Let’s Hear it for the Middleman: AKA, Me


“I don’t need your help, thanks,” the angry customer grunted at me when I eagerly asked her how she was that day. Then, after glaring at me like I had just tripped her, she stormed away to a different location in the store.

If you work in retail, you definitely can relate to such an experience.

It may be hard to believe for most customers, but sales associates aren’t actually out to get you or your money. Sure, our managers may be breathing down our necks to push to make the daily quota. However, it is not like we are going to hold you hostage at price-gun point until you grab three sweaters to purchase.

In reality, we salespeople are simply just the middlemen. We do not choose the prices, set the return policies, or sew/make the products for sale. What our job does include is being pleasant 110% of the time, picking up after people, fixing and folding clothing 3,492,798 times from open to close, and of course, my all-time favorite: always accommodating the customer.

So yes, this means constantly smiling at you while you may be swearing at me under your breath. All because your coupon, which expired a week ago, is “not applicable with the current promotion.”

This also includes listening to and knowing every part of your terrible day in your terrible life, which really does help my day move along much better. Not. But hey, if I’m needed to be a personal therapist while receiving a peasant’s paycheck, then so be it. The long, tedious hours that we retail crusaders put in, simply to be paid minimum wage for our efforts, makes us appreciate every cent.

Additionally, if there is one thing that all retail workers can band together and despise, it is holiday shopping. A time in my life that I used to thoroughly enjoy and be excited for, I now truly detest. If people normally don’t have patience while shopping, throw in some Christmas lights and some tinsel and they really go nutso.

Black Friday is literally a retail worker’s worst nightmare. Endless customers pouring into your store makes it feel like World War III is about to erupt, with you left to clean up all the mess. The months of preparing your store are immediately torn apart, and you are left gasping for air and raising your white flag of surrender to the mall cops who come to your aide.

The real question is, why are people so concerned with themselves that they have to treat others so badly in the process? This is sad that it is even a problem to begin with, but the fact that employees receive the brunt of it makes things even worse. We are paid to be there for you, it is not necessarily out of our own free will.

To which I may conclude… what is so freaking wrong with you people?!

I’m sure you all have sons, daughters, siblings, husbands, wives, parents, pets, a living relative, imaginary friends… Would you treat any of them as cruelly as you do the salespeople who are just there to help you? I should think (and hope) not. The treatment so many sale associates receive is unacceptable on so many levels. I really think it is not too much to ask for fair treatment for those who are enslaved by the retail monster.

So, next time you walk into a store and think about being a complete a**hole, remember that as “middlemen” we have families and souls too. Not to mention, we’ve got lives. Don’t impose on ours by treating us like pagans.

Anne Demarest, '18

Contents: 35% energetic, 15% goal-oriented, 30% fitness junkie, 10% cheese puff enthusiast, 5% cosmetic obsessed, 5% crazy...110% fashion focused.