Friday, August 19, 2011

A view from the bottom

I keep hearing about the rich and how they are job creators and have it rough, I can tell you the roughest job in the world is working retail. People behind the counter often get made fun of and treated like crap but I can tell you they are mostly saints and can guarantee that most of the people who look down on them could not do the job.

In my almost 10 years of working retail stores with two different companies I had to deal with a lot, the politics in a work place like that are worse then they are in Washington. You can work your ass off harder then anyone else but if you are not friends with the right people it doesn’t matter. Promotions in retail settings are not by how hard you work but by who the manager is friends with (or sleeping with). No matter how bad the customer is acting or treating you it doesn’t matter, you are just supposed to grin and take it because “the customer is always right”. I saw a lot in my time working with the public including fights, racism, ignorance etc. especially after 9/11/2001 when people thought it was ok to give Muslims a hard time.

I had been working in the store from 2pm till 9pm then taking care of my disabled father from 10p till noon so on a good day I would get an hour sleep, which isn’t good when you deal with the public. One day after not sleeping I decided not to work the register and work in the food area but after no one else would wait on customers I took it upon myself. After waiting on all the customers I went off and told the people I was working with what I really thought of them and they should be ashamed of themselves for ignoring the customers. When the story got retold to the manager it was all my fault and I was the only one who got in trouble, I gave my two weeks notice on the spot and went back to work.

With my notice in I decided there was no point in acting nice and that’s when I had the most fun at work and realized how freeing it was to not hide what you really think. One day a women came in and bought a pack of Cigs and some lottery tickets with her food stamp card (the cash advance side) then told her daughter she could not have a drink because they didn’t have the money. I went and got the kid a drink and paid for it, when the mother yelled at me I just told her “My tax dollars paid for your cigs and lottery so why can’t I pay for the kid a drink” she complained to the corporate boss and I got in trouble.

Next time you go into a restaurant, convenient store or any retail outlet please be nice to the person behind the counter, they have to deal with a lot of stuff during the day and don’t need any extra stress. Imagine if you had to deal with 1,000 people a day most of which thought you where beneath them and not worth the time of day. I can tell you from experience that this is a hard job and should be respected, it’s people like this, teachers, police, fireman who make this country great not the people of Wall Street or CEOs who are more concerned about money then humans.

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