We've all done shitty jobs in our time. Years ago, just after college, I worked, for a period, in a novelty gift store. I'm not talking about naughty adult novelties or anything remotely fun like that - although we did stock chunky chocolate penises at one point, which constantly made our elderly clientele cluck disapprovingly and our cheapskate teenage shoppers blush and giggle with joy as they fingered the chocolate shaft and nudged their companions.
For the record, the chocolate was nasty. I know because one afternoon, during the holiday season, after a hectic morning with no time for food breaks and shaking from lack of sustenance, I gobbled one up, remembering to pay for it first, in case our shrill harpy of a district manager showed up and caught me snarfing down penises from in-store stock. You haven't really experienced life until you've stood at a cash register ringing up sales with one hand and wielding a half eaten chocolate penis in the other.
As you can probably imagine, working in a store filled with cheap, plastic novelty gifts, you had a particularly busy period around Christmas, when everyone and his uncle would come in and buy some crappy plastic piece of trash that would probably break in two days. This time of year was a chore that involved long painful 12 hour days on our feet and working seven days a week for minimum wage, all while pretending to be uber excited about flashlights that played the national anthem and cookie cutters shaped like giant bottoms or boobies. We never got bonuses or two days off in a row. We were the lowest of the low.
The best and worst parts of the job were the customers themselves. There were some regulars who were wonderful lovely people. Who'd brighten your entire day by coming in and being pleasant. Then there were others who'd make life a living hell with their nastiness. You learned to gauge them and handle them accordingly. Last night, while trudging around The Superstore buying holiday snacks, I saw how harassed cashiers were, by customers demanding reductions and hurling accusations about broken packaging or prices.
Working my old retail job was the entire reason that I am as nice as possible to cashiers and store workers these days. It's a thankless job for very little money where you have to pretend that some arrogant blowhard customer is always right when they are clearly not. Where you work every holiday while others are relaxing and where you are constantly pulled in on days off to cover for someone else. Everything is your fault and you take on the whole reputation of the company if someone has a complaint.
So if you're working in some godforsaken hell of a store this Christmas, dealing with sale shoppers and last minute gift buyers, bless you and your blisters. You deserve some extra strong eggnog and maybe a chocolate penis.