You’ve all been there. But for most of you, it’s been on the other side.
The phone is ringing like there’s no tomorrow when there are already two customers on hold asking “Does it come in polka dot pink, size XL” and “can I return my purchase of three dozen fluffy socks?” while a dozen bedraggled, impatient, “important places to go” people stand in line waiting to buy their neon essential cotton tees, all while one unfortunate soul battles back the hordes as the front register. That one poor soul who is simply just counting down the minutes – no, seconds – until 2:30 hits and they can go on their lunch break. Ah, the natural habitat of a retail worker.
Everyone undoubtedly has their own collection of retail horror stories, but here’s just a sampling of some of the offenses that people have committed to retail workers as told, witnessed, or experienced by me.
A woman who called a clothing store located in California specifically to inquire if any stores were located in Colombia, which resulted in the worker having to embark on a journey to the back of the store and use the internet to search for Colombian locations because the woman on the phone apparently never heard of Google.
A young man who had apparently been keeping the insult of “darn big ol’ schmuck” in his back pocket to use for a time when an employee told him no, sorry, you can’t return a book you bought seven and a half months ago.
A woman who tried to buy sixteen pairs of sandals on a special sale day and when she was informed that she was eleven pairs over the limit, asked that the store take pity on her because her husband, in fact, has no arms. (Yes, this really happened.)
It’s not possible to go for long without witnessing the world of purchasing things transform a perfectly good person into a blundering, terrible example of a human being. They swear, they ask overwhelmingly ridiculous questions, turn into helpless blobs of incompetence, and take it all out on the people who have the misfortune to work there.
This is a topic that has been reworked so many times that if the topic itself was a retail employee, they would be getting double overtime.
Most points on the subject always arrive at the same fact: people become ravenous, foaming at the mouth, idiotic vultures the moment the enter into an establishment that makes a business from selling any type of wares, and treat the employees worse than the linoleum ground they walk on.
So ok, we’ve diagnosed the problem. Thanks, abundant internet list that inform us that you can’t even handle your jobs. You make us laugh, but you also make us sad. Is the problem really all that incurable?
For schmuck guy and no arms lady and a certain portion of the population that falls into the category of “cannot believe they actually exist,” the answer is probably no. These people have an incurable disease that is currently only known as being one too many cards short of a full deck. But for all you more normal people out there, there may still be help.
Everyone knows that people in retail positions are there because they’re eventually going somewhere else. They might be trying to move up in the company, making money to move out – many are paying for college. They are not always going to be experts, because this is not what the majority of people working in the industry want to do with the rest of their lives. Sometimes the job is mind-numbingly boring, sometimes it’s unjustifiably difficult, and all of the times the worker would rather be at home with their feet up on the couch. They’re making money now so they can be able to do what they love later. Really, everyone knows this. But it seems to get shoved completely out of their frontal lobes when there is a sweater on the top shelf they can’t reach.
The solution is simple, but people aren’t, which is where the difficulty arises. Make a conscious effort to remember the worker serving you is an actual living breathing person with thoughts and feelings just like your own, and don’t be ridiculous. It’s really the golden rule when it comes down to it – treat others as you want to be treated – and realize that yes, those people scanning your items at the checkout are others, too.