Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jobs Part 2: Jobs everyone should do (at least once)

Jobs Part 2: Jobs everyone should have during their lifetimes

A few months ago I posted about jobs and labeled it Jobs: Part 1.  I bet you were expecting a part two.  Come on, you can admit it.  I bet you stopped reading this blog because you were frustrated. Well, frustrate no longer.   Let's talk about jobs again, and talk about the jobs I feel everyone should do at least once in their lives.

You will never win
Side note: I started writing this right after part 1, but then the Mega Millions jackpot was up over $500 million and all I could think about is what I was going to do with that money after I won.  I would keep my job.  HA, heck no, I’d give notice and go back to school and get a MFA right away, buy a big house, you know, all the things you dream about from the moment you buy the ticket until you check the numbers after the drawing and it’s all over because you see that 2 in the list of numbers and you know the first number on any of the games you played is 13.  Now back to reality.

Retail at Christmas time

These guys never came into JC Penny.
I spent several winter breaks during college working at J.C Penny’s at the Mall.  It happened to be the mall where I had been a mall rat.   Multiple times mall security had asked me and my friends to leave the mall, each time for something new (being too loud, taking pictures in stores, generally being pain-in-the-ass teenagers, and sitting on the grass outside Child World—not sure what we did wrong there).  So getting adjusted to working at the mall and sitting in the food court watching the next generation of mall rats roaming the mall and not buying anything was not fun.  I'd pull into the mall parking lot at eight thirty in the morning and park behind the yellow line drawn across the parking lot that delineated the parking spots for the customers from the ones for us working stiffs, passing through the employee entrance, all bags checked by the “Loss Prevention” team.  Oh, and I had to wear dress pants, dress shirts and a tie, all of this for a whopping four dollars and eighty cents an hour. (Note: the first time I wore a tie at my current job, they asked me who died.  Unfortunately for the person who asked, I had come from my great Aunt Eileen's funeral that morning.) I worked in the children’s department and it was a big season for Barney.  You know, the giant purple dinosaur who seemed to be everywhere that year. I spent one entire shift stocking the Barney displays all over the store.   Literally, a nine hour shift where all I did was stack fifteen inch stuffed purple dinosaurs into every available free space throughout the store.  At one point, the store manager helped me stack them into a display on the first floor, right by the entrance to the mall.  After that season, I never wanted to see Barney again.  For Christmas that year, my mother bought me one of those very Barneys.  Sometimes my mother is funny.  That Barney was accidentally destroyed maliciously.

And while Barney was awful, the worst thing to happen to me there happened right before Christmas.  I spent nearly an hour helping this older woman out picking clothes for her grandson. She'd take something off the rack, look it over for any marks or spots, ask if we had it in a different color then put it back and take something else.  I kept running back to the register to check out other customers before racing back to this woman. After it was all done, she’d spend about a hundred dollars and she thanked me for all of my help.  I felt good. The very next day, she was in again, but she was not shopping.  She was returning everything from the day before.  Everything!

Returns are just part of the fun. During Christmas time, the stores are packed, especially the last weekend before Christmas.  There are more people in malls that weekend than the entire month of February (I totally just made this up but it seems plausible).  And when a lot of people are in stores, there is less room to move around and people generally get agitated by other people being around them.  And people complain that the one thing they came for is already sold out.  And you explain that the item has been on sale for three days and it was a very popular item and that's why it is gone.  And, no, there aren't more in the back.  BECAUSE THERE ISN'T A BACK.  Seriously, I never saw any back room at JC Penny.  There was this gigantic elevator by the loading dock where the deliveries were unloaded, placed on racks then taken to the floor.  But there was no merchandise stored except what was out there.  And yelling at me isn't going to make it so there is a back that miraculously contains the pair of brown corduroy pants you are looking for.  Please stop yelling at me.  Please.

Someone at a record company thought this was a good idea
Do you like Christmas music?  I used to, until I worked retail during Christmas.  It turns out there is more awful Christmas music than there is good Christmas music.  And awful Christmas music must be cheaper for stores to play, because that's all we would hear.  Plus, the same three hours of music would repeat.  By Christmas Eve, I could tell you when stale, cheerless version of "Jingle Bells," was about to start, followed by the instrumental all flute version of "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas."  And you can't escape. I'd go to the employee lounge on my breaks and sucked down a can of Dr. Pepper and the music played in the break room.  I'd go to the food court and the music would play there.  I'd go to the bathroom and even in the bathroom I could hear "Silver Bells."  The manager on my floor said that I would get used to the music and eventually I wouldn't hear it.  He had been working retail for ten years.  I knew then I wouldn't make it past New Year's Day.

I haven't worked retail since then, but I make sure I treat those who do better.  For many of them, this is just a job to make some money, not a career.  And while there are some people working in retail who are bad at their jobs, yelling at them won't help.  So treat them nice.  They are likely making minimum wage and dreaming of being anywhere but at that store.  And, please, while you are at the checkout, don't sing along to the Christmas Music.  They hate that.  

Sadly, the mall I used to work at is gone and has been replaced with one of those trendy "lifestyle" malls, whatever that means.  I miss you Randhurst.

Next time, the second job everyone should do: Customer Service.

Thanks for reading.

No comments: