Confessions from retail workers – the most terrifying job in the world

Please stop trying to have sex in our changing rooms


Everyone who’s worked retail can probably agree that while some parts are awesome (hello employee discount), there can be moments that make you want to lock yourself in the back and never come out. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time in retail is that people are really weird. I asked some fellow soldiers what they’d seen on the front line working in retail, and this what they told me. 

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Vanessa, 21

I think my least favourite thing people do is touch me like I’m a mannequin when I’m wearing the clothes from our store.  People have literally shoved their hands in my pockets to the point of caressing my thigh whilst talking about our clothes.  And they don’t even act like it’s strange.  

Another really uncomfortable thing that happened to me involved our bathroom policy. We have a bathroom in the back, where we store all of our product, and we used to let customers use the bathroom (so that they wouldn’t leave the store to pee and never come back).  So once this woman came in with her two kids and put a TON of clothes in the fitting room, but then one of the kids had to use the bathroom.

So, I wasn’t allowed to just leave them in our back room (because of all the back stock we keep there), so I had to wait outside the door of the bathroom. But the wall isn’t exactly soundproof, and the little kid had to take like a 20 minute shit, and I had to wait outside the door and hear the whole thing.  And after all that, the lady tried on like one thing in her dressing room and then left the store.  Since then, I haven’t let anyone use our bathrooms while I’m on duty.

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Hannah, 20

So I don’t really have any stories out of the ordinary, but one of my friends used to work at a swimwear store, and instead of having the customers hang their stuff back up, they had baskets in the fitting rooms where people could leave the stuff they didn’t want to be hung up.  One day, they went into the fitting room, and someone had left all of the stuff they didn’t want lying on the floor. So they looked in the basket and there was a puddle of piss in it.  She was so grossed out.  I’m just so glad nothing like that has ever happened to me.

Kelsey, 21

My worst retail experiences have always been with customer returns.  Once, during the holidays, I had a girl and her mum come in and throw a fit when we couldn’t give them cash back from their gift receipt, which is clearly stated in our return policy.  So the mum literally started screaming at us about how far they had driven to get to our store and how the girl had already spent that money (which seemed really more like their problem, to be honest).

So then we had to get out our return policy and show her where it said gift receipts couldn’t be returned for cash back (which also isn’t that common anyways), and in between her shouting at us, they determined that they would be calling the family friend that purchased them, and asking her to return them and give them the cash.  I was completely appalled at how rude the mom was being, and her daughter was (rightly) mortified, as were all of our other customers in the store. Pro tip: shouting at us is definitely not the way to get us to pull strings for you.

Once, I also had a baby puke all over the floor and I had to clean it up. That wasn’t my favourite thing I’ve ever had to do.

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Lisa, 22

One time when I was at a club, I met this guy who had gone to uni where I was starting after my gap year.  He thought this was a good excuse to keep hitting on me, even though I really wasn’t interested. Well, I guessed I had mentioned that I worked at a store at Westfield in London, and he showed up during my shift the next day.  Talk about not taking no for an answer. And I couldn’t exactly be rude to him at the store, so I just had to be polite until he left.

Julia, 21

I had a customer come in for a pretty routine exchange of a pair of pants.  But when I lifted them up to fold them after she left, I noticed they reeked.  She must have worked out in them and then decided she didn’t like them or something, but honestly the smell was so disgusting we had to process them out as damaged (which comes out of our monthly profit as a store). My manager ended up looking up her name on our copy of the receipt and then telling everyone not to take exchanges from her unless we had thoroughly inspected the clothing.