Working Retail Sucks

The Charger Bulletin

What with the holidays coming around and our capitalistic culture showing just how materialistic it really is, I feel as though it is necessary to call attention to all of the people who are called to work during this time. As someone who has worked multiple retail jobs, I can say from personal experience that this is, in fact, a hectic time of year.

Retail workers are treated like garbage at the best of times. Customers come in with a sense of entitlement and expect an unreal amount of attention, which is impossible to deliver to every single person that walks through the front door.

All of this pales in comparison to the way the management treats their employees. They expect each and every worker to be chipper and attentive throughout their entire shift, all the while not seeming “fake,” and they always want you to push the products at a level that makes no sense for someone who is making minimum wage without any commission. I have been told that I have “no personality” simply because I didn’t try and shove a pair of socks down a customer’s throat in order to “complete the outfit.”

On top of all of that, the haphazard scheduling systems that are put into place (at the companies I have worked for, as well as others’ I have heard tales of) are outlandish: one week you may work 35 hours (as a part-timer) and the next you may work five. This, along with the notorious “on-call” shift (where you don’t know if you’re actually working or not until hours before your shift starts), add an amount of uncertainty that makes it impossible to budget one’s money accurately, never even coming close to knowing how much will come in from one week to the next. There have even been reports of companies asking for their employees to volunteer their time to prep for the holiday season.

So, while you’re out running around, frustrated because you can’t find the perfect gift for that special someone or because you can’t get a certain deal, please don’t take it out on the workers of the stores. They have very little control over the situation they are in, and, the vast majority of the time, they are not trying to spite you. A little bit of respect goes a long way.