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Retail Fail

Dvorak Uncensored

I'm not sure how long Flanders could last in retail.

I have had some interesting experiences during my 2 month foray into the world of customer service-oriented retail. In addition to learning about what kind of job is right for me, I have also witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the human race.

Dealing with retail means you have to deal with idiots. We sell these Frog-O-Spheres, mini aquariums with water, two frogs, a snail, gravel, and some rocks and bamboo. There are boxes sitting next to the display that hold the frog supplies. Nearly every person who checks out the frogs asks something stupid that could be prevented with a) basic common sense, or b) rational thought. “Are they real frogs?” (“No, they’re mechanical frogs floating around in water.”) “Do they come in the boxes?” (“Of course. We put live aquatic frogs in the box, poke some air holes, and hope they’ll be fine by the time you tourists get home to Ohio.”) And three people so far have tried to tip the tanks over. Two succeeded in making a huge mess and dumping frogs, water, and all on the ground. Pure genius.

You also have to deal with some gender discrimination. I’ve had one guy stare at my chest during a massage chair demonstration, and another stare at my butt as I walked away from helping him, and then shrug (offensive, yes, plus I deserved at least a nod of appreciation). I helped a middle aged gentleman with a French accent who was a little bit too friendly. He told me I had beautiful eyes.

You can learn a lot about human psychology too. There are three types of people, and you can tell in about a minute. Some people want you to leave them alone while they shop, and when greeted, will politely say hello and turn away from you. There are also friendlier customers who will ask you a question about a product, or allow you to show them some neat stuff around the store. They put up with the merchandising approach and all your retail tricks with good humor. Then there are the people who completely ignore you, stare down their noses at you, and are generally rude and obnoxious. They’re better than you, presumably because you’re just a retail jockey, only one step above a fast food worker.

Retail can tell you a lot about people. It’s a test of character to see if you can handle dealing with anyone who walks into your store; it’s not just some cakewalk any highschooler can handle. So the next time you’re shopping at the mall, remember this: other people have to deal with you, no matter if you happen to notice them or not. So when you dump those clothes you just tried on onto the floor, or knock over some display, remember someone else will have to come clean up your mess, which is something they should have taught you in kindergarten.

Retail is just a dirty name for Public Relations

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busy dealing with my job, which is… unexpected in many ways. Retail is something I’ve now become initiated into. But with every job, no matter what it is, there is always something you can gain from it.

I’ve learned that I can’t stand standing up all day. I like multitasking, and being able to focus on multiple things at a time. I can deal with children if I put in effort, which is good if I ever want to teach. I’ve been thinking about teaching English in a Japanese conversation school (eikawa), and I might be able to handle it. I never thought I would be able to do that.

The things that brighten my day are animals, talking to people with common interests, and the feeling I’m doing something productive or useful. When a customer comes in with a dog on a leash, I can’t tear my eyes away from their cute little puppy, and I’m not even that much of a dog person. I like my co-workers; they make it easier to work with all kinds of tourists while we talk about video games or alternative energy. And just having a job is better than being unemployed, because you have something to fill your hours and maybe stick on a resume at the very least.

I’m not sure if I could do public relations work in the future, but certain things about retail seem similar. You have to sell yourself, and present a different person to everyone, yet still maintain the same core being, with a certain set of values, work ethic, and attitudes. People are customers one minute and individuals the next, depending on what angle you’re aiming for. You have to learn how to sell some things you might not really believe in, but find some way to be okay with that. And sometimes you’ll get backed into a corner by something you’ve said or something they want and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I supposed I’ve leveled up my Personality and Speechcraft, plus my Strength and Intelligence a bit. Random things change you in life, and I need those interpersonal communication skills in any job. My next project is working on those writing skills. (Would writing be the equivalent of Alteration? Conjuration? Yeah, I’ve got Oblivion on the brain). Blogging is fine, it shows diversity on a resume, but choosing a specialty, like fiction, journalism, or video game scripts, may be more productive in the long run. Perhaps I can use blogging to my advantage and use this blog to brainstorm for a new writing project. Any suggestions would be appreciated.