5 Reasons Why Working in Retail Eats Your Soul
I work at the concierge booth of a local mall in Atlanta, GA. No two work days are alike and I get to meet new, interesting people every now and then. Although I work part-time (no benefits, no lunch breaks, barely 15-20 hours a week), this job is not stressful (on most days) and it allows me the chance to study while I’m at work. Luckily, this is one of the very rare concierge jobs where you get to sit and use a computer (with no limitations). Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that you don’t sit. Sitting equates to losing your job. Retail workers stand there for 8-10 hours a day and are constantly on their feet. So this whole sitting this is really a miracle.
Frequently, guests who come to the mall will comment how easy my job is. I just sit there, direct people to the bathroom, and look pretty, right? This could not be even further from the truth than it already is. Most days nothing really happens. You just sit there bored out of your mind on weekdays. When it’s the weekend, you really start to hate people. Almost to the point where you loathe them. You tell yourself you’re going to quit, but something about retail keeps you coming back.
My experience may not reflect the experiences of all retail workers out there, but working over a year in the business side of retail has given me 5 reasons why I’d probably never come back once I graduate college and start my career.
1. People can be extremely mean/rude/abusive/perverted/racist/(fill in the blank).
I’ve met some of the nicest people while working at the concierge booth. I’ve also met the worst of the worst. We all know what good people are like so let’s focus on the baddies. While at the booth, I’ve been asked if I can speak English or where I’m from because some guys have a bad case of Yellow Fever. People walk up to you while you’re with another customer and interrupt you. On most days, no one says, “Please” or “Thank you”. They will most likely walk away before you’ve even finished giving them the directions. When they get lost, they come back and tell you that you gave them the wrong directions. Guests will ask you about everything and anything under the sun and expect you to know it. So what if they’re driving from Alabama and have a GPS, you should know how to direct them to your mall. Why doesn’t the mall have an H&M? Well, that’s your fault and you need to find out how to get one for your location. The third-party ATM machine that has nothing to do with you broke so they expect you to fix it. After awhile, you begin to feel undervalued and you start to dislike people.
2. You’re expected to have open availability (even if you work part-time).
One thing retail employers don’t tell you is that they are really looking for people they can exploit the most. They want your availability to be open so they can have you working weekends, weekdays, morning, evening, overnight, holidays, etc. If you can, choose two days to be off when your hiring manager asks you during the interview and really put your foot down.
This is the only way to have any sense of normal in your life because if you don’t, be prepared to have a constantly varying schedule. But for the most part, those hiring managers will cross you off if your demands are “too complicated” for them. So with all this said, say goodbye to your social life.
Working in retail means you generally work with a lot people. Somewhere down the line, you’ll get your first stalker. Notice I said first. You’re friendly with everyone because customers like that. You do it because you’re either a friendly person to begin with or because it’s your job. You won’t even be able to recall the first time you spoke to this person, but whether you let them borrow a pen or say hi to them everyday because they work at the mall as well, some people will read it the wrong way.
It’ll take a few months before you notice them. Stalkers can be a regular customer, a mall employee from another store/department, or even the rare one-time creep. But the serious ones take months to surface. You’ll be at work minding your own business when you spot someone you’ve seen before walking back and forth between columns while taking the occasional peek at you. You could be getting coffee from Starbucks and some guy you’ve never seen before waiting for their coffee next to you will turn to you and say, “So I see you’re on break because I didn’t see you at work.”
4. Life Endangerment
It was a quiet evening in July (2013) when I found myself in the middle of a stampede that came right out of The Lion King. Fathers of the thin-hair clan hovered over strollers turned makeshift Ferrari chariots while
their wives hobbled behind and called out to their spouses. Teenagers screamed and giggled as the zipped by me. Store doors all closed with a slam, leaving customers stranded outside in the common area. I learned several moments later that a store had fallen victim to a vicious smash-and-grab.
This incident happened after I had been working at the concierge booth for two months. When you work in a public setting, expect to find yourself in some of the most outrageous situations. You could be robbed at gunpoint, be running from an active shooter, and even find yourself locked up in a closet with customers waiting out the dangerous event. Working at the concierge booth has mentally prepared me for anything so even though you may not have a gun pointed at your face at work, you should always be prepared.
5. Gossip and Social Hierarchy
I think this topic actually affects every employed person because no matter where you go and how nice you are, there will be people who just don’t like you. You’ll also have to adhere to this useless system called social hierarchy. I believe working in retail makes this whole issue even worse because everyone is out in the open and it’s easier to see how well and how bad people are doing at work.
At the mall, people expect you to look fabulous and carry a designer this and that. Your conversation topics will probably consist of designer labels, money, make up, shoes, and where you went to for lunch. If you’re looking to have a deep, meaningful conversation touching on some of the greatest philosophical debates of all time, it’s not going to happen. You will make friends. Don’t get me wrong. However, it’s a higher chance that you’ll make enemies. I think the best thing to do is just to take on a neutral stance and be friendly with everyone (unless provoked).
In the end, I can go on and on about the woes of a retail worker but five is enough. I think everyone will have a different experience although most retail workers can readily identify with many things I’ve mentioned in this article. You’ll make lifelong friends and acquire enough stories to write several sappy novels. Think twice before you sell your soul to retail because you won’t be the same person when it’s done with you :P.
Sourced from napalmkitty.com