The Ten Worst Things About Working in Miami Retail
Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday has come and gone. Christmas brought all kinds of gifts to Miami's girls and boys. But has your gluttony and deal grabbing been sated? Nope. Now it's time for the annual tradition of returning the stuff you don't want.
Every year, December rains an entire month of hellfire on those in the retail industry. The recipients of this widespread mania are the salespeople, the managers, and those poor greeters whose feet undoubtedly get trampled a couple times a day. In honor of this magical time of year, we present the ten worst things about working retail in the Magic City.
(A short note before the following spew of vitriol and sarcasm: The majority of retail customers, even those in Miami, are friendly and patient -- just not these assholes.)
10. The Drunkies
"Theeeese are cuuuute," she slurs to her equally wobbly friend. "Aren't they CUUUUTE?"
Drunkies, or drunk besties, speak each sentence like drawn out hiss, with a hint of longing -- think Ka from The Jungle Book but with boobs, big hair, and a cocktail dripping condensation on the merchandise. Outdoor stores and gift shops are favorite spots for Drunkies. They've just consumed equal parts salad and vodka cranberry cocktails and are coming for you. Get ready for some duck faces, knocked over displays, and repeating yourself.
9. The haggling
Perhaps it's Miami's cultural mix that makes it such a haggling hub, or maybe it's those pesky tourists trying to save a buck however they can. Whatever the reasons, tons of shoppers here won't stop badgering sales associates until they either get the lowest possible price or get kicked out of the store, whichever comes first. Fifty percent off and "final offer" don't cut it with these sales specialists. These fanatics need to stuff their ripped catalog pages back in their bags and take a breath. Though Dolphin Mall may seem a lot like a vendor-filled nuthouse, it's not an flea market. Show some restraint, coupon clippers.
8. The know-it-alls
Many retail workers have come to know the nuances of the human face, all those squinted eyes and slight frowns and huffs of derision. These sunny looks usually accompany questions like, "Are you...trained for this?" and "Do you really know what I'm talking about?" and the even more condescending, "Maybe this nearby stranger can help me more than you, stupid child." OK, they don't usually say that last one, but they do seek advice from random people. Customer service varies wildly in Miami, but most of us didn't stumble into a store, pick up a name tag, and start greeting. We applied, were hired, and yes, were trained, and are now ready to help your unappreciative ass.
7. No hablas español
With Miami's amazing food, music, and art from around the world comes a clusterfuck of languages that many transplants can't recognize. In Miami-Dade County alone, 73 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home, namely Spanish. In short, Miami can be quite the challenge for a newcomer, especially one who needs to engage with customers, be friendly, and sell them stuff. So if you're patient with us monolingual salespeople, we've got smiles and helpless shrugs to offer as we jump on Google Translate.
6. Selling crap you can't afford
Working in retail can be a lesson in willpower and unrequited desires. Your employee discount doesn't count for much on that damn $250 bag, or, hell, even that $50 shirt. Watching high-rolling Miamians snatch up and take home all the lovely items you stare at all day can get a tad depressing. So when yet another customer casually takes out their $500 wallet to pay their $800 total, we console ourselves with thoughts of how we'll spend our meager, yet justly earned paychecks: at the bar with cheap cocktails. They get the job done just as well.
Newtown graffiti/Flickr CC
5. The Veruca Salts
"What do you mean, 'I can't have 'zis?' I want to buy!" Though the Veruca Salts of the world take many forms, the most amusing and infuriating ones in Miami come from Europe. With the bored, unimpressed expressions and eyerolls, they sometimes sneer at your store's options while demanding every last one of them. If you don't make that call to your manager or supervisor, watch out, cause this bitch doesn't care how, she wants it now. Miami bros are not exempt from this ridiculous behavior either. They just can't live without that red fedora, and they're gonna throw a hissy fit if they don't get it.
4. Your second job: Babysitter and/or Family Therapist
It's hard to decide what's weirder: Holding a stranger's baby while they browse, or trying not to look uncomfortable while couples bicker. Or, there's all of the above: Husband, phone in hand, ignores his wife as she asks how she looks in outfits. "He's always like that, can't take him anywhere," the wife says to the silent salesperson as their toddler does airplanes around the store. "Can't you pay attention to me for ONCE?" Suddenly, you find yourself wishing for Dr. Phil, or a drink, or both -- any distraction from this awkwardness. Is it time to clock out yet?
3. The creeps
Ohh, Miami creeps. It's kind of beautiful, in a disgusting way, of course, how language and culture cannot divide them. Armed with an arsenal of leers, space invasion, and tired one-liners, Miami's creeps can make working retail unpleasant at best and scary at worst. From beauty stores to video stores, late-shift creep appearances can ruin your day. Take, for instance, a man who stops by before closing and asks the cashier for help shaving his legs...and the rest of his bod. To the creepy creeps who are thinking of strolling to a nearby store to check out some "merchandise": Stick to online shopping.
2. Your probable health deterioration
Some retail jobs may not be the most physically strenuous, but they can be taxing nonetheless. All that gritting your teeth, biting your tongue, and holding your breath when dealing with rude and belligerent people can't be good for you. Your electrolytes are low, your blood pressure is high, and there's still four more hours till your shift ends. The cold circulating the neighborhood is coming, and your retail job doesn't offer insurance. Merry Christmas!
chantel beam photography/Flickr
1. Entitled Teens of Miami
The No. 1 spot on this shit list goes to the rich kids of Miami, 'cause they need to get knocked down a peg or ten. Stomping in with gum, huge sunglasses, hi-top sneakers and Daddy's money to burn, Miami teen shoppers earn their share of scorn. Similar to the Veruca Salts, these kids are not accustomed to hearing "No." They are even less accustomed to disappointment. While less prone to blind rages, teen shoppers whine, glare, and groan their disapproval until somebody, anybody, caves. No one feels sorry for you, teenybops, least of all us working schlubs. Now go take that that pissy frown into your next Instagram moment, or tweet about your selfish mom or whatever you brats do.
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