So I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I like to argue. Like, a lot. I love arguing; nothing is quite as much fun as a rousing debate with an intelligent opponent. Let’s talk about the nature of reality until the sun comes up. Sounds delicious.

 

As a person who likes to argue (but is also dumb) I have occasionally succumbed to the self-destructive habit of arguing on the internet. This is pretty stupid, for the most part, because nobody can express themselves particularly well and everybody ends up angry. I avoid this as much as possible, but on the rare times that I’ve let myself run wild, I have encountered my most hated of all arguing fallacies: the “opinion” dismissal.

 

The Opinion Dismissal goes like this: I am having an argument with someone on the internet (or anywhere), and after a few rounds of point-counterpoint, my esteemed opponent whips out the always-enraging debate-ender: “Well, that’s just your opinion.”

 

And then my head explodes.

 

I hate this tactic, and I am going to explain to you, in devastatingly specific detail, *why* this particular phrase turns me from rational, language-loving primate to screaming, poo-flinging primate in a matter of seconds.

 

1.  Of course it is my opinion. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be arguing this.

2.  The fact that it is my opinion does not immediately place it on even level to your opinion, because – shocker of shockers – opinions can be wrong.

 

Calling something “my opinion” as a dismissal is insulting. Despite what so many people seem to believe, my opinion can be better argued, more valuable and, dare I say it, more right (righter?) than yours. Alternatively, your opinion may certainly be superior to mine in every way, but you’ve got to make a case for it.

 

We live in a culture that has embraced subjectivity and multiplicity and I love these things, for the most part. When it comes to personal choices, desires and preferences, I would never be so insulting as to tell you what you like. But while personal preferences cannot be proven or disproven, the relative value of a thing – an object, an idea, a philosophy – absolutely can be argued, and objective arguments can be made. Basically, just because some things are subjective doesn’t mean everything is.

 

If you like cats more than dogs, then there is no objective argument to be had: the reality of you liking cats better exists in its own happy little bubble. Even if I think cats are dumb, I can’t argue that you are wrong. I can’t say: “No, you don’t like cats.” That’s dumb.

 

However, if you think cats are superior to dogs – objectively, and irrelevant of your preference for them – then we absolutely can argue about it and your opinion absolutely can be wrong. We would need to define superior – smarter? More loyal? Easier to train? More independent? Less likely to eat you after you die? – and then we would need to find some facts – number of people annual who are killed by cats vs. by dogs; relative intelligent testing, etc – and then we could have a rousing argument. We would form our opinions based on the truth as we knew it – as thoroughly and accurately as we could know it – and then we would have a real argument. At the end, one person would have made a better argument, and thus would be considered ‘right’.

 

If after this argument I still prefer whichever animal I have professed to like best, no problem. Preferences are made up of a myriad of factors and I’m not going to argue those. But you can’t throw up your hands in the middle of an argument and proclaim “that’s just your opinion” when my opinion is based on facts and logic. Well, you can, but it doesn’t mean you win; you just refuse to play.

 

All of this is not to say that my opinion is always right, either: I’m sure it is very often wrong. If I think that body building is a dumb sport – not for me, but for everybody – then you absolutely can have an argument with me where you point out that it is no “more dumb” then any other sport, that it takes the same level of dedication, that people enjoy it and it makes them happy and that all these things are the metrics by which we judge the value of a sport – and lo and behold, turns out my opinion is wrong. But you have to actually have, you know, points, or nothing gets accomplished.

 

I also hate “Well I disagree” as a phrase on its own, as if the fact that you disagree is – by itself – somehow relevant or important. There was one instance in my class a few years ago when we watched a documentary about Barbie and eating disorders: one of the students raised his hand and said, literally:

 

“Well, I don’t think it’s true that Barbie influences people to get eating disorders.”

 

I see. And why, oh wise Socrates, do you think this?

 

“I just don’t think that happens. I don’t think people are influenced by that so much. I don’t think it’s really true.”

 

Now, if the Universe was kind, my professor would’ve rolled her eyes, laughed derisively and said “Well, decades of research by actual professionals with real insight and years of training disagree with you, and since you just pulled your opinion out of some amorphous blob called “feelings”, it doesn’t count. Sit down.” Instead she nodded, looked a little sad, and said “That’s interesting” before changing the subject.

 

It’s not interesting! It’s wrong. And even if he is right – if, it turns out, Barbie has absolutely no affect on our self-esteem, despite the studies that demonstrate otherwise – then he needs to prove that. With facts, or a rational argument, or logic. Anything.

 

This culture that no one is ever wrong doesn’t teach people to think critically because they’ve never had to defend their thoughts or question the thoughts of others; everything is an opinion, and all opinions are valid.

 

I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. That’s just my opinion, though.

 

I had great feedback from all you pathetic single ladies when I told you my amazing secrets for capturing the heart of Mr. Right. I was so happy to hear that my careful guidance could drag you out of your lonely ruts and into the true happiness of coupledom! I haven’t gotten any wedding invites yet, but I assume they are in the mail.

So, in order to continue with what is rapidly becoming my life’s work (helping you poor unfortunate souls suck a bit less), I have come up with this guide for reducing stress. Believe me, I understand that life can be stressful; juggling work, fun, family and hobbies is a bit like having four full-time jobs, but with these simple tips you’ll be well on your way to complete relaxation.

1. Make a to-do list

How will you make sure that you’re following a good plan, ticking off each little task on the road to success if you don’t have a to-do list? Newsflash: you won’t. Your hopes and dreams will languish in obscurity and you will live a small, meaningless and ultimately boring life. Your joy and optimism will fade like so many old letters tucked into forgotten attics and one day you’ll open your eyes and realize that everything you ever cared about has fallen to dust and all your great expectations were mere lies and disappointments. While the rest of the world has climbed mountains and slain dragons you will have wasted your best years, and only on the door of death will you finally see the futility of it all.

So remember, make a list! :D

2. Get enough sleep

Sleep is important – it allows our mind and body to refresh and heal for the day ahead. Have you ever seen a stressed cat? No, of course you haven’t, and do you know why? It’s because cats sleep for an average of fourteen hours a day. Clearly, we could learn a thing or two from our feline companions. I also recommend paying thorough attention to your genitalia, since this seem to be an important factor in de-stressing cat-style.

3. Get some exercise

Exercise helps us relax by releasing natural de-stressing hormones into our brain. Thus, the more exercise you do, the less stressed you will be. So go for a run! Find a good triathlon in your neighbourhood and set up a gruelling training schedule! If you can’t get out for a run, start doing jumping jacks – in your living room, in line at the bank, on the subway. Don’t worry about neglecting your relationships or responsibilities: the only thing that matters is getting that sweet sweet dopamine hit.

4. Practice meditation

When life has run you into the ground, sometimes the best thing you can do is take a few minutes to breathe deeply and rid your mind of distractions. Turn off your phone, shut down the computer, sit cross-legged on the floor and focus on your heartbeat. Feel the energy of the Universe moving through and let the worries of the day wash past on a tide of peace. When you boss comes into your office and demands to know why the minutes from the meeting last week still haven’t been sent out, calmly reply that you are tuning your soul to the vibrations of the Universe. Your boss will appreciate your commitment to keeping cool in a stressful situation and definitely probably won’t fire you maybe.

5. Forgive and forget

Holding on to negativity is the absolutely worst thing when it comes to stress. The best way to let go of negativity is to forgive the people who have hurt you and forget the hurtful events. Sometimes it can be difficult to release the past: in this case, I recommend cold, calculated revenge against whoever hurt you. Slowly destroy everything that matters in his or her life: ruin their relationships, send their career into a tailspin, urinate on their black velvet Elvis painting. Take everything that ever mattered to them and when they finally try to find succour in death, frustrate their every attempt to embrace sweet eternity. Once a truly broken human stands before you, naked of all pride and bereft of hope, you can finally release the burden of negativity from your heart.

You can also try writing them an angry letter and then ripping it up. I hear that’s cathartic too.

Wasn’t that easy? No big secrets here: just simple, effective tactics to release all that stress in your life. I’m so honoured to be a part of your relaxed new existence.

Namaste!

Plenty of my friends gravitate to new technology and ideas like happy little moths; the lure of faster, shinier, sleeker and sexier is just too much for them. They are the ones who get excited about the newest iPhone, video game or coffee-percolating system. They keep me abreast of all the exciting new developments of an endlessly advancing world.

I, however, am not an early adopter. I am the opposite, and it’s great. I save money, I avoid stress, and I swear I don’t have to work as hard. Life for the late adopter is slower paced and deliciously devoid of competition, if rife with awkward moment because what do you mean you’ve never heard of Mumford and Sons?

The truth is I never know what’s going on, and it’s awesome.

Firstly, I never feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses”. I keep my technology until it breaks, not until something newer or better comes along. If a video game that interests me isn’t compatible with my four-year-old laptop, then I don’t play it. Everyone else can talk about Diablo 3, I’m going to talk about watching Shark Week…from 2008…on DVD. I’m precluded from even trying to be cool; I’m already so behind the times that I could never catch up and thus I am relieved of the burden of the attempt.

When I do decide I want something – a smart phone, a tablet, the Internet – all my wonderful early adopter friends rush in with loads of savvy advice. They’ve tried the different makes and models, they know the software and the hardware, and they’re more than happy to tell me all about it. I get so much good advice, because everybody else has spent the last three years figuring out the different options. Because of them, my decision is easier and usually successful.

I DO hate the first few hours of new-thing ownership: setting it up, reading the manual, downloading and syncing and blah blah blah…but if I have any trouble, I have half a dozen people on speed dial. When I can’t figure out how to upload a photo to Facebook mobile, somebody out there is ready and eager to help me. When I joined twitter and shortly thereafter concluded that it was dumb, it was the early adopters in my life who showed me all the ways that it could be magical (although I honestly still think it is kind of dumb).

I don’t have cable, not because I think this makes me a morally superior human being, but because I am enormously cheap (and there is nothing good on anyway). I don’t have internet at home for the same reason and also because with only my smart phone for entertainment I am much more likely to read a book or, you know, shower. These are choices I have made mostly through laziness but I really think they have made me happier (or at least forced me to go outside sometimes).

When I want to start watching a show, it’s already been cancelled– so I can watch the whole thing all at once! The exception to all this is Game of Thrones. I started watching that when it actually started and now I am anxiously awaiting the next season like all you other chumps (I don’t really think you’re chumps – I’m sure you’re lovely). You never run into this problem when you decide to watch every episode of Buffy or Reboot. I have seen every episode of the first seven seasons of the X-Files so many times it’s almost embarrassing. Almost.

Also, let’s talk about bands. I am perennially behind on the latest or even relatively recent bands. You know that old hipster saying, “I was into them before they were cool?” Well, I was into them so long after they stopped being cool that it probably comes across as ironic. It’s not – I really did only learn about Queen a few years ago. I didn’t know who Pink Floyd was until the middle of high school. The same goes for movies: remember Back to the Future? I do, in fact I remember them quite well because I only saw them in 2011. I have never seen and will never see Love, Actually. I am fine with all these things, even if it does sometimes make pleasant chit-chat impossible and trendy people enraged.

Have you guys seen these cats on YouTube? They are really funny. You should check it out.

I wouldn’t consider myself a technophobe: I can and do use technology, and I enjoy many of its benefits, but I’m not a slave to it. More often than not, my phone is on silent. I take hours to return texts. Half the time, I would rather call you, though I avoid it if I can because I know so many people who dislike phone calls. When you start talking about the latest iPad, my eye glaze over and I start thinking about pugs. It’s nothing personal: without early adopters, we’d all still be thinking that faxing was a bourgeoisie luxury and getting indignant when people expected us to have answering machines. I like that you guys exist. But I am not one of you, and I never will be, even if I do re-teach my mom how to forward an email every 6 months.

If you need me, I’ll probably be lounging on my couch, not joining Instagram like a boss. Do people even still say that? Unlikely.

Do you ever peruse your Facebook and realize how vastly different all your friends are? Like, back in the day we’d all have a couple of kids and a gin habit by now but thanks to the twin miracles of feminism and choice we can do anything we want. What this amounts to is a smorgasbord of individuality and a spectrum of lifestyles, many of which are so different from my own as to be almost unrecognizable. Who am I? Who are you? How did all these iguanas get in? The questions haunt me.

When I was eighteen or nineteen or even twenty, it really didn’t bother me that I was only marginally an adult – extended adolescence and external identity (thank you, Mama Education) gave me the feeling that even though I wasn’t a real “grown up”, I was getting there and doing what everybody else was doing. Now that I’m closer to thirty than twenty, the only things I’m guaranteed to have in common with my friends is a love of oxygen and Game of Thrones.

What I’m trying to say is that we are all having a minor identity crisis because choice is bad. Kidding – what I am saying is that when faced with the freedom to do whatever I want, none of us can figure out how, why or when to grow up. Am I an adult now? Are you? Let’s take a look at some traditional markers and see if any of them even work anymore (spoiler alert: the answer is no).

Work

When I was kid, I used to think that if you had a job – especially a full-time pantsuit job – then you automatically got to join the adulthood club and learn the secret handshake and get the membership card. Now I realize that plenty of adults don’t have full-time pantsuit jobs, either because they can’t – they have a chronic illness or disability – or because they don’t want to – they’re artists, actors, gorilla trainers, and other non-pantsuit jobs that are nonetheless important and adulthood-worthy. Plus, that fifteen year-old “working” at Subway? He’s not anymore of an adult than I was selling shoes or books part-time during high school.

School

In my high school-graduating mind, none of my cohorts were adults. Besides the fact that several of us were still seventeen, I had also decided – arbitrarily, as one does at seventeen – that we wouldn’t be grown up until we finished post-secondary and got “real” jobs. Once college or university was over, then we would get a bumper sticker and some sensible flats proclaiming that we were finally done being teenagers.

Fast-forward eight years and oh shit son, guess who’s gone back to school to finally finish that university degree after starting it, quitting, going to college, fucking around and finally landing a full-time pantsuit job? It’s me! I’m that weirdo sitting in class with nineteen year-olds with my sensible flats and day planner. I’m that friend who arrives late to post-work cocktails to talk about management and kids because I had a pop quiz. Not that I’m complaining; it’s a huge privilege to go back to school and try something different, but it does kind of irritate me that money I could save for a car or house or pug is getting funnelled into tuition and books instead.

Oh, and don’t forget all those sassy successful young men and women (you know who you are) who didn’t bother with higher education and still managed to get great pantsuit jobs. They are definitely adults, even if they never had to read T.S. Elliot or do equations that took multiple pages each. I also have plenty of friends who did school well into their late twenties (like, say, doctors) and they are also grown ups. Clearly, school doesn’t mean much.

Cars

So instead of buying a car I’m buying an education but at least I’m significantly less likely to decapitate myself. Anyway, I have a license now, which I put off for *cough ever cough* but so did many of my friends. For many other young people who aren’t going back to school the lingering pain of student debt prevents them from car-buying, and for many others there just isn’t any need for a driver’s license. That was my argument for years: I can’t afford a car anyway, why would I learn how to drive?

House

There is something very integral to the (largely North American) rite-of-passage that is buying a house. The act of promising to spend 20 to 30 years paying for something seems to be the way that we announce to everyone that we’ve made it, we’re settled and we’re ready for our big-girl panties. But house-buying is often a bad idea (because we can’t afford it or we’d live somewhere we hate) or at least impractical (because we intend to keep travelling and maybe change jobs/cities/countries so that’s fine, thanks).

Kids

I like to think that everyone who has a child magically stops being one themselves, but let’s be honest: that simply isn’t the case. You can have kids and still refuse to pay bills or stop doing cocaine, and you can never have kids and still be a responsible person who doesn’t roll through stop signs and smells nice.

Marriage

I kind of hate weddings, but I think marriage is probably a nice thing for some people who want to do that. However, my fifty year-old aunts who’ve never been married? Pretty damn sure they are grown ups. Lots of people don’t ever get married and nobody takes their adulthood pass away.

So, what actually makes one an “adult”? Should I consider myself an adult when I’m still in school and don’t have a car, but I do have a good job and a RRSP and I don’t have scurvy or wear dirty underwear? What is the litmus test for the end of childhood now that we’ve lost those easy external markers? Here are my top three, and they are super vague and amorphous because choices suck (see above).

Responsibility

Responsibility means owning up to your behaviours, choices and mistakes. You told the hooker $50, you give her $50.

Empathy

Adults recognise that people all face different challenges and that really nothing excuses being a giant dick. Tantrums are for children, or maybe if you are wearing a SpongeBob Squarepants onesie.

Planning

Adults know that they are going to grow old and die someday, so they do something about it. They brush their teeth and shit. It’s lame.

Do you think you are an adult? Do you have nebulous existential angst? TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT, NEUROSIS LOVES COMPANY.

Have you ever been on a date and thought, “Oh my god, I would rather eat lead than spend one more minute talking to this psycho”? Have you ever asked someone out only to have them fake an aneurism to avoid having coffee with you? Do you wonder if four cats is too many cats? Well friends, I am here to help. Because I care about you, I have created this list of five ways to make men fall in love with you. Use with caution, however, because these handy hints are guaranteed to make you irresistible to the be-penised set.

 

  1. Men like women who play hard to get.

    As I’m sure you are all aware, the best way to get a man’s attention is to ignore him completely. Don’t make eye contact, don’t respond when he speaks to you, and if you see him catch fire absolutely do not put it out. This will make him think you are mysterious and sexy, and he will definitely propose to you like you always wanted, with seventy billion dozen roses and a bedazzled team of show-jumping terriers re-enacting that scene from Grease that always makes you tear up a little.

  2. Men like women who are pretty.

    Are you pretty? Well, if popular culture has taught me anything, the answer is no. You are definitely not skinny enough and your hair isn’t shiny enough and your thighs touch so you are 100% going to die alone unless you dedicate yourself from this day forward to becoming the girl that every man truly desires. Forget about your hobbies and interests – guys don’t care that you read; they want a woman whose ribs they can count sensuously after a romantic afternoon of Zumba, plain grilled chicken breasts and self-hate.

  3. Men like women who are sweet and loving.

    Let’s be honest, ladies: unless you show your undying devotion your man, he’s just going to leave you for someone who sends him a boob picture over twitter. In order to prove how worthy you are of his occasional attention and ejaculate, you’d better stop thinking about you and start thinking about him (you selfish bitch). Start by breaking into his house and cleaning it from top to bottom. Then cook him a gourmet meal, light some candles, get into some sexy lingerie and carve his name into your chest with an old coat hanger. That’s how you show a man you really care.

  4. Men like women who like to have fun.

    Is your idea of a great Saturday night lying in a pile of your dirty laundry, streaming every episode of Hoarders and counting your pores with a 16X magnifying mirror? Well ladies, that simply won’t do. Men want women who are fun, spontaneous and adventurous! Show him how much fun you are by showing up at his work uninvited wearing a gorilla costume. Proceed to terrorize his coworkers until the police arrive and tackle you. Once you are handcuffed and your mask is off, make sure to yell “will you be my king of the apes??” as you’re being dragged off to jail. He’ll love knowing how wacky and fun you are!

  5. Men like women who are relaxed and casual.

    Now, we all now that the only important thing in life is getting married and having babies, but men don’t think that way! They want a girl who will keep her cool and “let the relationship progress naturally”, whatever that means. You, of course, are merely looking to lock him down as quickly as possible, but don’t let him know! Play it cool. When he says, “Do you want to go to my cousin’s wedding with me?” say “Fuck no, I hate weddings, they make me angry and are definitely not the only thing I ever talk about with my girlfriends”. If he asks, “Hey, my sister was wondering if we could watch the baby for an hour on Saturday while she runs errands”, your reply should be “If you leave that infant with me I will absolutely set him on fire.” This way, he will never suspect that you cry yourself to sleep every night reading The Knot and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 

 

So, that’s it ladies! Those are the simple steps you need to follow to suppress your personality, independence and metabolism long enough to make the man of your dreams fall in love with you. Happy fishing!

Leslee

Hi! Sometimes I make comics. Sorry for the shitty quality.

1. How I feel before looking at Pinterest.
2. How I feel after looking at Pinterest (10 minutes)
3. How I feel after looking at Pinterest (20 minutes).

 

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“Customer Service” is dead, long live “Customer Service”.

Retail is really awful. It is quite awful for a number of subtle and very un-subtle reasons, and I am here to talk about them, because after working in retail for 7 years (and finally escaping into the blissful arms of corporate mediocrity) I can tell you that it is a special kind of hell.

I should start by saying that my personal experiences in retail weren’t even that bad, and that in fact I got verbally/sexually/physically harassed far less than many of my friends. So, keep that in mind while you read on.

I should also say that I do think that retail is a useful step for teenagers. As a first job, it’s great: you’re forced to show up on time and not be smelly and learn how to be polite and not steal. You have to talk to people, be professional and hide your hangover. These are all skills that will come in handy later, and while you’re in high school it’s not exactly like you have a lot of other options or skills or the time to dedicate to serious work.

The issue with retail comes post-high school. While retail is great for a short-term gig, it sucks once you’ve finished grade 12. It’s basically a cluster fuck of failures that interact in a splendid ballet of poverty and debt. LET’S EXPLORE.

Problem #1: The Money

This is a common scenario:

You graduate high school and go to University. You even got a modest entrance scholarship, but you didn’t qualify for any of the big ones because you didn’t have time to join a bunch of extra-curriculars because duh, you had to work. So now you have to pay for school and maybe even living on your own, and retail is just not going to cover it. Well, it might – if you could get full-time work. And theoretically you could cram a 40-hour work-week into your school schedule, except that you are only hired for a full-time gig if you have open availability, so you’re stuck at part-time.

But maybe you think – hey, I know, I’ll just get a job that isn’t retail! It’s a brilliant idea, but the unfortunate thing about retail is that it only really gives you the experience to do more retail. If you are lucky (and smart), you’ll do your smart serve qualification and get a job in a restaurant as a waitress/hostess/bartender. However, a lot of people will also be trying to get those jobs, so you may very well end up washing dishes or bussing tables…for minimum wage.

Problem #2: The Attitude

As Sophie says (although apparently this isn’t original), “minimum wage says to employees: I would pay you less if I could, but it’s illegal”. One of my exes (whom I met working retail) was fond of the axiom “minimum wage gets minimum effort”. Thus we encounter the major issue with retail: retail employers think their employees should be grateful to have a job. Retail employees think that their bosses should be grateful to have workers. As usual though, it’s the person holding the purse strings who has all the power.

Here are some things you should know about working retail:

If you work part-time, you likely have no guaranteed hours. Some places will say “oh sure, we can guarantee you 20 hours a week” but you will never, ever get that in writing. At my longest retail gig, I was guaranteed one shift per pay period. However, if you want time off you have to request it weeks in advance, and your request may be denied if they need you to work or if you want time off over the holidays. According to The Law, you cannot be forced to do a shift on less than 48-hours notice, but the truth is that if you want to work you will take the shifts that are available, which often means coming in on 20 minutes noticed because someone called in sick.

Speaking of getting sick – if you do, you will not get paid. At all. Oh, and as a part-time employee, you most likely do not have health benefits of any kind. And when you do come back from, say, two weeks of strep throat, your employer will want a note from a doctor. That you will have to pay $10-$30 for. Out of pocket. To justify the time you were off, not getting paid.

While you are working, your employer will expect you to make sales; they will give you a target and you will get reprimanded if you do not meet this target. If you do meet this target, you will absolutely no monetary reward, but your manager will: they, as probably the only salaried employee in the place, will make a bonus based on how much income the store earns. Sales, as you might expect, is a high-pressure game where your job is to:
1. Convince people to buy stuff they may or not want
2. Then, convince them to buy the most expensive/profitable version of that stuff
3. Now, make them buy something else (this is called UPT or units per transactions; as a retail salesperson, you want to make people buy several things at once)
4. Try not to throw up in your mouth.

Personally, I feel vaguely dirty when I’m trying to sell people shit. There is a difference between helping people find the shit they came in to buy and trying to tack on an impulse purchase that they don’t need and never wanted to begin with. I don’t mind the former. The latter gives me hives.

In a commissioned sales environment, the salesperson is working for the company, but they are also working for themselves. Their ability and desire to sell correlates with their paycheque, so they are at least rewarded for their hard work. Not so in retail. In retail, you’re expected to wheedle and flirt and prod and lie because the company tells you to. It won’t get you a raise (unless the government mandates an increase in minimum wage) and it will only tangentially be related to how many shifts you get (that’s more dependent on your availability), but it will get you a hearty thank you. Maybe. If your boss remembers.

The Law does protect you, part-time employee, from being dismissed without cause…but it does not protect you from being forced to quit because your boss gives you either no shifts at all or the bare minimum require to not have fired you. Fun!

You are expected to show up 15 minutes before your shift starts (without pay). You are expected to stop your (unpaid) lunch hour (30 minutes) early if the store gets busy. You do not get vacation pay. You will not get overtime unless you work more than 44 hours in a week, despite the fact that as a part-time employee you are not supposed to work more than 30-35 (depending on the store). You are expected to wear clothing that follows the dress code, which generally dictates pants and tops of a specific colour, type and length, or clothing from the store itself if possible. You are not allowed to wear patterns. You are not allowed to wear short sleeves. You are not allowed to wear the colour yellow. You are not allowed to wear shoes that are not black. You are not allowed to have more than one hole in each ear. You are probably not allowed to have any other piercings. You must cover all your tattoos. You are not allowed to have any kind of food or beverage on the sales floor. You are not allowed to take break until you are given permission.

One day I was working at my second-ever retail job. It was the first week, maybe the second, and I needed to take lunch. My lunch was scheduled for 12, but the assistant manager was working in the back of the store. When I asked to go on my lunch, she told me that I would have to wait until she had finished what she was doing, and then she was going to take her lunch, and then I would have mine.

By 1 pm the assistant still hadn’t taken lunch and I was starting to feel dizzy, but I couldn’t leave the floor because I was the only one working. I was leaning on the cash, and when I straightened up to help a customer who had come in I promptly fainted, knocking over the garbage can beside me. The customer screamed and the assistant finally came out of the back. I was, thankfully, unhurt. In retrospect, I should’ve sued. Live and learn, kittens.

Problem #3: The Bullshit

Worst of all though – in my humble, angry opinion – is the Bullshit. The Bullshit is all the lines and branding and marketing crap your manager will demand you memorize and believe and proselytize. The Bullshit is built into every hypocritical interaction you will have with the higher-ups. It is festering in the back room, where you will be forced to leave your belongings which the company takes no liability for should someone steal them.

Your manager will say “We care about the customer”. He will mean “Take as much of their money as you can.” Your manager will say “We care about our employees”. He will tell you that you are on probation because you called in sick when he wouldn’t grant you a day off to do your exam. Your manager will hold yearly reviews to discuss your performance and give out intangible benefits, like putting your picture in the back room under the “Star Performer!!” section of the whiteboard. He will get angry if you don’t spend every free moment dusting. Your manager will give you a binder of the Bullshit to take home and read, and it will have mission statements about creating an environment of respect, corporation and excellence. He will call you at home on your day off to call you and your coworkers “a trifecta of fuckups” because you left the store ten minutes before you finished the closing paperwork so you could catch your last bus home.

True story.

Retail is terrible. I don’t know what to do about it, other than escape. Suggestions welcome.

Cheers,

Leslee.

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