A few years ago, I worked at this discount store. I hadn’t been there for years because the price point was too high and it seemed snooty,judging from my parents reactions. And they were right! I was hired and started as a cashier. I got along well with the general manager as we both loved fashion and talked about it. But then she left and the store was handed down to the Assistant Manager. This was fore into my discontent for many. After learning of her background, I became quite curious as to they why chosen for any leadership position in the first place. This where having a family becomes the calling card for great jobs in Amarillo. I also had a department manager who loved fashion but left. She was replaced with another imposter who had no true love for fashion or customer service for that matter. Then come to find out she didn’t need the job at all. This boiled my blood more as I needed and really wanted the postion. I would also bring up something fashion related which was met with blank stares. It was as if I was the one who didn’t fit in. This wasn’t the first position where managment pointed out that I was “different”. There were days and still are where I would sit and cry because I was too different for a fulltime job in an industry I loved(fashion). I wanted to be part of it so badly and yet these “managers” saw nothing more than a weirdo.
There was one time where the store manager called me out in front of the store for my shoes being in my locker. She said they stunk and I needed to get rid of them. Who in the hell does that to their employee? Is that any kind of leadership? Do you not have any sense of professionalism? That came at a time where my disdain for those “managers” started. There was another time I was instructed by my department manager that I wasn’t supposed to help customers. This was a regular customer who enjoyed my help when she and her husband would come in. I was treating them in a way that nobody else had in the store. I still think about them and felt great how I defied my manager’s “command”.
So skip to 2017 and shopping there hasn’t changed much,except the change in buyers. I walked through the door and felt some kind of anxious tightness run through my body. Full racks sit in the main aisle and along the sides. I barely walk between them and head toward the ladies department. Ah yes my old stomping grounds. I snake between the full and closely spaced racks looking at the new clothing for spring. I see more “classic” renditions of spring trends. Cold shoulder tops and printed palazzo pants dot the racks in mix with suit separates. I look at the dresses and see they had similar silhouettes to eachother. The colors are bit brighter however, so there is some hope. I look around and don’t see an employee except at the dressing rooms where multiple return racks are filled to the brim. That is one detail I never understood about the store or shopping in Amarillo. The dressing rooms were always trashed no matter what store or what customers were shopping. It’s fascinating as this store didn’t have enough customers to warrant the amount to returned items from the dressing rooms. But what is much worse to witness is the amount of shoplifting has been overlooked by this store and many others. For example, I was told once there was a regular thief who would hit up the major craft store across the street then this store on the same day. This shoplifter had a reputation of hitting up the stores every few weeks or so. The thief was always ignored/left alone because they had a good lawyer and would sue the store. They also apparently also blamed their behavior on an unrelated illness, but it was also said they were just faking the illness to have mangement not call on the thief’s bluff. But thankfully I never had to deal with that situation personally. But this was also a bigger reflection on management did not want to stop the shoplifting or even try to gather proof of what was happening. However, these same managers would have me follow other customers who did not fit the typical customer which never worked out. I worked in retail long enough to know better so I never listened to their “suggestions” as it looked like profiling and discrimination. This type of deplorable ideals spread onto employees as they tried to keep a trans customer from trying on clothes where they wanted. Seriously what is wrong with you? How would it feel to be denied to try on clothes because the employee didn’t like you for you are? How can you sleep at night?
So I as continue to walk around the store, I felt better about myself as I was no longer “trapped” in the store with so many bad memories. I no longer had desires to speak to those who I worked with. The best I learned from them was to get my education and do better. I used to have this goal in which I would become their manger then fire them. It was a great motivator as most executive positions do require a Bachelors degree at least. This time spent there really left me striving to be better and lead better. Employees deserve fair treatment. Employees deserve to be treated with some kind of humanity, not dismissed or insulted. I no longer seek to be like them at any capacity. I want to be better and have worked hard to get there. So the next time you’re shopping, pay attention closely at how employees interact and how managers lead. It will be surprising! So thanks managers for helping me realize where we need work as a community and how amazing I actually am! Being “normal” like you is vastly overrated if not dangerous.