After three tough and long months, my seasonal retail job is over. My last day was last night, where all of the store employees needed to do inventory. There was food, sweat (literally, the stock room has no AC), and some chit chat. I was excited to not be working anymore, but there was a part of me that was sad because I wasn’t going to see my seasonal coworkers again. Through the long lines and the rush of the holidays, we kept each other sane and motivated. We were jealous when some didn’t need to come in to work on Christmas Eve or New Years Eve (I had to work BOTH); we were happy when one of us managed to sell our store credit card to a customer or two; we were empathetic when a few of us were having bad days or if a customer snapped at us for no reason. The seasonal worker group was like a family.
But the regular workers welcomed us with open arms. They taught us everything we needed to know, well, except how to deal with customers. We were learning how to do that on our own, on our first day even! For some of us, it was our first time being cashiers. I was one of them and luckily another girl was in the same boat as me. The feeling of pressure ringing people up and learning how to use the system lasted for a few days. After a week I was a pro!
As much as I dreaded going in to work, now that it’s over, I appreciate retail workers. I especially admire the ones who stay for more than ten years. Some people love it, I suppose.
Near the end of my stint, my mom told me that everyone should work retail at least once. I agree. It’s an experience that sitting in front of a desk in an office under fluorescent lighting can’t give you: Everyone is on their best behavior at the office, but at the mall, no way. If you’ve never worked in retail, it’s different. You’ll learn people skills, how to negotiate, how to sell, how to be assertive. During the holidays people can get downright rude, but it’s your job to make sure the customer is leaving the store happy. And if that’s not possible, it’s not your fault.
Working in retail is something else, with lessons to be learned.
As I handed over my employee card and walked out of the store, I breathed a sigh of relief and happiness.
And with that, the holidays are officially over.