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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why Everyone Should Work a Service Job at Least Once in Their Lives

My very first service job was as an associate at Wal-mart in the shoe department.  Glamorous, glamorous.  It didn't last long - one can only shuffle through so many boxes of nasty, worn shoes that people had left behind in order to steal new shoes and price-check ridiculously priced knock-off sneakers, after all.

I moved from the high life of Wal-Mart into waitressing, burned out on that and entered the mind-numbing world of daycare and Pre-K (mind-numbing in the sense that it's not normal for an adult to spend every waking hour with toddlers watching Veggie Tales and noshing on mac & cheese and fish sticks), and then back into the service industry with a managerial job at Hastings.  Today my career path has come full circle, with yet another lower-management position at a local shoe store, which will not be named here because I need my job and I really don't want to be sued.


Like this one, but only slightly more soul crushing.

These were bad life choices on my part, simply put, because I really, really dislike people.



What I've learned from working in the service industry, however, is that people, in general, are complete dicks.  Not all of them mean to be, in fact, I'd be willing to bet that only 1 in about every 100 people who do dickish things in stores are actually ticking items off some sort of twisted bucket list of asshole things to do in stores, but it still happens.  A lot.

Cracked.com has a couple of awesome tutorials for pissing off your friendly neighborhood customer service associate, but I'm going to take things a step further and tell you why everyone should work at least one service job in their lifetime (and hope that Cracked hasn't already covered it).  If you've never worked a service job in your life, read on, brave squire, and learn all about life in the retail and customer service industry.

Don't worry, your future hopefully won't be as bleak as this young lady's.

LESSON 1:  

This is important.  Seriously, take notes.  ASSOCIATES DON'T MAKE THE RULES AND CANNOT OVERRIDE THE RULES THAT ARE IN PLACE.  For real.  They probably don't even KNOW half of the company's policies, so screaming at them for not discounting your slightly soggy hamburger or swearing vengeance on their entire family because the pants you bought yesterday disintegrated into a pile of dust when you threw them in the washer will do you no good.

Know what happens when a lowly associate tries to override a company policy without five forms of permission from management and the tears of a newborn albino infant?  Swarms of bees descend on their household and the wrath of ancient Greek Gods sweep through their subsidised housing and destroy all their fan fiction.

Okay, not really, but at the very least they'll get a pretty pink write-up slip to add to their collection, and at most they'll get fired.

So when they hand you that infuriating 1-800 number with the endless automated menus, there's a reason.  They're trying to give you a pass to speak so some faceless, nameless top dawg who might actually be able to help you with your problem, while also trying to make sure that they can pay their electric bill that month.  Granted, Top Dawg probably won't give two shits that you lost $50 on a BluRay player that exploded and took out your entire gaming system upon installation, but at least you'll have the satisfaction of yelling at someone who might actually deserve it.

LESSON 2:

They don't get paid enough to put up with your crap.

I know, I know - but it's their job and they knew when they got into the service industry, blah blah, if they wanted a better job, they should have gone to college, blah blah, I'm a trust fund baby and never had to work my way through college or contribute anything meaningful to the world beyond my ridiculously attractive offspring.

...and the majesty of my comb-over.

Let's put this into perspective:  what is minimum wage now, like a loaf of moldy bread and a face-slap?  Let me offer you the one-time opportunity of $9 for me to scream at you for an hour about things you have no control over.  Then I'll take 10% of that as a personal asshole tax.  Sound good?

Nope, not even close.

Ugh, and I just lost half my audience.  Moving on.

LESSON 3:

Unless their name badge specifically says, "housekeeping," they're not your fucking maid.

Even if they are the maid - what the hell possesses people to go into full beast-mode when in public?  Okay, I'm totally going off subject here, but let me relate a story to you back from the days when I worked as a housekeeper.

Now, I don't live in a big fancy town and the motel I worked at was far from a five-star, but holy shit-balls if I had a dollar for every roach, condom, and crack pipe I had to pick up and throw away using a ridiculously complicated series of tongs and rubber gloves and magnets and pulleys so I didn't have to actually touch them -

PEOPLE - it isn't a story so much as a random spouting of words, because I can't even coherently gather the things I have seen in these motel rooms into a single - UGH.

POOP, people.  There was poop smeared on walls.  Smelly, crusty, coke-addled hieroglyphic works of art smeared in human feces - and shower curtains, like someone looked at the awful cheap toilet paper and thought, nah, I'd much prefer the slimy God-only-knows-how-many-other-people's-DNA-is-splattered-on-this-thing 70's throwback vinyl showercurtain on my backside.  More than once.

Dildos.  Giant, nightmare-inducing, dog-chewed -

What the fuck are you people doing in the privacy of these rooms??

Food on ceilings, unidentifiable sticky things on the comforters, nothing that could have ever come out of a human body in the bathrooms - I seriously - handcuffs on toilets, assprints on counters, peanut butter on bedposts, small rodents in the little plastic cups - what in the name of...

Is that a fucking chupacabra in the freezer?

I can't even....

*deep breath*

But then there are those who will walk into a restaurant with their 15 kids and think, "hey, I don't have to cook, I don't have to clean, it's my day off!  Let it all out kids!  Job security!  Woo!"

...and fuck those people.

Because nothing makes having to ask a billion people a day if they want to Supersize their heart attack sadder like having to scrape boogers and condiments off of every single surface of a restaurant for a ten cent tip.

LESSON 4:

Tax time.  Oh my God, that's all I even have to say.

Now for those of you who can comfortably pay your bills every month and still have extra for that yearly trip to the Bahamas, tax time is simply where you fill out (or pay someone else to fill out) a crap-ton of mind-numbing papers written in some dead language you can't understand.  You might get some money back, you might have to pay in, but either way, it's no big deal.

For the rest of America, it's a magical time when we wait for a small fortune to hit our bank accounts, breaking the internet bank log-in pages because we're refreshing every ten seconds from the time the return is filed to the time it's actually deposited.

So while most of us are waiting for that couple thousand dollars to catch up on bills and maybe eat out at an actual sit-down restaurant a couple times, there are others who transform into complete nutcases and think that, as long as there's more than $500 in their accounts, it's Christmas and they own the fucking world.


You can identify these people as soon as they come strutting toward your store/restaurant/other place of business.  They're usually carting more than two children, they're generally wearing brand-new, flashy clothes that you know they literally just purchased and crawled into in their cars on the way there (sometimes complete with tags still poking out from weird creases), and they have this obnoxious air about them that says, "I have money.  Look down on me now, bitches."  It's like ghetto Pretty Woman, without the lame-ass romance and happy ending.

Disclaimer, before I get any further into this - I get it, I really do.  When you've struggled all year and you suddenly don't have to worry about money, even if it's just for a few days, it feels amazing.  I've been there, I did that, I had a fucking tee shirt made to commemorate it.  BUT - never once did I treat a waiter or associate like dirt or destroy an entire chain store just because I suddenly developed a Kanye complex.

Ima let you get back to your job, but ... MEEEEEEEEEEE.

So these people, after they destroy the place, you know, because, they watch with weird orgasmic wonder as you ring up hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise that adds up to more than they make in an entire year.  Again, I get it - but is it really necessary to carry that whole damn tax check in cash around in a big fat bank envelope and whip it out at the cashier like you're some kind of Godfather pimp, counting each 100 slowly and suggestively, winking between each one like the cashier's panties are supposed to fall off at the sight of so many Benjamins?

 You rode here on a skateboard, fool.

Conclusion:

There is no conclusion.  The Hell of customer service is a never-ending barrage of assholes, sprinkled with the occasional awesome customer that makes one whole shitty day totally worth it.  You'll be yelled at, talked down to, threatened, hit on, sexually harassed, stalked, and tormented until the day you finally decide to go all Jerry McGuire and tell the whole place where to stuff their underpaying, underappreciative, psychotic I hate people and I have no business working in retail bullshit.

So the next time you go to a restaurant or a motel or a retail store, maybe be a little kinder to the person bringing your food, ringing up your purchases, or cleaning up your nasty ass motel room - because they're doing all the crap that you probably wouldn't do for any amount of money, and doing it with a sad, pasted smile on their faces, for little to no appreciation and laughable pay.


Also, this.  Just sayin.
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