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Re Porter - Retail workers absorb abuse
bethany porter

I worked in retail for nearly three years as an assistant manager at a shoe store and believe me, I have seen some things. Rude customers, messes, lapses in common sense, you name it, and I have probably seen it.

Retail workers really get the worst side of people, and they don’t deserve it. I think a lot of shoppers forget that workers do not get to do whatever they want. They have rules they must follow. I cannot tell you how many times people have yelled at me when I could not take back their dirty, worn shoes, or how many times someone came in with no box, no bag, no receipt and expected their money back. 

A man once came in one minute after we opened and complained that his shoes he had worn every day for a year were falling apart. He did not have a receipt or box and he walked in wearing the shoes. I couldn’t do anything for him, and proceeded to get yelled at.   

The amount of messes I have seen grownups make is crazy. I understand occasionally not putting something back exactly right, but when things get thrown all over the floor it becomes a problem. Someone once walked down an aisle and threw every display shoe on the ground, tried them on, and left them all on the ground. 

When we reopened after the pandemic, we were not allowed to have a public restroom. Multiple times a day we were yelled at and even called un-American because we were not allowed to let them use our bathroom when we were just following orders. 

Customers would even get mad at us for not letting them pay in the wrong spot. We had a table with a card reader on it and they would still attempt to pay in the middle of the counter. When we would tell them the card reader is on the table they would huff and puff and grumble.

My biggest pet peeve was being “sweet-hearted.” Almost every day some older man that I did not know would try to get my attention by calling me sweetheart. I developed a radar for this and could tell when someone was about to do it. I would send my male coworker to help the people I knew would do it and inevitably get called it at checkout. If you don’t know someone, you probably shouldn’t call them sweetheart. 

Being “sweet-hearted” was similar to being waved down, snapped at, or have someone yelling “I need help back here!!!” from the back of the store. Retail workers are not mind readers and are very busy doing things you don’t realize. If you need help, simply coming to a worker and asking is the better solution. 

My point is, it is not hard to not be mean to retail workers. This goes for fast food, customer service, or any worker you come in contact with. Everyone is going through something, so being kind or at the very least not horrible to someone is not asking too much. 

Standard reporter Bethany Porter can be reached at 473-2191.