I finally completed my foray back into the world of retail. It’s been quite a learning experience and, as always, I’m compelled to share some of the finer bits that have come my way, especially as starting tomorrow some of you will jumping into the insanity of holiday shopping. My number one take-away is that nothing will sour your belief in humanity more quickly than retail. For whatever reason, it brings out the craziest, loopiest, most entitled behavior one could imagine. I have looked at any number of customers thinking, “My mother would have beat me for such behavior.”
- Compiling a massive stack of books from around the store, sitting on a stool and reading through them for over an hour, then coming to the register with only two, leaving the balance of the stack spread out on the floor. This one offended me so much I did ask the customer, “Do you want the books you left on the floor as well?” Without a trace of shame, middle-aged woman replied, “No, they’re just too heavy to put away.”
- Phone call wanting to know exactly what the new café would be serving.
- Sticking an iphone in my face with the website goodreads on it and asking me to look up every book on your want-to-read list because you’re tired of looking.
- Bringing in your entire family, including pre-verbal toddlers, and letting them wander completely unsupervised while you read a book, which, of course, you do not purchase. This is not a singular experience but instead one I witnessed daily. Families settling into the store for several hours, small children pulling books off shelves and climbing on fixtures with no adults anywhere in sight.
- Sitting in the newsstand area and reading magazine after magazine, thumbing through the pages, bending the spines back, and then discarding them on the floor when you’re finished. Hours and hours, magazines that have to be discarded no sold and not a single purchase.
I could go on but this is enough ire on a day of thanks. Just a few final thoughts: Sales clerks are not your maids—leaving any store items strewn in fitting rooms or on the floor is offensive and embarrassing (to you), retailers are not known for their generosity and employees seldom earn more than minimum wage and are held to part-time hours so no benefits have to be paid—they will want to help but expecting them to be psychic regarding a book whose title/author’s name you don’t know and then getting mad because they can’t find it is rude and cruel. The same goes for any product whose name you can’t remember. In addition to being poorly paid they STAND behind a register or customer service desk for hours every day. No sitting is allowed. Try standing for two hours straight in the comfort of your own home and see how good you feel.
Sometimes all of the above will make a person cranky by the end of a long day so having your payment ready and NOT talking on your cell phone while at the register goes a long way to helping. Yes, you’re tired too and you’re spending your money in their establishment but giving even a moment’s thought to being a good customer and being an active, prepared part of the shopping experience makes it a good one for everyone. And that, dear reader, is all I have to say about that.