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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 24 February, 2020

7 of the most God-awful things that happened to me as a retail assistant

Stories from the shop floor.

WORKING IN RETAIL is not easy.


And anyone who says different is, well, a lot better at it than I was.

I tried, God knows I tried, but I experienced some major fails during my time on the shop floor.

And here are just a few stand-out moments in my personal chronicle.

1. I lost a customer’s phone.

So, my first day in retail coincided with the biggest sale in the clothing store’s calendar.

As a result, the place was absolutely rammed, and I spent most of my four-hour shift squeezing through customers in order to re-hang 30 garments that had fallen for the 14th time in ten minutes.

Seizing upon a coat, I quickly shoved it onto a hanger, wedged it in between 300 other black coats, walked off and congratulated myself on a job well done.

Except it wasn’t.

I had accidentally hung up a customer’s coat – which contained his phone – and we spent the next 30 minutes placing our ears up to rails upon rails of coats as my manager called it from the back room.


2. I bled onto a customer’s clothes.

So, there was this one time where I accidentally bled profusely onto a customer’s new purchases.

And didn’t own up.

At 18, you’d think you’d have the cop-on to speak up when a security tag lacerates your finger and causes mild haemorrhaging, but not me, guys!

Instead – and to this day I question myself – I allowed my left hand to fall limp, without trying to stem the flow of blood because pride, you know?

3. I found someone peeing in the fitting room.

And what about the time this happened?

After telling a customer he couldn’t use the staff toilets, I pointed him in the direction of the shopping centre’s restrooms only to pull back a fitting room curtain moments later to find him urinating on the floor.

I pulled the curtain closed again.

4. And then there was the time I cleaned up a customer’s vomit.

It was a Sunday morning. It was hot. And this lad was hanging to pieces.

And he wasn’t the only one.

He was, however, the only one to vomit on the shop floor.

Thanks for that.


5. I said ‘I only have two hands’ to a mystery shopper.

Mystery Shoppers are the bane of any retail assistant’s life, and I spent my first few months on high alert until the ‘boogieman’ vibe wore off.

And that’s when I dropped the ball.

It’s quite likely that that was the only time in five years I got scorpy with an overly demanding customer, but as luck would have it, he was a mystery shopper, and he was forced to confirm I was an utter shrew.

6. I accidentally took a customer’s credit card hostage.

There’s a slot in most cash registers where you slip the credit card receipts.

Unless you’re me.

Because that’s where I slip the actual credit card and then force a customer to wait 45 minutes for my manager to return to open the till. Nice one.

7. Oh, and once I allowed a customer to walk out without paying for any of her items.

To be clear, it wasn’t her fault.

To be extra clear, it was definitely mine.

To this day, I don’t know how I did it, but  – and may God bless her soul – she returned when she realised what happened and forked out the cash.

And that’s the real MVP, right there.


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