Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In Honor of Shopgirls Everywhere

Well, that new Steve Martin movie is coming out soon and I CANNOT wait. Shopgirl. Yay!

Why can I not wait? Because I have been a shopgirl. A long suffering shopgirl. And I love Steve Martin movies. And I love Steve Martin stories. And this particular novella was pretty darned good, I thought, so I'm fine with it as a movie.

So here's something I wrote a while ago, which seems appropriate now.

And it's also a Happy Birthday to Warren, who observed me in some classic shopgirl moments many years ago.

Rantings of an Annoyed Shopgirl

If I were to be elected President of the United States, I would institute a law that would make it mandatory for every citizen of our fair capitalist nation to work, for at least one year, at a customer service job. Retail, food, information, gift wrapping, whatever. Everyone should do it. I guarantee that had Bush done this while he was babbling about points of light, we may actually have seen a kinder and gentler nation.

Perhaps you think I’m kidding. Well then, you obviously have never worked a customer service job. These types of jobs are necessary and tedious, mildly entertaining and extremely convenient for the consumer. In these times of financial prosperity, people are starting to realize the importance of having folks employed in these jobs. Have you ever waited a bit too long for a refill of coffee because there was only one waitress serving the entire room? Wanted to try on shoes only to wait 20 minutes for a salesperson to appear? Tried to lodge a complaint against your landlord but there was only one person handling the desk and thousands of complaints to be filed… oops – that’s just Oakland politics. Anyway, many have experienced the frustration of people leaving these types of jobs. And why should they stay? Customer service jobs suck.

If you are the kind of person that would get angry in any of the scenarios described above; you have most likely never worked in a job serving the public. Because if you had, you would understand the strain those few workers are under. Having worked back and forth in the retail world for more than half of my life, I think I’ve seen quite a bit. There’s the regular stuff like customers treating you like you haven’t a thought in your head, to the more exotic like having a guy slap his dick onto the counter. Needless to say, the establishment I worked at did not take Penis as payment.

First of all, THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. They usually do not know the policies of the store (because they haven’t read the information on a plaque on the wall next to them). They think their platinum card places them above such pedestrian things. Just because they had to reach two feet above their head for a handblown glass vase, which broke when they failed to grasp it, doesn’t make it their responsibility to pay for the item, does it? I mean, the shop put it up so high… And if you ask to look at “that,” it would help if you actually told us what “that” was. A blanket? A stereo? Your lack of common sense?

I am amazed when I see men order 110 LB girls to carry a couch to the SUV. I have witnessed professors screaming at counter help to “WRAP FASTER,” as if intimidation is actually key to the whole process. And I have seen women buy a $2 item and then ask for boxes, ribbons and bags to go along with it, complimentary of course. I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask, but no need to get pissy if we say no. And please, most of us girls aren’t really there for you lonely guy types to ask out. Sorry to be harsh, but we’re required to be nice to you.

Try to imagine what it is like to spend 8 hours a day on your feet with people treating you like an idiot. Then remember that you need those people behind the counter as much as they most likely need that job, so be kind. The girl showing you earrings could be your brain surgeon ten years from now, and you might be purchasing that waiter’s best selling novel, the one he’s writing while paying his rent by mixing your salad, as a Christmas present in 2008.