Dec 30, 2011

Flaky Friday: Your Mother Doesn't Work Here - A How-To Guide for Responsible Shoppers

Thank you for using your "inside voice".
Editor's note: Please join me in welcoming guest blogger "Anomalous" to Hard Life Project.

By Anomalous
Retail worker at an undisclosed location

A hearty tip-o-the-hat to all you responsible shoppers this holiday season who didn’t make retail workers want to slit their wrists! I am a box store wage earner and you know who you are. This is my song of gratitude to you.

Some might say that working a year in retail should be required of all consumers so as to fully appreciate the environment and energy requirements. Thank you for recognizing the lives of the poorly paid workers who help shepherd you to the purchases of your dreams.

I saw the look of commiseration in your eyes on Black Friday where you were a little embarrassed to be part of the flock. You looked at me, almost apologetically, as if to say: “This is why I tell my kids to apply themselves in school.”

Our exhausted retail laborer would have you, soulful shopper, pause for a moment of silence and join us in mourning the death of the “inside voice” for kiddies being ferried about in shopping carts. Vocalizing at the top of their young, strong lungs throughout the store for periods exceeding an hour can be interpreted as unwelcome by non-family members.

You assume that, though unique in the world, you are not considered as such to our intrepid worker bee who deals with hundreds of equally unique individuals on every shift. When you enter the big box store you understand that we are not there to minister to your every desire, unlike waiters or flight attendants. Your mission does not instantly become our mission. Therefore, you are of stout heart and go about your shopping as independently as possible. You can appreciate that just because you are retired, lonely, or otherwise have time to chat, we may be just moments away from taking our scheduled and well-deserved lunch break. We are being worked like rented mules in a complex and perfected kind of hell. We do not have the luxury of acting as your confidant or personal shopper unless you are very old, blind, or in a wheelchair.

You savvy consumer! Knowing that you can multiply the one thing you knock off the shelf or hangar by hundreds of other shoppers who are doing likewise. We then make a concerted attempt to put everything back where it belongs. Over and over and over and over. All day long. Occasionally look back to see what your children are playfully pulling off the racks and shelves behind you. This constitutes a teachable moment.

I know you noticed how clean, pleasant and organized the store looked when you walked in. No one wants to shop in a dirty, disheveled place. With that in mind, you always take your empty coffee cups and candy wrappers with you to the nearest trash can. It wouldn’t occur to you to stick used gum on the bottom of the shoe shelves or spit chewing tobacco in the infant furniture section, or leave a box of popcorn spilled next to the towels, or knock over an Icee into a pile of cardigans, or break a glass jar of baby food and not tell anybody (allowing others to drive through it with their carts), or leave your smelly, disgusting old shoes in a box with the lid closed, thus exchanging them for a free, new pair.

When you are comparison shopping, you make an effort to actually drive to the store. This is not lost on the toilers working the sales floor. Calling on the phone is bad form when you are requesting we walk several city blocks to find out if there is a jar of your favorite skin cream, then sending us back again to see if it comes in 12 oz. containers.

Part of your innate intelligence is shown in your knowledge that underpaid retail workers in box stores are not empowered to lower prices or haggle with you over a dent, a tear, or a smudge. Thank you for showing some dignity and just walking away.

To keep the store looking appealing and fresh to you “frequent fliers”, and to feature merchandise that may have been on the back wall the last time you shopped, items are regularly moved around by other workers. And no, though we are there nearly every day, we do not always know where they’ve gone. You understand this is not an example of our incompetence.

So, again, thanks for visiting our little "slice of heaven" and have an excellent retail experience!

1 comment:

  1. If it's any consolation, I make it a point to NEVER shop on Black Friday. I don't care what exclusive new (and probably grossly over-priced) items I might be missing out on. I'm quite sure they're not worth the trouble and stress. I know some people (i.e. inhuman, cybernetic abominations who can still get up at an ungodly hour the morning after eating and drinking way to much on Thanksgiving) get a charge out of the supposed excitement that holiday shopping provides but I am also a wage earner in my own particular realm of complex, perfected hell. I go through enough stress earning my money and don't want to go through equivalent amounts of aggravation for the privilege of spending it. Instead, I'm an online shopping junky. Point, click and wait. That's how I roll, baby!