punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,


I will always attest that retail is not something that one chooses in life, but rather, something that happens to you. I mean, retail is fine for a first job, or maybe some extra Chritmas money, but in essence, retail can suck when you have no other options. I did almost 9 years of retail. I started out at a book store. After 2 months of getting laid off at my office job, I applied on Dec 7th, 1987 to Crown Book #803 in Mclean, Virginia. "I'll hire you if you can start right now," said an overworked manager. Busiest store in the chain at the busiest time of the year. But the time it was January, I did so well, I became manager of 854, Rose Hill, Alexandria and stayed there for over a year. After a terrible bank teller job that lasted all of 3 months, I worked as assistant manager at Chesapeake Knife and Tool in Springfield Mall for over two years before I got laid off again. In the next two years, I worked at Walden Books, B. Dalton, and the Gamekeeper part time for Christmas help. It wasn't until two years went by I had another steady job as an assistant manager at Cargo Furniture. I lasted 3 years there. Got promoted to manager in just 5 months. Ran Springfield Mall until they closed it, and ran Tysons II until I left to pursue a tech career.

I have to be honest, I fucking excelled in those jobs. I was overqualified in most cases, but I think it was my do-right attitude that helped me survive those years as a victor, and not a victim. And I learned a lot of life lessons in selling myself, dealing with random people, and generally getting rewarded for being a nice guy. It changed me from a gothic pessimist to a perky goth, actually. Even when I had bad bosses, I won in the end. I had some good teachers, too.

The whole time I worked retail, I passed this knowledge onto my son. I told him about all the customers, good and bad, and how I dealt with them. Most of my readers could tell the same stories from their retail lives. But somehow, it all stuck with him. he even repeated it back to me, cutting a long series of talks to short reviews of the subject matter.

For most of the summer, he's been applying to a chain called Five Below. It's like the Dollar store, but stuff is $5 and lower instead of $1 and lower. They sell a lot of overstock toys, candy, remainders, fashion accessories, and the like. He applied in person once, but didn't show up in interview clothes. I made him get some. He applied again a few months later. I had to push him pretty hard to get him to take the job thing seriously. I don't just want him to get a job because he needs spending money, he needs college money. I mean, we're trying for scholarships and funding and all, but every bit counts. After high school, he'll have a real trade skill: vet tech. He could get a job at any vet office that needs a tech when he's done, and not a lot of kids could claim that at 17 or 18. That's not a walk-in job, that's one of those things you have to have a certificate for, like security clearance. And if he decides to be a veterinarian, that's a great start. Most of the kids that start vet school are still in the "puppies are cewt!" frame of mind and leave after a year because "puppies die sometimes of very disturbing ailments with blood, pus, and oozing worms."

Finally, he got called back. Last week, he was told they hadn't hired him yet, they had to check his references, but to report to work Tuesday. When he called Monday to find out what time, the new manager ("I haven't met him yet") said, "Come now. I am all alone in the store until close." From what CR has told me, I am already picturing a retail store run amok with lack of staff, constant shuffling, a new manager... in short, very common for this area. When I worked at Cargo Furniture, I was a manager for nearly three years, and by the time I left, I was one of the top 10 employees who had managed to stay the longest. The average was a year and a half.

But today he told me of his recent days. How suddenly money becomes less valuable and becomes more like accounting vouchers. How people change their mind AFTER you ring them up. Strange store stock redesign from higher management ("Forget what we said last week, the candy section should now go HERE!"). So far, he loves his job. It's only been three days, but he's pretty enthusiastic.
Tags: cr, crown books, retail, work
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