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April 18, 2008


Operation Pink Herring

Who is this bitch? I'll cut her.

The sad thing is that people DO devalue teachers, professional athletes, artists, etc. What I don't get about devaluing service workers (uh... is that the PC term for prostitutes?) is that life as we know it could not go on without them.


Actually, all lawyers are scuzzy. To a degree. Except for estate planners. But those guys are barely lawyers anyway. I mean, really.


You go, girl! Thanks for pointing out all the good stuff about retail people.

I've only had a couple of bad experiences (a snotty teen at Victoria's Secret, no surprise there (wait, was that being generalizing? oops, lol); and an uppity sales lady at a clothing boutique), but most people are very nice and helpful, like you said.

And working in retail is one of the least appreciated jobs. I did 6 months at a clothing store and I tell ya, there is no end to the gobacks and cleaning up sloppy dressing rooms. It can make you get really disgustged with the general public and their antics. But there, that's the shoe on the other foot, I guess. : )


Years ago when I was working in the hotel & restaurant business, I was trained by a fantastic woman from Wales. Her first rule was
1. The customer is always right.
2. See rule # 1
3. See rule # 2 and 1

She also taught us to try and answer the phone (when working at the front desk) on the third ring. She'd start 'one ding-a-ling...two ding-a-lings...three...' raising her voice a little for every count. After a few days of that you made sure to answer on the third ring even if it meant you'd risk breaking a leg trying.
Everyone trained by her did good - some eventually became Managers of prestigious hotels around the world. More importantly were, that we all developed pride in doing our jobs to the best of our ability.
Of course there are people in service trades that should not be there - just like there are customers who should be barred from anything but catalogue sales and others that should never be let in to a hotel or a restaurant.
Your post is excellent and I hope a lot of people will link to it!


yay! you rule! I'll add this to my shrine cause youz rockssss!

I think it should be a human requirement that everyone work at least 1 year in a retail or service based industry. Everyone would benefit.

Also, good for Mary, because I wager to think that your comment on this anonymous bloggers page would be a bit long :)


Delurking because this post hit so close to home. Not only did I work retail for a few months after college but I also spent 3 1/2 years as a flight attendant. Good times. Not. Then I became a lawyer. I often tell people that my worst day as a lawyer (sorry, Hoover I wasn't one of those "scuzzy" ones) was ten times better than any day as a flight attendant.

This is a great post. I wish more people felt this way.


I know what you mean. I've been personally attacked (well, maybe not with FISTS or anything, but certainly with WORDS. And words can hurt too, you know. Just like sticks and stones.) by so many people when I was working in retail clothing, and then in a bank. And I feel like I was looked down upon because I was there, behind that register at the Leed's footwear, or behind that teller line or desk at the bank. Never mind the fact that I actually chose those jobs, and actually loved them very much.

But I can't agree with Trudie more, that there are some people who should be banned from customer service, and some customers who should be banned from public in general. It's those random a-holes that ruin things for the rest of us.


Ugh, that would drive me nuts, too!! I do think that the companies set the tone for retail employees. If it's the policy to be friendly and accommodating (AND if management is fairly compensating and respecting the employees), you see mostly good customer service.

If not (ubiquitous NYC drug store, I'm looking at you!), crappy service abounds.

I worked at a department store for many years, so I try to always give the clerk the benefit of the doubt.


Seriously...this was a GREAT post. Not only did I do my stint in retail, working for 3 years at a Gap store, I'm now a teacher. Although not retail, it is a service industry and really parents? We're here to teach your children to be fully functioning, giving members of society, then you have to go and undo everything we've done by teaching your children to treat others with as little respect as possible...One of my biggest beefs with teaching is watching students treat others, including myself, like everyone was put on this earth to make them happy. Now, I see some parents doing fantastic jobs with their kids...and these kids are respectful, kind, and all out likable. It's funny to me how you go from one profession to another, and no matter where you go, there will always be a population of people who have NO concern for anyone's well being except their own.


I'm beginning to think that all the not nice people should be forced to go to an undesirable location and not be nice to each other, say somewhere like Manhattan or Key West. Then the rest of us would be able to roam in respect and tranquility. And have quite a nice party.



I have worked in retail part time for 4 years.
PART TIME. Because I have another job. I really just cannot live without the discount.



Hey, not all attorneys are "scuzzy." I work hard, listen to crazy people day in and day out; then I try to make defragment their craziness and attempt to translate their thoughts into sense. I am not afraid to call them on their crazy either.

Like the service workers, we get to pick-up a lot of messes too.


Okay, I feel for the sake of validity that I must reveal that commenter Hoover is, in fact, a lawyer.

He is just being difficult and antagonistic, as lawyers are wont to do. Kidding! But not about him being a lawyer, because he is one of those. Direct all your complaints at him :)

Chelsea Talks Smack

hahahaha I really enjoyed this whole rant.


I've been on both sides of the cash register - having worked in retail all throughout undergrad, and being a somewhat recovering shopaholic. Elise, I think you couldn't be more right about customer service being a gift. The ladies I worked with at the store were so devoted to what they did. They just wanted to see the customer walk out happy, and did what they could to make that happen. This went for all kinds of customers - both well-adjusted ones and the flat out obnoxious (yes! there are no shortage of those)! That doesn't mean that there aren't the bad apples in the service industry, but it doesn't give anyone the right to make such negative generalizations about the service sector as a whole.


The only thing I can say to this post is -- Amen. Amen to you, Elise, and amen to clever Mary. I worked as a waitress for 7 years, and my husband has been working in retail for 8 years. He's one of those people who worked his way up from a nobody to a somebody at his job, and he makes a real income now and everything! I don't know how he deals with the kind of people he deals with. I don't know how YOU do it. I don't know how I did it for so long! So I have an enormous amount of respect for people who work in retail. (Mostly, though, I envy their discounts.)


I worked for a few months was a waitress at a really busy place downtown and it was HARD. Not only because of dealing with the odd nut-job customer (of course while keeping a smile on one's face) but also because the people I worked for were really, really hard to work with. I agree with Tiff - everyone should be made to work in retail at one point in their life to fully appreciate how difficult it is.

Michelle & the City

man i would have been pissed beyond belief if i would have read that post. i don't work retail anymore, but i did for several years to pay for college, living expenses, etc.


Oy. I am very glad this post wasn't about me. Also, I usually feel a camaraderie with retail workers, having worked retail for a while myself. What I hate is the snobby ones, the ones that act like they are too good to help me because I'm not hip enough to patronize their store. Something tells me you aren't like that, though.


Great post - amazing how snobby people can be. I was actually just fantasizing how much I would love to have a job in some kind of retail situation where I wait on people instead of working in an office. Because unless you own the business, the beauty of waiting on the public is, you just do it all day, go home, and can forget about it. At least I can! I used to work on a farm in the summers picking vegetables and tending the roadside stand. It was great, the best job I ever had! While it could get hectic when there were a lot of people at the stand, at the end of the day you felt good, as if you'd worked, and there was nothing waiting on your desk to be done when you came in the next day.


Hey Kris! Don't send them to Manhattan! Lord no, at least not during the tourist season. We have enough to deal with then. :)


OH OH OH This is me sitting here grunting and turning red faced (no, not pooping) and trying to send you cosmically everything I've got! I've been wanting to write about this for a while but people and animals keep dying and I get a little sidetracked. HOWEVER, I am a University graduate who has traveled the world AND I work retail. I don't always like it, but probably mostly because of the pigeon holing. I do get a lot out of my job though and meet tonnes of interesting people! I am so happy (and relieved) to meet someone like you - just so damned smart. These other people need to learn a little humility!

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