A Day In The Life Of A Retail Worker
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A Day In The Life Of A Retail Worker

An example of the everyday trials and tribulations faced by retail workers.

A Day In The Life Of A Retail Worker

You walk into the store for your shift, noticing the masses of people milling about. As you clock in, you can’t help but dread the next few hours ahead of you. You’re anticipating the never-ending go-backs, the eternally messy sales floor, and the less-than-pleasant customers that always make an appearance. None of these tasks sound remotely appealing, but these are the assignments that come with the territory. It’s time to put on a happy face and get to work.

And the countdown to your lunch break begins.

Your manager has you start your shift off by greeting customers at the door. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. Customers enter the store as fast as lightning. As soon as you ask one customer how they’re doing, a huge group walks in, sneaking right past you. Not to mention the fact that a lot of the customers you greet are just plain rude; some completely ignore you or even interrupt your friendly greeting with an “I’m fine, just browsing” in a nasty tone. And all the while, you’re expected to keep a smile plastered on your face.

After what seems like a lifetime, your manager relieves you from greeting duty and stations you in the fitting rooms. Like the store entrance, there is almost a constant influx of people. You make sure to stop everyone at the door to count their items, checking that they don’t exceed the limit of merchandise allowed in the fitting rooms. You manage to carry twice your weight in clothes, delivering items to waiting customers, and hanging up the discarded ones on the go-back rack. Whenever you have the smallest break in the inflow of customers, you begin organizing the go-backs. Both you and your coworkers begin placing the go-backs in their proper place on the floor, but the minute you return to the fitting rooms, even more go-backs are waiting for you. It is then that you hide in an empty fitting room to give yourself a mini-break. However, the break is much too short, and you soon have to return to your station to serve the newest customers needing to try clothes on.

You’ve done your time in the fitting rooms, and your manager gives you the good news: it’s time for your break. You rip off your name tag in glee and rush to leave the store. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot a customer headed your way. You can tell by the look on their face that they are approaching you to ask for assistance. Little do they know that you are off the clock and therefore do not care about their current state of need. Avoiding eye contact at all cost, you run out the door.

You then head to the food court to spend more money than you made after an hour of labor for a simple lunch. Food in hand, you run back to the break room and spend the remaining 20 minutes of your break scarfing down your lunch and resting your aching feet. Your time is up, and you now force yourself to get up and go back on the floor for the remainder of your shift.

Next up on the to-do list is to straighten your designated area. Let’s face it— before you get there, the room is a complete and utter mess. Clothes are strewn about the floor, the piles of merchandise on the tables are mixed together in unholy combinations, and nothing seems to be in its proper place. You first set out to picking the clothes off the floor and hanging them back where they belong, all the while attempting to ignore your aching back. Next, you get to work on the tables. You sort the items into various piles as a means of regaining some form of order. Once the clothes are separated, you take on the real challenge: folding. It sounds like a fairly mundane task, but retail workers recognize folding for the true evil it is. Because displays are so important, each item has an extremely specific way it must be folded, and sometimes these folds can be a bit complicated. Even worse, as you stand there trying to remember if the shirt you’re holding needs a board fold or a quarter fold, customers saunter right up next to you and begin rummaging through piles that you literally just perfected. Some nerve, huh?

Finally, after a hard day’s work, it’s closing time. You have solace. The last few customers are leaving the store, the music is turned off, and you see your manager pull out the broom to begin sweeping up the floor. But wait, what’s this? Why it’s a customer strolling in without a care in the world. Surely they must be aware of the gates being lowered at the stores across the hall. I mean c’mon, even our gate is halfway down! The customer had to play limbo to enter the store and yet still finds no issue with their casual browsing. You try to go about your business, praying that this straggler will get the hint and leave. However, the lone customer takes his sweet time. It takes everything in you to not cry with relief when he is finally gone. Once the gate is all the way down, you know you’ve survived another day in the retail game.

As you finish straightening the store with your coworkers, each of you sharing funny details of today’s events, you feel content. Yes, you had a crazy day, but at least the time flew by because you were so busy! And honestly— when you think about it—things could have been so much worse. You got to spend all day surrounded by pretty clothes, helping people play dress up, and pick out ensembles they’ll be using in their everyday lives. Though some customers didn’t appreciate your help, most of them did. It made you feel good to lend a hand to customers, and have them be truly grateful for your assistance. Though you definitely have a list of complaints about working in retail, that appreciation makes it all worth it. That and the paycheck, of course.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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