When I got my first job, I did it to prove a point. The money didn't hurt, but I needed to prove that I could be self-sufficient. I thought I just needed to prove that to my parents, but it was probably just to myself. I argued that I could do whatever it took to support my lifestyle. At the time, that lifestyle was more extravagant than the one the adult me would prefer.
My parents, especially my father, knew that if he challenged me, I'd take the bait. I held that job for a year and a half. It made me learn so much about life. It was more than a job. That job was at a local Panda Express.
I loved it not because it paid very well or that my cousin worked there, but because it made me understand how to be professional and interact with others who may not always be on the same page as me about certain things. I became an adult over that entire time. My manager even said those exact words to me. She was sad to see me go, but she knew I had outgrown that job and needed something new.
Since my days in food, I am now in the retail industry. There is so much that I didn't know about retail that took me by surprise:
No one tells you how much work you put in it.
You have to put in so much to be a good retail employee with regards to how your boss thinks you perform and how the customers think you perform. You have to do something pretty outstanding to get attention from the right people.
There are other employees who want that promotion.
They will do anything for it.
Your hours depend on if your boss knows your name and likes your work.
Hours are hard to come by.
When you get free hours, take as many shifts as necessary to get that money.
Part-time and full-time are the same thing.
You lose your sense of time entirely.
You lose your faith in humanity with each person who walks through the door.
They are ready to attack your character and your entire person over something small that is out of your control. The good customers are far and in between.
The social life will take a back seat especially when money for bills is a top priority.
Let your friends know early, they won't be seeing you as much as they did before.
You miss holidays with the family to make the most money you'll make all year.
Holidays are peak seasons. It seems inhumane, but it's legal and destroying your life each major holiday in the calendar year.
I have experienced a lot in my short time in retail. I wish some of those negative experiences never happened because no one deserves to be broken down in public, but I overcame and became stronger. I look back now and see that I would never have gained so much patience and a penchant for forgiveness for everyone without them.
Retail is demanding. Not everyone can do it or handle the consequences of committing to the work. It can really pay off especially during the holidays, but I could do with seeing the family more often than I do now.
I am in retail now and I know retail is not for the faint of heart. Young me would disagree but older I just shrug and rolls her eyes. Retail is life. There are endless possibilities to how your day can begin or end.
I just wish my story would let me be anything but the tragic hero. Retail is all too often one big tragedy.