In this new opinion column, Kiwi retail staff anonymously share their real-life experiences from the shop floor, behind the counter and beyond. This time, we hear from a retail assistant coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I suffer from diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder, and working in retail is somehow the best and worst thing for that.
Working at Ruby on Teed St in Newmarket starts out the same each day. I get in at exactly 8.25am, I spend exactly 10 minutes turning on the lights and checking the notes from the day before.
At 8.35am, I straighten the racks. Each coat hanger must be around one and a half inches apart; for the coat section, two inches.
At 8.45am, I go to take back and take stock of the clothes we have, making a mental map of where everything is.
At 8.55am, I start opening the doors, ready for the first customer of the day.
Working with customers is always interesting, watching their blatant disregard of how far apart the coat hangers are, moving things about and putting them back somewhere else like I won’t notice. I do, we all do.
Customers come up and ask if we have a certain size. Although I say I’ll check out the back, I know for certain we do as I saw it earlier. Even if I know we don’t have it, you always must go out and check. Because even though I work here 40 hours a week and we handle every single piece of clothing that comes in and out, customers still won’t believe me unless they see me physically go and triple-check the back.
12pm is my favourite time of day – lunch. People try to ask for help when I’m leaving and I just walk on by. For the next half hour, I don’t know you, I don’t work here, leave me alone.
Within the next 30 minutes, I’m always apprehensive as to what I’m going to return to. Fire? Angry mob? A lion? Who knows. In retail, you never let your guard down.
The next four hours at work tend to roll on by the same each day. I separate the coat hangers another eight to nine times. I dust the cabinets inside and out, making sure no streaks or dust remains. I vacuum up the loose strings of thread that lie under the racks.
By 3.55pm, I’m closing the door, not to be locked until strictly 4pm, otherwise management has a fit because what if a millionaire wanted to spend all their money at 3.59pm? Yes, that is actually their reasoning.
When 4pm rolls around and the doors are locked, the cash is counted and coat hangers are one and a half inches apart. And when tomorrow rolls around it’ll be the exact same way.
Are you a frontline retail staff member with a story to tell? Share it anonymously with us at email@example.com
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 750 June / July 2017