Working in retail seems like an easy job from the outside. It’s just helping the customers with choosing products and checking out, while also restocking shelves as needed. Right? Not quite. This façade is, in fact, quite deceptive. Retail is a horror filled with the pain of maintaining a cheery customer-facing demeanor even while dealing with mean managers, petty pay, harrowing hours, and curmudgeonly colleagues. Here’s what some Redditors have to say about their experience working in retail.
1. Loyalty Is A One-Way Street
This is the tale of my best friend, Sara. She hired me back in 2007, and we became very close. We worked at a small, local chain of gas stations. Our district manager was a tough, but she knew her job. We will call her Mary. Mary was very good at her job and we respected her a lot. She taught us both so much about our job and how to handle a store like ours.
In 2009, our company was sold to another small, local company because the CEO was preparing for retirement. Enter Dave. Dave is a terrible person and the big boss at the new company. He likes having a gaggle of women around him that he can control and belittle. Tammy was our new district manager, and we weren’t sure that we liked her either.
I ended up leaving the company in 2012, and Sara was heartbroken that I left her, but understood. Unfortunately, it all went downhill for her. She was put on a pedestal by Dave. She was hard working, dedicated, and became the company fixer. Every time a store was in peril, they would move Sara into that store. She would clean it up and get it making a profit again.
Dave promised Sara a promotion to district manager, but the job opened up and Dave gave it to Melissa. Melissa was eventually caught pinching from an ATM and fired. Dave again promised the spot to Sara, but hired Alex instead. Alex quit before he got fired. Dave again promised the spot to Sara, and once again, passed her over. This happened one more time.
Every time it happened—four times in total—I would console her while she cried, but she always stayed fiercely loyal to Dave. Over time, Sara and Tammy had become really good friends and Sara loved having Tammy as a district manager. Meanwhile, Dave made the decision to move Sara to a rural store. She was happy because it was closer to where she lived and she could not take the heartbreak anymore.
She found her home there as the manager. But one day, Dave decided to really mess with Sara. He had hired Mary from the previous company and made her Sara’s district manager. Sara was thrilled to be working with Mary again, but Mary had changed. She was unfocused, disoriented, ditzy, and quite frankly, a mean person. She was not the Mary we knew and respected.
Sara was at her wits’ end dealing with Mary being around all the time, messing up her store. Yet Sara still stayed fiercely loyal to the company and to Dave. Here’s where the real heartbreak happened. In late 2020, Sara suffered a brain injury. She ended up in the hospital for weeks, unable to talk properly and had to relearn motor skills.
Dave promised her that when she was ready, her manager spot would be waiting for her. Then he promised her that a job would be waiting for her. Then he let her go so that he wouldn’t have to pay her insurance anymore. He did not tell her this. She found out when she got a letter stating that her insurance was cancelled. 11 years, people.
11 years of hard work, dedication, and loyalty for long hours, horrible pay, and horrible treatment, just to be thrown away without Dave even having the courtesy to talk to her about it. Once again, I consoled her. I was angry, sad, infuriated, and cried with her. We now both hate Dave. But she still is fiercely loyal to the company.
I tried to convince her that she had a case against them, but she won’t sue. That company was her whole life, and after the blood, sweat, and tears she put into it, she was left with nothing. Not even a severance. Moral of the story: be loyal to your good co-workers and managers, but steer way, way clear of bosses like Dave and Mary.
These retail companies don’t care about you and never will. One broken promise is reason enough to leave. There’s nothing in it for you except your paycheck, and there’s lots of retail places hiring. Take care of yourself. Stand up for yourself. Give them enough respect to not get fired, but always put your needs first. Except for the wonderful few, they do not care about you and will get rid of you at the drop of a hat.
Sara is still recovering, but her progress slowed when she was let go. She doesn’t feel like she has a reason to get better. Just seriously, I hope that you get what’s coming to you, “Dave.”