Sunday, June 1, 2008

5 Surprising Rules of Working Retail*

Manet's Bar at the Folies Bergeres. Image via Georgetown

I was a coddled college kid, given to believe that the world functioned according to justice, accountability, and creativity. If I could just display these characteristics, I would excel at any job and rise quickly to the top. Imagine my surprise, on securing a job, to find that none of these hold true. Instead, the following prevails:

Rule # 1: It's never your fault. Are you the type of person who exclaims "I'm so sorry" and "I take total responsibility" whenever possible? Wrong, wrong, wrong. This will never get you anywhere. Customers and co-workers alike will quickly take advantage of this self-provided scape-goat. Besides, you are working as hard as you possibly can anyway, and management just laid off all the dressing room attendants. You can't possibly do it all. Instead, insert these handy phrases: "I don't know." It's not my fault." "I didn't do it."

Rule # 2: Blame the customer. If it's not your fault, who's is it? Your safest bet is to blame the customer. They'll never be the wiser for it anyway.

Rule # 3: Let everyone know how hard you're working. Your job is to keep the place looking perfect. Of course, no one notices perfection, they only notice when something is out of place. So if you just removed 86 dresses from one fitting room, be sure to tell everyone about it. Otherwise they will assume you were lolling in the storage room playing with your hair the whole time.

Rule # 4: Creativity is out. You think the model on the stand would look better in polka-dots? Guess what? No one cares. You have 3 amazing ideas for making work go faster? Whacha trying to do girl, make us loose our jobs? Your key at this level is to be as flawlessly mechanical as possible. Any deviation from the standard will trip up performance and negatively affect monthly reviews.

Rule # 5: Let everyone know how much you hate your job (even if you don't). Positive attitude is boring and deemed unrealistic. No one else is deceived into believing that this job will lead to anything greater.

*This title reveals that I read way too much msn. Sorry, people.

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