This week marked the two-year anniversary of the day I got my first and current job- grocery store cashier and customer service associate. Over these last two years, I've experienced moments that made me cry from anger as well as some moments that made me cry from laughter. In honor of my two years of experience I decided to ask some of my friends about their experiences. Here are my favorite responses:
M, Food Service
We all have had some awkward encounters with customers from time to time, but some of them are truly terrible. One friend chose to mention her encounters with "all the gross guys that hit on me.... There was one guy that reached his hand over the counter to try to touch me." This proves just how vulnerable employees are in these situations and reiterates the need for respect and personal space.
When I asked this friend if she had any positive experiences with this job, she replied, "Nope. I quit after a month because it was awful." Honestly? I don't blame her at all.
E, Food Service
There are definitely many pros and cons when it comes to working in fast food. When I asked about a specifically positive experience, one friend explains that his favorite is "probably two equal things. The friends I've made and having a massive kitchen at my disposal to be able to learn how to cook more than just fast food." That makes fast food sound pretty good, but he offered a negative view of his job as well. He told me "it's hard work for garbage pay, and if I had the chance I would work somewhere else. I feel like a lot of things are out of control and working in fast food is not a secure field. I want out of it as soon as possible. The demand is high and the pay is low."
While having a job in fast food can be challenging, rewarding, and provide unique experiences, there are also some stressful moments that might make the job not feel worth it.
H, Food Service
My barista friend seems to really like her job. She said: "I think the best part of my job is just the day to day with the regulars that come in. They are always so sweet and ask how my day is going and share their experiences with me. One time a couple or regulars bought everyone pizza which was super sweet."
It's always nice to meet nice people and have a positive experience while working, but baristas have one of the most dangerous jobs in food service. They serve people who have not had their coffee yet. This friend also said: "My worst experiences all hae to do with old men who think it's funny to make fun of other customers who like complicated drinks. Our job is to make the drinks, so we don't mind the complicated stuff, and it drives me crazy when people think it's okay to make fun of people who know how they like stuff."
H, Grocery Retail Customer Service
The brave people who are willing to work in customer service always have some stories to tell. This one is an example of how hard the job can be sometimes. This person said: "This one time a guy came in and asked for a prepaid MasterCard to buy things online. I directed him towards [a specific card] because it was both MasterCard and could be reloaded. I explained everything about the card to him and that he would have to register the card to use it. He bought it and put 50 dollars on it and left all happy. The next day, he comes back into the store and demands a refund. I inform him that we cannot refund it and ask what the issue is. He then tells me that he doesn't have any type of phone number and can't register it and use it. A manager comes up and tells him the same thing, and he freaks out and throws the card at me and screams at us. we go get him and try to come up with a solution but he is relentless. He does take the card back but he leaves absolutely [angry]. Haven't seen him since."
Although life in customer service can be tough, there are also some fun parts. She shared that her favorite memory from her job was: "The night [my best friend and I] literally had a sanitizer squirt bottle fight and ran around the store singing 80s music and then hid paper clips from [the manager] in the Mentos and lighters and he never found them and we gave them back to him the next day."
E, Grocery Retail
Anyone who has ever worked in retail has probably had the experience of being asked to look in the back for something that they know for sure isn't there. When I asked what his grocery store experience was like, one friend responded: "During Thanksgiving, an old lady asked for cranberry sauce when we were all out by that time, and of course I told her this. And of course she asked me to go check in the back anyway, and so I simply walked through the doors (still well within sight of her), turned around immediately, and said, 'Nope, outta cranberry sauce,' with the biggest smile."
M, Grocery Retail
This last response pretty much sums up working in retail. They said: "I got to work with my favorite coworkers and create new memories that would later teach me how to manage my time and efficiency...." This response definitely rings true for me as I have met all of my closest friends through my job.
I also asked what they didn't like about their job and their response was this: "The managers got on to me for using my phone for [a locator app] to help locate an item for a customer, earning a strike against me."
While no job is perfect, I think it is safe to say that doing a job in a field such as retail or food service will provide you with some good, unique experiences. Of course there will always be less than perfect situations, but you can at least learn some valuable lessons and make some new friends along the way.