Be Nice to Retail Workers

This is a repost of an old article I found several years ago.
The original website I got it from does not appear to be up anymore.
But here is the article:


They Are On Your Side

Now that the weather has turned colder and Scorpio rules the night sky, many people’s thoughts turn to various winter gift giving Gift-Giving-Guide-for-Executives holidays (Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah). This means many of you will throng to retail stores like flies to rotten meat. And get very, very stressed when dealing with the store workers. They will seem like idiots. They will seem like they are out to get you.

I worked retail for about ten years, and I can reveal to you that retail employees are actually more scared of you than you can possibly realise. Before you go holiday shopping, relax knowing the truth about what it’s like to be a retail store worker during November and December. And then pity them.


Yes, We Have No Bananas

If a retail worker seems clueless, that’s because they are. Retail workers are given only the barest miminum in training — usually only how to use the cash register, how to read their work schedule and that’s it. This is why they always have to ask the manager a question. Stores do not think it is worth giving seasonal employees extensive training, since they’ll be gone in January. If a retail worker hangs about longer, they are fired or pressured to quit so they do not have to be given a raise. The retail industry relies on having the vast majority of their workers be paid minimum wage only.

They Haven’t Slept Since October

Very few retail workers have steady schedules. Most often, they are on swing shift. In my time in retail, there were days I had to work until midnight and then had to be at my register at six the next morning. This takes an incredible toll on physical health, ability to concentrate and to pick up lots of details. If you have a complaint, don’t go on a tangent — please get to the point so you can be pointed in the right direction.

They Have To Say A Lot Of Crap

It is a requirement of many retial store workers to answer the phone with a particular sentence, to pitch the store credit card as soon as you walk in the door and to go through a litany of seemingly stupid questions when you get to the register. The workers can’t help this. They hate it just as much as you do. In order to make the situation as painless as possible, just let them babble on through the sales pitch as quickly as possible.

When a retail store worker, especially a register worker, talks to you, they will often sound like a robot. That’s because of a combination of stress, exhaustion and having to say the prerequisite “please apply for a store card” chant. After eight hours of this, let alone eight weeks, you can’t help but sound like a robot. Please, shopers, do not take the monotone personally.

Make a Retail Worker’s Day

Just say “Please” and “Thank you.” This is the equivelent of giving a comforting hug. Sometimes a genuine smile from a customer was enough to keep me from bursting out into tears.

And please, don’t take buying a sky blue and not navy blue belly button lint remover as an insult. Stuff is not what holdiays are about. It’s saying “Please” and “Thank you.”

Together, we can get through this.”

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