After seven years in retail, I’m out.
We had enrolled The Girl in private school, bought a big, old, historic (read expensive) house & The Boy showed up (surprise!). I did what any self-respecting mom would do given our finances. I applied at all the major retailers. One of them called me for an interview.
I wore a suit. It was how I always went to interviews. (Years later, as I was interviewing applicants after making my way to Department Manager, I would chuckle when someone came in wearing a suit.) Halfway through an interview filled with questions like, “Is it okay to steal from your employer?”, the manager conducting the interview stopped, looked at me & said, “These questions are written for kids getting their first jobs. I have to ask them so I’m just going to finish up & give you the job, okay?” After that, I happily answered yes, it was okay to steal from your employer.
I spent the next couple of years folding t-shirts & towels, putting away toasters & tooth brushes & basically cleaning up after the hoards of people who careened through the store each day. Eventually I got my own department – cosmetics – ironic for a woman who hardly wears makeup. And once it became clear that I was going to be single with two kids, I applied for the department manager position where I’ve spent the past three years.
And now it’s over.
It’s kind of surreal. Last week, I put on a cute outfit & cute shoes & walked into my new job at an insurance agency. There are no more nights or weekends. There are no more holidays spent at a store with customers who start petitions to keep stores closed on Thanksgiving day yet stand in line for hours hoping to score a $4 coffee maker. There is no more “Hey, you!” or fingers snapped to get my attention or people trying to return underwear that has been worn so many times, I had to bathe in hand sanitizer after I inadvertently touched it.
Yet I’m worried.
As much as the sub-humaness of working retail has taken its toll on me, I do worry about fitting in at the new job. It will take a while for these new people to get me. Or maybe they never will. And believe it or not, sometimes people don’t get my sense of humor. I’ll now be spending my day at a desk instead of walking the sales floor. What’s that going to do to the size of my ass? I used to be able to seek refuge in the back room & swear like a sailor’s wife when I was frustrated. I won’t have that outlet now. And what if insurance people just aren’t funny? I’ve milked my retail experiences for a lot of laughs. What if I can’t do that in my present job? Or worse, what if the lack of humor starts affecting MY humor & one day I find myself laughing at something like, “He asked me if I wanted Whole Life so I said, ‘No, only the good parts! Hahahahaha!”
Don’t get me wrong. My time in retail has taught me a lot. It has helped me become better at relating to & having respect for people completely different from me. It has taught me that inside that person yelling at me about a toaster is someone whose pain I will never know. It has made me friends with people I never would have met in my previous life. It has taught me how to read a unit price, how to climb ladders carrying 30 pounds & how to not make a face when someone whose pain I will never know is yelling at me about a toaster. (I actually say in my head, “Don’t make a face. Don’t make a face.”)
So I guess there are some things I will miss. Mostly the people I worked with. One of my retail coworkers said to me on my last day, “We’re just work friends. We won’t keep in touch.” That made me sad. And for a moment… just one moment… I didn’t want to leave.
Then I went home & read the new Employee Handbook again. It has a list of paid holidays that I get to take off. Holidays that I haven’t had off in 7 years.
Nice knowing you.