- Multinationals -

Trust me....retail SUCKS!

Posted by: Hugh Morris ( Stern body-slams Roberts and the crowd cheers, USA ) on February 26, 1999 at 18:08:54:

In Reply to: Calling Retail staff posted by Steven Colquhoun on February 23, 1999 at 17:03:37:

: I am currently doing a dissertation into the deskilling and dehumanising effects of working in a retail shop/store, such as Safeway.

My career in retail lasted exactly two and a half weeks, probably because I wouldn't follow the crowd and buy into the "big happy family" bullshit that seems important to some. Granted, I only wanted to work for a brief time until something better came along, but I had to quit before that happened. This was at a Hills (now defunct) discount department store.

First, the pay was pitiful; just over minimum wage, probably because that way, the last digit in my wage was zero, making the multiplication that much easier. The job itself was dull, but tolerable. My position was "maintenance", which most Americans would call "janitor". My duties were to clean the concession area in front of the store (and I'd like to wring the neck of whoever decided that Hills should sell popcorn, which people like to scatter everywhere), clean the bathrooms, retrieve shopping carts from the parking lot, clean the "dust bunnies" from the rest of the store, and clean the employee lounge, located in a storage area in the back of the store. It wasn't that hard; I could have accomplished these tasks in my sleep.

I might have stayed longer, but the thing I couldn't stand was the people. Specifically, this is directed towards the bitchy women who worked there for more than 20 years. It amazed me that they stayed there so long, since all they could think to talk about was how much they hated their jobs, the management, the customers, you name it. Indeed, while I was sweeping cigareete ashes from the tables, they would be chain-smoking more cigarettes, and having the same exact conversations with each other every day. These were often along the lines of "I've been here for __ years, and he still won't give me more than 20 hours a week!" My advice would have been to quit, if indeed they learned any skills at their current jobs, but I didn't want to join the pity-party, so I kept to myslef.

The first four days I worked there were pretty nice, because nobody knew my name, since I conveniently "forgot" to wear my nametag. I got into the routine of my dull tasks, sometimes chatting with customers to pass the time. Then, someone remembered my name, and it spread. That led to being summoned from one dull task to another over the public-address system; "Hugh Morris, to the snack bar", "Hugh Morris, to the employee lounge", or "Hugh Morris, to the employee lounge". Everyone thought their area was more important than the others, so I had to be there.

After one week, my mind was made up that it was time to find another job. When I got to work, I'd go straight to the layaway deparment and help them move boxes, because they were nice to me. Sometimes I'd go to the "supply room" (which was a janitor's closet), curl up on the rolled-up floormats and take a nap, or rummage through the stacks of defective merchandise in the storage area, looking for candy bars to eat. Then I'd go about my dull tasks and repeat the cycle again. One day, which turned out to be my last, I was summoned to the employee lounge. One of the old crones was dumping the ashtrays into a sack with the rest of the garbage. Apparently frustrated with her lot in life, she didn't bother looking up, and began ranting, "You need to spend more time cleaning this lounge...I just spent ten minutes cleaning in here....I have a house to clean; I don't have time for this!"

Immediately, I retorted, "Where do you think I live, you old cow; a bus shelter? I have a house to clean, too!" The rest turned into an exchange of obcenities I don't even remember, so I left before someome got it into their head to call the police.

Before working at Hills, I ddin't think there were any jobs beneath fast food, but my experience proved otherwise. Perhas other retailers offer more advancement opportunities, better pay, and a better working environment, but I'd rather not find out.

Scraping Spent Tampons Off Bathroom Stalls,

Hugh Morris

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup