I’ve done a little career shifting of late (which should surprise no one, really) and have jumped head-first into the retail game. Sure, I was ankle-deep in it at my previous job. But I still sat at a desk the majority of my day. And one could argue that I worked in retail previously as an assistant buyer, but I was ten steps removed from the customer at that point, and I rarely got up from my desk chair for anything but bathroom and lunch breaks.

These days, if I get ten minutes out of nine hours to sit down, I’m shocked. I won’t say ‘lucky’ because I don’t really mind all the activity, and not getting to rest makes the day go by so much more quickly. On the other hand, my feet….. well. They hurt. I’ve got blisters. My toes are tired of being shut up in shoes all the time. I’ve taken to propping my feet up to relieve the aching. And oh, the smell. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m the only one who has to endure it when I get home. The Ex (formerly known as ‘Hubby’) is lucky to be outside of a five-mile radius of my feet after a day of work.

I’ve been working at this bookstore for going on five weeks now. My first two days were sketchy. I was certain Retail and I were going to be deep, loathing enemies. There I was, shelving books, holding back tears. I just knew I was going to be awful at it all. Sure. I loved helping the customers at my previous job. That, besides all the lovely people I worked with, was my favorite part of that job. There, I learned that customer service is easy. Smile. Be as professional as possible. Represent yourself and your employer with grace and poise. Keep a calm, patient demeanor. Do whatever you can to make their experience exceptional. It’s sort of like Super Professional Smiling Liz who answered the phone so pleasantly at the university store. Only, in person.

I stifled the tears for those two days, and then something clicked. I got on the register. I sold some things. I got a kick out of reading the customers and trying to do what I thought would make them happiest. I started to enjoy what I was doing. I took a second look at my preconceived notions of Retail. I relaxed a little and gave Retail the benefit of the doubt.

After a couple of weeks, I was ‘promoted.’ Something I’m doing in this position for the first time is managing others. Again, I was ankle-deep in this before, and I learned a few lessons from having my ankles bitten a little. The nice thing now is, I know the answers. People can feel confident asking for my authoritative advice. It’s nice knowing that my previous work for this company is coming in handy now, because I have a level of confidence I never would have felt anywhere else. That makes the limited managerial responsibilities I have much easier to bear. Almost enjoyable.

Plus, as has been the case before, the folks I work with are just awesome. And pretty amusing. I’m lucky to be in the position I’m in. And if you couldn’t tell, Retail and I get along pretty well these days. Especially when the customer grins back at me when I finish ringing up their purchases. Or when my attempts at small talk actually sound natural. Or when a co-worker gets bright-eyed to find out we’re working the same shift the next day. Those are good moments indeed.

So, Retail, it’s very nice to meet you. Let’s see where this relationship takes us, shall we?

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