The customer is always right... about to get b*tch-slapped.Working retail is awful. I say this because I know. I’ve enjoyed an illustrious retail past and have enthusiastically sold everything from garbage bags to showerheads to makeup remover. But by a long shot, working women’s retail is the worst of the worst.

I love my gender and have no plans to change it anytime soon. But let’s call a spade a spade… Women can be a neurotic bunch. I suppose the men folk might get weird about their appearance, too, but women take the cake. You can’t really blame us ladies, though. Once Photoshop was invented, it was over for most of us. Now you can’t turn a corner without finding a billboard or magazine with a gorgeous and totally fake female plastered on it. What that woman looks like in real life, I don’t know and nobody else cares. It’s the finely crafted perfect body you see before you that counts.

Now imagine working in women’s bathing suits.

It was hell. Every 15 minutes or so, I would walk into the fitting area only to find a mountain – and I do mean mountain – of bathing suits piled high in each abandoned room. Though the store had a limit on how many bathing suits a person could try on at a time, I worked the seasonal department by myself, which meant that I was usually outnumbered by women on the edge carrying no less than 40 suits with them into a fitting room.

Women get cray cray when it comes to bathing suits. Fellas, if you want a sneak peek at just how scary your lady can get, offer to go bathing suit shopping with her. Odds are she’ll turn you down quicker than you can say “I’ll buy,” because why would anyone subject themselves to the horror of showcasing her pale and dimpled body under fluorescent lighting no less, but if she happens to say yes… If you make it through the afternoon, you’ve become a man, my son.

I think my straw-camel-back moment occurred the day I realized that someone had tried on two-dozen or so bathing suits during the one time of the month when no woman should be trying on anything that isn’t already in her closet… if you catch my drift. Horrified, I finished my shift and simply did not return the next day. I’m not proud of the fact that I just bailed on my job with no notice, but I draw the line at bodily fluids. I still remember my manager’s voicemail message, telling me that I wasn’t in trouble and could come back at any time. The desperation in her voice made it clear that I wasn’t the first employee to unceremoniously bequeath the seasonal department to a soul braver than I.

So my point with this trip down memory lane? I have mucho respect for those that do work in retail. Because people are awful to you all the time. They don’t care if you’re already waiting on four other customers. They don’t care if you’re two hours overdue for your lunch break. And they certainly don’t care if they hurt your feelings. (I’m looking at you, Robert Schuller.)

Most of the time when I go shopping, I like to fly under the radar. I’m an able-bodied person and can usually find what I need on my own, thank you very much… until I do need help. Like when I was looking for a dress that I had found on a store’s website. Just one look at the overcrowded department, though, and I knew I’d never find anything in that chaotic mess of cotton and polyester. So I walked up to the nearest salesperson, “Could you please help me find a dress that I saw online?”

I took her bored look to mean that she had some time to kill, so I continued to describe what I was looking for.

Her: “I don’t know anything like that.”

Me: “Oh, okay…”

Her: Exaggerated sigh. “Let’s look online.”

She led me to the cash register.

Her: “Find it for me.”

Now I spend pretty much my entire day sitting in front of a computer, but I’m a Mac user. I have as much ability to operate a PC as I do a spinning wheel, Morse code machine, or anything else obsolete.

I looked for an external mouse. Nothing. She then directed me to a two-inch by one-inch mouse pad. I tried in vain to navigate it. She then casually mentioned that it was a touch-screen computer. I began to wonder why she hated me.

Finally I found the dress.

Her: “Yeah, I don’t know anything like that… I gotta go to a meeting.”

And off she went.

I never saw her again, but I don’t blame her. Retail is awful.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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