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elle

I remember at my first job at a pizza place I answered the phone and told the customer my name (which is kind of an unusual name) and she was all that's my newborn daughters name I hope when she grows up she doesn't work at a pizza place. I was kind of flustered but finally all I could say was I'm 16 and I'm still in high school what else do you want me to do? She obviously had no response to this and it was a very awkward transaction....but yeah why is it demeaning to make an honest living sure it's not glamorous and it won't make you rich but it's better then nothing.

NC Tony

I said it on the FB page and I'll say it again here.

I wish there were some way to give ALL retail workers one (or more) universal day(s) off. Open all the self scans and have LP wandering around the store/watching the doors (but not actually helping the customers). But no cashiers, stockers, sales associates, managers or anyone else. Just the customers having to find everything for themselves and figure out everything for themselves. THEN maybe, just maybe, they'd understand how important we are.

But probably not, because people are assholes.

RodeoBob

"Why is a service job demeaning?"

Independence, freedom, where you fit in the hierarchy of things. Working a service job means you're serving someone else, following their commands, taking their orders.

To some ways of thinking, there's a hierarchy in the world: some folks are "more important" than others, and one way to tell who's important is to look at who gives the orders and who obeys them.

There's an element of training and skill that offsets that; if you have skills that someone else doesn't, then they're paying you to do something they can't. (auto-mechanic, etc.) But if you're working a service job that doesn't include specialized training or uncommon skills*, then we're back to that "who is more important" business, and they're just paying someone to be a servant.

That isn't the way it is for everyone, but for some folks, folks who are hung up on status and feeling powerful, that's how it shakes out.


*a job can require all kinds of skills, but if they're not obvious, it won't count in the minds of those folks.

ThatFatGuy

Because sitting behind a till, stocking shelves and sorting out stock is seen as something the only the uneducated do, not anyone who has any sort of schooling.

I used to love the look on customers faces when they said something along the lines of 'you should have gotten better grades' when I told them I was in university and that it was just a weekend job, was bloody brilliant

HeavyP

As a couple of people have said, I think everyone KNOWS that service workers are necessary. Anyone that stops to think for a moment can realize that you need everyone to make the machine work - it just doesn't function without people in the trenches doing the work nobody wants to do.

The thing is, really, nobody wants to do it.
- It's right in the name, you are SERVING another person. Everyone wants to have some degree of authority and independence, even in other jobs where it's masked better.
- They don't require significant effort to learn in most cases. Yeah, you need certain skills to be a waiter, or to work in a Radio Shack, but you don't need a degree and years of training to do it. Shadowing another worker for a week or so catches you up. You are not a unique snowflake, you are not indispensable, and the moment you leave another gear will slip in and fill your place.
- Because of the previous reason, they don't pay well. If you're doing a job that most anyone can do with a short amount of training, you are not inherently valuable to the people who employ you. They will always pay you the bare minimum they're required to, with the barest benefits they're required to give.

Basically, in most service industry jobs, you're not a person. You're a tool that the company can leverage to make money, and as soon as you stop performing at the level they expect, they'll drop you, grab the next cog off the shelf, put it in place and keep going. You may be a vibrant person with hopes and dreams, but nobody standing on the other side of the counter sees that - they see the same thing that your overlords see - a meat machine to be used as a means to an end.

"Necessary" does NOT mean "valuable" - at no point in human history has it ever meant that. RARITY appoints value. The blacksmith of a medieval village wasn't valuable because he was necessary, he was valuable because he was necessary and because his skills were uncommon. One blacksmith in a village can charge what he wants - twenty blacksmiths with identical skills will starve trying to undercut each other.

BookBitch

Oh, I used to have such fun messing with people's heads... They'd ask for study guides for SATs and APs and all that nonsense, ask me "Which one's the best?" and I'd say I never bothered studying for them. "Bet you didn't score very well then, that's why you're here!" Sorry dude, perfect scores on several, good scores on all, national merit, master's degree, did you need anything else today? *beat* Didn't think so. Probably the only thing I miss. Well, that and the half-price coffee. :-P

Bored at the Bookstore

And let's not forget -

"Here's your mail."

"I brought your oxygen supply."

"I'll be your guide for the day."

"Please fasten your seatbelts."

"Just a little off the top?"

"Jimmy's doing very well in his swim class."

"Just put in three acres of winter wheat. And five of field corn."

"Milkman!"

*G*

Einar

Given that many service jobs are very poorly paid, I could see wanting a child better off financially. And I suppose that some service jobs are objectively pretty terrible to work at - point of this site, after all - though I'm not sure if that's a greater proportion than any other type of job. But, you know, saying "I want my child to be well-paid and happy" doesn't require you to demean the workers themselves. And there's certainly some pretty decent-paid service jobs. Not *as* common as the low-paid ones, but...

More seriously, if retail wasn't demeaned, entitled custys would have to feel bad about the stuff they do. Since noone wants to think bad about themselves (unless severely depressed) people will rationalise - and demeaning retail workers will allow them to be entitled without cognitive dissonance.

Shelterdoll

I cannot stand that thought. Photo at Hellgreens is the backbone in a way. At least in my store, we: stock grocery, coolers, be backup for registers, help people with photo kiosks, wrench apart disposable cameras to get the film, process the film, maintain the machines, make all sorts of products from photo books to basic prints, do facing, pull bays and totes for stocking, keep track of milk and other products' expiration dates, dump said expired product, maintain the restrooms, do trash in the breakroom and office, hunt coupons, put up and take down tags in our section, and much more. We have 4-5 people for photo. One manager in photo barely counts since he is rather accident prone (he just broke a component of our film processor) but is overall great.

Then our district guy thought "Hey, Photo does their stuff very well! But the front register people are not doing so well stocking and maintaining the candy aisle. LET'S MAKE PHOTO DO IT!"

Without us, you are on your own. We are also expected to drop everything if you need our assistance.

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