Sued51's Blog











{July 23, 2010}   Working in Retail as a Learning Experience

So far my stint in retail has been quite a learning experience.  The obvious part is that I have learned about the business and its jargon and about its products.  But the phrase that best described my experience is “judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Nobody wants to work for the salary that is offered; everyone who does it has a reason for doing so.  Although “grateful to have a job” would seem to be the common thread, it is not the only story.  There can be medical reasons, family reasons, and lifestyle reasons.

There is a certain amount in camaraderie in knowing that there is always a story worse than your own—and that includes the customers.  I’ve met older people who seem happy to have someone to talk to—a man told me about losing his wife to cancer several years ago and how being her caretaker had aged him—and customers who need someone to listen to their anger about being unable to find work because the government doesn’t.  They tell me they refuse to go to the self-checkout because they believe it costs people jobs.  I can easily and honestly commiserate.

I’ve learned from the customers too.  They tell me about their makeshift solutions to problems and I tell them mine.  It’s very enjoyable for me to talk gardens with people and serve as a kind of liaison, transferring knowledge from one customer to another.

Last, but not least, I have learned to be more comfortable with 20-somethings; I am learning their language and am appreciating how different their lives are than mine was at their age.  I am sympathetic to their student loan issues and they help me remember what it was like to have dreams and plans (not to mention that I have now seen silly bands up close and personal).

I am sure that when this experience becomes part of my past, I will never look at retail workers the same way again.  I will be more sympathetic, more patient and less judgmental.

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Devan says:

Having been a retail worker I applaud your courage in taking on the tough work, using it to share and learn, and speaking out so others can hear – those who need to stop judging and those who can’t, don’t have time to or tools to articulate that world as you have

dms

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