It’s Not Retail Therapy That I Need – It’s Therapy Because of Retail

I find it interesting, and mildly disturbing, that I often have dreams in which the setting is a retail store.  Tonight’s REM induced ordeal was one of frustration that I couldn’t find a customer an inexpensive blue pencil.  I knew where some were located, but I was unable to find any when the time came to offer them to the customer.  As soon as the customer leaves, displeased that I was unable to help, I find different types of blue pencils everywhere in the store.  But it’s too late to satisfy the part of me that seeks approval from others – the customer is now gone.  And the icing on the cake of this bad dream was that my manager found the bank bag, with the store’s deposits enclosed, unattended on the sales floor.  My negligence and irresponsibility at the end of this mild nightmare awoke me.

I have two theories about this.  The first is that some sort of critical brain development happens in your twenties, as this was my job at that time.   And as a result of this, I often dream about this time in my life.  As I’m typing this, I’m critical of myself that I haven’t googled this already to see if this is the case.  I may have to take a break during the composition of this post to check this out.  I’m back.  It looks like the brain is still developing in our twenties.  There could be some truth in this theory.  Maybe the connections made during this time made the daily retail environment a hard-wired structure in my brain.

My second theory is that I suffered some sort of trauma during my time spent working in retail drugstores.  I have often heard it said that prison changes a person.  Perhaps working in a retail store does the same thing.

Regardless of which theory is correct, I find it odd that I dream about a life experience that ended about seventeen years ago.  It is an experience that I don’t often think about in my waking hours, either.  Maybe the fact that I shopped today at a retail drugstore triggered it.  Or it’s easier and more comical to think that it was my trip to Wal-Mart today.  Wal-Mart is often a stressful experience for me.  I prefer order and predictability over the excitement of chaos.

It amuses me, and I am proud of some habits that I’ve kept from the experience of working in retail.

  • I am aware and courteous of the other customers around me in the store, and I give them the right-of-way
  • I mindlessly straighten the items on the shelves when shopping
  • I always put an item back in its proper place in the store if I decide not to purchase it
  • I never touch the glass
  • I remain calm, assertive, open-minded and respectful when confronting the staff about a pricing issue or a problem (retail injustice)
  • My ego believes that I have acquired a superior skill for locating items in stores due to my experience on sales floors
  • I never destroy packaging to look at the product inside

So, like life itself, I see a balance of good and bad about my experience of working in retail.  There were some awful things about it, but I really don’t think that any of it was traumatic.  It can’t honestly be compared to going to war or prison.  But I do find myself wanting to share a list of behaviors I’d like to suggest.  Retail etiquette, if you’ll allow me.

  • Please don’t unnecessarily impede the flow of other customers in the store.  You are not the only person left on Earth.
  • If the rare occurrence of a cash sale happens, cashiers should hand the coins to the customer first, then the bills and receipt.  Coins should never be placed on top of paper when handing them over – they slide and often fall.
  • Don’t stick your fingers in the testers of the cosmetics displays if you intend on smearing the remaining product all over said display
  • Don’t steal items.  What I found depressing about my former job was finding the empty packaging from items stolen stashed in the store.  I found it most disturbing to find empty expensive wrinkle creme boxes – if you’re old enough to use wrinkle creme, you should be old enough to know that it is wrong to steal and be selfish (and wrinkle creme is a non-essential to life item)
  • Treat retail workers with respect, and please lose any sense of entitlement.  The customer is often, but not always right (and I feel better about the word “correct” instead of “right.”  Now I’m worried about being an elite snob.  LOL!) But seriously, I don’t believe that I am any more important, or deserve any special consideration now that I am an accounting professional instead of a retail store employee.  The retail staff aren’t your humble servants, either – please treat them as peers.
  • Try to keep your children from destroying the place.  I didn’t appreciate the woman that didn’t correct her small child as he mixed up every lipstick shade in the entire 40+ shade display, for example.  Having a child of my own, I realize that children want to touch and handle everything, but I think there is a point when your inner parent should realize when it’s too much destruction and provide intervention.

P.S.  Here’s an interesting reference that I used when hoping to correctly spell Wal-Mart in my blog:  Updates to AP Stylebook include ‘over,’ hyphenation of Wal-Mart

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