Tag Archives: retail

Another Virus Blog… or How We All Just Need to Chill


I read a post today by a mom who was feeling bad for her high school senior. This virus has robbed her daughter of the senior year traditions we all take for granted like prom & graduation or maybe even their last high school baseball game or theater production. Another woman commented, “That’s nothing. She’s a kid. She’ll get over it. My son had to cancel his entire wedding.”

Someone else posts about how they’re tired of being home & miss their friends & family. They are quickly vilified by someone who works retail & can’t work from home. 

Back up the bus. 

Does it suck that someone’s son had to cancel his wedding? Sure does. Does it suck that high school seniors are missing their last days & all of those capstone moments that make up senior year? Absolutely. 

As a former retail manager, I feel for every store team member, healthcare worker & delivery person on the front lines. But why does that take away from anyone else’s frustration at being at home?

Listen up, folks: It’s not a competition. 

We all get to have our “bad.”

Once again, for the people in the back – We. All. Get. To. Have. Our. Bad.

It takes nothing away from your son’s disappointment & sadness about his wedding if you acknowledge the daughter’s disappointment & sadness about not being able to perform that last play, or dance at prom with her friends. 

The retail worker & the person working from home & staring at the same four walls every day are each allowed to feel frustrated & angry & fearful right now. 

Even if this weren’t our world today, even when things are “normal,” we all still get to have our bad.

The woman with the toned thighs & amazing abs should get to have days where she feels fat without hearing, “Oh, please! You have nothing to worry about.”

The guy with the terrific head of hair should be able to have a bad hair day without hearing, “You’re lucky you have hair! I have to shave my head because I’m going bald.”

We all get to have our bad. Because what’s bad for one of us may be a walk in the park for someone else. We haven’t lived each other’s lives. 

Shortly after I finished radiation, I was talking with someone who had broken a nail & was frustrated & complaining about it. After she walked away, someone else we know who had also come through the other side of breast cancer, looked at me, rolled her eyes & said, “Oh please… she just broke a nail. We’re battling breast cancer.” Well, first of all, my battle’s over. I won. And second, she gets to be upset about her broken nail without it in any way detracting from what we experienced dealing with tatas that were trying to kill us.

When did we get to the point that everything is some type of competition? Your broken nail takes nothing away from my breast cancer. Feel that broken nail like it’s the saddest thing that will ever happen to you. And I hope it is. 

Conversely, we all get to have our good, too. 

You get to brag on your kid who was accepted to an Ivy League university. It takes nothing away from the pride I feel in my kid who struggled through high school & is now thriving at a community college while she figures out her next move. And I will cheer on your kid & their amazing achievement all day.

You get to have the big house & the great car & be proud of that because you worked your ass off for it. I cheer for you & take pride in the home I have because it’s mine. And I worked damn hard for it too. 

Right now the world’s turned upside down (cue “Hamilton”). We’re all dealing with it the best we can – even if it means that we feel like we’re falling apart sometimes. Let’s have a little grace & kindness for one another. Let’s acknowledge that we will all respond differently to the same situation. 

Right now, maybe more than ever, let’s not discount what we’re feeling. We can give our love & gratitude to everyone who is on the frontlines & exposed to this threat daily. And we can do that without belittling what WE’RE feeling. No more “I can’t complain. I’m not facing sick people every day.” You CAN complain. You CAN acknowledge that you’re feeling scared & lonely & confused. 

And you can feel that way while cheering on someone else. 

Lean into those feelings. And maybe, more importantly, let everyone around you lean into theirs. 

Because the only way to get to the other side of this is to go through it.

MomDay Monday – Moving On


I’m out.

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.

mic drop

MomDay Monday – The Twelve Days of Retail


On the 12th Day of Christmas, My Job Gave to Me:

  • Twelve Screaming Customers
  • Eleven Bratty Children
  • Ten Thousand Returns
  • Nine Empty Aisles
  • A Thousand Axe Gift Sets
  • Yes, It’s in the Back Room
  • No, We Have No XBox
  • Fiiiind It Yourseeeeelf….
  • Don’t Get Her a Vacuum
  • Trust Me on This
  • Get Her this Necklace…..
  • And Do You Have One of Our Charge Cards?

MomDay Monday – Blech Frizzy


As most of you know, when I’m not freaking out on taking joy in The Boy & The Girl, I work full-time in retail. Naturally, my job entails tolerating helping shoppers find the items they’re looking for & yelling at supporting the team that helps me do my job. Last week was Thanksgiving, which in the retail world means only one thing.


My phone understands this all too well as has taken to auto-correcting “Black Friday” to “Blech Frizzy.” Seems oddly appropriate.

Having survived another year of Blech Frizzy madness, I’m still stunned that there are people whose Thanksgiving plans include standing in line for hours to purchase an $8 coffee maker or a $19 toaster. So here, some random thoughts & observations on the entire experience with a few words of advice for the shopping public.

Sir, I’m sure you take first place every year at the county fair whistling contest, but 20 minutes of your whistling rendition of “Hey, Soul Sister” throughout Small Appliances is quite enough.

– On earth it’s called a “scale,” not a “weighing machine.” And drawing little imaginary circles around your feet while you say it in your very thick Neptunian accent doesn’t help.

Ladies, One-Size-Fits-All is not a challenge.

– We actually sell cardigans for men. Gentlemen, listen to me; unless you are Mr. Rogers, there is never a reason to wear a cardigan.

Where can you find that green ladder in the flyer you’re showing me? Well, since the flyer is from K-mart, I’m going to go with… K-mart. We’re not them.

– Yes ma’am, we do still have the $300 50″ TVs. They’re right over there in that time machine. Just set the dial for 9 pm when we opened.

No ma’am, I am not aware of curling irons that use lighter fluid. And while I appreciate that you are aware of the internet and looked it up online, I”m not sure which website said we’d have such an item. You’ll have to be more specific about which site is “the place you go to online to buy stuff.”

– I don’t need the back story, sir. Nor do I need your design ideas & where you’re thinking of placing your new table. I also have no vested interest in which table you get. Please just pick one.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me about where the kitchen items are, ma’am. Enjoy your time in Automotive looking for measuring cups.

– Yes ma’am, I would assume that the electric carving knife would cut meat. But that’s just me.

And finally… don’t leave your shopping lists around. They will make their way to the internet. 

MomDay Monday – Re-Tales



When I ask if you need help finding something, the rule is that if I laugh at your “Can you help me find my wife?” you are then obligated to laugh at my “Don’t make me throw you out of here” when you tip something over.
CATHEDRAL: A large or important church. GAZEBO: A small roofed building affording shade and rest.
What we sell, ma’am, are gazebos. Say it with me…. Gazebo.

Know what, ma’am? Not only do we not sell the soap that you want, we also fail to carry a hacksaw large enough to get that chip off your shoulder.
Ma’am, I understand that you saw it on Oprah. You’ve explained that to me several times. Still doesn’t mean that I’ve heard of it or that we sell it.
No, ma’am, we do not have Chicken Chow Mein. Perhaps in your drunken haze you mistook this for the Grand China Restaurant up the street.
Interplanetary Language Barrier: A “Caesar Machine” would do the bidding of a Roman dictator, or make a delightful salad. What you are looking for is more commonly known as a “Sewing Machine.” Welcome to Earth.
Dear Heather: Thanks for visiting the cosmetics department tonight. I particularly appreciate your greeting of “Heather Was Here” emblazoned on my shelves in Maybelline Moisture Extreme’s Royal Red.
Yes, ma’am. We do sell ‘bubbily bath.’ It’s right there next to the ‘babily oil.’
Yes, sir. We do sell that remote control with the buttons. Which one has the buttons? All of them.
Thank you, ma’am. Watching you cram 3 cart loads of furniture, appliances & other merchandise into your Corolla has made my night.

MomDay Monday – Aisles of Smiles


Everyone should have to work in retail for at least 6 months at some point in their lives.

Every. One.

It’s something you can’t possibly understand unless you experience it first hand. And I promise you, you will never shop the same way again.

All of us in retail have seen things that would make your head spin. And then pop off. There are the people who open the curtains & drape them across the towels to see if they match. And the ones who put every rug on the floor to see how they look under their feet, then leave the aisle looking like a U2 concert. And then there are those who wipe their kids’ noses on the clothing (it’s why you should always… ALWAYS… wash what you buy before you wear it. New clothes smell be damned).

Now don’t get me wrong. There are many shoppers who are genuinely kind & who appreciate when you help them. But there is also a daily, random weirdness that makes you scratch your head. So to get through the day, I end up saying things in my head to amuse myself about  each situation because frankly, if I’m amused, it will just go better for everyone.


Customer: “I need a 2×8 runner.”

Me: “Ours are 25×84 inches.”

Customer: “I don’t know what that means.”

Me (in my head): “It means you should be shopping somewhere that doesn’t require basic math skills.”


I’m sorry I directed you to the wrong aisle, ma’am, but your accent made, “Where’s detergents?” sound like “Where’s da Trojans?” and, hey, who am I to judge?


You know people in my area really hate The Yankees’ A Rod when his picture won’t even sell for 75% off.


Would the brass polish you’re looking for be for your hair, ma’am?


If you know each other well enough to have this discussion in the aisle of your friendly neighborhood retailer, then you probably know each other well enough to have this conversation in the privacy of one of your own homes, away from the employee of the friendly neighborhood retailer who just wants to fold the towels. By the way, I’m glad your baby is finally able to latch on & that it made a big difference in how chafed your nipples are.


You can say “buffalump” as many times as you like, ma’am. I’m not ever going to know what it means.


Apparently on your planet it’s called “milk oil.” Here we call it “chocolate syrup.” Welcome to Earth.


This is an actual store, sir. Not a flea market. We don’t haggle.

Sometimes it’s the customers who inject the humor: 

“I see boys clothes & I see toddler clothes. Where are the old fart clothes?”


Me, to a customer with a full cart: “Did you need help finding something?”

Customer: “No, thanks. I think I’ve found enough all on my own.”


Me: “Can I help you find something?”

Customer: “My husband… Wait! What am I saying? I have the car keys. This is my chance!”

And then there are the inspirational:

80-year-old Eileen is going back to college & came to the store to buy a computer desk & chair. “It’s just a number,” she said of her age. “If you stay engaged in life, you won’t grow old.” God speed, Eileen.

MomDay Monday on Black Friday


It was Thanksgiving last week & if you work in retail, as I do, it’s not about the turkey, the stuffing, or the family get together. It’s about preparing for & surviving Black Friday. So as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year, I’d like to give everyone a little advice… just a little something from me to you:

If those of us at the store could make $100 Nintendo 3DS’s or $200 Xbox bundles appear out of our butts, believe me… we would NOT be working in retail.

Thank you.