Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas in Retail. (never again)

Only two weeks into working full-time in solid Christmas retail, and I've hit breaking point. I left work today promising myself that I'm going to never, ever have to slave away in retail for another Christmas. I know "everyone knows" already about the commercialism of this season, but today I suddenly saw it clearer than I ever have before.

Customers are stressed, rude and snappy... of course having a thousand and one things to deal with, how are they supposed to find the time to spend their hard earned cash on things that no one needs but they're told they need to buy? And as for everyone working in the store, tempers are fraying, disagreements become huge deals, people are getting under each others' skin and trying to make everyone around them as stressed and miserable as they are.

We're open for late shopping, no one wants to be there until 9:30 at night, not when they'll just be doing is stumbling home and collapsing into bed, only to get up and come back to work the next morning. Comments are made about the futility of going home at all, semi-humorous suggestions of bunks in the staffroom.

I feel spoilt and self-important complaining about an occupation that thousands and thousands of people do as their normal lives, especially when I've spent so little time doing it. But maybe the fact I have never had to subject myself to this is why I'm finding it so difficult now.

Looking around today I was hit hard by how depressed everyone was, shoppers and staff alike. It doesn't feel like a group of people anymore, it feels like we're part of some robotic vision of how life should be. Work, spend money, work, spend money, work, don't have enough money? Buy on credit! And in retail, we're the ones being paid to part the public from their money. The more money we take from them, the more we're rewarded.

I don't have to be part of this soulless factory mentality. If I can avoid it, I don't ever want to rely on wages like this again. I want to be self-employed, freelance, reliant on my own skills to make the bulk of my money, not just another faceless employee. I know that this will take some time to plan and build up, but one step at a time and I'll get there. Now that I've seen the alternative, I have serious incentive to becoming serious about finding my own direction.

I'm going to spend this next year focusing on all the things I can do instead of slaving in retail, or some other bread-line job. Every day I will take some step, large or small, towards my own goals and accomplishments. That's at least 365 steps. Enough to start me down my new path.

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