Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

Even in the 80‘s, Mike Reno knew that looking forward to the weekend was what it was all about. On social networks like Facebook and Twitter today, it seems just about everybody is looking forward to the weekend. Comments like: “Jessica can’t wait for the weekend!”, “Arthur is TGIF” or “Drew is counting down to Friday to get out of this hellhole for two whole days.” are everywhere. You bump into someone you know, ask them how they are and get an answer like “Well, it’s Tuesday.” with a roll of the eyes and a knowing laugh. Uhm, yeah, I asked how you were, not what day it is.

Retail works a little differently than the ordinary office job however. In retail, it’s highly unlikely you are looking forward to the weekend. Why? Because weekends are hell on earth in retail. Hoards of people cram in, destroy displays, and get all bitchy with you because it’s hot and crowded and obviously it must be your fault that all these other people decided to come in at exactly the same time they did.


You think it sucks to shop it? Try working it.

There is nothing worse in retail than working weekends. Well, ok, I guess it’s worse when someone takes a crap in your fitting rooms, but besides that…

I’m fortunate enough that I don’t get a lot of a Saturday shifts. In return I work almost every Sunday. Sunday’s are only marginally better than Saturday’s. You don’t have to start until 11am, and it doesn’t really get too busy until around 1pm. That’s when people get out of church, have had their lunch and come to practice all the godly lessons they just learned by treating you like something stuck on the bottom of their shoe.


I guess the sermon about slovenliness is what provokes them to dump the clothes on the fitting room floor. Or maybe it was the sermon about kindness that prompted the crusty old man to come after me (when I was actually on my way to the washroom for a much needed pee break), finger wagging, and chastise me for not smiling enough. Are you kidding me, old man?

Sunday’s are the only days I don’t look forward to going into work. I don’t dread it like I did every day of my old office job, but I don’t relish the thought of being run ragged, with very few thank you’s, all for minimum wage. It’s probably the only day of the week that I wish away. But I wouldn’t trade it to go back to a week of wishing away every day from Monday to Friday. And to those, albeit few, people who give me that look of pity as I hang up yet another eight dresses that some teenaged girl’s mother told her it was okay to throw in a crumpled heap on the fitting room floor, I say; ‘It’s ok.’ Because tomorrow morning, while you’re slamming your snooze button and groaning that it’s Monday, I’m getting out of bed, making lunches, sending everyone off to school and work, and then sitting down at my computer to savour every moment of doing what I love. And when I look at the clock and see it’s time to pick up the kids from school, I say to myself ‘Where did that day go?’.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 10:12 am  Comments (1)  
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Undercover Boss

Lately I’ve accidentally stumbled across yet another reality show that has sucked me into its mindless web. But this time, I’m calling it ‘research’. That’s right folks, when I turn off my brain and watch the president of Roto Rooter stick his hand down a bathtub drain and pull out out a disgusting blackened lump of goo that is identified as a washcloth, I am actually doing research in order that I may bring you today’s blog post.


The premise of the show is that every week the president and/or CEO of a major U.S. corporation goes undercover at entry level positions within his company and is made to perform the same tasks as these people. As a result we get to watch his supposedly amusing antics as he attempts to perform the same mundane tasks that his unsuspecting employees do daily, with far more competence. We also get to watch the executive as he talks to his lowly employees and learns about their (often difficult) lives. I’ve only seen two episodes and so far we’ve had no less than the recovering alcoholic, the single mother of an autistic child, and the guy who transports 16 inner city kids to and from the basketball games that he coaches in his spare time.

Ok, here’s the thing: I’m not insensitive to the plights of the Roto Rooter workers or the 1-800-FLOWERS staff. But I can see a ratings grab/marketing promo when it’s slapping me in the face. And while I’m sure these CEOs are genuinely touched by the lessons they learn from their staff, I think its fairly obvious that the employees are previously screened to find the ones with the best ‘stories’ for tv. Because really, would it be quite as interesting if 1-800 FLOWERS President Chris McCann went undercover to one of his neighborhood shops and the floral designer simply made up the pre-designed arrangements, with no creativity, no aspirations to someday design her own arrangements, and checked her watch repeatedly for 5:00pm so she could go home and write the next 25 pages of the crime novel she has been working on for the past 19 months?


Sure, it’s great for those few employees who come out of the deal with a month‘s mortgage paid, a new van capable of transporting 16 kids at a time, or a floral arrangement named after them, but really, where is the long term? I’m not that gullible, and my warm and fuzzies dried up long ago working for large corporations. Let’s face it, Mr. President really doesn’t give a rat’s patootey about the front line entry level worker that is face to face with their customers daily. If they did, they wouldn’t cut hours to compensate for the increase of minimum wage. And when the Senior VP of Retail Stores comes to our store for his quarterly visit, he would do more than sit in my store manager’s office and make phone calls.

I’d like to see Undercover Boss come to my work. I’d like to see the President and CEO of the retail store chain I work for spend a day working in ladies wear. Explain to bitchy women why our sale signs aren’t more specific than ‘knit tops’, and why a sweater (that arguably is knit, even if its by a machine and not my aunt Martha) isn’t actually considered a ‘knit top’ and is not on sale. Or explain why there are only two cashiers open in the entire store, and yes, you do have to walk ‘all the way to the other side of the store’ in order to pay for your non-knit sweater that isn‘t on sale. Maybe even do a couple of bra fittings for overweight women who don’t wear deodorant. But Mr. CEO, let’s not make it about a network tv ratings grab, or a marketing ploy for the company to show how progressive and sensitive you are. Let’s skip the tv cameras, let’s skip the crocodile tears and bring it for real.


Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 1:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Mystery Stains Aren’t Cool & No, your fitting room doesn’t double as a bathroom stall

Not too hard to figure out what this installment is going to be about, is it kids?

While most people usually associate retail with a lot of horrific things, disgusting bodily functions usually isn’t one of them. Yet, sadly, it is a somewhat regular occurrence in the life of the minimum wage retail worker. I’m not saying every day is gross, but some are definitely grosser than others. Take yesterday’s not one, not two, but three clothing articles sporting mystery stains.

“There is some sort of stain on the front of these pants.” the concerned customer pointed out, carefully spreading the tan colored pants out so we could all take a look. “See, its outlined in white…”

Ok, probably best we not think about that too much. I’m going to go wash my hands now, and since you, dear customer, tried these pants on, might I suggest going home for a shower? With bleach.

Not Cool.

Unfortunately, the mystery stain lost much of its mystery as I filled out the paperwork to send them away to the mysterious land of mysteriously stained clothing and I caught a whiff of something vaguely familiar, as did my co-worker. Mystery solved! Excuse me, I feel the need to wash my hands, yet again.

The other two mystery stains thankfully remained mysteries, although we suspect someone confused the faux pashmina scarf for a handkerchief. More hand washing ensued.
Again, not cool.

Speaking of confusing things, unfortunately some people need to have this pointed out to them.

The fitting room stall.

The bathroom stall.

While similar, there is one very distinct difference.

If the stall that you find yourself in does not have one of these, then it is not cool to pretend it does.

Yes, it happens far more than any of us would like to think.

And while this should be a general point taken year-round, it is especially imperative during the hot humid summer months, when the store air-conditioner is broken down, and our carpeted fitting-rooms are already rank with the odor of stinky feet and sweat.

In summary, the fewer bodily functions that come into contact with store clothing, carpeting, and any other soft surfaces, the happier your retail worker.

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 2:44 am  Comments (3)  
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