Everything I’d forgotten about working retail

I’m bacckkkkk

To all those angels out there hustling on the shop floor, firstly, god bless you. You are doing a great job and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Secondly, help me. After a three-year sabbatical I have finally returned to retail and all I can say is, why? For the love of god, why??

I had remembered retail as fun, dynamic work between beautiful clothes and great people, forming lifelong bonds in a job with penalty rates and limited responsibility. But there was also a lot I’d forgotten.

Suffice to say it’s been a baptism of fire, where the fire is expired laybys, dissatisfied customers and an endless stream of questions on return policy. Oh, and all of the below.

  1. The smack of a customer’s body odour as you open the change room curtain
  2. People who drop clothes on the floor and pretend like it wasn’t them
  3. People who enter the store at 4:58pm
  4. The summer blackout period
  5. The realisation that no one really understands layby. (FYI, you’re paying for the right to purchase the garment, not any of the garment itself)
  6. People who want a refund a year later simply because they haven’t worn it
  7. The pain of being on your feet all day
  8. The pain of being on your feet all day in heels
  9. The pain of being on your feet all day in heels while having to listen to customer complaints and bad jokes
  10. Having to request days off a month in advance, when your friends make plans a week in advance
  11. The false reassurance that “it will zip, it’s just stuck on the seam”
  12. Finger spacing
  13. The requirement to arrive 15 minutes unpaid before your shift even starts
  14. The fear when your realise it’s 5pm and you haven’t peed once today
  15. The relief when you realise you haven’t drunk water today either
  16. Full hair and makeup, every. damn. day.
  17. “Is this on sale?”
  18. “Do you think this will look good on me?”
  19. The fact that people with the worst breath will always stand closest
  20. The realisation that, at the end of the day, most people have really repulsive feet
  21. “Wow it’s hot out there”
  22. “Wow it’s cold out there”
  23. “Wow it’s windy out there”
  24. People who leave dirty tissues on the change room floor
  25. The very last half hour of the day that’s longer than a treadmill half hour and microwave half hour combined
  26. The knowledge that the door can be locked, the store can be dark, your shoes can be off, there can be a literal ‘CLOSED’ sign on the door and someone will still ask if you’re open
  27. The inevitable resignation to the fact that people are the worst

Illustration by Twylamae

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