28/09/2016
Ask me how!

Words by

Alyce Cowell

“Welcome to Target Pacific Fair, this is Alyce!” 

This is how I answered the phone hundreds of times a day for six years while at my first retail job. Sometimes I would accidentally answer the home phone like that too, or I’d have a horrible nightmare I was at work and say it in my sleep. 

It was the magical time of 2002, my thin brows and bleach blonde hair were on fleek, and I wore the shit out of that red polyester shirt behind the lay-by counter. 

It truly was the best job ever. 

Sure, sometimes people would steal undies and put their dirty ones back on the hanger, and angry mums would scream at me when I misplaced their kid’s trampoline on Christmas Eve, but it was a small price to pay for everything else that came with the job.

Now that I’m in the ‘real world’, I’m so jealous of teenage me. Who would ever give up these blessings? Target Pacific Fair, if you’re reading this, I’d like my old job back please.

1. Deadline? What’s a dead…line?

Unless you’re an important boss with important jobs like rostering and budgets, deadlines just aren’t on your retail PD. 

You know what was on your PD? Painting your nails while you wait for a customer and texting your friends. 

2. When your shift was up, it really was up 

The shop closes. You sign out. You are done. 

There is no overtime and even if you have to stay back for stocktake one night a year, they’ll usually pay you more and buy you pizza. 

3. When you got home, you could just sit on the couch… all night 

Can anyone actually remember a time they were able to come home and sit on the couch all night? 

Grown-up life after dark seems to be a long list of admin tasks, which I wasn’t warned of and probably wouldn’t have become a grown-up if I had been. Paying bills online, checking personal emails, household chores and finishing things you ran out of time to do at work but are due tomorrow (see #1).

4. Stress was non-existent 

Well, mostly. There is that stress when someone gives you extra coins when you’ve already put their purchase through the till and now you have to work out their change in your head. Or when you have to call in sick because you’re hungover and your mum won’t ring for you. 

But generally speaking, stress wasn’t something we dealt with on a daily basis at our casual retail job. It was glorious.

5. Three-hour shifts were a thing

Despite hating it at the time, I would sell an organ to have the 4-7pm shifts now that we had on our roster. 

You went straight after school, tidied up the store and were home in time for dinner. 

We probably felt so jibbed because we made about $40 for cleaning up a giant bedroom every afternoon, but I’d still take it.

6. When you wanted the day off, you just N/A’d

So all your friends want to go to a music festival. Hey, that’s no problem at all, just write a little N/A on the calendar and start planning your outfit gurl!!! Where are we pre-drinking? 

If only that beautiful, amazing calendar followed us into our professional lives. RIP.

7. You could get your more important shit done while you worked

Retail was the perfect job while you were at school or uni, because it meant you could earn money while doing your assignment, or reading the prescribed novel, or planning your outfit for Saturday night. 

You’d do all of your homework and then suddenly it was home time and you had $100 in your bank account. Like magic!

8. Your best friend could work there too

In fact, all your friends could work there. Like mine did. It seemed retail stores are always looking for staff, so all they had to do was hand in their CV and voila! 

It made it super easy for swapping shifts, going out straight after work on a Thursday night, listening to all the new CDs and discussing in detail who was going out with who at school. 

I mean, they handed it to us on a silver platter; it was like they were practically begging us to.

There was just one issue with this one: see #6.

9. Going to work from da club was no problem 

Just imagine for a second if you turned up to the office in last night’s clothes, shoes in hand? You’d be escorted off the premises immediately and taken in for a mental health assessment.

Sure, this was “frowned upon” in my retail job, but it could still be done in extreme circumstances and no one seemed to really care that much.

This worked the other way around too: you could do your makeup in the beauty section before getting changed in the locker room and heading straight for the podium. Win win.

10. You got a full hour lunch break

Which is roughly about an hour more than the lunch break we give ourselves these days, while we eat a sad Cup a Soup at our desk. 

Sometimes, you could push it out to one hour and five minutes, and the best part was you could do and eat WHATEVER YOU WANT. Nobody could tell you what to do, or how to live your life. 

Want to go shopping? Sure! Want to sit in the tea room and have a one hour nap? Oh, that would be nice. Want to go to the movies and buy a large popcorn for lunch? Ahh…when do I not!?

Like this? For more, here are 9 things working in retail has taught me about humans.

Illustration by Twylamae who made this Kim K nude selfie tee.

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