Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Retail Hell

The Day the Muzak Died

It is a totalitarian regime, complete with uniforms: all black. Far from chic or modern or cutting edge, it just looks drab, makes the men look like androids, makes the women appear matronly. It is not a seductive black, or even a mysterious black, not even a powerful black. It is an unimaginative, uninspiring, funereal black. The uniformity is dehumanizing. There is no music. There is no natural light. The bulbs in the track lights are dim. The clocks are all displaying the wrong times. Nobody wants to be here.

The woman in the bright blue top and khaki shorts looks at me. She doesn’t want me to help her but she has no choice. There is no one left to ask, so she has to ask me. She seems mad at herself for having to ask and mad at me for being the person she must speak to. I don’t want to answer her question. I know it will be pointless. So the feeling is mutual.

I have no way of knowing how to placate these customers who are infuriated by my presence and yet at the same time enraged by my absence. I always seem to be around when they don’t want me to be or too far away once they have a question to ask.

I feel like I am constantly being intruded upon. I am not allowed to be myself. I am forced to be phony. I have to pretend to care about things that do not matter to me. I feel like anyone from off the street can just come in and order me around. I feel like I have no autonomy or privacy. I cannot wear what I want to wear. I am only paid for my sales, not for the effort I put in. The whole thing does not seem worthwhile. It does not challenge, interest, or excite me.

I despise having to wear a nametag. I hate having my name out on display. People pretend they know you when your name is right there for the world to see. And then they call you by your name when they think they are doing you a favor because they read some article in Readers Digest that told them it’s a way of “appreciating” service workers. I’d rather tell them my name when I see fit to do so. But instead I’m left with no agency and no choice and I hate that.

I don’t know why it offends me, but it does. I do so despise having to pretend I’m on a first-name basis with the world, even those stuck-up old crones who insist I call them Mrs. Somebody.

I am so sick of these stupid people. Rich men’s wives and daddies’ girls saunter past, carrying big shopping bags full of stuff paid for with other people’s money.

The silence is deathly still. This store, though cluttered with furniture, rugs, and carpet samples, is absolutely and utterly still. I hate my job. I hate that I need it. I hate that I’m not good at it and never will be. I hate this store, I hate this mall, I hate this dumb little suburban town. I am so disappointed. This is not what I went to design school for. All I did was get myself into serious debt. And now I have absolutely nothing to show for my efforts.

People hire me to do retail sales because it’s what I have the most experience in. But I am not good at it, and I don’t even like it. I am disinclined to do things for customers. I’m just too passive-aggressive to show it.

©2007 Tiffany Gholar

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

And so you see why I do not work in retail anymore. Of course, I was much too polite to let the customers know how I really felt. . .