Retail Etiquette

Retail can be thankless and frankly shitty most days. There are the occasional decent days, where people don’t belittle their cashiers, or make fools of themselves. I have decided to write a list of things that bother me that people should be aware of, and then maybe they’ll stop being douchebags. Maybe.

1: The most important thing I have to say is THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT.
I don’t feel like I can stress this enough. Throwing a bitch fit because your cashier isn’t allowed to knock nineteen cents off of one item is petty. Plus, when you hold up the line, people behind you are undoubtedly concentrating on making you spontaneously combust through sheer force of will. Who knows? One day it might actually happen.
Incidentally, there is a whole website dedicated to stories in which the customer is not right. Check it out.

2: Cell phones. Get off them.
Please acknowledge your cashier’s existence.  I know you know that she or he has heard the same heyhowzitgoin for her or his whole shift, but it is considered polite in my culture to greet other beings. I hate small-talk too, but it’s part of my job, so suck it up and play along for the two minutes and thirty seconds you’ll stand in front of me. Then  get back on your phone.
The sort of person who does this is usually that guy you hate in restaurants or movies gabbing away on the phone, oblivious to how obnoxious he is. Or the gal who cuts you off while driving because she’s texting. Don’t be that asshole.

3: When coming to a cash register, please do not throw your items, cash or cards at the cashier.
Were you raised in a barn? Seriously, what the fuck is your problem?
This also goes for dumping your change purse/pocket contents all over the belt if there is a belt at the register. If you’re an idiot and not paying attention to the fact that the belt is still running, you can lose your money or a finger chasing after your money.

4: Remove your items from your basket promptly.
Am I your mother?  No? Then don’t drop a friggin basket in front of me and glare. I’m pretty good at staring contests, and I’ve shot dirtier looks than most bitch-ass customers can dish out. You want to buy it, take your junk out yourself. Otherwise, it’s staying in the basket because you clearly don’t want it that badly.

5: Heavy, bulky, or over-size items do not belong on the belt.
My rule for situations involving your giant patio set or forty-five pound box of cat litter on my belt is you got it up there, you can get it down again. I’m not straining my back for your shit when I have a wireless zappy-gun scanner thing, and so do most cashiers in this day and age (or a scanner with a long cord). I’m also not qualified to fix the motor if it breaks under the weight of a futon in a box- if I was, I would fix those for a living instead of retail. It’d certainly pay better.

6: Control your children.
I like kids, but I couldn’t eat a whole one. If your carpet-vermin sit down and shut up, the whole process will go a whole lot faster. Keep them out of my way and I will be as happy as a pig in filth.

7: Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. No exceptions.
Some people will tell you there are no stupid questions. Having worked retail, I must disagree.

8: Let me finish my sentence. Then you can talk.
I assume you were not raised by wolves. So don’t talk over me. It’s fucking rude.

9: Do not, under any circumstances raise your voice in anger to your cashier.
We get that shoppers can be frustrated for a number of reasons. You’re people too, and maybe you had a bad day. Maybe your boss is a douchebag. Maybe your partner’s leaving you. Maybe your car got dinged. Maybe your cat died. Can I ask you to do one little thing for me, though?
Don’t take it out on me. I’m not your punching bag. I’m not a shoulder to cry on. My retail brethren and I are quite simply not paid enough to be verbally abused.
I’m not willing to do anything for you if you’re half a centimetre from my face screaming and spitting. Get some fucking anger management courses, meditate, masturbate, whatever calms you down. Profanity won’t change my mind, ever. It will only get me to call security.

10: Don’t steal shit.
Shoplifting is stealing, folks. You will be caught, and charged.  Any profit loss hurts the lowest part of the food chain first. I wonder who is on the lowest level of the totem pole in your average corporation? What’s that? Us minimum wageslaves? The ones here day in, day out, working our butts off? HMM.

I would like to think I got through to a few people with this list. I feel the golden rule applies: treat others as you want to be treated. Alternately, just because we’re all wearing uniforms doesn’t mean we don’t have faces or feelings. We’re not goddamned robots; we deserve breaks on time, a workplace free of violence and oppression, pleasant customers, and above all we deserve some fucking respect.

So the next time you go into a store in a crappy mood raring for a fight with a cartload of brats and heavy shit,
remember this list.
Remember that patience is a virtue. Take a couple deep breaths; it helps.
Remember to be genuinely polite. You get what you give, especially when you come through my line.
Remember that it’s okay to be wrong. Cracking jokes is a great way to diffuse tension.
Remember that behind the name tag, there’s someone who has probably had a crap day too and they still have to smile, because it’s their job.

AKA Bridget Noonan
(C) 2011.


One response to “Retail Etiquette

  1. Grace Walker

    I worked retail many years myself, and mostly enjoyed it. But every once in a while a real schmuck would come along, it takes a gifted person to be able to turn that kind of a jerk around, but sometimes it’s possible. Thanks for all you do. They should give you a raise!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s