Yes, I know, this photo has nothing to do with summer jobs, as I am not a farmer... This is a great looking head of cauliflower though, isn't it?
The summer after my freshman year of university, I applied to possibly a million local places, just to find a job to fill the three month-long void of school until mid- August. I had turned 18 just before my freshman semester began, which increased the number of places to which I could apply to (I had a very hard time finding any kind of job before I turned 18). I eventually heard back from the huge clothing retail store that I have now worked at for the past three summers.
When I first began working, I was always nervous to deal with both customers and new co-workers. There was also a lot of new skills and lingo that I had to pick up quickly, as well as the knowledge of EXACTLY WHERE EVERY ITEM OF CLOTHING WAS PLACED IN THE ENTIRE STORE, since customers expect sales associates to be able to pinpoint the specific pair of high-waisted shorts that they had seen in another one of the chain's stores, two weeks ago. Have I mentioned that my store is the size of a department store, and that people of all ages flock to it, since it sells a wide variety of clothes for cheap prices?
Well, without further ado, here are 10 things that I have learned from my summer retail job:
1. There are some very very rude people on this Earth who will find you, even when you are hiding in the most desolate part of the store. The will not smile, they will not ask nicely, and they will not say "thank you."
2. Sometimes you have to put on a smile and be very very nice and very very patient with these very very rude people. Just remember that you are being paid to do so.
3. I now appreciate the art of a good fold (SANS folding board, thank you very much).
4. Customers seem to go out of their ways to mess up tables that you have just immaculately folded, and knock all hanging clothes to the ground as they pass by... it is really a sight to behold. This is my mandala.
5. Life really is just one big game of memory... whether it is remembering exactly where that light pink maxi-skirt is hiding since it is the last one in the store and a thirteen year old is in dire need of it, to remembering who exactly asked you to find the technicolor dream harem pants.
6. Do not mix work and gossip... It will never end well.
7. Keep calm and carry on even if it is Saturday afternoon, and you are the only one working in the fitting room (doing a three-person job) and a large group of middle-school girls just walked in, each carrying bags heaped with bright clothes and all you can whisper is "six at a time" with eyes like a deer in the headlights.
8. Every shift that is worked is equivalent to a certain amount of money and the amount of money that I make in a hectic eight hour shift, can be gone in just one 30 minute trip to the grocery store... or on a pair of socks from Anthropologie.
9. I do not make enough money to live on at this job, and luckily, I do not pay rent, I am not supporting a family, and I do not need to take on another job... but the fact is that some people do. When I am finished working an 8 hour shift, I go home and rest; I put my feet up and watch some Netflix... but I know that some of my co-workers who I spent my last shift with will have to go to their other jobs in just a few hours. I have a lot of respect for them.
10. This is not my career... I will do not have to do this for the rest of my life, and I am so thankful for that.
Although I am not overly fond of my job, I am very glad to have had the opportunity to work with people at a retail job. It has been a very humbling experience... I am paid to be at the service of other people who usually do not appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into maintaining the layout and cleanliness of the store. It has taught me a lot about the human race, and I have also learned a lot about myself (and made some spending money while at it). I now know what it means to work hard, and the value of each hour of work that I do. This job has given me a taste of the real world, and I honestly think that every person should experience working a summer job whether in retail, food industries, or stock.
“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.”- Buddha