When it came to working retail, there were lots of things I learned that helped me in every other type of job I've had since.
For example, my toleration level for having conversations with idiots has skyrocketed.
While retail may seem like an easy job, the honest truth is that I've worked harder on the floor of a clothing store than I have in an office.
Not to say the workload isn't harder, but there's nothing quite like retail to basically run you into the ground.
So next time you're in the store, feeling the urge to yell at your cashier for helping the 14 people ahead of you, here's some key items to keep in mind.
1. I agree with you about 99 percent of things you're complaining to me about.
Not being able to use the coupon? Having to wait 15 minutes just to be rung out? The fitting room being a mess? The wrong sign being placed on the rack marking brand new coats on sale for $19.99?
I agree with you on all of it. I agree that our policies are stupid. I agree that they should hire more cashiers. To be perfectly honest, half of your complaints are the same complaints we've had to our managers.
But sadly, there's nothing we can do to change them. At least not at this juncture.
2. No, I don't want to help you when you come in five minutes before closing.
To you, you're mindset is that the mall is still open. But imagine for a second that it's 4:55 on a Friday, and as you're logging out of your computer for the weekend, your boss comes to you and says you need to stay for at least another hour to help her run a report.
When you come in when we're right about to close, you're being ignorant about the people that are working there, who chances are, are teenagers who have school in the morning or adults trying to make ends meet and have to get up at 6 am for another long day of double shifts.
Retail workers shouldn't have to pay because you didn't adjust your time well enough.
3. I don't care that you don't put your clothes away, but at least flip them inside out.
I'm trying to do a hundred things at once and in between operating the register, doing returns, go backs, and checking on items in the back, it would save me a lot of time if you would just put your shirt the right side out.
I'll take care of the rest.
4. It hurts our feelings when we hear you say things like, "that's their job" or "they're too old to be working retail."
Basically anything demeaning that you say hurts us, because of course it would. Let's get something straight. No one is a loser because they're working retail.
You don't have front row seats to their story, you aren't walking in their shoes to understand why they're working at a store. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with a career in sales. It suits a lot of people.
Be nice. End of story is you wouldn't like it if we came into your place of business and looked down on what you're working hard at.
5. I'm sorry that I have to ask you all these questions.
When I worked retail, I had to ask who helped them; did they want to participate in the BOGO sale; did they want to open a store card; ask them again if they wanted to open a store card; ask them if they wanted to donate a dollar to charity; ask them if they wanted to round up their change; explain to them the coupon I was giving them, then ask them to complete a survey.
To say I probably never got any survey points is because it was ridiculous that I had to give that speech to every customer. And you, as the customer, probably hated me for it.
But guess what? I have to ask you. I will get in trouble if I don't. Don't cut me off, because my supervisor will ask me why I didn't push harder.
Don't be rude to me, because this is a part of my job and just like you, we all have parts of our careers we detest.
The bottom line, retail customers, is that I most likely don't want to be there, in the trenches of retail hell, any more than you want to be waiting fifteen minutes to be rung up.
Be kind, be patient and maybe a retail worker won't go home at 2:00 am on a Saturday morning saying they hate their life and wondering when their BA in Art History is going to pay off.