For four straight summers, from the summer after my junior year in high school until the summer after my sophomore year in college, I was a slave for The Water Ice Factory. I have to say besides the arguments with customers, the stained hands and the scared knuckles, it was a really fun job. My hourly pay was pretty sweet and I made decent money with tips.
On top of all that, I loved my boss and to this day I am still friends with most of my co-workers. I’ll paint a picture of a typical night at The WIF. It’s a hot night in July, 20 or some-odd customers create a line to the street as myself and two co-workers maneuver around a very small counter and aisle, as we serve 33 flavors of water ice, ice cream and milkshakes.
For many years, I complained to my best friend Malika about how much I hated working in food service. Even though I generally liked the job, you just find yourself complaining a lot because come on, what else are you going to complain about?
Malika always worked retail and said that by far she had a worse job then I. No way bitch, food service is hell and anyone who has ever experienced food service knows that it’s worse. We all know that both forms of work are truly evil, but which one is worse? Malika and I would try to one up each other’s horror stories. She would complain about folding tables and tables of clothes, I would complain about how the line at the WIF would not end for over four hours during the peak nights of the summer.
That was until I began at The Gap last summer. Food service is purgatory compared to the hell that is retail.
Now I’m sure that The Gap isn’t better or worse than any other retail outlets. Like the WIF, the management is really cool and generally I get along with my co-workers.
But has anyone that worked food service worked retail in December? Lines that would go from the cash register to the back of the store dressing rooms. Ringing customers with bills that ranked in the thousands of dollars with no tips or benefits. Having to stay at The Gap for an overnight because the sales floor has to be replenished. Give me my scooper and milkshake machine any day because Satan has taken over The Gap!
I work at The Gap at Quaker Bridge Mall and they decided that during the winter months, we should make customers feel like its summer. The Gap’s strict dress code requires that you wear sweaters or long sleeve shirts, jeans and boots. It’s unbearably hot. At the WIF, I would just throw on a “Give your tongue a sleigh ride t-shirt,” shorts and sneakers and I’m on my way.
In addition to all this, you make a lot of money on tips in food service joints. There are very few pay increases in retail and no tips.
I’ve had customers yell at me, I’ve had them throw credit cards at me. I had a customer threaten to hit me because I couldn’t find the leather jacket that he requested to be put on hold.
What makes me most mad about working retail is not the hours, or the pay, or even the customers, it’s that Malika was right all along.