25 Comments

  1. I know people – relatives – who differentiate between retail and real jobs. None of them are stupid enough to mock the interviewing manager during an interview, though.

  2. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to call a job which has no career path, or which doesn’t match one’s college degree, “not a real job”.

  3. Someone here a few weeks ago suggested looking at the site https://notalwaysright.com to see what sort of things do go on in retail, hotel, fast food, cinema, pub, coffee shop, call centre, garage and other customer-facing entities from the POV of the workers.

    One thing that crops up from time to time is smug parents openly tell their whiny children that if they don’t study at school they’ll end up “like this”: some dead-end employment like the poor sod serving them (and the poor sod tells us, and occasionally the customer, that in fact they are part-time working their way through a Master’s degree in nuclear physics, or some such thing)(not to mention those occasions when someone, like a former college girlfriend of mine, is on a management career-development track at a major department store chain but in the early days has to put in the hours on the shop floor).

    Not Always Right is quite interesting, though if you read enough of the anecdotes it turns into a hypnotic dream in which the whole of the USA (and to a lesser extent bits of UK/Europe and Australia/NZ) becomes a massive shopping mall with multiple entrances and a whole array of fast food joints, hotels and shops with beleaguered shop staff in uniforms being harrassed and cheated by a constant throng of incompetent and malign coupon-clipping entitled customers, like a warrior army of the undead in some Kafkaesque organisational nightmare.

  4. I have very serious doubts about the veracity of Not Always Right. It’s amazing how many of the stories have the same structure and writing style.

  5. I think they are submitted by some sort of form and certainly edited by people at the site, which confers a certain uniformity and also contributes to my sense of it all happening in one utterly massive shopping mall with associated hotels, bars, coffee shops, drive-thrus, pizza delivery rounds, garages.

  6. I like your vision, narmitaj. I felt the beginnings of something similar when I read the site, but I stopped reading long before you did, it seems…

  7. “. . . like a warrior army of the undead in some Kafkaesque organisational nightmare.”

    Isn’t that what Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ is about?

  8. Re: NAR. The similar style does indeed come from the editing process. On the other hand, there’s no mechanism to make sure that the reader-submitted stories are true, so it’s reasonable to read them with some skepticism.

    On the gripping hand, it’s clear that a lot of people in the U.S. disdain retail jobs and retail workers. Why should we be skeptical that some of them would call retail “not a real job.”

  9. The REAL job in retail that is horrible is the Service Desk; people think they have a RIGHT TO COMPLAIN about everything, or try to defraud the store with returns. I did this for two years – one year in a Walmart-type store, another in a very upscale department store – and the only difference is that those in the latter were a bit better dressed than those in the former. The complaining and defrauding attempts were the same.

  10. I’ve also been told that ‘librarian’ is not a REAL JOB ’cause all we do is ‘sit around and read books’ . . . my response was always, ‘WELL, SOMEBODY HAS TO!!’

    And, if we wanted to read a book or magazine or newspaper, we took it home; we didn’t read it ‘on company time’. Which was funny, ’cause teachers had a ‘prep time’ every day and where were they? In the library, reading. Library staff NEVER had ‘prep time’, only 1/2-hour lunch.

  11. Anyone who hasn’t heard retail jobs in general referred to as “not a real job” hasn’t worked behind a cash register. There are a lot of really unpleasant people out there. Not an excuse for the general anti-customer tone of the strip, just saying that someone who deals with the general public has dealt with some really nasty jerks.

  12. Over the years, plenty of people have implied to me and many of my colleagues that teaching was not a real job.

  13. Oh, yeah – lookit all the vacations you get! And prep time . . . and the BENEfits!!

    Been there, heard that too often, esp. from politicians.

  14. The funny thing is, I spent 10 years in retail, in jobs ranging from the loading dock to store manager, and never encountered that scam. Maybe it’s that I was big and physically imposing in my youth?

  15. One way you might claim that retail is not a “real job” is that “real jobs” add value to the economy and a retail jobs do not. On a farm you produce food. In a factory you add value by converting raw materials into a finished product. A dentist or a doctor or an auto mechanic adds value by providing a service.
    But this argument does not hold water. Retail adds value by bringing the goods you want to buy to a place that is convenient for you, so you don’t have to go out to a farm to buy a gallon of milk.
    You could also argue that the retail clerk adds no value, as the clerk could be replaced by a slot for you to put in your money. But the fact is that the owner of the store hired the clerk at a cost, and the value of the clerk must be greater than the cost for the owner to do that.

  16. One way you can claim that a retail job is not a “real job” is by noting that it doesn’t have a future.

    Many are the jobs which are taken by people who need to earn while they prepare for what they REALLY want to do. When *I* grow up, I want to be a fireman. Or maybe an astronaut. But probably not an astronaut fireman, or a fireman astronaut. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with the jobs or the people who do them, just that many (most?) of the people doing them don’t intend to keep doing them. SOMEBODY needs to put my McBurger into the bag along with four napkins and the receipt while I pull up to the first window, and I’d like the job to be done well, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t want to keep working the drive-thru window forever.

  17. “What I don’t get is why the interview is taking place on a bench in a common area.”

    Because retail shift leaders don’t have offices. Offices aren’t sales floors, and only the sales floor generates revenue. So retailers don’t go big for offices, and interviews are held in quiet parts of the sales floor, or in the coffee place at the other end of the mall.

  18. A real job is one for which a wage is paid. One for which a poor wage is paid is called a “$h***y job.” It is still a real job, though. The idea that a “real job” has a future or career progression or whatever one wishes to call it is now ridiculous. The modern workplace does not value professionalism. It values obedience and cheapness. During my time in the corporate world, I have seen (figuratively) thousands of people fired by my various employers and their work piled on the fearful survivors or cheap, no-benefits contractors.

    Retail jobs do such a lot though. Especially when they want you to push overpriced HDMI cables and extended warranties. The irony is I had a great discount but no money because the job didn’t pay a lot and didn’t provide a lot of hours (a tactic used for keeping employees in line).

  19. “What I don’t get is why the interview is taking place on a bench in a common area.”

    Hang around enough in mall food courts and you’ll see job interviews and sketchier things. Who would take financial advice from someone who thought it was a good idea to meet in a food court?

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s