Thursday, August 11, 2011

Retail Associate Inequality

Working front-line retail is a low-paying and thankless job. Once, when trying to explain to Jared why I would rather work for a non-profit for half the pay than work a full-time retail position, I compared front-line retail sales to prostitution. True, this was an instance of hyperbole, but I had a few valid points.

People who work retail are looked down upon. Some customers treat the woman behind the counter as less than human. Her name tag suddenly makes it okay to ignore her when she speaks to you and carelessly dismiss her while she caters to you.

Sales associates make minimum wage and have no benefits. Their position in society's eyes is not a career and is temporary. Front-line sales positions are associated with after-school employment. Often times, people are under the impression that working retail is an easy job for slackers. What customers fail to realize is that these people are not hired to fold t-shirts, but are hired to deal with customers. They fail to realize that many of those who work retail balance multiple low-paying, under-appreciated jobs. Sales associates are from all points of life; they're not all high school or college kids looking for beer money. This isn't a position one would do for fun and a little pocket money.

I say this, because I went shopping yesterday. I talk with sales associates and treat them like people. I witnessed a woman who vaguely nodded without making eye contact to a sales associate who went out of the way for her. If I wasn't staring at the two when this exchange went on, I would assume the associate was totally ignored.

To think less of anyone or treat anyone with so little care is disgusting. The well-dressed business woman morphed into a troll. Recognizing a person for helping you takes a second. There is no way to camouflage being an ugly person on the inside.

If the world was a little less rude, I could spend less time hating on people.

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