Let me make one thing clear as I start this: I don’t actually hate used car salesmen. I don’t really know any, and I’ve never gone to a dealership to buy my own car. I went with my dad once and wasn’t able to talk him out of making a stupid purchase…I tried, but I’m timid and meek. Anyways, I don’t have any personal issue, and if you’re a used car salesmen reading this, please don’t take personal offense.
_I really don’t mind when people working in retail try to sell me stuff. I’ll say this: While I am one of those people who does think “Those tricks don’t work on me,” I often times do do things like get large drinks when I grab fast food, put down $5 towards a pre-order at Gamestop, donate a dollar to the Salvation Army lady ringing a bell outside a supermarket in December, all that stuff. But most often, I don’t do it because “Eh, my fat fucking body is so shitty, getting a few extra ounces of fructose drink won’t really make me look any worse.” I don’t do it because “Holy shit, if I don’t have a sealed copy of a game sitting off to the side with my name on it day of release, I might never find it again in the rest of my life, especially with how hard it is to find product on the internet.” I don’t do it because “Some kid is gonna pull my pocket change out of this tin and take it to the store and, face lit up, buy the first can of soup he’s had in months.” No…I do it because I’ve worked in retail.
Now, I can handle being the low man on the totem pole. My pride isn’t hurt by it. You know what happens if nobody cleans up? Messes accumulate and grow larger. Someone needs to clean shit up. Sure, it’s not glamorous, but hey…job has to get done. Sure, nobody ever won anybody’s heart by saying “I’m the best cart stocker at the store where I work.” But if nobody stocks carts…customers don’t have anything to put their toddlers in. People become limited to buying only what they can physically carry. It’s not sexy, but somebody has to stock carts. If nobody organizes a store at the end of the night, surprise! It’s a big, ugly mess and nobody can find what they’re looking for. They’re boring, they’re menial, but they have to get done.
_This might sound sad, but when I worked the floor at Toys’R’Us? It felt really fulfilling. Yeah…that sounds lame. Don’t even care. I’ll explain. Sure, maybe most of the customers wandering around would find what they were looking for eventually. You weren’t required when it comes to finding what they needed, you only sped the process along. But every so often…you’d get a parent, hopelessly and charmingly clueless, looking for a gift for a young kid. You might say “Christ, if they care so much, why do they know nothing about who they’re buying a gift for?” Shut up, doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that they care enough to feel any emotion about it at all that’s charming. People can just ask “What’s a popular girl’s toy right now?” “Disney Princesses are always popular…” “Thanks.” Whatever. But people that worry about details about what this kid may or may not like, having a limited knowledge of what they like, but not what they have, and trying to draw a line from that to something similar they probably won’t have already? Being able to help those people leave and be satisfied? That felt good. Know what else felt good? Bringing in a row of carts to a parent trying to keep an eye on five kids while he spins in a circle trying to find a cart to put his youngest in. Without an employee there to help, that shit doesn’t happen.
_But you know what feels totally unnecessary to me? Upselling. Sure…it really helps to keep stores in business because upselling makes money. But you know what nobody said ever? “You know what really made my day? Getting that large drink instead of the small.” “How nice of that young person to let me know about the value of the [Insert Store Name] Membership Card. This will make all future shopping experiences there so much more pleasant.” I…hate working in sales. It brings me no joy, no satisfaction. I don’t feel like anything I do in the field brightens anybody’s day. When somebody buys something unnecessary from me, I feel bad. I feel like I’ve done them a disservice by making them part with money they not only didn’t need to part with, but didn’t want to part with in the first place. How many people do you think went into a car dealership saying “I’m gonna look at a bunch of cars today…but the one thing I absolutely need is a DVD player and flatscreens, or else I won’t even bother with a test drive.” It’s more along the lines of “You know…I’ve never once wanted it…but a DVD player in the car would be nice, wouldn’t it?” Never mind that you’re basically spending a couple thousand extra dollars on a fucking DVD player…but hey!
That’s really the thing that kills me. It’s guilt. Every time. I’ve worked in sales before. I just got back into sales. Movie concessions, specifically. I thought “Eh…maybe it’ll be different now. It’s been a few years since the last time I worked in sales.” Nope. A week in, I feel the same. Guilt. Every time. They wanted a small. Fuck the refill, if they wanted more soda, they wouldn’t have asked for a small in the first place. In what world does a person wanting a small drink decide “You know, I really wanted 20 ounces of water, but…you know, getting a 60 ounce cup for a dollar more that I can fill up a second time also works.” Sure, it’s more ounces per dollar, but that much was obvious before you even step foot in the place. The dynamic of selling more for a lower per unit price only exists in every commercial enterprise in existence. I dislike even having to suggest to people to spend more then they want to. Guilt. Every time. It has a negative effect on my physical and mental well-being. The guilt drains me. Working in sales exhausts me, even if all I do is stand in place all day. It sucks.
The only way I can get through it is by zoning out. And that’s exactly how I want to spend a few hours every couple of days, y’know? Existing like a soulless husk. I think to myself “It’s better than the alternative.” Which is guilt. Every time. But…is it? If I asked you what sounded better, spending 15-20 hours every week feeling strong emotions weigh down upon you or spending those same 15-20 hours as a zombie, feeling nothing, no compassion for and no connections to your fellow man, how would you answer? If you’re like me…you said nothing. It’s easier to feel nothing than it is to feel something. You let one thing in, who knows what else will show up…you get the guilt and it’s all that you think about. I see stranger’s faces…people whose money I took. If they wanted what I was selling, they would’ve asked for it. So I felt nothing. But you feel nothing for a few hours every week, and after a while…you start feeling nothing everywhere else too. People I love…I started feeling less for them. The things I enjoyed…they didn’t bring me the same joy. The world started to look more dreary. Feeling nothing is the absolute bottom. The first time, after three months, I decided to start feeling again and quit.
_It’s only been a week at my new job. I already want it to end. I hope there’s some kind of accounting error and it turns out that they have to lay off the new hires. I don’t want to have to choose between guilt and nothingness. It doesn’t feel worth a paycheck.
_I remember when I was a kid…I remember adults talking about used car salesmen all being these shifty people who’d sell their mother for a sale. They weren’t looking out the the customer’s best interest, only the bottom line. I don’t feel that way towards used car salesmen. Well…I kind of do. I expect it from them. But it’s not so much that I don’t feel that way about used car salesmen and more I feel that way about retail in every aspect now. Everywhere I go, I feel like the clerk is trying to sell me something on top of everything I intended to buy. And I’ve been there. I know it’s nothing personal. Their job is to try to sell you something, and if they don’t, they could lose it. I’m probably in the minority when it comes to the strong negative feelings I get when I sell people things. Not that everybody else probably likes it or anything, but I doubt it keeps them up at night like it can me. So I like doing people a solid and making them look good, like they sold me something with their sales tricks. I can only hope that they don’t feel the same guilt I would about it.