Retired from Retail

For the first three years of my Florida existence, I worked at a well-known store in the mall. Now, when I say that everyone should at least work one full year in retail, I mean it. You can tell who’s suffered through the slobs, the entitled teens (mostly, I’m looking at you, adults), and germ-infested children.

I’m not here to complain, though. I loved my job. I love the friends that job gave me. But Thanksgiving 2018 did me in. Here’s why.


It’s hard enough driving around in Florida this time of year, thanks to the snowbirds. But when it comes to sales up the wazoo – you know. We tend to go a little (very) crazy. What should have taken me 30 minutes to get to my store, it took 3 hours. Luckily, I gave myself 2 hours to get there (I was only 1 hour late for my shift). However, not even the post-turkey drowsiness could keep me calm. I’ve never been so close to actually heaving from the sheer anxiety in my car.


Half the mall lot was blocked off for valet. The other half was overflowing with people flinging curses and fists. See, I’m totally cool with flipping the bird at those who deserve it. But in Florida, it’s pretty easy to get a gun without registering it – or having a license. And, like I said before, we tend to go crazy over discounts.

The Attitudes.

Sure. Some people prefer to work on holidays – for whatever reason (the pay is pretty swell). But some of us would much rather be half-dead on the sofa, twitching from the combo of turkey comas and sugar rushes while Elf plays on loop. No one working wants to deal with shoppers’ dramas of:

  • Why don’t you have my size? Check in the back. I promise you – it’s not in the back. We don’t have a mini sweatshop back there and I cannot pull a “Harry Potter” and magically whizz your size to our stock room.
  • Why doesn’t this apply to the sale? This is the best discount you can do? Ma’am, we don’t decide on the sales. Hell, we don’t even have the freedom to switch up the merch displays. You want the shirt/dress/doll/gooey thing that will probably find its way onto our floor or not?
  • I didn’t know all sales are final on clearance. Where’s the manager? First – it’s on clearance for a reason. We don’t want it. Once we get rid of it, there’s no take-backs. Second – if someone is dealing with your return drama, it’s probably going to be a manager. Please. Get out of the line.
  • You can’t just give me a break? I mean, this shirt isn’t even that well made. If you don’t like the quality, why are you here? No, we’re not giving you a special discount. No, you cannot talk to the manager. Yes, we will be watching you as you storm out of the store.
  • You know, I came all this way and stayed out so late just to come here! Okay. Cool. Same here, fam. Why do customers think they’re doing us the favor of coming into the store only to make a scene? You catch more flies with honey.

The Sales Sometimes Aren’t Worth It.

There. I said it. The sales sometimes aren’t nearly as good as you think they are. Sometimes, you can find even better sales the weekend leading up to the big shopping weekend (no, really – take it from a shopping/retail pro). Honestly – do you really want to fight through your food coma and stuff yourself into your jeans in the wee hours of Black Friday morning just to maybe save some bucks on already overpriced jeans? (No, I’m not including superstores – I can’t speak for their sales.)

Inevitable Illness.

We’re out late, taking cash and cards from hundreds (by the end of the weekend, thousands) of people, and stressed. If you can make it through working Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Super Saturday, and Sunday without catching at least a cold, you, my friend, are my absolute hero. Give me an elbow-five!


It doesn’t all suck. You expect all of those things to happen, so you can brace yourself for it all. Plus, you know that you don’t have to put up with it all alone – you have your coworkers there to share the misery. And if you’re as lucky as me, you probably have some pretty neat people working with you to make jokes out of the shopping shenanigans.

For those of you working this holiday season: May the odds be ever in your favor.

*Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and do not reflect the ideals of any store, mall, superstore, etc. This is coming from a former retail manager who was based in two mall locations and solely my personal experiences.

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