Working in retail can have its ups and down, depending on your experiences

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“Working in retail f****ing sucks.”

This is a statement I’ve heard numerous times from co-workers, friends and classmates. Heck, I’ve even said it myself on a particularly rough day.

A 2013 study conducted by Manpower Group found that 74 percent of retail employees surveyed admitted to using a computer or phone to look for a new job while on the clock at their current job.

There’s no denying that working in retail has its drawbacks. From messy customers to petty thieves, customer service jobs can often expose you to the worst sides of people. 

At times it’ll make you question: “What am I doing here?”

I once picked up a pile of clothes in the fitting room with pee on them. I’ve been threatened after refusing to “return” a thief’s stolen items. Two co-workers of mine even almost got ran over by a car when confronting a family who walked out of the store with bags full of clothes they didn’t pay for.

Still, I can see the good that comes from this line of work.

Throughout my year and a half of working in retail, I’ve learned a lot about the nature of people. 

When you’re servicing the public, the interactions you have with complete strangers will undoubtedly surprise you.

Some customers will view you as a punching bag. To others, you’ll be seen as a therapist. 

This will teach you how to have a listening ear and you’ll quickly learn how to respond to people in sticky situations.

If you once lacked communication skills, you won’t have to worry anymore. 

I used to be quite shy and timid around people I wasn’t familiar with, but now it’s not too difficult for me to strike up a conversation with a brand new person.

Working in retail has generally made me a more open person.

I’ve also developed a certain respect for those who work in customer service. 

When I was younger and went shopping with my mother, I used to not think to pick an item up if I dropped it. 

I never understood why she got on my case about that. Now, you can bet I pick up every little thing I accidentally drop. I even find myself refolding shirts in stores that aren’t mine.

I make sure to acknowledge each employee who greets me because I know how terrible it feels to put yourself out there, only to be shut down by customers who falsely believe they’re above you. 

A simple smile or “thank you” could go a long way in bettering an employee’s workday.

Everyone should work in customer service at least once in their life. 

It’s a humbling experience, one that teaches you how to be a more compassionate person, how to treat all people with respect and how to be a decent human being.

Who would have thought you could gain so many life skills from a retail job?