As a college student I worked two retail jobs on a seasonal basis, and then for a short time after graduation. While these positions were horrible and never meant to be long-term, I was stunned by how many of my co-workers fell into the trap of the retail muck, effectively resigning themselves to the tepid universe of customer service and sales for life.
This perplexed me not only because they were individuals of respectable intelligence, but also because the retail environment is one of the most feminist, abusive, and unrewarding available to the common man. Here are five reasons not to spend any more time in that industry than you absolutely have to:
1. You will end up working for a woman
Given that retail one of the most widespread work fields and requires minimal talent, it is flooded with female employees, particularly at the store management level. These women often hold power either because they received a useless degree like sociology or hospitality management and had no path of forward other than a Kmart manager trainee program, or due to their kiss-uppery to existing retail leaders.
Furthermore, their lack of success in other career areas imbues them with a crushing bitterness and feeling of insecurity that forces them to abuse and micromanage everyone possible in order to reach for the bronze chalice of respect.
On this point, I used to work in a store where the ratio of male to female managers was 10:8. Despite this advantage, and their possession of the two most important posts (HR head and store manager), the males allowed themselves to be professionally sodomized by the women, who can be described as a screeching old hag, a demure supervisor, and two vicious bull dykes.
The hag and her lover sisters enjoyed making examples of men employed by the store, typically through random “coaching moments” and by insulting them in front of the store team. Failing to complete tasks in their favored way or even showing a hint of defiance could result in a write-up, loss of weekly hours, or even termination.
2. Abuse is constant and acceptable
On account of the rules of retail, jackass customers drawn from the lowest level of the gene pool will toy with and insult associates to make themselves feel better about their crappy car, land whale wife, or HIV-positive boyfriend. Particularly if you are a white male, many women and ethnic minority shoppers will look for every excuse to degrade or reprimand you with the excuse that “the customer is always right.”
Seniors will wave a copy of Consumer Reports in your face and accuse of lying about products, while homosexuals hit on you and ghetto trash try to turn any signage pricing mistakes into “racist discrimination.”
Among the store staff, things are not much different. I once worked with a female associate who would scream that I was an asshole and become physically violent with me for disagreeing with her on how to perform a certain task, but the moment I responded with an insult I was in the HR office hearing mumbles of indeterminate bullshit like ”we want you guys to get along,” and “the company maintains a non-aggression policy.” Nothing was done about her behavior, of course.
3. You will work long hours and make stale peanuts
It is nearly impossible to come home from a retail shift and not feel exhausted. After standing for hours, putting on fake smiles, and having your throat dried out from greeting customers in a weak, slightly less masculine tone, you return home miserable and filled with vindictive thoughts, wanting nothing more than to consume some ready-to-eat food and crash.
All this effort does not result in a massive financial reward, however. Assuming a starting rate of about $9.50, which is on the higher end nationally, you’ll take home $57.00 for a six-hour shift, minus fifteen percent in tax, for a net total of around $48.45.
Repeat this five days a week for a month and you take in $969.00, or $11,628 annually. This assumes of course that you do not work in an area with a municipal income tax, which can cause that net amount to drop substantially.
4. Promotion potential is non-existent
Sooner or later, often times in the first month of employment at a retail store, an insincere and wide-eyed manager will approach a well-performing associate and encourage them to “stick and grow with our company, because the sky is the limit.” Well, if “sky” means the ugly white ceiling tiles interrupted only by lights in the store, then they are correct.
Advancement in a retail environment is severely limited because most people will remain in a management role for most of their career. They are, after all, men who got stuck in the flow or women incapable of anything else, so the options before them are few. And since retail management is not a specific or technical skill, the only managers who will be moving on are those unlucky enough to be thrown to slaughter as a district leader or the HR chief who manages to get a more secure position elsewhere.
Even in these circumstances, the company will often promote based on extra-employment qualifications, so the chick with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of Phoenix will be chosen before you.
In the event you are working retail and a manager promises a promotion or an increase in pay, demand from them written confirmation that you will gain that advancement on a particular date. Retail HR departments have a troubling tendency of “forgetting” to input a promotion or pay raise with the hopes that the employee utilizes direct deposit and will not check their pay statement.
Beware also of flex roles or acting manager positions, which are tools used by corporations to milk more work and responsibility out of employees whilst paying them at their existing grade.
5. It can prevent you from improving as a man
Although it might seem like the jury has ruled on retail, there remains a shocking number of men who get caught in the lull of a relatively laid-back environment and decline to advance themselves in life. A former co-worker of mine was of exceptionally high intelligence and only planned to work retail while in school for computer science. Following all the time and effort his had placed in his degree, he preferred to stick with the breeze of retail because he got used to it.
Herein is the danger of staying in retail too long; the casual environment of low-information people and typically simple demands made of workers can suppress and limit a man’s intellectual, professional, and physical ambitions.
I finally escaped retail this year and have sworn I will never go back. While it can be a decent gig if you are working through college and nothing else is available, for the long haul the constant torrent of customer and co-worker abuse, manager egos, and a chickenfeed paycheck will wear you thin faster than a fat acceptance chick living in Zimbabwe.