Retail Workers Deserve More Respect Than They’re Given


Irlyn Milfort, Writer

Ever wonder how when you walk into a store all the clothes are neatly folded or when you go to a restaurant to pick up food the order comes out right and the process is easy? Those actions are done by human beings.

Society has created the jobs of those in retail and restaurant chains to be inferior to others and over-looked. A key reasoning for this is because a majority of retail and restaurant workers are teenagers. Teenagers make up 55% of the workers in retail, and 30% of teenagers work in fast-food related jobs. More often than not, adults (rather than teens) may feel as if they are superior to those working mainly because they’re older than the workers. Carter McCourt, 9, who once worked a fast-food job, describes a few issues he encountered as a teen working: “Customers were so quick to get mad at me for a minor mistake—just because I’m a teenager—or they would just straight up be rude to me.” Some adults have the mindset that teenagers are young kids who don’t have a clue what they’re doing.

Not only does being looked down upon for being a teenager working in a customer service position make the job tough but so does having to deal with people who are just plain rude. People need to know that the way they act influences the service they receive. If a customer is rude simply because something is going wrong with the checkout process, it’s going to be hard for the employee to cooperate. Even simple things that customers can do, but don’t—because they believe “it’s the job of the employee—can make it hard for a worker to maintain a positive attitude towards them. McCourt describes some pet peeves he encountered while on the job: “I’d get so annoyed when a customer would order through the drive-thru and then leave right after they finished ordering when I hadn’t gotten the chance to finish talking to them. They would then get mad when they missed something, but it was because they left before I could tell them!”

Clothing retail workers, too, share their the pet peeve of when a customer will completely trash the fitting rooms or stuff clothing in random spots instead of putting it back where it goes. Simple common courtesies seem to be discontinued items in this business (and others) when customers know that someone will clean up after them. However, it is the customer who truly needs to clean up his act.

Admittedly, teenagers working customer service jobs do have a lot to learn. For many, it could be their first job, but that does not mean they aren’t capable of doing it well—given time and experience. People need to realize that the teenagers are human—just like they are. And, as the saying goes: “Treat people the way you would like to be treated.”

I’d buy that!