Retail Tale

Snake Party


You don’t know how much retail sucks until you’ve survived it.  Working in a small, shitty toy store in the lonely corner of the mall where every waking moment felt like the Christmas Eve shopping scene in Jingle All The Way*.  Teenagers, toddlers, and moms tugging at your sleeves asking “do you have this in stock?”  The futility of picking up toys felled from their pegs by kids with uncontrollable limbs.  Those toys will only return to the carpet.

*insert Holiday family comedy

Common courtesy/civility is absolutely abandoned during the Holiday shopping season.  People will cut in front of each other in line, people will steal anything that fits comfortably into their pockets if it is expensive and not behind a counter, and people will never hold your ladder while you retrieve their TYCO® Big Foot™ (life-size-feeling/weighing) remote controlled monster truck from the overstock shelf.

You hate standing in line for 45 minutes waiting to pay for something?  I hated standing behind a register for 10 hours waiting for you to pay.

There’s hardly any camaraderie to be found in that workplace environment.  Seasonal employees?  They’re only in it for two months’ pay and they know it.  That’s why they steal collectible Hot Wheels from the merchandise delivery trucks that unload after nightfall Tuesdays and Thursdays.  That’s why they’re hiding roaches (not insects) tucked between the safety pole and fence that encloses the dumpster bins next to the receiving bay.  Karma will repay them when they’re mugged in the dark expanse of the parking lot.

You can’t know the joys and glories of retail until you’ve experienced them.  I don’t know what I’m getting at here.  Once that store is shut down and replaced, once years have passed and your discount privileges are long gone… only then can you have the perspective of it not being all that bad.  Thinking and knowing this, I can look at every yesterday and see it ain’t that bad.

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One Response to Retail Tale

  1. A friend and I were actually talking about the benefits of working seasonal retail a couple of days ago. Her take was that everyone should be forced to work at least one Christmas season in retail, the better to (a) help them understand how being recipient to snapping/cursing/shouting feels and (b) illuminate what others are going through in such a way that makes ’em see it’s good to be as kind to others as possible.

    Then there’s the goodness of looking at the experience all those years later and going, “I’m so happy to have what I do now.” That is not to knock people in retail–hell, no. It’s just to say . . . those days were long, and thankless, and I’m glad to have a greater degree of control over the directions my days take now.

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