“Did You Really Just Say That?”

I’ve now worked in retail for about six years in some form.  Granted over the past two years that’s been on and off, but that doesn’t mean my experiences have been any less.  It’s opened me up to listening to various things that people say to employees when I’m out and about, and listening to things those employees say back.

A while ago, before I started school, I had stumbled across a website called Not Always Right.  It amazes me how ignorant and narrow minded some people can be in a retail environment.  That doesn’t go for the employee’s necessarily, but for the customers.

When I was growing up, I remember being told stories of going to stores and knowing everyone there by name, having a usual order, and in general kindness among people being shared.  When I was older, I tended to befriend certain people at stores that I frequented.  These same people were also usually the all-star employees that took the time to actually care about the customer, but some of them were quickly in and out of the job.

As I began working for retail however, I quickly learned a couple things.  The first is that people are in general rude and nasty.  The second is that people are also extremely stupid.  Now that’s not to say that it applies to all people – what’s more, I have some very intelligent customers, and very kind hearted customers as well, but sadly the nasty outweigh the nice.

In a conversation I had with my manager yesterday, I expressed a bit of exasperation with the customer base over the last two days.  She herself has a Bachelors in Biology with a concentration in animals.  If any of you have read my about page, you know my goals and achievements – but what you may not know is that for the store I work for, I’m certified in all departments, and those certifications are not simply from completing a corporate set of curriculum either.  Most of those certifications come from experience and research well outside the corporate standards.

What did we discuss?  Well, it seems that people are locked into an ignorant mindset of believing that anyone who doesn’t work where they do is beneath them.  Doesn’t matter that she’s got her Bachelors in Biology, or that I’m going for a Doctorate, or the experiences we’ve had – as soon as we walk through those doors and put that nametag on, we’re dumber than a box of rocks.

If the economy was the way it was in the early 2000’s – there might be something to be said (we’re leaving the fact that education was at least somewhat better in the early 2000’s to rest, as I just don’t have time to rant about that too) for that.  However, as the economy deteriorates so does the standard for a job.  The high school dropout is not as prime to get a retail job as they used to…why?  Because jobs higher up are so much harder to find, the market is becoming more saturated with college educated individuals at the retail level.  So guess what that means?  That kid you just yelled at because there are no bags of chips left?  Yeah, he might just have a Masters in Physics or Chemistry or something.  Don’t laugh either, that’s the God’s honest truth and it’s downright terrifying and depressing.

So…why did I title this article the way it was?  Honestly I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent so much on retail as I meant to share some humorous experiences with you – but I feel the preface is and was necessary.  You need to actually appreciate the field in order to understand the irony and…well…ignorance of some people.  However, that being said – these reasons are exactly why people should always work at least a year in retail.  It teaches you how to think before talking, hold your tongue, and how to respect one another – regardless of how that person acts towards you.  If anything it teaches you integrity, respect and patience, something this society greatly lacks.  If you think for one second that you already know what those three factors are and you never served in the armed forces or worked retail, stop lying to yourself.  As my roommates would say…”you don’t know shit about shit.”

The most recent factor comes into play just yesterday, and I’m getting ready to go through it again today as we’re in the middle of a donation drive for animal rescues in our area.  Not to mention that this specific drive is actually benefiting the rescue I help operate.  As such, we are asking for donations, but I’m not someone who goes right to asking for dollars – but instead I tend to ask if they’d simply like to round their change to the next dollar.  So if the bill is $76.88, I’d ask them to donate a small amount of $0.12 to make it an even dollar amount.  These are the responses I tend to get when I ask this question (and yes this goes down to even asking for four measly pennies) :

  • No, I’m okay.  Thanks though.
  • No, thank you.
  • I already donate.
  • I just gave them some money already.
  • I can’t afford to.
  • I don’t support those people.

So yeah…apparently they have to feel uneasy about themselves to donate, thank you for asking, but don’t really care or are breaking bank with that $0.12.  The last one is the kicker…not supporting animal rescue.  I’ve had a good handful of excuses as to why people don’t, and it makes me want to beat these people with the register keyboard every time.  It’s ranged from them “taking money from breeders” to “forcing my dogs to be fixed.”  I’m not even going to touch that.

My next pet peeve that I’ve been dealing with in abundance lately is when people ask for my opinion, and then shelve it anyway.  An example of this is when I was asked if we had a specific food for an older couples new Standard Poodle puppy.  I had since done research on foods that were sold in our area within fifty miles, and had printed a sheet off for me to reference should the discussion ever come up.  I found that the food was not in the area, and was then asked to recommend an alternative.  I made my recommendation along with alternatives for good measure, giving them three to choose from along with my personal choice.  The couple proceeded to reply “never mind, we’ll just talk to our vet about what’s best.”  I had discovered earlier that their vet was one that I had been getting reports of giving false information to customers as well.  When I informed them of this they replied that they’d take their chances and they’d rather have a professional who went to school take care of the recommendation.  I’m waiting for their return to purchase Science Diet – since that’s inevitably what the vet will recommend.

What takes me aback by that story is not the fact that by all common standards I am a certified pet nutritionist, nor the fact that they may not go with my recommendation…but rather it’s the fact that after asking my opinion they completely dismissed my input.  Why would you ask a question when you have no intentions of listening to the answer?  Don’t waste our time.  Furthermore don’t assume because someone is in retail they have no education or schooling.  I’ve already ranted on that once in this article, I have no intentions of doing so again.

At any rate, the moral of this is if you haven’t set foot in a retail environment with your nametag on your shirt and ready to work, I’d encourage you to do so – regardless of your age if even for a few hours a week.  It’ll teach you so much self control, and it will certainly better yourself.  At the end of the day, you might just walk away with a humorous story to talk about too.

I might share some more stories sometime, but that will have to do for now.  Be careful who you pick your fights with when you’re out there – you might just end up on the internet and being made fun of for it.



I just found this link of the fifteen things any retail associate would say if they could.  I think it’s about spot on.  Have a click and learn – or if you know what retail hell is like: laugh.

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