The Joys of Working Retail

Retail is not the perfect job. People take credit for your work, and the boss gets on your nerves.

Boxes on a Conveyer

This article was written as part of Peeve Week 2: Work.

Work is one of those things everyone has to endure some time in their life. For some, it’s doing the thing you love, such as dancing, acting, or playing sports. For others it might be the same repetitive cleaning job, desk job or paper filing job. For me, it’s a casual employee job at a retail store while I am in high school.

Personally, I love to work. Even though I’m working at a slightly dodgy home-business retail store, I love the thought that I am helping someone, and interacting with so many people. It’s all the repercussions, niggling details or frustrating not-my-fault incidents that make me rethink how much I really do like to work.

Here are a few of the things that really tick me off:

A Forgetful Boss

Isn’t a forgetful boss the worst thing? You expect your boss to be professional, and call the shots. However, whether it is that s/he’s incredibly stressed because of that new-born baby at home, have so much work to juggle around, or they simply are a very slack boss, it’s not nice to deal with. My boss happens to be a combination of all three.

Here are a few examples of the things he forgets and you tell me whether or not it’s appropriate. He constantly messes up the employees’ pay checks, and it takes up to a month for him to fix it. Another example is I asked for a week off as I had surgery. He forgot and asked me what possible reason I could have for not attending work. He also messes up the roster and constantly has to call people in to work at very late notice (within an hour’s notice). The thing is, our store is very small with only seven employees, and only needs two people to work a day. One would think seven people should not be very hard to manage.

Giving Credit to Someone Else for Your Work

This could be all sorts of things, such as someone else taking the credit for a sale you made. It could be being at the wrong place at the right time, and taking the credit for something you didn’t do. Like I mentioned, I love to work. In particular, I love pricing stock; I work crazy fast. I’ll finish all the pricing halfway through the day, and start on tomorrow’s pricing. I’m proud that I do so much work, but I am never given the credit.

Another employee, whom I shall call “S”, also works at register (pricing is done at the register). There can only be one person on the register at a time, and this particular chain of events constantly happens time and time again. I work at the register nearly most of the day, then at the end of the day S comes to total up the cash, where the boss walks in and sees him there. The boss has always assumed S does all the work, when in reality S is one of the laziest employees we have.

Frustrating Customers

No one is afraid of making a ruckus anymore. Everyone speaks up their mind, and loudly too. I’m sure you’ve all seen “those customers”. You know, the ones who ask about the price of each item, point out the tiniest scratch and ask for a huge discount, and return items while making a big deal about it. I’ve seen each of these customers, and some are even more nit-picky, but you can’t avoid them. I can’t refuse to serve them, or I’ll be out of a job.

I once had a customer, an aging man, who came to return a pack of suction cups. I said sure, and went to return the item for him. Out of nowhere, he became extremely angry, yelling at me, the service of the store, and the quality of the items. My boss came around and took over, trying to talk to the man. My boss explained that as the item was a 20 pack of suction cups, for $2 you could expect that it would not be the best quality. We explained we had other brands of suction cups, but the man would not listen and made a huge scene. There will always be the somewhat unreasonable customers who try their hardest to make you feel unworthy and make a scene.


I have laid out my top three peeves in my particular job. Of course, there are a lot more maddening little things that make work not-so-fun. For example, the lack of adequate lunch room or hygiene facilities. Or what about that perfect “boss’s pet”, earning the minimal wage, or the absolute repetitiveness of the job itself? Everyone has to put up with some degree of frustrations during work — unless you’re lucky enough to do something you love (in which, there may still be people who irritate you) or don’t work at all. Are you one of the lucky ones?

Jess is a 16 year old down to earth, deep-thinking teen. She loves to talk about all the real life issues, and get actively involved within the community. She currently resides in Australia.

5 thoughts on “The Joys of Working Retail”

  1. Jess,

    I worked at a drugstore called Walgreens for three years during college. Before that I was a grocery bagger. I can relate to all of your peeves.

    One of my biggest peeves while working at a grocery store was when I would ask a customer, "Paper or plastic." The customer would say, "Yes."

  2. Nice job Jess. You have expressed what most people do not realize, even if those people are affected directly or indirectly by such things.

    A forgetful boss; you would imagine a boss would realize his/her forgetfulness and actually come up with a solution to fix such a thing, as it affects the moods of other people.

    About someone else stealing the credit, that is usually what many people do at work: back stabbing. Maybe you can ask your boss, if you think it's a good idea, to have you total up everything since you "already do the entire work all day, all this time, totaling up the cash won't be hard" or something like that? Again, the forgetful boss should keep an eye on things, or try to.

    About customers who try to frustrate others on purpose, that is just weird. I have seen some people in expensive cars trying to make a scene or something similar in order to save a dollar or two. I wonder why such people tend to argue about getting an undeserved dollar or so when they are already rich, or maybe they got rich by saving a dollar or two in every manner?

    Could you explain a bit more please what you meant by "boss's pet"? 🙂

    Well, even if someone was lucky enough to do something, the people one comes in contact with, directly and indirectly, may actually cause a lot of frustration or trouble.

    This is absolutely wonderful too; one should print this and post it around different businesses. 😉

  3. Lmao, Ronald, definitely. "Paper or plastic" isn't even a long question, that you miss it so you hope saying "yes" will get you by.

    "Boss's pet" – it's S in my situation lol (off the topic, he found a new job! Yay… for other reasons regarding work, I didn't like him too much lol). S was only in high school when the boss let him be the assistant, and I think the power got to his head because he never did any work. The thing is, he never got in trouble by the boss, no matter how lazy he was.

    S was only new to the job as well, and while there were other very responsible employee's who've worked there for years, the boss chose him. I'm not being discriminative, but I believe it's because they are of the same nationality (Indian). Both the assistant managers were made assistants within their first two months, one of them could barely speak English, but they were all Indian and spoke in their language.


  4. After years of customer service work, I subscribe to the philosophy of Randall in Clerks (paraphrased): “The customer is not always right. The customer is always an a$$hole.” Not always, certainly, but if I never hear that phrase again in my life, it will be too soon. Just because you’re patronizing my place of business doesn’t mean that I can (or frankly, want to) move mountains for you.

    I’m a stay at home mom now. I have similar conversations with my three year old as I’ve had with demanding, obnoxious, bossy, and/or rude customers. The only difference is that, when he throws a tantrum, I can put him in time-out. :mrgreen: (Actually, working phone customer service, if someone was being particularly stupid, mean, or rude, I would occasionally put them in “time-out”, i.e., on hold for a minute or two to let them calm down or stew and let me collect myself.)

  5. Try working retail banking. Its all the problems of working retail but with the added responsibility of handling other peoples money and not much more pay 🙁

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