Jobs: The Wonderful World Of Work
It all started way back when, when I was 13 specifically. Hearing that was the legal age I could get a small Saturday job, I set out on a mighty search around towns and villages. My hopes were high, probably too high. Turns out that age thing was a fucking lie because nowhere would have me so I waited till I was 16. And even then it was a fucking struggle, it was looking grim. Hardly any jobs were going, but then I finally got that phone call from a homeware department store, and I got the job. This was after I waited months for a response bearing in mind. I was just happy because I’d thought they had taken one look at my CV and binned it.
I was excited. Finally, it happened to me after waiting and stretching my CV’s far and wide online and in store. My interview was fairly short and simple, apparently I’d pretty much already got the job and I started that day. Bearing in mind I was completely unaware of this. I arrived (thinking it was an interview) in heels and a pencil skirt. So therefore I did manual labour shifting heavy boxes and trolleys in the most uncomfortable clothes and shoes ever. I was fucking dead by the end of it, but thrilled. I began the next day. So far I have worked there for a couple weeks now and this is some of the things I have learnt, thought it’d be quite comforting to share with you all.
1) Nobody Knows What To Do With You
For the first few days I was just following other people’s lead, just copying them because they had no idea what else to do with me. I’d started on one of the store’s busy days. Customers were coming up to me and asking questions, I had to pretend I knew what they were on about and then ask someone else. Because I was new and had no experience, you could see the struggle in their eyes as the managers thought about where I’d be useful. It’s something I felt rather guilty about if I’m honest. I wanted to be able to help people but had 0 idea of what to do and how to do it.
I’m still lost on how to do certain things now but I am still learning. People just rely on the fact that at least I know how to stack shelves. Even then, I need ladders and stools because of my height which always adds up to a laugh for both colleagues and customers. Same goes with my age, I’m like the baby of the department store so everyone takes pity, well not the customers because they come first don’t they?
2) The Stress Of Not Being Able To Find Colleagues
So when you’re new and don’t know much, it’s handy to have someone about who can help. And once that step is over and you’re left to your own devices it’s pretty good; for the first five minutes. Sometimes you’re unclear where things go and you need help, luckily you can find it yourself in your own time. But Jesus Christ when a customer demands something to be found, you bet your ass you better find that product within the next 30 seconds otherwise they’ll kick off. So then I’m running around the store like a headless chicken trying to find help, but alas, nobody to be seen. Workers just go for their break simultaneously without telling anyone leaving the floor completely empty.
There’s been many a time I feel like curling into a ball because the frustration of not being able to find help and having to go to the customer and apologise for being absolutely useless. The same applies for when you don’t know how to perform a task because you’ve never been shown, and there’s nobody else who can help. Leaving the customer pissed. One of the biggest things in the world I hate in the workplace is when you hear “that’s not my department.” I don’t mean in a sincere apologetic way because you cannot help, I mean it sucks when they say it in a “lol not my problem way” especially when they know you’re new and lost. Thanks, pal. That means that now I can’t complete the task I need to do and customers are pissed off at me because of your ignorance.
3) Difficult Customers
I always prepared myself for this one and so far I’ve got to say I’ve been alright. But this has really brought forward ‘the customer is always right’ phrase. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some lovely people, and some were really understanding because I was new. Customers would smile and wish me good luck in the job. Others however, when I couldn’t answer their question, would sigh and roll their eyes, and do that laugh that’s supposed to make you feel like an absolute cretin. It’s almost like they forget you’re an actual person.
I remember a lady asking for a parasol in grey as she pointed to the one on display, we were literally only selling brown ones. The one on display she was pointing at? It was brown. Nope, she insisted it was grey and didn’t leave until we’d gone into the warehouse and looked for her. She just would not have it. Another time a man asked me to get down a suitcase from a high shelf after looking at my height. Real funny man. What’s worse is when you’re instantly expected to know what the customer is talking about when they say “I’m looking for, like a thing, do you know what I’m on about?” No. No I don’t know what you’re on about. All you’ve said is “thing”, have you seen the size of this store ma’am? Thus followed with the eye roll because you can’t read minds.
I say all this but the people at customer services get all the real shit when people are trying to return stuff. Items have been thrown at employees because customers don’t get their own way.
4) When Things Get Broken
Oh also the amount of time a customer has broken something is ridiculous. I completely understand that an accident is an accident, we all drop shit sometimes. They break it and then run off, without telling anyone. Understandably, look pal I know you don’t want to pay for it but if you weren’t fucking around with it in the first place it wouldn’t have happened.
Once, a customer clearly had sat on a box and it smashed, they told us, and before we could ask what had happened, the whole family had cleared off. Another time someone smashed a plate and a customer had to come and tell me because they’d just run off. You know, it’s not getting people to pay that’s my main concern, it’s the fact people can get hurt. I don’t want a kid hurting themselves falling on broken crockery because your cowardly ass ran off instead of warning someone. Just tell us instead of running off please.
Kids also love to run about on Heelies (trainers with wheels) and end up colliding into stuff. The parents are totally chill about this too, all it does is raise our blood pressure because we can’t even throw them out the store because, “they’re just a kid they didn’t know”. Your 9 year old just purposely knocked items off of the shelf. Get a grip.
5) Difficult Managers
Don’t get me wrong about this one. I have worked with some absolutely wonderful people who are happy to help you if you get lost. But fuck me, you get some proper stuck up people to work with. Unhelpful, rude and power obsessed. You can ask a simple question and they’ll either roll their eyes or pass you on to someone else.
Especially considering this is my first job as well, it’s not you’re asking them to answer about the origins of the universe and why we’re really here. I already feel bad enough for not knowing where things are because I don’t like to be annoying. I just asked where hammers are kept, and instead of being helpful and giving me a straight answer, you have decided to make me feel like a moron. Or maybe you made a small mistake, or missed something when tidying up, ideally, a manager will explain politely and set you away to fix it. Job done. Or they can full on scream the place down because something was slightly untidy. They truly want to make sure that you know you’ve done something wrong. Thank you for your insight.
And to top it all off they’re never there when you need them. Of course some are hard working and busy with other issues, but some just run for their break (without telling anyone) and hide in the staff room pretending to do something important. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been many a time where I feel like hiding in the storeroom or toilets and crying for a little bit, but as my brother always says: “quitters are shitters”. Just do your job properly it makes it easier for everyone else.
6) Heavy Items
I am not going to even sugar coat this one. Look at me, I didn’t score high in genetics. I’m extremely short and I’m definitely not a bodybuilder. For this job I have to lift boxes filled with stock that are both bigger and heavier than me, load them onto a trolley and dispatch them around the store. Most of the time I can do that, but it’s not easy at all. I try to keep someone with me because as we’ve established, I’m pretty fucking useless.
I hate asking people for help because everyone is mega busy, but BBQ’s and full on table and chair sets even grown men have trouble lifting, are quite hard to move. The trolleys even more so, it’s a bloody miracle I haven’t managed to run myself over with one yet. Impossible to steer and get in the way of everyone. It’s quite possible that this job has helped me get muscle which is bloody fantastic. It’s embarrassing though when your face goes bright red and you’re having to steady your breathing because your an absolute weakling. Time to toughen up.
7) The Importance Of Presentation
I’m speaking in general terms here. Usually, I am more than happy to turn up to college looking like a scrub. In fact I do it on the daily. Not this time though, Uniform is clean, ironed and you need your name tag and box cutting knife. It’s strict, it feels like school again, but they won’t be happy if you aren’t adequate. Also who wants to be served by someone who smells, right? I know I wouldn’t, gotta be considerate you know. But that’s just us as employees, the presentation of the shop is taken really seriously as well.
The job of closing up shop is a difficult one. Each and every product must be straight and facing forward so that it looks neat. Now this would be good if it was a small shop but you know what? It’s not. It takes hours and even I have to go over what other people do to make sure it’s right. If we get it wrong or it’s not up to standard, boy do we hear about it, twice or three times sometimes. Don’t expect great cleaning products either. Ever had to mop a giant department store? I have. It’s hell on fucking Earth. Even more so because the mop/broom used to clean looks like a dead rat on a stick. Just in case you happen to know what one of those looks like. All it does is contaminate the floor further.
8) The Art Of Looking Busy
Heaven forbid you are ever stuck with nothing to do in a job. And heaven forbid you are caught by anyone with nothing to do, be it customer or colleague. It can come down to the point where there’s nothing left to stack or clean up. Plus the store’s are practically empty so there’s no one to help. For once you’re actually hoping for something to happen, whether someone needs help or something is on fire. So what do you do? You perfect the art of looking busy. It’s a great way to keep busy, look busy and appear helpful.
This includes continuously walking up and down the aisles of the shop looking for even the tiniest imperfections on the shelves. Because guaranteed the managers are that petty they will point it out and make a massive deal about it the next time they see you. Every item facing forward, in a straight practical line, in it’s right fucking place maybe as well. You have got to keep doing this to look busy. I say this is just ‘looking’ busy but in reality it just gives you something more to do, and technically you are helping out, it’s just a bit of a last resort.
Literally the last thing you want is someone being a little bitch saying you’re lazy, when perhaps you’re just a bit lost. Someone did this to me and I have never been more pissed off in my entire life. They could’ve asked me if I was lost and needed help or something and they chose to throw me under the bus. This just leads to everyone kicking off when there’s really no need. Unless you want to get fired or ratted on, perfect this art. I just got this job I can’t lose it now.
Overall, it’s been fun in the great big working world but you have to mentally and physically prepare yourself because people of all ages will test you. I know I’m still new and there’s probably going to be a massive shit storm that probably goes down due to my own stupidity. All you can do is go in with a smile and do your best.