The Dangers of Working in a Place You Love

By Shae Loeffelholz

We’ve all had this conversation with a friend or parent while out shopping. You go into a store and you come out an hour later with five shopping bags and a hole in your bank account.

“I should just get a job there!” you exclaim. “They wouldn’t even have to pay me. Just give me stuff!”

An excellent idea - in theory. You’ll work in a store you love and you’ll get to spend hours there and get paid to do it and get a discount on stuff you would buy anyways!

Sometimes you don’t get as lucky.

I used to work in a bookstore, a place I worshipped with every bone in my body. It had been a dream of mine to work there since I was a child. I’m an English major and read like nobody’s business.

I worked there for 8 months - before I was forced to quit when I asked for a leave of absence to go home for the summer. When I asked to come back, which is what they told me to do, I was demoted to seasonal.

Their excuse was that my performance dropped, possibly because of  the “post-Christmas blues” and they wanted to “try [me] out again.” I was heartbroken and shocked with the words that came out of my managers mouth.

I didn’t go back. I tell people I’m boycotting it.

Working in a place you love is a dangerous game; the smoke and mirrors fade away and you see what it’s really like. The incredible amount of workplace politics, constant pessimism from coworkers, management focusing too much on the money and not on the wellbeing employees.

In heavily corporate retail businesses, it’s understandable that making money is important but the standards are disgusting - like being penalized because you didn’t sell enough faux fur throw blankets.

Nicole Lambe worked at a big-box shoe store for 2 years, working on the floor and as a cashier.

“It was fun when I started but people are so gross,” she said. “Honestly I have no faith in humanity now.”

Working with (gross) feet of all ages can take a toll on your soul, slowly eating away at it. When asked about how she feels about going into the store now she said, “Avoid it at all costs. I used to buy so many shoes and haven’t in a year now.”

Working with food tends to be a different story. “You always need to eat,” says Maria Bendo, who has worked in the food service industry since high school. The main difference between the two being the discount that goes along with it. You buy the stores products frequently, so why not work there? But you don’t necessarily visit a restaurant often - this isn’t Friends.

Retail is a learning experience and you grow a lot as a human being, becoming jaded in the process.  Of course, not all retail experiences will be like that: I for one love my new job in another bookstore. Though it can get boring, the work environment is much healthier. After making the mistake once, some have vowed to not to make the mistake again - never mix business and pleasure. Sometimes it’s best to be blind to what goes on behind the scenes.