Today's lesson: Respect.
I know it may be difficult to understand, but retail employees are actually people. Sure, some of them are poor excuses for people, barely passing for normal even with the grading curve brought so low by the Creatures of Wal-Mart, but most of them are regular human beings. They have lives outside of work, families, friends, favorite foods. The really lucky ones (who haven't been completely hollowed out by years in customer service) even have emotions!
This is quite the revelation, I know. Feel free to take a few minutes to adjust to this new reality. You may be experiencing one or more of the same reactions people had to the proposal that the world was round- Disbelief, Anger, Confusion, Denial- Take a moment to process these things. Have a cookie and get back to me.
Now that you've come around to the idea that retail workers have souls, let's take a little pop-quiz on the basic etiquette to follow while you're shopping for those extra super important items (You know, like refrigerator magnets).
1.When you first enter a store, sometimes you will be greeted by an employee. An example of an acceptable reaction would be:
a) Glare at if they have said something incredibly offensive.
b) Ignore them. They are obviously not worthy of your attention.
c) Respond pleasantly, either with a smile or a verbal acknowledgment of their existence.
2. An employee approaches you and asks if you need assistance, which you don't. An acceptable response would be:
a) "Get me a cart."
b) ".......... *eye roll*....."
c) "I'm fine, thank you though."
3. You need help getting an item off a high shelf, but can't seem to find anyone in the immediate area. You should:
a) Start yelling for help while simultaneously trying to climb up the side of the fixture because let's be honest, if you fall and break something you would get a sick kick out of a lawsuit.
b) Wander into the stockroom looking for help, ignoring the Employees Only sign because signs and rules don't apply to you.
c) Head up to customer service, the place where customers go if they need service. Explain your situation and respond positively to subsequent apologies and offerings of assistance.
4. You are told someone will meet you by the item in question with a ladder to assist you. You head back, only to find that they aren't there yet. You-
a) Turn around and stomp your way back to customer service to berate the employee there- this is obviously their fault.
b) Storm out of the store yelling that you're headed somewhere where the employees aren't a bunch of lazy fat-asses.
c) Assume they went to retrieve a ladder and wait patiently for an acceptable amount of time.
5. At the checkout, your cashier asks "How are you today?" Your response should be:
a) " Where are your toaster ovens?"
b) " Terrible. This store doesn't have a single thing I need, my husband cheated on me and I need new sheets for our bed because ours are obviously ruined and my kid puked on my coupon but you have to take it anyway I know because that's what I was promised over the phone by your manager Meererppernurf and they said you always, always have to take all my coupons no matter what and I forgot a few things- Imma go get 'em- but hold my spot because I was here before that little old lady with the vegetable peeler and I matter more because I can be louder and it's all about me and I....."
c) "Fine thanks, how are you?"
*In case you haven't caught on, the answer is C. Always. If you answered anything but C to any of these questions, you fail the entire quiz.
For the record, I am totally aware that not all retail associates seem like people. I understand that sometimes the example above instead begins with you being ignored and any requests for help met with an eye-roll.
A lot of the time the cashier isn't some sweet girl just trying to pay her way through college*, but a greasy-haired neanderthal** with too much eye-liner and a blank expression caused by long-term overexposure to The Real Housewives of Miami and microwave radiation.
So be sucky to that person. Be mean and do whatever it takes to ruin her day just a little more. I know that girl, and she totally deserves it.
* Just so you don't think I'm tooting my own horn or whatever, this girl is not me.
** But neither is this girl.
But please remember that not every retail employee is of the greasy variety. Most of them are actual people who are just trying to do their job so they can pay their cable bill on time and not miss any episodes of Cougar Town.