Why Everyone Should Work a Retail or Fast Food Job at Least Once

Throughout my senior year and over winter break, I worked at a retail store called Bed, Bath, and Beyond. While I do love working there and plan on going back to work over this break, I did not expect everything I would have to deal with when I first applied. When I firmly state that everyone should work a job in retail or fast food, I only say that because of how it opened my eyes, and here's why:

    The most important reason is that you will grow a backbone and learn how to deal with the “Karens.” My first experience with one had to do with her coupons and I had to return one after she purchased everything. While I can completely understand her anger, she screamed in my face to apply that coupon onto the purchase when I was not able to. The way the system works is we scan the coupons and the system figures out the best deals for the shoppers. If we scanned too many or it figures out a better deal, it will tell us to return whatever coupons did not apply to the transaction and the shopper can use that coupon again. So when this woman was screaming at me, my co-worker was trying to explain what happened which eventually turned into a manager coming up and explaining to her what happened. At this point, I was so worked up that I walked into the break room and started to cry (if I get too worked up or stressed I cry, don’t make fun of me). The assistant manager and a co-worker came in to make me laugh and make sure I was okay. Nowadays if a customer is yelling at me I simply just stare at them, apologize for the inconvenience, and offer to bring up the manager to help diffuse the situation. It doesn’t affect me as much as it did when I first started and somewhat formed me into the person I am today.

    With my job, it’s not that surprising that I am the youngest employee. There is a guy that graduated a year before me and other “younger” employees, but the point I am getting to is that you can make unlikely friendships. Some of my coworkers  are old enough to be grandmothers, and yet I feel like they could be my best friends. One specific coworker is a 90-year-old man who is still climbing the ladders and bringing heavy items down with him. Despite being a hard worker, he is one of the funniest guys that work there. He never fails to put a smile on my face and will always make me laugh, especially when I work customer service. Never in my life would I have thought that I would become close with the older crowd that works there, and thought it would just be a situation where we all work together and be friendly. Now I have close people I can gossip about customers with!

    Even though it’s the same with most jobs, you can learn a lot about the products that you never knew existed. Before I could not tell you the difference between sheets or why some pillows are more expensive than others. Now I can explain those things, among other things to deal with bedding. I can also help college shoppers get the bedding necessities that they need for maximum comfort, even though they may be expensive (p.s. around back-to-school season, the company will usually give out college passes/coupons so it’s cheaper to get everything you need/want). I can help customers find a towel that fits their needs or help them with a specific fabric/thread count that is needed. 

    While there are other lessons I can talk about and explain, I still hold to my statement that everyone should work in retail or fast food. You will most definitely learn new things about yourself and about others, whether it be your coworkers or the re-appearing customers. While other jobs may teach you some new things in life, nothing will prepare you for real life than a customer service job.