I present to you, for your reading entertainment, a furry little number from the Little Pet Shop of Horrors. If you're not interested in hearing tales of retail terror from a pet shop I will understand if you choose not to read any further... ...Burger Bitch is to your right, or you could use this opportunity to get caught-up on what those wacky shopping carts have been up to lately.
This particular installation takes place on a typical Saturday.
While attempting to navigate the crowd to bring a puppy to a customer I'm abruptly stopped by a beastly troll of a woman who has no regard for the fact that I am already helping someone, as well as two obnoxious screaming children.
"We're going to see the Toy Fox Terrier," she tells me rudely, jabbing her bony little finger in the direction of a kennel.
Oh are you? I think. That's an unusual way to ask permission...
"Actually he was just visiting with a family so he'll need to stay in for a short rest," I tell her before explaining that the newest puppies to the store are on a strict schedule with frequent breaks from visiting. This is to insure that they don't start developing anxiety from too much handling while they get used to crowds of strangers, and to insure that they won't get hypoglycemia from too much exertion (new puppies that weigh less than three pounds have to be watched carefully to make sure that their kidneys aren't over-worked.)
"That's stupid," she tells me indignantly. "You'd rather leave him in a cage than let him be out playing??"
YES! I would. If it means keeping him from possibly DYING, absolutely.
But as we all know, customers won't respond positively to being told they CAN'T DO SOMETHING. They don't understand anything that prevents them from getting what they want, no matter how obvious the reasoning behind what you're telling them. This is if they even listen, which they don't. Usually they listen only for key words and screen out anything else. What she probably heard me saying was: blah blah blah... "No" ...blah blah blah blah blah, a suspicion she confirms by asking me why I won't bring the dog out for her, something she would already know if she had listened to what I was saying.
As I attempt to explain the risk of hypoglycemia by whoring him out too much she illustrates my point even better by interrupting me to ask "that dog is sick?? It has hypoglycemia?" Wait, what? Were you paying attention? "That's why I would never buy a dog from a pet store."
I start to correct her, but it occurs to me...
"If you would never buy a dog from a pet store, then why are you here?"
It's hilarious the way that people who claim to hate pet stores have no issue with visiting them to scavenge for the free fun that they offer. I really don't mind people coming just to play with puppies, but somewhere along the way they seem to have left their manners at home (next to their brains) and gotten the idea that they are allowed to JUDGE me based on the misdeeds of the industry that I work for.
And there seems to be a lot of that today: people judging me for the misdeeds of the animal industry.
One guy informs me"Yeah, I don't like these places," while his wife and kids visit with a puppy. And why not? Well because of the Puppy mills! he tells me. Everybody knows that pet stores use puppy mills! I assure him that not every pet store does and that it might be just a little unfair to make such broad generalizations.
"People say a lot of things about pet stores, and there's stuff on the internet. Can you really blame people for thinking that?" he asks.
And really, I can't... ...it's easy to believe something without actually investigating any further, especially when it's about something that is commonly thought of as bad. But choosing to believe only bad things about something when there's available information to the contrary is ignorant.
Because a lot of chain clothing stores have used child labor does that mean that all clothing stores employ sweatshops? Or that because some Walmart stores have underpaid their employees that all corporations do?
I can't really be sure how this man behaves in other stores, but I' willing to bet that he doesn't speak to them the way that he speaks to me. I'm guessing that he doesn't lecture employees at the Gap, telling them "I don't like shopping here because everyone knows places like this use child labor... ...now ring me up you tool of the devil." And despite the terrible things that people habitually say about Walmart I bet that he's one of the millions of people that keep them in business by disregarding the many claims, probably doing so without telling the cashier "I hate coming here, your company is terrible."
I just ask him flat-out: "Why are you here? Is it because you really do know deep down that not all pet stores are not bad? Or is it because you do believe that all pet stores are bad and you just don't care?"
His answer, which is the typical defensive incoherent rambling response, changes pretty drastically when an hour later he lets his kids talk him into buying a Shi-A-Poo.
So a question that I pose to you, RHUers and retail slaves:
What are some of the common beliefs or misconceptions about the place that you work (or the nature of the work that you do for a living) and how do they affect you?
Do people automatically assume that because you're waiting tables that you must be an actor, or that because you're serving coffee you're in college still? Do people assume things about you because you work at Hooters, or at Borders, or at Target, or wherever?