Retail Hell

Caroline O Donoghue

There are two things you are not allowed to complain about if you are in college: one of them is your hangover, for the simple reason that hangovers are far, far too common for anyone to really want to hear about them, so buck up and get to class. The second thing that will not be tolerated is complaining about your steady income. Half the campus would kill to have a part-time job with fixed, reasonable hours and in the current economic climate (anyone else getting sick of that term?). It’s become more of a white whale than ever, so buck up and get to class.

I am one of the lucky minorities who have managed to land this proverbial Moby Dick, so I suppose I should have absolutely nothing to complain about. I have a job that tolerates my college hours and employers that quite gamely tolerate my hangovers.  There’s just one thing that I think is too often overlooked: if you work in retail and you are under twenty-five, you are the peoples’ bitch.  From the trivial and inane to the violent and insane, all complaints about everything everywhere are officially Your Problem.  After much study and conferral, I have sorted the customers that make the retail world feel like a Manson family get together into three main categories.

1) WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THIS IS AS MUCH AS I DO?”

On a basic level, this customer represents a mere conflict of interest. The customer cares enormously about their problem, whilst you, with your broader scope of what an actual problem is, don’t. This customer is generally an overworked mother sporting four kids under the age of eight. She leads a life that offers a complete lack of control, and probably wakes up every morning with a three year old climbing into her bed so he can pee in it.  When she gets a spare moment, she has a cheeky cigarette, and she makes life hell for anyone behind a till. “You don’t have any bags? You expect me to just carry this?” This customer gets very frustrated when you don’t have the thing she wants, because as she will remind you several times throughout her rant she “came into town especially for this!” She will scowl and add that (and you should be really frightened if this happens, because it means she will immediately afterward ask to talk to your manager) that she “paid for parking and everything”. The problem here is that this customer, in her own home is absolutely central in importance, and often gets confused when in a shop she is received as a mild annoyance.

2) I’m sorry, but I’m a terrible consumer and still have no idea how shops work. Will you be my friend?”

It’s not that these customers are bad people, they’re just incredibly dense. They will send you on the wildest of goose chases, giving you the most obscure information to go on, and more than likely not listen to your suggestions. As I work in a DVD and music shop, I get this kind of thing a lot. A co-worker was once asked if we sold any DVD’s, whereupon my co-worker then incredulously gestured at the walls of DVD’s that surrounded the conversation. The customer flew into an irritated rage, claiming “No, not the ones you watch! The ones you listen to!” Hmmm…

3) Hello, I’m completely insane. Be prepared to deal with that for the foreseeable future.”

When you work in retail longer than three days, you acquire the skill of locating the Total Fucking Weirdo at a mere cursory glance. The oversized jacket, the damp smell, the vacant expression. This pattern of identification should make the TFW easy to avoid, but unfortunately the TFW will not be avoided, particularly if he or she has decided to take a shine to your hardworking self. There is no way to predict the TFW’s behaviour, and therein lies the danger. The other day I was forced to reassure a man in his fifties that just because George Michael is gay doesn’t make him any less of an artist, only to have him run out of the shop shouting when I asked if he wanted to purchase any of his albums. You get the idea.  Another downside of TFW’s is that if they know where you work, and might become accustomed to paying you visits. I have become a victim to this of late, as a TFW I made the mistake of dating five years ago has developed the habit of watching me work while snarling obscenities from behind DVD cases.

So, consumers of Cork, hear my plea. Be nice to your local till monkey.  Remember your pleases and thank you’s.  And for the love of God, don’t piss me off

Caroline O Donoghue

There are two things you are not allowed to complain about if you are in college: one of them is your hangover, for the simple reason that hangovers are far, far too common for anyone to really want to hear about them, so buck up and get to class. The second thing that will not be tolerated is complaining about your steady income. Half the campus would kill to have a part-time job with fixed, reasonable hours and in the current economic climate (anyone else getting sick of that term?). It’s become more of a white whale than ever, so buck up and get to class.

I am one of the lucky minorities who have managed to land this proverbial Moby Dick, so I suppose I should have absolutely nothing to complain about. I have a job that tolerates my college hours and employers that quite gamely tolerate my hangovers.  There’s just one thing that I think is too often overlooked: if you work in retail and you are under twenty-five, you are the peoples’ bitch.  From the trivial and inane to the violent and insane, all complaints about everything everywhere are officially Your Problem.  After much study and conferral, I have sorted the customers that make the retail world feel like a Manson family get together into three main categories.

1) WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THIS IS AS MUCH AS I DO?”

On a basic level, this customer represents a mere conflict of interest. The customer cares enormously about their problem, whilst you, with your broader scope of what an actual problem is, don’t. This customer is generally an overworked mother sporting four kids under the age of eight. She leads a life that offers a complete lack of control, and probably wakes up every morning with a three year old climbing into her bed so he can pee in it.  When she gets a spare moment, she has a cheeky cigarette, and she makes life hell for anyone behind a till. “You don’t have any bags? You expect me to just carry this?” This customer gets very frustrated when you don’t have the thing she wants, because as she will remind you several times throughout her rant she “came into town especially for this!” She will scowl and add that (and you should be really frightened if this happens, because it means she will immediately afterward ask to talk to your manager) that she “paid for parking and everything”. The problem here is that this customer, in her own home is absolutely central in importance, and often gets confused when in a shop she is received as a mild annoyance.

2) I’m sorry, but I’m a terrible consumer and still have no idea how shops work. Will you be my friend?”

It’s not that these customers are bad people, they’re just incredibly dense. They will send you on the wildest of goose chases, giving you the most obscure information to go on, and more than likely not listen to your suggestions. As I work in a DVD and music shop, I get this kind of thing a lot. A co-worker was once asked if we sold any DVD’s, whereupon my co-worker then incredulously gestured at the walls of DVD’s that surrounded the conversation. The customer flew into an irritated rage, claiming “No, not the ones you watch! The ones you listen to!” Hmmm…

3) Hello, I’m completely insane. Be prepared to deal with that for the foreseeable future.”

When you work in retail longer than three days, you acquire the skill of locating the Total Fucking Weirdo at a mere cursory glance. The oversized jacket, the damp smell, the vacant expression. This pattern of identification should make the TFW easy to avoid, but unfortunately the TFW will not be avoided, particularly if he or she has decided to take a shine to your hardworking self. There is no way to predict the TFW’s behaviour, and therein lies the danger. The other day I was forced to reassure a man in his fifties that just because George Michael is gay doesn’t make him any less of an artist, only to have him run out of the shop shouting when I asked if he wanted to purchase any of his albums. You get the idea.  Another downside of TFW’s is that if they know where you work, and might become accustomed to paying you visits. I have become a victim to this of late, as a TFW I made the mistake of dating five years ago has developed the habit of watching me work while snarling obscenities from behind DVD cases.

So, consumers of Cork, hear my plea. Be nice to your local till monkey.  Remember your pleases and thank you’s.  And for the love of God, don’t piss me off.

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