Six things I'm so sick of hearing in my retail job

April 16, 2015
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There are certain things you’ll have to put up with when working in retail. Shitty breakrooms, power-crazed shift managers and thankless, repetitive tasks are all part of the deal.

Even if you’ve managed to avoid the bell curve and found a workplace that’s halfway decent, you’ll still have to deal with customers. Some of them are perfectly nice; some of them a little too nice. And some of them will engage you in banter so thoroughly inane, it’s basically its own special form of torture.

“It didn’t scan. It’s free, is it?”

Where did you get such audacity?!

But seriously, this joke wasn’t funny the first time it was said, and it’s certainly not funny the nine-billionth time.

In fact, it makes me want to go into the office, staple my ears closed, and crawl into the customer-free safety of the storage freezer.

Cashier: “Would you like your receipt?”

Customer: “Nah, mate – better put it in the filing cabinet!”

Receipts are both largely useless and copiously numerous. Drawing attention to this fact by suggesting that they be carefully filed is evidently meant to evoke laughter. The problem is, you see, years of painfully unoriginal “jokes” made by customers have robbed me of laughter. Now all I can offer is a strained smile while another piece of my soul expires.

“I come here all the time – special discount, mate?”

After treating me with polite contempt for months, you now think you can leverage that history to gain loyalty benefits by calling me “mate”?

Not only do you have the bargaining savvy of a grinning hyena, but years of shopping at stores just like this one have evidently failed to endow you with the knowledge that cashiers do not control pricing.

You, good sir, are the cheapest of skates.

Cashier: “Would you like cash out?”

Customer: “Well, if you’d like to give me some just go ahead!”

I find your shameless display of cheerful self-interest both refreshing and hilarious.

Do people really think this joke is worth making? I mean, I get that everyone can relate to money, but to me, this is the conversational equivalent of boring and obvious stand-up comedy.

“You know what’s great? Free money! Right, folks? Am I right?”

You try to laugh, but the tears well up anyway.

“Which cigarettes are the cheapest?”

You seriously want me to spend the next ten minutes checking every label in the smokes cabinet instead of just employing some 21st century ingenuity and Googling your query?

I haven’t smoked since the original airing of Scrubs, and I don’t have time to memorise the prices of different brands of what is both a pretty homogenous product and a literal cancer on society.

“There are none out the back? Can you check?”

Having just stocked these items this morning, I know for a fact that there are none out back. But to some customers, “out back” is some kind of Narnia-like fantasy land where high-demand products prance about like fauns, and all that stands between them and their purchase is a lack of imagination.

What do you honestly expect me to do? I’ll just go out back, stare at the empty space where your non-existent item is, and leave the other customers waiting, shall I?

Joel Svensson

Business major, journalism minor and sometime voice-actor, Joel Svensson pretends to be smart at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Image: Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants official Facebook page