The Retail Grind
For 10.5 months, I worked part time at Staples. I applied there because it was across the street from my main day job and was one of the few box stores along 12A where I wouldn’t be chastised for my inability to neatly fold clothes. Shortly, I was called for an interview that primarily consisted of “My usual interview buddy isn’t here, I’m not sure what to ask.” Quickly followed by a job offer of “Is $10/hr ok?” So after the background check cleared, I became an office supplies associate.
My 8:30-5 pm workday elongated into 8:30-9:30 pm. 3 pm, once a signal that the end of the day was near, turned into the midpoint. Nights of repose were gone. Now they consisted of climbing up and down ladders to replenish Electro Pop Sharpies and graph paper note books. 6 pm kitchen chats about linguistics and roller derby with the roommates transitioned to me attempting to (sadly) articulate the nuanced differences between card stock and cover stock to customers in aisle 2.
Quickly, I learned that the largest fusses occur over the smallest things. Customers get upset when you tell them they can’t use their $2 off coupon that expired a week ago. While an educational lesson on their pettiness would be preferable, the proper procedure is just to radio a manager willing to use their override powers to satisfy a whining shopper.
Shifts often felt like futile work. Spend 20 minutes color coordinating the post-it notes to find them in complete disarray 10 minutes later. Then, there’s the nonstop battle of putting back misplaced items that customers leave freely in the store. Other times it felt comparable to the movie Groundhog Day,where every night it seemed like I was doing the same task at the same time while the same mediocre pop song played over the radio.
One of the best aspects of retail work, is that it’s an equalizer where you have people of different backgrounds working the same position. Few other jobs have retired lawyers working alongside college dropouts with the same pay and level of authority. Everyone will need to rely on one another at some point. Having a college degree will not impress customers when you’re holding up the line because you can’t get a thumb drive, so when a high schooler comes to assist, their help is much appreciated.But while working two jobs was beneficial to my finances, 13hr days take a toll on a person. And you know that toll has occurred, when the McDonald’s Drive-Thru cashier says you always look tired. So, after nearly a year working nights in retail, I was ready to make a swift return to my social life, even if that really just meant spending more time watching Netflix by myself. With that said, I ended my Staples career in December, and once again, 3pm means the end of the day is near!