To all those angels out there hustling on the shop floor, firstly, god bless you. You are doing a great job and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Secondly, help me. After a three-year sabbatical I have finally returned to retail and all I can say is, why? For the love of god, why??
I had remembered retail as fun, dynamic work between beautiful clothes and great people, forming lifelong bonds in a job with penalty rates and limited responsibility. But there was also a lot I’d forgotten.
Suffice to say it’s been a baptism of fire, where the fire is expired laybys, dissatisfied customers and an endless stream of questions on return policy. Oh, and all of the below.
- The smack of a customer’s body odour as you open the change room curtain
- People who drop clothes on the floor and pretend like it wasn’t them
- People who enter the store at 4:58pm
- The summer blackout period
- The realisation that no one really understands layby. (FYI, you’re paying for the right to purchase the garment, not any of the garment itself)
- People who want a refund a year later simply because they haven’t worn it
- The pain of being on your feet all day
- The pain of being on your feet all day in heels
- The pain of being on your feet all day in heels while having to listen to customer complaints and bad jokes
- Having to request days off a month in advance, when your friends make plans a week in advance
- The false reassurance that “it will zip, it’s just stuck on the seam”
- Finger spacing
- The requirement to arrive 15 minutes unpaid before your shift even starts
- The fear when your realise it’s 5pm and you haven’t peed once today
- The relief when you realise you haven’t drunk water today either
- Full hair and makeup, every. damn. day.
- “Is this on sale?”
- “Do you think this will look good on me?”
- The fact that people with the worst breath will always stand closest
- The realisation that, at the end of the day, most people have really repulsive feet
- “Wow it’s hot out there”
- “Wow it’s cold out there”
- “Wow it’s windy out there”
- People who leave dirty tissues on the change room floor
- The very last half hour of the day that’s longer than a treadmill half hour and microwave half hour combined
- The knowledge that the door can be locked, the store can be dark, your shoes can be off, there can be a literal ‘CLOSED’ sign on the door and someone will still ask if you’re open
- The inevitable resignation to the fact that people are the worst
Illustration by Twylamae