Just last week I received a special delivery from Tesco, enclosed was a red badge with the words ‘5 years of service’ as well as a certificate thanking me for my 5 years of outstanding service. Within the same day I was also requesting my friends to write references for me for my new employer. My time in retail is soon going to be coming to a joyful close. Although I can credit some of my happiest times from working at Tesco, I also can strongly credit it for a lot of bad times and potentially my reasoning for turning to anti-depressants.
I started Tesco at the prime age of 16. After applying to every supermarket and café in my town, including Morrisons, my mum slowly slid the Tesco application over to me. I didn’t apply there due to the fact that my mum had worked there since opening, around 2006. I therefore knew all the staff and I grew up knowing them really. But when you’re 16 and dying for your own income, you accept anything. I started off on checkouts. Now my Tesco is quite small compared the the majority, we only have around 100 staff I believe, which actually makes it a very close knit workplace. As well as this, there is a lot of families employed there. It seems a pattern for mothers and daughters to both be employed at our store! I managed around 2 and a half years on checkouts before I moved departments because I honestly couldn’t deal with it anymore.
Now my time at Tesco was forced to come to an end due to a personal matter, which I can discuss if anyone wants to hear some Tesco drama…Which brings me to my first point. If you work in a store like mine, which has a relatively ‘low’ amount of staff, nothing is secret. I honestly can’t believe that only my store is full of gossipers. It’s actually horrendous. When I went for my job interview, I told my mum and one lady. I returned to work later that day and everyone I encountered asked me how that interview went. Now imagine if I didn’t get the job? How awful would it be to have to tell every single person in that store that I didn’t get it, and have to relive that pain over and over whilst I tell them. This is a constant issue in a workplace like this. Nothing, and I mean nothing is a secret. Now I don’t want to upset anyone with this post, but I do believe that the ladies who work in my store are so set in their ways and destined for the life at Tesco that the only thing that brings enjoyment and excitement to their life is by gossiping about others. Which honestly, I find sad. I mean, we all gossip. I gossip. But there comes a point when it really gets too unnecessary. I don’t need to know why somebody is off ill or why someone had to talk to a manager. People’s own business should be their own unless they decide to share it, right?
The major thing that I would ‘warn’ people about when joining retail is the customers itself. On my first day I was reduced to tears by a customer. Since then, I’ve built up my patience and I can learn to handle it. But let me tell you, it is tough. And don’t believe all the lies told to you that ‘millennials’ are the rudest generation and expect everything. The kindest customers I have served have been under 30. The ones which make me cry, angry and fed up? Ages above. Majority being around the 60-80 mark. It sounds bizarre, but honestly the rudest people out there right now are the elderly. I think they feel entitled for some reason and that they just deserve good service without any kindness in return.
PREPARE TO BE IGNORED… The majority of customers ignore you. Even when you ask them a question. We once played a game and tallied how many people ignored us saying ‘Hello, would you like any bags?’. First to 20 won, the game was over quickly. And like I said, these are mainly elderly or people with a particular plum in their mouth I believe the saying goes…
PEOPLE JUDGE YOU… Be prepared to get asked why you work in a supermarket. The amount of times I’ve wanted to retort with ‘Would you like to give me a job in a nursery setting where I already have complete qualifications and can earn full pay?’ I’ve learnt well to hold my tongue. People assume that if you work in retail, it’s not a choice. That they almost see down on you because you are serving them. I’m earning money, get out of my business random man from down the road!
THE WORST SAYING YOU WILL HEAR… The one thing I can guarantee that you will hear when working in any retail environment is ‘What are you doing in here on a lovely day like this?’. Just typing this fills me with such anger. Do I look like I have a choice, Susan? Would I really be in a supermarket working 9 hours, serving endless customers like you who ask why I’m here, if it was a choice? ‘Oh well I hope you get out of here soon!’. Also the best one. The majority of my shifts finish at midnight, and as sad as it sounds I get so much pride from answering ‘No, I’m here till midnight’and watch as their face falls and they try to even comprehend the atrocity of working till such hour! As if they never realised people work past 5pm in the real world.
Now this ended up being way longer than I anticipated, I apologise! I need to work on that. However, I do have many more real truths about working in retail and tips on how to cope. Trust me, the list is endless. Let me know if you’d like to hear more?
Lots of love x