Fourteen Years. As of May of this year I will have been in the workforce for Fourteen years. And aside from an 8 week stint working in a warehouse, my entire work experience can be summed up as a clerk, or Customer Service Representative.
At times, I have referred to myself as that particular stores Bitch Boy. All of these are accurate statements.
When you imagine someone who has to deal with customers for a living, you probably envision a teenager who flips burgers, a high school or college student who is earning money to pay off his student loans, working his way to a higher education.
Of course, once you get to a certain age, it’s actually a little sad, isn’t it? A middle aged guy stocking shelves? A mother of three stuck on the Cash?
You know the story by now. I politely and emphatically disagree. And as someone who has spent almost half of his life doing such “demeaning” labor jobs, I believe I am in a position where I know exactly what I’m talking about.
Hello ladies and gentlemen. My name is Chris Taylor, and today I’m not defending anything. I am, however, going to explain the last fourteen years of my working career.
If you get to know me on a personal level, you know how much the situations I’ve been in, the people I interact with, everything has helped to shape me into the man I am now. It’s my theory that it’s the same for all of us, and I’ll get back to that point in a moment.
Customer service jobs are the jobs that literally nobody wants to do. And yet, if nobody DID them, we wouldn’t have full shelves, nobody to make our fast food! The sheer NUMBER of jobs in the service industry is innumerable. The more automated everything becomes, with self serve counters and online shopping, the more jobs dwindle.
But that’s not even scratching the surface of the positives of the service industry, or more specifically the people who work IN Customer Service.
Let’s take Clerking for example, seeing as that’s the one I know the most about. Normally at the start of a day, you walk in, punch your timecard, and depending on the day you have a set number of tasks. Maybe you have your own section that you need to clean, maybe it’s a day when the stores order comes in.
Maybe it’s one of those special times of the month when a whole section needs to get reworked, filled with new products, or at least new packaging for existing products. And if you’ve already worked one of these jobs as I have, you know that there’s an incredibly good chance that all of these things are going to happen on the same freaking day. WAHOO!!
And thus, my first point. When you have seemingly a thousand things to do at once, you need to be able to prioritize what needs to get done first. Or if you’re really good, different ways of accomplishing the same tasks faster, or doing them all at once but in such a way that they all get done.
It’s one of those things that both seems simple on the surface, AND like common sense. And if you thought both of those things, congratulations! There’s a good chance that at some time or another, you worked a customer service job!
Until you’re forced to accomplish all of those things within a short amount of time, or shown how by someone who has done all of those types of things, it’s kind of had to describe. At the same time, WHEN you learn how to do that, you can apply it to your real life as well.
Doing all your cooking while also cleaning, researching for a paper and citing all your sources, raising a family! All of these tasks require multitasking capabilities, and while it’s not JUST Customer Service jobs that CAN teach you these things, they certainly do help.
But you can’t have a Customer Service job without Customers… and there’s a certain phrase that gets tossed around… The customer is always right. Anybody who has ever been a Clerk, or a cashier, anybody who has had a job dealing with people knows…
Okay, calm down Batfleck, that’s not always the case. The problem is, most people want things done a certain way, and there are times when store policies or common sense gets in the way. There are also many people… namely anybody over the age of seven, who take the word NO as a personal attack!
In cases such as that, one requires patience. In the Customer Service industry, a metric fuck ton of patience.
I’d be lying if I said that every customer that comes in is a joy to be around! In fact, quite often it’s the exact, polar opposite of that! But in doing these types of jobs, you hear every complaint, everything that an angry customer can tell you, and you get a thicker skin! You gain a greater sense of patience when dealing with the things around you.
Not only that, but the more of those angry customers show up, the greater appreciation you get for the ones that understand the situation you’re in. I can’t even begin to give you guys a total number of times someone has gotten angry at me for essentially doing my job. For following the store rules.
I mean, I understand their point of view too, they want something, and they don’t work where I work so they don’t understand why they can’t have it. And all of that just brings me to my final point:
Working service industry jobs makes you a better person.
You need to be patient with people who don’t know any better. When you see just how angry someone gets at you because they have an expired coupon that you can’t accept, mostly because it’s for a different store, you know that rotten feeling in the pit of your stomach.
And you don’t want to cause that in another human being! So when you ARE the customer, you end up being more patient with the person behind the counter. You zig zag your way through the aisles quicker and organize your basket so you’re in and out of the store in record time!
It is one of my strongest beliefs that if every single person on the planet worked a customer service job for a year, there would BE no more of those types of customers that aggravate us. They would know what it means to NEED a job to keep paying the bills, keep putting food on the table, keep a rough over our heads…
They would know that no matter how much you just want to say that sarcastic comment that will put them in their place, that you have the patience to hear them and hold your tongue… because the rent is due.
Yes, there are plenty of clerks and cashiers who don’t do their jobs properly, who are lucky enough to still be living at home and not have to worry about all the things that adults have to to keep on keeping on. And because of that, the armor comes up and every customer thinks that every clerk or cashier is like that.
But just like there are plenty of customers who don’t know how to read a ticket that was accidentally left on the shelf with last week’s date on it, a human error, and NO that doesn’t mean you still get it at the sales price, there’s an end date on it… sorry…
Just like there are plenty of customers like that, there are ALSO plenty of people who know the struggles of the 9-5, of the menial labor jobs that people tend to disrespect. So on behalf of all of us who have to deal with the not so great customers, thank you for being the good ones! Thank you for having the presence of mind to remember that just because we’re wearing a uniform, that we are still people!
Thank you for not looking down your nose at us just because we need to keep paying bills. And to those who already have those jobs who are watching this right now, I know it’s a thankless job. Thank you for doing it.
Thank you for keeping the shelves stocked, thank you for smiling and saying have a nice day, even if you yourself aren’t having a great day! Thank you for doing the jobs that nobody else really wants to do.
Because whether we want to believe it or not, whether we even WANT to do them or not.. The job still needs to get done. And you guys are doing it. Thank you.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I do hope I managed to shed some light into the positive aspects of Customer Service jobs. Whether it be in your new found ability to multi task, or the patience you have to not punch that jack ass right in his face because he thinks he knows your job better than you do, Clerks and Cashier’s are the backbone of any great industry.
And whether you believe me or you don’t, working that bitch boy job will make you a better person. Or at least better than the people who are looking down on you.
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But now I turn it over to everyone out there on the Youtube Jury. You the viewer! Did you agree with what I had to say this week? Hit that like button and show your support! Do you think I’m just a bitter old man ranting and raving about things I can’t change? Let us know in the comments below what you think! By all means, let your own views clash with mine… so that I may proceed to prove you wrong.
But for now, in the case of Customer Service type jobs… The Defense Rests.
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