Working in retail made me want to stick a coat hanger in my eye.

Words by Michelle Andrews.

I quit my retail job last week. I picked up my smashed, barely alive iPhone 5S and (after taking seven minutes to build up the courage) I did it.  I freaking did it. It’s been six long and tiring years, but I am finally opting out.

Let there be cake/crack open the champagne/let’s get naked etc etc etc.

Never again will I have to suffer through the following:

  1. The sheer, terrifying panic every time a person from head office ‘visits’ the store and someone wasn’t at the door greeting customers/was on their phone/dared breathe too loudly/had chipped nail polish/was alive.
  2. Listening to the same music playlist. Over. And over. And over again.
  3. Dealing with shitty returns from shitty customers who didn’t read the shitty refund policy when they bought their shitty item.
  4. The temptation to amputate my feet after standing for nine hours straight
  5. 12 hour shifts during late night christmas trading hours. (Gooooood riddance m8.)

Unless you’ve worked in retail before, I don’t think you understand how happy quitting my job makes me. Like, do you know what this means?! THIS MEANS I’LL NEVER BE PUT ON THE SPOT TO DO VERY SIMPLE MATHS EVER AGAIN.

I WILL NEVER HAVE A CUSTOMER STARE BLANKLY AT ME WHILE I TAKE 47 YEARS TO FIGURE OUT A VERY SIMPLE EQUATION.

Customer: “So, how much is this top with the 20% off promotion?”
Me: “Well, the top is $80. So 20% off $80 is….. Um I’ll just figure that out… It’s… uhhhhh… hang on. Wait. 20% off 80… um um um. 20%… offffffffff…. …. …. eiiiiiiiiighhhhtyyyyy… Sorry. Haha. Um. $58? Wait. No. That’s not right. Wait, is it? $58? Yeah, $58. $58? $58. Fuck. I mean no. Shit! I MEAN SUGAR. Let me just grab a calculator hahahahakillmeiwanttodiehahahaha.”

It simply doesn’t matter how well I know percentages. It also doesn’t matter that I was good at maths in high school. If I am put on the spot by a customer I will have a brain freeze so massive I can’t locate my own arms.

Here’s another example of a customer conversation that I will not miss:

Me: *Smiles politely* “Hello, how are you today?”
Customer: *Glares at me like I’m about to steal their wallet* “I’m JUST browsing.”

I’m sorry, but if you reply like that ^ to retail employees, you’re a total dickcake. Why? Because I didn’t ask you if you needed help. I didn’t ask you if I could look at your Mastercard. I didn’t ask if I could come sleep on your couch for three weeks. ALL I CARE ABOUT IS YOUR EMOTIONAL WELLBEING. I LEGITIMATELY JUST WANT TO KNOW IF YOU’RE HAVING A GOOD DAY, YOU RUDE ASSHOLE.

As if the mean customers aren’t enough, when working in retail you meet a ridiculously high number of utter douchejockeys, too.

Like the time I met King of The Douchejockeys, Mr Definitely-Not-A-Size-38.

Who’s Mr Definitely-Not-A-Size-38, you say?

Let me set the scene for you.

It was late Saturday afternoon a few months back and I was daydreaming, contemplating my 6pm freedom and what food I would inhale whole for dinner. Suddenly, instead of staring off into the crowd-filled abyss, I was now staring into two large brown eyes, and met with the question: “Could you please show me where the jeans are?”

“Great, thanks. Now I need a size 38… I don’t care what colour.”

I knew something was off when Mr Definitely-Not-A-Size-38 insisted on this large size (a 38 is the equivalent of an XXL) instead of his actual size, which judging by his scrawny chicken legs was a 30… at BEST. Upon his request I looked at him with confusion, actually muttering the question “are you sure you don’t mean 28?”.

No dice, this bloke wanted 38s, and he wanted them now, dammit.

After securing Mr Definitely-Not-A-Size-38 in a changeroom, I returned to the shop floor, leaving my new weird friend to be helped by the Changeroom Assistant, Ange. My mind moved to more pressing matters, like my dinner dilemma, and trying to remember the last time I visited a dentist (a looooong time ago).

Then I hear: “Uh, Michelle, a customer wants your opinion on his jeans…”

I hesitated. I mean, this guy wasn’t exactly my number one customer. We weren’t really best buds before I handballed him off to Ange like a muddy Sherrin. Why did he want my opinion?

I slowly pushed the changeroom door open and peered around it the way a small child peers through their Mum’s legs. With pure fear.

The jeans were on. But they were not around his waist.

“Tell me what you think.” Mr Definitely-Not-A-Size-38 said, pushing his hips towards me as if he were mid thrust.

“Tell me. What you. Think.”

Blinded by a display of pubic hair and flesh, my response was somewhere between Yiddish and the moan of a Blue Whale. My eyes were darting around, my mind unsure on where is best to look in a situation like this. To the mirror, to the wall, to his balls, to the mirror, to his face, to my feet, to his balls. Internally, I was just as frantic: Who is this guy? Why is he thrusting his mini man in my face? Why am I making this weird noise and what’s the number for security?

I stumbled out of the changeroom like a confused puppy, seeing everything in my surroundings as if it were now covered in thick black pubic hair. I wandered over to my manager with all the poise of someone drunk off a bottle of methylated spirits and uttered,

“That man just showed me his penis.”

Security was called, and a lifetime ban from the shopping centre ensued for Mr Definitely-Not-A-Size-38. But it was then that I knew that I needed to get out of retail. And sit behind a desk somewhere, protected from random men’s gonads forevermore.

Screw up my racks and folding all you like. Hell, you can even ignore my greetings and treat me like I am scum because I’m not refunding the top that YOU CLEARLY PUT A HOLE IN YOURSELF. But as soon as you whip out your little dude and make him my issue, I am SO done.

If you are working retail full-time let me just say that you are incredible. You deserve pizza. Lots of pizza. You have the patience of a wise old owl and the mental strength of a two legged dog (you know, the ones with the wheels at the back).

THIS IS YOU.

THIS IS YOU.

You are my idol. You are a Queen/King, and you do not get paid enough. God bless u.

To the comrades I leave in the shopping centre/war-zone, may quick shifts and little folding be ahead of you.

BECAUSE I AM FUCKING OUT.

Want to write for The 20s Diary? Send us an email to the20sdiary@gmail.com and tell us what makes you a fantamagistical bean (also include some of your writing, obvs). We’ll see you there, pal.

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