College Life


As common a job as any other, many students like myself opt to work in retail stores during the summer months. In comparison to the numerous amounts of downright terrible jobs out there, retail probably isn’t the worst but it’s never easy. Especially when you’re spoon feeding grown adults.

Some customers, like toddlers, are often idle and unaware of the most basic levels of human decency needed when interacting with others in the real world. Yet, fear no further! If you find yourself, as a customer, struggling with simple tasks like picking up after yourself or find that you become infuriated at the five seconds it takes someone to attend to you then help is here. This article will address the most common problematic tasks encountered by retail workers on a day to day basis and how customers can remedy the situation. Let the lessons begin!

“Please, don’t make a mess!”

As far as destruction is concerned, customers are the Godzillas of retail stores. It seems the difficulty in teaching some customers is their utter distain in doing things for themselves. Like growing infants, some customers have a tendency to storm through a retail floor like a canned hurricane destroying all the work that has been accomplished, and with little remorse as they get distracted by something shiny (or half price). If you drop it, pick it up. If you tried it on, don’t leave it on the floor. It is not the employee’s job to pick up after you and it’s only fair you learn to do it for yourselves.

“Trust people who know better.”

Customers in retail stores can, at the best of times, be bamboozling. Smiling politely spending ten minutes explaining to a customer why a woman’s size 14 pair of jeans is “so much” bigger than a size 6 of the same jean, because that’s how clothes sizing works, can take its toll on anybody. Maybe they just enjoy watching us workers squirm in fear of their blind hatred for such confusing and erratic sizing (which must be noted we, as sales workers, have no authority over or any of the “outrageous” prices you encounter in the store) but it makes our lives a thousand times more difficult.

With this, some customers also must accept a simple ‘no’ response. “No sorry, we don’t have that size on the floor, or the stock room, or in any other store in the country. You’d like me to check for the fourth time? Of course, I’ll be right back.” It must be addressed that we are not attempting to con you out of a good bargain or that we wish to see you suffer; we know what’s available so please just believe us. “Sorry it’s not available online either. You want me to contact the President of the company to sort it out? Of course I’ll be right back.”

“Patience is a virtue.”

One of life’s most important lessons is that of patience, which can be quite difficult at times, especially for customers. It seems the couple of seconds it takes to attend to their needs has infuriated them to the point of utter rage, which is followed by an awkward silence and empty apologies from members of staff. If we could help you faster, we would but often, us retail employees are riddled with flaws such as the lack of super human speed; we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“Kindness costs nothing.”

With patience comes kindness, a lesson that we all must learn from a young age (most of us anyway). Kindness should apply to every aspect of a person’s life, especially when dealing with others around you, especially those people who are actually serving you. Like children, some customers must be reminded that it doesn’t cost a penny to say thank you but it will prevent you from being complained about by multiple members of staff after you’ve left the premises.

With concluding this educational piece of how to help so many struggling customers with basic retail respect, I wish to address those wonderful, well-taught customers. The kind who speak to you like a human, entertain you with anecdotal stories about their family or children and realise that no matter what you say/do, your intentions are always sincere. To them, I say thank you and every single retail employee out there appreciates your kindness. You are truly a gem to this world and never change.