Daily Archives: April 21, 2011

The Joys of Working in Retail

This post was originally scheduled to be published way back in November, but I never got around to it (or totally forgot about it). The message/content is still relevant though, because I still deal with the same shit whenever I clock in at work. Ah, the joys of working in retail…

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Work sucks. Like, a lot.

Ironically, when this post appears on the blog I will have been working for one hour of a four-hour shift. I will probably be at the top step of a ladder, dangerously reaching for some stupid shirt that somebody bought at some point during the day. Eventually, after grabbing several other items, I will take a cart filled with tons of shit out to the sales floor and begin restocking the items.

At some point during the night, I’ll get a page to assist a customer at one of the cash registers. It’s usually a stupid question that I will immediately respond to by saying, “No, I’m afraid we don’t carry that item in our store…” At other times, it’s just a ridiculous question that no teenage-male should ever be expected to know the answer to– even if he happens to work on the apparel side of a major retail store. For example:

Customer (female): “What is the biggest waisted pants you carry in the store?”

Me: “Well, what do you mean by “biggest waisted”? We carry pants in various waist widths, ma’am, and we also have a plus-size department…”

Cashier (also female): “No, she means like pants with the loosest-fit in the waist-area.”

Me: (Thinking: How the hell am I supposed to know that– I’m a dude! I don’t know shit about ladies pants– they never trained me about this stuff!) “Um… Well, I would probably try these pants, they have a special-fit waist… I would also try these pants over here… If you would like to try anything on the fitting rooms are over there.”

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Along with awkward questions about women’s clothing that I haven’t the faintest idea of what the answer might be, I also get questions about bedding. I find these customers to be especially stupid– honestly, if you as a middle-aged consumer are confused about whether or not a style of sheet will fit your 17-inch deep mattress, do you really think the 17-year old sales associate will have a clue?

NO! He won’t have a damned clue, but he’ll read the packaging and give you his best guess and a reminder of the awesome return policy.

I believe my most memorable encounter with a customer occurred last weekend. A lady was looking at some stainless steel cookware and asked me to bust open a box so she could see the coloring outside of the packaging. We didn’t have a display out, and I wasn’t really aware of our policy on opening boxes for customers to examine merchandise, but I figured that if I resealed it appropriately, nobody would notice.

So we broke open the box, pulled out a single pot, and discovered that it was, in fact, not the same color on the box. Major disappointment. I quickly put everything back in the box and sealed it back up when the lady asked me to grab her two sets of another cookware set (red, like the original set was supposed to be). She then had me grab a red toaster. And a red coffee pot. And a red can opener. And a red toaster oven. And a red crockpot. And a red blender. And a red food processor. Essentially, if it was red and it was in our small appliances department, she bought it. She was buying all of this kitchen stuff for a friend for Christmas, but the friend was shopping with her and would be back soon. She then asked me to put the items on hold and quickly move the three carts of kitchen appliances out of sight. I hastily moved the few thousand-dollars worth of merchandise back to the hold room, wondering in my head whether or not it was “legal” for me to allow a customer to place this many items on hold. I assumed that because she had said she was coming back the next morning AND that she had left a business card that it really didn’t matter that much.

I also knew that I wasn’t working the next day, and that I really didn’t care whether or not it was against the rules. That’s just another reason why it rocks to only work on the weekend.

– Will

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Ironically, I had another customer ask me one of these “ridiculous” questions last weekend. I mean really, would you honestly expect a teenager to know anything about f***ing draperies?!? GAH! People are stupid.