Realtalk Retail

Since the dawn of time, there have been sectors of the employment world which  people try to avoid like the plague. Food service and retail alike have been given a bad name, not to say that they don’t absolutely deserve it, but there aren’t many people that will rush to defend it either. And don’t get me wrong, that is the complete opposite of what I’m about to do. In any job there are ups and downs, these two sectors just seem to have, shall I say infinitely more downs?

A job is a job, I’m grateful for every job opportunity I’ve had, whether I’ve enjoyed it or not (aka summers working as a receptionist at basically the dump, its all about who you know). Alas, you could have your dream job, and I bet there would still be something to complain about.

One of my least favourite things in the entire world is running into people unexpectedly. I could run into my roommate on the street and probably start sweating, just cause. I’m a sweater, as you’ve heard me mention multiple times. My first sweat point is always my upper lip, a gleaming beacon of embarrassment if you’ve ever seen one. My upper lip sweat accumulates much faster than condensation on a cold beer. If you could time it, I would probably hold a world record. Fun fact, when I was going through puberty and first started using deodorant, I thought that it helped you stop sweating altogether. So yes, you guessed it, after applying it to my armpits you’re damn right I put it on my upper lip. It was a one time thing, I will say that. Anyways, I sweat profusely. So when I unexpectedly run into someone usually at the mall, I sweat. Especially if I see someone I went to school with or have met in the past. I sweat as soon as I can anticipate the question “what are you up to now?”. Of course there are much worse encounters in this world, but in your daily life…this is top 3. If I really wanted to fill you in on what Im up to, I would have lead with it. So when you tell people your serving or working in retail, its usually followed by a “for now” or a “I was desperate”. Which is exactly how I started. I was desperate and it was the first job I got after graduating, 4 years and 5 promotions later, apparently I am still here. I always like to sneak in the word promotion to raise my street credibility. You get a little pit in your stomach every time you tell someone your not exactly where you expected you’d be or if your not particularly proud of it. Newsflash, everyone has gone through this at some point, the key is to not become complacent. Recognize what purpose your current job has for you, fulfill that purpose, and then respectively move on.

Another low spot to the service life is the customers, or how I like to call them, custies. Custies can come in all types, friendly, understanding, intense, ungrateful, condescending, insufferable etc. Custies can be the defining part of your day, very easily one bad custie and your day can spiral. If I have one sour old bag look at me the wrong way or ask me “why is everything in here so expensive” my switch is immediately flipped. Some of my favourite custie lines are the following:

“is this on sale?” no usually nothing is ever on sale

“does anybody work here” who do you think opened the door this morning?

“do you work here?” no I have this walkie talkie on my hip purely for fashion

“where is Sephora?” I do not work for guest services

“don’t worry, Ill try this on quickly” the biggest lie I’ve ever heard at 8:59pm

Not only is service life mentally draining, but after greeting 1000 people that come through your doors you start to sound like a broken record. I can’t even bear the sound of my own voice half way through the day no wonder why so many custies ignore me. But your physically toast by the end of the day. I can only make plans if they involve sitting after work cause after 8 hours on my feet, they’re barkin’. I usually come home and prop my feet up on the couch. This summer I hit a personal low, I was so desperate for more comfort, that I purchased the worlds most masculine and unattractive shoes. Birkenstocks (have I completely given up?). Its a travesty, but good lord my feet are happy as clams. There is no way around the aesthetic but I should have made this decision years ago. Any time I take a picture of my outfit now I think I have to crop my feet out, it is what it is.

I talk a big negative game, but my life would be drastically different if I didn’t have the job I do, not to say that I’m a retail lifer (cause I don’t think anyone should ever utter those words) but I’m extremely fortunate. I was able to pay off my student loan in 2.5 years instead of the estimated 9 because of retail. The majority of my friends in the city I’ve met through retail, not to mention a certain previously bald headed partner. My mom’s closet has received many much needed upgrades. I’ve learned how to lead a team, developed great business acumen and know how to spot a fraudulent credit card user. I’ve also learned that some 16 year old girls carry pepper spray in their pockets when they are out shoplifting and that you really have to learn to pick your battles.

Next time your shopping, please don’t ask if something is free if there is no price tag.

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