Yes hi, it me, ur friendly neighborhood lawyer who also is a register jockey sometimes. Something something side hustle something gig economy something student loans something store discount something broke. (Like, sidenote, yes I realize I am an attorney but if y’all haven’t been keeping up with the news in the legal market, salaries are low and hard to find and the millenial struggle is extra struggle-y in my profession of choice so I do this too. They’re both service jobs, let’s be real.)
There is also a frustrating aspect to working retail while also working as an attorney, and it is that people treat you differently when they find out you’re an attorney and also working retail. I myself have been guilty of profession-dropping when I want to impress a customer (I’m not *just* a sales associate, I have two degrees, I feel comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life) and also doing it when someone is being the worst. Sometimes people will say “why are you working here if you’re a lawyer?” and to that I give my above explanation while thinking “why are you asking dickish questions if you’re a stranger?”
My retail gig is great (love my coworkers love my managers work is decidedly Not Bad) but it is still ridiculously wacky. And there are still some unusual scenarios that pop up specifically during the holidays and especially on Black Friday and here are some that have happened recently.
Wow, it’s busy, I have some returns
I don’t ever know what to tell to the person who decides to process all of their returns on the busiest shopping day of the year. This is like showing up to a park at 9 PM on the 4th of July looking to play some frisbee and saying to an employee “wow, there sure are a lot of fireworks here! anywhere I could toss this disk around?” Like, yes, we can help you, but why. Why are you like this.
I do not need to hear about your struggles to find parking on this the day of Our Retail Lord because those two pairs of khakis could simply not live in your home any longer. This is on you, champ.
A minor version of this happens every Saturday until the new year. “Wow, I had some trouble parking, it’s so busy!”
Me, crazed, shrieking: IS IT NO WAY
Customer: anyway I bought this in 1957 and I don’t have a receipt
Please tell me what my loved ones would like for Christmas
“I’m trying to find a gift for my wife, what would you recommend?”
Like, talking to her would be a good start
I can (and have!) gone forward from this place, asking what she likes to do for fun, if she has a favorite color, what her favorite outfits are, and what the guy is looking to spend, because I ALWAYS BE CLOSING and I am a goddamn professional. However, it always blows my mind that a husband thinks asking me for a gift idea for his wife is the right call. Like, by virtue of being another human woman I somehow have a greater insight into her wants than you do, and you’re a human man who lives with her. Homie, I don’t know your wife. I don’t know her hopes and dreams, and while we do both enjoy the ever-present shadow of sexism, I have no idea what will make her happy. She might think Daario’s characterization on Game of Thrones is fine. She might Also, please, for the love of God, know her size, so you don’t gesture towards me and my body and go “she’s about your height, I think, but uh…”
Lemme get your wife a sweater and be excused to scream
Women, What Do They Want, What A Mystery, So Mysterious
My ‘office’ is visible at all times
Not that all non-service jobs are a blast (like if you’re doing construction work I can’t even imagine how physically demanding your work is), but the most frustrating part is how your customers see you do every part of it and don’t think that there is any kind of barrier that shouldn’t be crossed. I’ve gotten tapped on the shoulder while working with another customer because this one COULDN’T WAIT (sidenote: don’t touch me), but I’ve also gotten asked for help while I was mid-sneezing or coughing. In an office setting, you would ask your coworker if she’s okay, not be like “do you have this in a petite large?” We might, but I can’t breathe at the moment, so you gon’ have to wait.
My personal fave is when people start shopping a pile of stuff that needs to get placed on the floor. This weekend, I had a rack of cardboard boxes, all filled with holiday items (food, ornaments, etc.) and was trying to fill in the stuff we’d sold. A lady came up and started rummaging around in one of the boxes and my lawyer brain went “oh GOD she’ll drop the heaviest item on her toe and then we’ll find out she’s a toe model and that toe is her livelihood and we’ll have to pay out her earnings forever and I’ll get fired and the company will go under because TOE”
What I actually said was “is there anything I can help you find? I’ve been trying to get these out but I’m not finished so we may have more items”
Her: “I was going to say, this is the oddest display I’ve ever seen!”
Do you also walk directly into a recently-poured sidewalk slab and say “this is a very odd concrete!” LOOK, WITH YOUR EYES, THAT ARE IN YOUR HEAD, WITH YOUR BRAIN, PLEASE, MAKE AN EFFORT
I’m gonna come in and rearrange your Outlook calendar in your office SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT
I misread my coupon and now I must Murder
See also “I left my coupon at home,” “no I’m positive it said 80% off,” “I got these for full price 17 months ago and I’d like a price adjustment,” “why do I need to pay money in exchange for goods,” “my solution to the problem of not wanting to give a business any money is to berate the lowest rung of authority hostage-situation-style until my demands are met,” etc. etc. sobsobcry.
I’ve had *so* *many* frustrating discussions with people about their not wanting to pay an advertised price for an item. I absolutely understand that it is frustrating to get to the payment step of a purchase and need to shell out more money than you expected, I get that, I really do. But the price I’m quoting you isn’t generated by that little popcorn ball thing they pick lottery numbers out of. The computer says “hey yeah this coat is this number of dollars” and if you have a coupon in your hand or if there is a sale I can tell the computer “hey this barcode and set of numbers will tell you that no it is actually a fraction less” but without that barcode I am up dollars creek without a coupon and so are you.
My store is doing a promotion at this time where if you spend fifty dollaroonis you will get a ten-dollar gift card to the store that is good on your next purchase. It legitimately won’t work until the next day. And I’ve had like, Dynasty-level fights over “WHERE IS MY TEN DOLLARS OFF” uhhh ma’am, if I can just direct you to the words, on the ad, where it says Not That. “They just want you to come back in the store!” Hell yes, they do. This is capitalism. They give coupons to get you into the store, comrade, and they’ll be damned if they pass up a chance to bleed you dry some more.
My most challenging battle so far This Holiday Season was a lady who came in on Black Friday with a receipt for things she bought 3 days prior to Black Friday, which were not on sale, but now they were. We were not doing price adjustments. “But they’re on sale now!” Sure! Yes they are! Because it is Black Friday! You made the decision to secure these items earlier rather than risk the possibility that they would no longer be available on a sale day. Choices! Freedom! Risk Assessment!
Surprisingly, this was not a sufficient answer for this person (I didn’t actually say this don’t you worry), who told me that she had just been to Abercrombie, and they had let her do this. Sucks to your Ass-bercrombie-mar, ma’am, and if you love Abercrombie so much why don’t you marry it. I did not say this, either, but rather walked her through the repurchase of all of her items at the day’s sale price so that she could then return each item for which she had paid full price. She was doing this for her daughter, who has 8 children, and “needs all the help she can get” with discounts and coupons.
Congrats on her fertility, but objection: relevance.
Aggressively wishing ‘Merry Christmas’
I am coming from a place of privilege and do not care if someone casually says “Merry Christmas” because that is a holiday I celebrate. I would also not care if they said “Happy [Anything Else]” because it affects me zero percent but this is still a majority-Christian nation so that hasn’t happened ANYWAY
A lot of people do say “Merry Christmas” in a casual way, not as a Statement, and *shrug* whatever. However, I do get a decent number of people who are like “I am a sergeant in the War on Christmas” and will make uncomfortable eye contact with me and say “Merry Christmas” and kind of wait for the paratroopers with reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and “Happy Honda-days” banners to come from the sky or something and are so smugly proud of themselves for being brave.
However. I wear a name tag at work. My name is Christina. My guy’s name is *in my name.* It is not so much bravery to tell me Merry Christmas to my face as it is equivalent to showing up at a baptism for Jesus McNazareth and looking his parents in the eye and saying “Merry Christmas.”
People, I love Jesus. He is the best, and I’m super psyched to celebrate Christmas because for me it is the night of my dear Savior’s birth. But trying to start fights with a cashier in December is not The Reason for the Season.
How you can help
You don’t need to help. You’re doing great. If you’re reading this and laughing, you’re not part of the problem. Especially millenials and genXers: you guys are all the politest group of economically-depressed bits of sunshine and you’re doing amazing, sweetie.