Dear retail customers,

I don't call you dear intentionally because most of you are not. This message is specifically for you.

I'd like to talk to you about how to shop in a retail store with respect and how to cooperate with retail workers when all we do is try to provide for you. One of our main problems with working in retail comes down to our customers, but it's not because all of you are necessarily bad. This is for those customers who tear apart our stores and truly disrespect what we do, the lengths that we go to in order to make you happy and don't pick up after yourselves.

In my retail experience, I'm very good with cash handling and using point-of-sale systems so I'm normally hired in a company as a cashier, sales associate, or customer service. This is where I thrive because I'm best in retail and I bring out my most genuine customer service for people. It's proper, professional and is expected of me. I could easily be rude to people if I really wanted to. I wouldn't keep jobs for too long that way, but I still respect people not just because it's my job but because I have an open mind to people I haven't met until they blatantly prove me wrong.


Photo by Artem Beliaikin


As a sales associate, my main task is to assist customers at the cash register and point-of-sale system so that they can pay for their stuff and be on their way. I'm also open to answering any questions that customers may have since that is also part of me providing service and assisting in making sure that customers are satisfied. Where I begin to draw the line is when I have customers who question every motive of my company when I don't make the prices or the policies. I have to abide by them as a loyal and trustworthy employee and if a customer doesn't like it, they pitch a hissy fit and blame me. But for what?

This is what I'm trying to say. All of the time, retail associates get complaints about themselves, the appearance of their stores, or their policies and prices. In reality, the store isn't trashed because of us — it's because of other customers who ruin it before we can pick it up and reorganize it. What you see is never because of what we do.


We also don't have all of the time in the world to just pick up things or put things back in their place the moment that they're misplaced or fall on the ground. We're given tasks by our management team and shift leaders, so we're never standing in one place waiting on you to ask us a question or need help.

We don't make our company's prices or policies, that's all calculated and proposed by corporate. If you have a complaint to file about that, don't even bother telling us because it goes in one ear and out the other. We can do absolutely nothing about that and it means nothing to us. We may not always agree with some of our policies or prices, but we work for the company so we deal with it. You should be able to as well or else shop someplace different.


Photo by Gyorgy Bakos


We're happy to help you, but the moment you give us a hard time, it puts pressure on us to be the good guys still and we don't want to have to escalate situations. Just imagine yourself in an open and public place and someone insults you or says something offensive to you. You probably don't want to cause a scene, but you may want to counter that insult with something else in order to resolve the issue, or just walk away from it altogether.

Both of these options aren't available to us in retail. We can't talk back and you know we can't which is why you scream at us and complain. But trust me, the moment we're off the clock and leave the store, we're whole different people and we don't have to listen to you.

We can't walk away because, well, that doesn't solve any problems for us first of all. Secondly, if we were to walk off, it'd escalate the situation and we don't want that because it can put us into danger and possibly result in you being thrown out of our store.

All I ask is to please treat us and respect us as you would your friends, family, professors, people you look up to, etc. We're people too with hearts, brains, and feelings. We aren't dumb and we don't only know how to do our jobs and nothing else. And no, this isn't our first day, we know how to do our jobs so don't question that. It's a plain insult and is flat out rude.

Respect those who go out of their way to make you happy. We don't have it easy just because we work indoors and get to dress nicer than most do with uniforms. We're equal to you, so remember that the next time that you're about to say something or act out of the manner in our stores.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.


Photo by Cam Morin