Sales Experience Necessary

IT HAS LONG BEEN PROPOSED in some circles that, in order to build a better class of citizens, we need some sort of national-service program along the lines of an in-house Peace Corps or revamped Works Progress Administration. “Give people the tools to literally build the country they live in,” goes the argument, “and they will obtain a greater sense of national ownership, pride, and responsibility.”

Not a bad idea, that. Here’s another:

“Everyone should work retail for a year. Especially during the holiday rush.”

I’m not joking.

Working retail is hard. What I learned from so doing (in three bookstores as well as behind the counter at a busy copy shop) is that any job dealing with a random selection of an oft-surly public requires patience, self-control, a good memory, quick math skills, on-your-feet thinking, and a very dark sense of humor. Lack any of these and you won’t last long at the bottom of that particular food chain.

I propose this in hopes of melting the hearts of those who treat clerks, attendants, and waitstaff like feeble-minded and inconvenient zoo animals. (You know who you are.) To be fair, not all customers engage in such entitled boorishness – my experience is that the decent are more numerous than the indecent – but there are enough of the latter to make an already stressful job that much more so. I like to believe that if they experienced life from the other side of the cash register, they’d refine their coarse ways pretty darn quick.

This idea is not to retaliate against or punish anyone, but to create a kinder, more respectful class of customers (and hence, citizens). And isn’t that something on which we can all agree?

4 comments for “Sales Experience Necessary

  1. audrey k darby
    2024.01.08 at 0502

    shur nuff.

  2. Kathryn Hildebrandt
    2024.01.09 at 1813

    Not sure it would work that way. To suffer from the indignities, a person has to need the job, to be required to suck it up when mistreated. A privileged person placed in the job would just sneer and dish the abuse right back at the rude customers.

    Of course, if everyone truly were required to serve in retail, like compulsory military service, maybe everyone as customers would learn their shit was going to be thrown right back at them, so better be decent. Be an interesting experiment…

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