Retail Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I learned one of life's most valuable lessons when I worked in retail. "People are awful... mostly". When you work retail you stand inside of a single room for anywhere between 4 and 12 hours and that entire time you are bombarded with the public. I have seen someone shake a baby (called 911). I have seen a full grown adult back hand a child in the face (called 911). I have seen kids call their moms terrible names. Heck, I have been called terrible names.

I have had people complain, and throw things at me, and vow never to return (oh the shame, please don't deny me your cheerful and friendly presence). Sold out of iPhone 4 on launch day? I'm a liar. Won't let you use a 3 year old coupon for a different store? I'm a cheat. I've also been called fat, ugly, stupid, worthless, and oh, a racial slur here and there. Most of those were wrong though, silly white people don't know how to tell Asians apart.

I'll tell you it didn't take more than 6 month working in retail before I called my mom and told her how sorry I was for being a little brat while I was growing up. Seeing how awful some parents could be, and seeing how awful some kids were really put my own childhood into perspective. I remember I spent months telling my mom I was sorry, or randomly apologizing for things she didn't remember. That year for Thanksgiving, instead of saying I was thankful for band-aids, (which I am) I said I was thankful for my mom, and that she never gave up on me.

I'm not alone in this epiphany. Everyone I've ever worked with in retail has the same story. People suck - illusion of generally good public is shattered. Then you vow to be nicer to everyone who works behind a counter, and you keep that vow. I can't tell you how many times my husband and I hear, "you two must work in retail." No, not anymore, thankfully, but we did and we feel your pain.

This is why I think that everyone should work a minimum of 12 consecutive months in retail or food service. That way we can all have a common bond, and we can all be a little more sympathetic to the sufferings of our fellow person. Everyone except my kids. I just don't think I could bear to watch them go through all that. They haven't done anything that terrible... yet.

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