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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why Retail Is Like High School

Hey, guys (and gals)!  I really hate to do this to you, but I'm afraid that I have to make a change to the regular posting schedule for today.

I know that Saturdays are the day in which we're to talk about cinema and film, but due to an extremely tight schedule and a lot of things on the go, I'm postponing the movie night to this coming Wednesday.  Truth be told, I don't have time to watch a movie and write a blog about it, so I thought that I would do a diary entry in place of the movie blog, just for today.  For whatever reason, it's much easier and quicker for me to write a blog when it comes from my heart instead of doing research for a topic. 

Of course, given that this blog is pop culture themed (at least for now), I'll still be doing some research for future entries.

Just not today.

So, what do I want to talk about in this blog entry?

Oh, I have an idea that could be considered fun.  At the same time, I have to be really careful how I word this blog topic.  You see...I don't really want to get in trouble for writing this piece, because as you can tell from the title of the blog, this piece is called "Why Retail Is Like High School". 

Especially since you've probably read my own accounts of my high school experiences, and know that they weren't the most positive experiences in the world.

The first thing I want to do is make a clarification right off the bat before I continue with this blog.  The first thing is that my experiences with retail have (thankfully) not been NEARLY as bad as my experiences in high school.  If I had the choice between working a year in retail and going back to high school for a year, I would choose cash register over chemistry lessons each and every time.

However, one thing I can't help but notice is that there are a lot of similarities between retail work in general, and high school obligations.  Now, again, I want to make another clarification here.  I will be doing this list of things from a generalized perspective.  I'm not saying that all of this stuff takes place at my job, nor am I saying that this sort of stuff went on in high school either.  Some of it has, but not everything.

Again, this is in a generalized sense.  And, this isn't all negative.  I've tried to find some positives in this as well.

Okay.  So, why is working retail similar to high school?

Well, for one, I've used lockers in both places.  Interestingly enough, both of my lockers in both places are gray in colour.  Now, if I had to choose a locker based on size, the high school lockers would win every time, as my high school locker was approximately six times the size of my locker at work.  However, at least my workplace locker hasn't been torched.  I'm fairly sure that people could get fired from their job if they tried.  Plus, the majority of people at my workplace have more maturity in their pinky fingers than most of the people I shared chemistry, algebra, and literature classes with.

Another similarity that comes from both places is lunchroom cliques.  You know how in every single high school in Canada and the United States, there is one table that is designated as the "cool kids" table?  The one where all the most "popular" people in the building all eat at, and how "outsiders" are basically forced to sit on the outside looking in?  Well, I can verify that my high school did have one of those tables.  And, a lesser extent, there's one of those in my workplace as well.  It doesn't usually bother me too much though.  If the chatter gets too much, I drown it out with my iPod anyway.  Of course, one thing I don't like is when the people at said table raid the table that I am sitting at to steal chairs from it so that they can all sit together.  Hey, guys?  I know I like to keep to myself a lot, but you could at least ask permission before just taking chairs, you know?

Next comparison.  In retail and in high school, you're forced to learn math.  And for someone like me who is more into arts than sciences, math is not my best subject.  But, you'd be amazed how many customers have asked me how much items are with sales tax, the environmental tax, and the optional addition of the product protection plan!  And, I got news for you.  I can't do all that math in my head.  I am not a math genius.  I never claimed to be a math genius.  In fact, I don't know why I just don't purchase a miniature calculator to help me out with all that!

That being said...I at least know how to give back change...well, 99.9% of the time, anyway.  I don't believe I've shortchanged anybody yet (knock on wood).

The point is that I did math in high school, and I do math at work.  Another similarity.

Now, this next similarity is one that I will have to word very carefully, but I'll just come out and say it.  In high school, I really enjoyed a lot of my teachers, and I honestly respected the vast majority of them, and would try my best to do well in the class.  After all, if you feel respected by your teachers, you'll tend to respect them back and put forth much better work in the process.  Still, there were a few teachers that I could not stand, and often wondered how they had even gotten a teaching certificate to begin with.  And that's a part of life.  You won't like everyone who you come in contact with.

Coincidentally, most of the people who have served as my direct supervisor over the years have been real salt of the earth people.  Many of them I even have stayed in contact with even after they left the store because I did respect them and loved working with them.  After all, they showed me respect and value, which motivated me into doing a better job.  Some were really good people, and some were tough...but if I did my work, they were pretty cool people to know.

Still, there were a couple of people in the work world whose leadership I questioned, and who I felt used intimidation and bullying to get the job done instead of being more positive.  And, that's also a part of life.  Some people you work with, you won't like.  Fortunately, most of the ones I worked with are not like that at all.

But I suppose that there are some differences between high school and retail.  I get paid for retail.  High school I suffered through for free.  In high school, I was snubbed from every club and sport.  In retail, I'm more accepted into the fold.

Most importantly though.  In high school, I had hardly any friends or connections.  At my job in retail, I have some really good ones.  Ones who I hope will stick with me for a very long time.  

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