Retail Clerk Blues

In most cases working in retail you make minimum wage and deal with maximum customer rudeness. I have worked in retail for minimum wage for close to 20 years and it never ceases to amaze me how poorly treated I am by customers as well as management. This is, in my opinion, only the tip of the iceberg with the amount of abuse one takes by working in retail.

It doesn’t seem to matter what sort of retail business one is working in, the majority of customers are quite nice to deal with. It is just that the minority who make working retail/customer service work one of the most miserable jobs one can enlist in at any age. I have worked at comic stores, camera stores, record stores, candy stores, drycleaners, screen printers, pizza call centres, etc. Unfortunately there are a select few who believe that they are entitled to treat you poorly because you work for minimum wage in customer service/retail.

I started in retail at age 16 and I’m fast approaching age 50 and however much I enjoy working in a retail job the few who are jerks make me want to jump in front of a fast moving train. Jumping in front of a fast moving train may seem like a viable option but it isn’t. I believe that the people who act like I am dog crap on their shoe either have no point of reference how trying working in retail can be or they just don’t care. The latter is not so easily solved but the former is.

I believe that if all people worked in retail for longer than a few weeks then maybe these entitled jerks would learn to treat customer service representatives with more respect. I believe that it should be mandatory that once one turns 18 that one must work at a retail job for minimum wage for 2 years. Just like what some countries do for conscription should be done for the customer service/retail sector.

I would go even a step further. That is to say that if you have been out of the lowly retail minimum wage job for longer than 10 years then you MUST go back and work another 2 years in the field at minimum wage. Just as a reminder as well as a nudge to be more humble when treating the minimum wage, retail worker.

I would also like to point out that for the most part the people, like me, who serve you in this line of work are emotional beings and get a bee in their bonnet once in awhile too. Just like the ignorant minority of customers reciprocate the same disrespectful behavior to us. However unfortunate this is it is inevitable that it will bleed onto the customers and back onto the retail clerks. Whatever you may believe it’s which came first, chicken or the egg scenario.

So the next time you are one of the rude minority of customers who decide to kick the cat (the cat being we the retail clerks) try to remember that we are human too and it is a forgone conclusion that we’ll remember your ignorance long after the dust has settled. Yes, retail workers can be rude but the cumulative effect of rude customers takes its toll on us. We will burn out far quicker than it takes to train another person to replace us to deal with this sort of hostility for such lousy wages.

I believe that if customers understood and were empathetic as to how bad this job can get then maybe people like myself would stay longer and wouldn’t have to vent like this as often if at all.