Trials and Tribulations of a Retail Worker

Most people have worked in retail at some stage in their life, from a Saturday job to get them through school/college, to proper full-time hours with managerial positions. The work is generally pleasant, the hours are usually consistent and the customers are nearly always friendly.

However, we also have to deal with a surprising amount of hardship on a daily basis. From grumpy customers to date checking, sometimes you have to wonder if it’s really worth your time and patience…

Anybody who has ever been a shop employee will relate to the following struggles endured by sales assistants every single day, in stores worldwide.

Dealing with the Public:

I’m just going to come right out and say it: people are the WORST. Not all people, but a lot of them. Did their mothers never teach them that good manners don’t cost a thing? A ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ now and again is really quite refreshing.
Elderly people are particularly prone to rudeness. *Snippy tone* “Love, I’ve been buying this product since before you were even born. Stop trying to tell me about it and just give it to me, wouldye.”
Also, a special shout-out to those who like to take the opportunity to clear out their change purse while there is a massive queue behind them. Yeah, no problem, you can pay me for forty quid worth of goods with just coppers. No, really, it’s fine. Of COURSE I don’t mind. *Points gun to head.*
Oh, and if you could get off your phone while being served and actually acknowledge the person behind the counter that’d be nice too.


This covers all aspects of pricing. From meticulously putting stickers on items that are half-price, and fiddling with the pricing gun (refilling labels is a surprisingly difficult skill to grasp), to being held personally responsible for the cost of each item in the shop.
“That (insert product name here) is HOW much? Well, let me tell you now, you can get that down the road for a FRACTION of that price. You are trying to rob me blind.”
Yes, because a 21-year-old part-timer has so much input in the calculation of retail prices. And please, feel free to go down to the shop down the road. I will still get paid at the end of the day.

Date Checking:

Only those who work with perishable goods will understand, but if hell is a place they should definitely implement a never-ending date checking regime as a form of torture. (You’re welcome, Satan.) There is nothing more monotonous than checking the sell-by dates of canned goods/medicines/make-up etc.
There’s only so much you can take before all of the numbers look the same, and you start to question your own existence.

Stock Taking:

See date checking and multiply it by five.

Name Badges:

Personal pet peeve – people thinking your best mates cause they read your name from the badge on your chest. The fact that you say my name five times in the space of our two minute encounter does not impress and/or delight me. Sorry.
It’s also very unnerving when somebody calls you by your name and you’re wondering how the hell they know you…until you remember that you have it emblazoned on your right boob for the whole world to see.

“The Lady/Man…” Threat:

Mothers across the nation use shop assistants to scare the living daylights out of their children on a regular basis. You know the scenario – kid comes in screaming their head off, wanting to go to the toy shop and other child-type things, and you just know it is coming:
“That lady is going to be very cross if you don’t stop that nonsense RIGHT NOW.”
Em, sorry pal, but you’re on your own here. I am not responsible for your devil sprog. Do not drag me into this as some sort of sinister authority figure. I mean, I still answer to my own mother, for god’s sake.

Things Left Back in the Incorrect Place:

We are guilty of doing this, let’s be honest. But next time you’re shopping and decide to abandon an unwanted pair of trousers in the accessory section, spare a thought for the poor lost soul that will have to put them back in the correct place. We spend ages trying to make the place look presentable. We understand that you’re a madzer who just doesn’t care, and that rules are meant to be broken. Except the ‘PUT THINGS BACK WHERE THEY FREAKIN’ BELONG’ rule. That one should remain forever intact.

By Jade O’Leary

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