The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The pains of working retail

Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN
Cynthia Bear Heart
Maria Cesari, Channels Staff

How many times do you hit snooze before you force yourself to get up?

For me the magic number is three.

Getting up for work can be hard, but the rent won’t pay itself.

People warned me of the dangers of working in customer service, but I love clothes, so working in retail made sense to me.

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However, nothing could have prepared me for the vicious Santa Barbara housewives I would encounter.

It was a slow Tuesday afternoon and I was on fitting room duty when a middle-aged woman approached me. She wore sky-high black stilettos and her plastic surgery rivaled that of Bruce Jenner’s.

“Do these slippers fit according to size?” she asked.

“I’m actually not sure!” I replied. “I’ve never tried them on.”

She pulled me in so close I could feel her hot breath on my ear, “you really should know that kind of information,” she hissed. “Now, be a love and try these slippers on for me.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. She had to be kidding, right? Wrong.

So there I was in the middle of the store, taking my boots off to please a customer. Suddenly uninterested by the slippers I had on my feet, she held up a skimpy nightgown and asked, “this is a dress, right?”

Anyone in their right mind could tell that was not a dress. The sheer pink silk and the lace around the bust pretty much gave it away. She slipped into a dressing room and emerged in the nightgown.

I cringed as I watched the woman check herself out in the mirror. The nightie was tight and clingy exposing every lump and bump, not to mention her cherry red bra and thong. One wrong move and her behind would be exposed for the world to see.

Feeling a strange pang of guilt, I politely informed her that what she had on was in fact a nightgown and offered to pull several dresses from the floor for her to try on.

She glared at me and said, “Sweetie, I know you’re not too bright, but this is obviously a dress and I look fabulous.”

“Of course, I was totally mistaken. You look great!” I replied. “That dress is a must have.” After all, the customer is always right.

The woman had me cut the tag off right then and there so she could wear her fabulous new dress immediately. I rang her up and with one swipe of her platinum credit card she was off. She flung her Louis Vuitton purse over her shoulder and strutted out of the store and onto State Street.

Even though I encounter many kind and patient women, it only takes one rotten apple to ruin my day. I used to be so hurt by the venom that spewed from these women’s mouths. How could they be so cruel? Then it dawned on me, I’m not the one with the problem.

Just like any other job, working in customer service is tough. It requires a strong backbone and the patience of Mother Teresa.  Although some might enjoy this line of work, I have learned that working in retail is more like being a personal assistant rather than a personal shopper.

So, next time you go on a shopping spree, remember us salespeople have feelings too.

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