. I know that there are a lot of changes and situations that I’m going to have to face throughout the coming year–some of which I am very hopeful about, and some of which I’m not so sure of. But you only live once!

I will certainly miss my co-workers. Before working at that store, I had never been around so many people who understood my way of thinking and my interests. I will miss discussing video games for eight hours with a certain co-worker, and I will miss pondering the meaning of  life and whether we are all in the Matrix with the forty year-old hippie dirtbiker co-worker. All in all, there was never a dull conversation at that store. But, in the end, I walked away from my one and only retail job with a smile in my face and a new-found sense of self in my soul.

I certainly would like to continue this blog with some new, non-retail material. Stay tuned!

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Employees get just as crazy as their customers!

20 Jun

After almost two months of being a college grad, I must admit that life has become more enjoyable. After four years of intense studying, club joining, and sorority dropping out-ing, I finally have had the time to do whatever I want to without worrying about working through a balance sheet from hell (fuck you, accounting) or speed-walking across the library in order to snag a spot at the coveted table in the library that is hidden away among ancient micro-fiches and yellowing copies of The New York Times. Now, I am spending time doing things that I thoroughly enjoy, including learning how to juggle, feeding the homeless downtown every Friday and blasting Beirut while walking around my neighborhood. Heck, I even baked brownies at midnight yesterday after sweating my ass off in yoga just because I could!

Check out my balls, yo

While my personal life has become simple and enjoyable, Retail Robot land has increased in sheer craziness. Our store has been spitting out 20-30% off coupons left and right, and it seems like for each coupon corporate sends out, one more batshit crazy customer appears out of nowhere. The most enjoyable part about working in such a hectic environment is the fact that the employees, myself included, start to get a little loopy when things get too busy.

Last weekend, for example, I barely survived my eight hour shift. I came to work only to discover that the air conditioning in our store wasn’t working. Combined with the fact that I was dizzy from the antibiotics I was on (gotta love sinus infections!), I was sweating, trying to keep my balance which is hard enough for me to normally do and ringing up customers who seriously had the weirdest questions I’d ever heard. Luckily I was working with my favorite co-worker, and we basically lost it after a particularly old lady strolled up to the counter and…

Old Lady: How far can I take this cart?

Me: Oh, you can take it outside as long as you–

Co-worker: Twenty-five feet. You can only take it twenty-five feet.

Me: Yep, after that it–

In unison: EXPLODES.

As we gripped the counter in order to keep ourselves from rolling around the floor and crying with laughter, the old lady simply looked at us, stroked her fully-whiskered chin, and walked away. Yes, we were that loopy.

Other exciting highlights included a man walking around with what appeared to be either very short patterned shorts or just boxers, an entire family who walked into a window thinking that there was an automatic door there, and me doing the yearly employee satisfaction survey for my old store number without realizing it until a few days later.

In the midst of all the craziness, both from employees and customers, life seems a lot better lately. Heck, even the amount of shoplifted items seems to have gone down!

The only shoplifted thing I found this week. It was most likely hidden in between the fat folds of a larger customer. I know.. I'm mean.

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.

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