Working retail the last 4-ish years has taught me a few things. Working both retail and food service at the same time for three of those four years has taught me a whole set of different things.
First, a lot of people like to blame you for things that are the furthest thing from your fault. They’re looking for someone to blame, and you’re the closest one to target. Let me give you an example: A woman came into my job last week wanting to use her “Buy Two, Get One Free Pound of Coffee” coupon. This coupon applied to all one pound bags. She came up to me angrily asking, “How much is that one?” pointing to a mystery bag of coffee. I ask, “Which one?” She said, “The Holiday one that is everywhere. There’s no price.” I replied politely with, “It’s listed on the bottom right of the bag, near the expiration date. They are $14.95.” She got really upset and told me, “Your sign over there says $11.95 and $12.95, are you just lying to us because the price on the bag is so hard to find. That way we will buy it and not realize you didn’t tell us it was more expensive?” I was flat out shocked. I don’t think she understands the structure of corporations. Lowly employees don’t make decisions like those, including where signs are placed, where the price is on the bag, how much each bag costs, and any other issue she may have with the coffee. I’m sorry but blaming store employees for things that are very obviously not in their control is flat out disrespectful. I can’t imagine walking into Target, and telling my cashier, that since I couldn’t find a price tag, it was her fault that my sweater was $22.99 instead of the $14.99 I wanted it to be. Wake up. We are paid an hourly wage that doesn’t warrant those types of decisions. If you don’t like how something is done, talk to someone who has some type of say in why it is that way.
Second, people are messy, and apparently think that’s okay. I read an article the other day from a student at another college close to where I go, and it was called “5 Reasons Store Workers Hate You”. It was very very true. This was one of the points she made in her article, and I have to mention it here, too, because it’s flat out the most important thing about working retail or food service. In the industry we work, this will be the #1 thing you deal with in regards to customers. Whether you get the job of walking the store and finding all of the misplaced things people decided they didn’t want and shoved in a shelf on the opposite side of the store, or you get the job of bussing tables, you’re stuck with dirty people who are okay with being that way. In my job, we sell a full menu of food and drinks, but we do not run it like a restaurant in that we don’t bring food out to your tables generally, it’s your job to pick up your food and beverage. It never fails that I have to bus everyone’s dishes and clean their dirty napkins out of their soggy home in that half empty mug of coffee. Listen, if you’re going to be a slob, tip your server, barista, or busser, because it’s not worth it otherwise. You just piss people off. It is not hard to put your plates where they belong, and it’s not hard to throw away your trash. In my job, I’m the prep cook, line cook, server, busser, dishwasher, and host. I do every single job an entire restaurant of people would do, all by myself, and if you don’t have the decency to leave me a tip, don’t leave your messy dishes laying around. It’s rude.
Third, there are some good ones out there. These gems of people come and make you have a shred of hope for humanity at large. So thank you, kind souls, you’re the reason we haven’t all ripped our hair out yet.
Finally, people get really pissed when you say “Happy Holidays”, or at least the ones who are not respectful to anyone else but Christians. Let me lay this out there. At my job, I tell each person Happy Holidays, because it is just that, the HOLIDAY season, encompassing Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, and others. I will always say Happy Holidays, because I don’t know what holiday you celebrate. I am not going to assume you celebrate Christmas, because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Assuming each person is a Christian and celebrates a PURELY CHRISTIAN holiday is flat out ignorant. Don’t even DARE to tell me I’m taking the “Christ” out of Christmas. I am lumping Christmas with the other EQUAL holidays. Be respectful. Happy Holidays includes Christmas, so don’t get pissed. You’re included too.
Sorry for such a long rant.