Dear person I saw freaking out at that person working at a local retail establishment,

Hey, hi there. Are you OK? Is there anything you need to talk about? Because the way you shouted at that store employee seemed a bit over the top.

Hey, I get it. The last couple of years have been a long, soul-grinding, pit of frustrations. Everything costs too much, shelves can be suddenly empty, and many of our leaders don't seem to understand or care what the people actually need and want. I understand why you are frazzled, I am too.

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But, here’s why I bring this up. I saw how you berating that person that works at this store.

You asked a question and didn’t get the answer you wanted I’m guessing? And that was the last straw as far as your sanity for the day was concerned, and you let loose on this clerk/cashier/stocker.

I understand that you’re having a bad day (month, year...me too), but I want to ask you to please leave that person alone!

The System Sucks - We Just Work Here

The people that work in the places we all shop at, just work there. That phrase has been misunderstood by a long line of bad comedians and horrible TV writers. The people at these stores do JUST WORK there.

  • They do not set the prices.
  • They can’t give discounts. Most often the computer wouldn’t let them if they wanted to.
  • They do not decide on the amount or selection of inventory. The way modern inventory systems work, they can’t order anything and there is little if anything ‘in the back.’
  • They cannot haggle. This isn’t a farmer’s market in 13th-century France.
  • They don’t make staffing decisions.
  • They don’t set the refund/exchange rules and have to follow those rules.
  • They can’t make an exception for you, just this one time.
  • And most importantly, they don’t set policy. But, they will be punished for not following it. That's true for the person at the register and the store manager.

They can help you find something, answer questions about products, greet you, be friendly, make suggestions, and ring you up among other things. But they are not there to be your therapist or punching bag.

The Working Class of the 21st Century

I am NOT saying the people that work in retail are talentless simpletons that can only be relied upon to do a very narrow set of tasks. Even though that's what you mumbled as you stormed out of the store when you didn't get someone to give you the moon.

No, no. no. I’ve spent many years working in various retail positions and the people that have the skills and temperament for retail are truly gifted. I do not. I just want there to be an understanding of how the system works.

The employees are there to help, they want to help. Need an idea for your son’s gift? Ask. Don’t know where to find more Elmer’s glue? Ask. Can't decide if that shirt looks good? Ask. Retail people are amazing and can help you have a great shopping experience.

What they aren’t, are the creators of policy. They are human beings trying to do the best job they can, make a living, and feed their families.

This is not to say that the company policies or applications are always the best. And yes, sometimes there is an employee that is a problem. That's been a fact in every workplace from the beginning of time. Yes even when you were a kid.

If you’ve had a really bad experience at a store the best thing to do is not berate the cashier, but to contact the company.

Companies take those complaints seriously. If you call the number that’s on your receipt, the store's website, or posted in the store; the complaint will be recorded and investigated. If a policy is dumb, call and tell them. Maybe you’re not the only person that has had that issue, and enough complaints could force action.

As a side note, if you have a really great experience with an employee or a store, call that number as well. Again, those calls get recorded and acted on.

In the end, remember, if you really hated your shopping experience at a certain place here’s what to do instead of yelling at the person stocking the shelves:

  • Be a grown-up and control yourself
  • Leave
  • Make your complaints to corporate (the ones that set the policies)
  • The most powerful thing you can do: Don’t give that company any more of your money

Anyways, thank you for your time. I hope your tomorrow is better than your today.

Sincerely,
The Guy in Line Behind You At The Store.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ben Kuhns is just some guy on the internet. He is a wannabe writer whose wife thinks is funny. He writes for Results-Townsquare Media in Sioux Falls South Dakota.

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