There are currently over 1.5 million retail establishments employing over 19.8 million people, the average retail worker makes $25,310 a year. As a matter of fact most of the jobs created out of the recession were strictly retail related creating a whopping 527,000 jobs since the end of the recession. These facts come from DLS and the Huffington Post.
Not bad numbers when talking about employment of US citizens in this day and age. However these numbers are assuming that on average a retail worker will be paid on average 13 dollars an hour. What I would like to ask the Huffington post and DLS is where are these; 13 dollar an hour retail stores? COSTCO in my area starts off at 10, the place where I work currently pays a whopping 7.25 and hour and where I was previously employed at CVS, my wages started off at 9, then before I left was at 10.79. Three years at CVS and I was given after that time and a promotion another 1.79 an hour. Not complaining compared to some jobs that I have worked before, this was ‘good.’
When I applied at a local Wal-Mart job, with supervisor experience and over 11 years of retail experience they were willing to pay me an amazing 7.65 an hour! How gracious! However I give benefit that these numbers and pay in my area greatly vary from county to county as well as state to state.
So let’s use the BLA instead, which is the United States Department of Labor. It puts median wages at 10.15 and hour with a yearly wage at 21,110, which seems to be more accurate given the numbers from indeed.com and other sources like salary.com. So the average retail worker makes 10 dollars an hour, give or take, as well as taking into account what part of the country we are talking about.
So, two more facts about retail, retail is on average the most lowed paid job in the country, secondly, retail is the most common job in the US. So what does that mean, well take these two facts into context with the fact that retail is the most people oriented job in this country. Now I am not talking about the retail sector including HR and management that sits in offices states away, I am talking about the median workers, the backbone of the company, the workhorses that claim the authority of being the most common job in the country, the lowest paid on average employee, has the most people oriented job in the US.
This is extremely interesting, because if you look at other occupations that require ‘people’ skills, they either pay extremely well, or the payoff is substantial enough on an emotional level to give cause to their reasons for doing it. Take a Nurse for instance, most will tell you they do it for the love of the job, that being there for patients is what they live for, or something to that effect. Oh, will some complain about patients and doctors, other co-workers and all the job responsibilities. Do not get me wrong, they went to school for this, put in their time. However it remains that at the end of the day they are looking at a median wage of around 25 to 30 dollars an hour! The other side would be humanitarians who just love helping people for free, or damn near free. They either do so for a cause or do so because they generally are kind and caring toward others that are less fortunate. They at the end of the week can focus on the good that they have done in the world and revel in the fact that they possibly changed someone’s life for the better.
Retail? Don’t get me wrong, there are some extraordinary customers and times in which you feel that your job has been validated in some sense. Like my time at Best Buy when a grandfather cried out of excitement that he would be able to video chat with his granddaughter who was overseas with his son that was in the military. That made my week! However, those wonderful people that touch your life are so far between that you wonder if they were just a fluke to begin with. Most of the days you will find that people will want to fist fight you over .50 cents.
People and customers on average are the rudest people that you will ever come across, they will demean you and your job, call you names, mock you, try as hard as they can to get you fired for whatever perceived notion that justifies their craziness. They will yell, kick, scream, whine, be extremely unreasonable that too a point it’s impossible to distinguish their behavior from a possible laps back to terrible twos. The things that we put up with in retail are driven 90% by customers, and 10% by management. Meaning that 90% of an employee’s discomfort comes from the very people they are supposed to serve! How rewarding! My main job and main function is to serve the main part that is most of my issues. We are already starting off on the wrong foot.
The 10% from management, well, that 10 comes from the amount of support we get from them. If you have good immediate management then you still have bad company management. If you have bad immediate management, then you have both. The company does not care, they only care about the bucks, of course they will give you a big speel about how customers this and customers that, however at the end of the day, SAVE MONEY and MAKE MO MONEY! Is the motto.
Cross lines with upper management just once, just once. Then you’re done, you do not pass go and you will not collect unemployment, because if you don’t quit they will make it so unreasonable that you will. So here we have a system of people that are the lowest paid in the country that have to deal with the worst types of people on a daily basis with no drive to really care for the people they are supposed to serve. Why should they? As a matter of fact, I have been told that retail is a stepping stone, and it has served me as much, but that you don’t really want to be doing that for the rest of your life. It’s not a sought after position, face it. It’s a crumby job, but people will expect the VERY BEST out of you while you are there!! Management will of course expect it and so will your customers, who in turn no matter how rude they are will immediately complain when not treated as royalty.
They seem to forget that the women they probably just yelled at is a single mother, working a job that pays a little more than min wage, she gets no insurance and can only get extra hours if management has an opening, however, remember save money make mo money, they don’t want to give her those hours, because she will then be eligible for insurance through the company! Oh dear, but their complaint was more important than her sanity.
This is why retail will ruin your outlook toward people. I have personally been fighting it very hard, hoping that when my opportunity to get out lets me change my perspective, that time will heal all wounds so to speak. Yet, I can’t help but stare at people at times and question what their true motives are. Retail has given me the ability to instantly judge without knowing anything about people. When your standing at the counter and you see someone walking up, you can tell two things, one their demeanor, and two how educated or how stupid this is about to be.
Same with now, walking through Wal-mart or some other wonderful consumerist feasting hall, dumb, retard, asshole, looks smart, kinda cool, WTF…….I can’t not just really want to find out who these people are, just what the hell do they want. Because as I stated, it’s about saving money and making mo money. Get the customers in, and them out ASAP, fuck conversations and screw genuine small talk. After years and years of this indoctrination its hard not to. When a stranger walks up and says hey, I don’t want any of their shit, what do you want, here, yeah, bye. I may be in a small minority, who knows, however I wanted to share my thoughts on what the downside of retail plays on your personal mindset toward humanity.
Advice, work retail to find out what the world provides, but do not EVER think that it will provide you with happiness or security. Any manager that tells you that it can has never found it, they are just chasing the company puppet and any employee who tells you so hasn’t been working at that company for that long.
- Fast Food Worker Strikes: Is a Living Wage Really Possible? (triplepundit.com)
- Walmartistan: Imagining the World’s Largest Company as a Country (creditloan.com)