Story | Retail anxiety, fact or fiction?
Everyday, every hour, 365 days a year….I threatened someone in the most polite and arrogant fashion that I will destroy their credit rating, or that I am sending someone to their door to collect, and the house they were going to buy…forget about it. Their life will start to spiral downwards like a backwards flushing toilet in Australia (that is just a myth).
They didn’t know who my backers were, or the power of the Corporate Entity I represented. They only saw a big yellow movie ticket on the outside of the Store and a friendly greeter who ended up with a very rare case of “Hello” turret syndrome. Yes, I am talking about Blockbuster Video. Where else in Society would you Rent a Movie and if you brought it back late the charges would be more than your Annual Income. It was always an interesting time to let the Customer know alongside their 2 crying kids, that they owed me 128$ due to a game being late. Yes, that amount is correct. Her mouth dropped wide open, looked at her kids, picked one up and left the store…..but Houston we have a Problem…she forgot the other kid due to her being so frazzled. So what did I do, I took the kid as payment, scanned him into the register and got him to clean the dust and pebbles off of the bottom shelves.
As always, there is a beginning, a middle and an end to every story. Today, I will start with the middle (consider the top the bun), just because the beginning is usually the most boring part since everything is all Fresh, Shiny and New; and well the End is the End unless the Three Horseman are somewhat involved.
It was 1996, after opening more than 15 Corporate Stores , learning that a VHS tape for rent did actually cost 102$ and that expired chocolate bars are still good 9 months after their expiry date I experienced my first pseudo “RAT” Retail Anxiety Tremor. Who knew that Retail could bring on a weight gain and the inevitable “Why are Customers still coming into my store even though its closed” dreams or should I say Night Terrors.
This R.A.T happened in the most unexpected of places; in the back of a Taxi. Suddenly, I couldn’t breath, my head started spinning, and my heart was beating at a racing horse pace (was this an effect of the expired chocolate)?. All I remember was asking the Cab Drive to take me to the closest Hospital because I was on the verge of recreating a Jack Nicholson “Shining” moment. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to deflect all my thoughts towards what I found pleasant. Thoughts of Puppies, Uma Thurman, Mexican Mustached Lady Luchadors and a Cheeseburger. As my R.A.T started to dissipate my breathing, thoughts and heart rate returned to normal. Try to guess what brought on this attack…. I thought I did not lock the Safe Door in the Store.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
Even though many of us have experienced this event and 99.9% of time our thoughts were unfounded, this triggered a reaction like a fuse being lit on a stick of dynamite from ACME. This one thought activated and launched all my other stressors to say “Fuck it” and let’s get out of here; but the door was locked and they ended up bouncing around in my head…I did not have an outlet to express my thoughts, concerns or fears.
As I continue on this adventure in Retail, this is an all to common health and mental issue. Everything in Retail is either an Outlook Redflag, Urgent Voicemail, or a Text Message at 3am. In reality, this is not the case as we have something called an Off Button. Turn off your Smartphone, Turn off your Computer, Turn off your thoughts by distracting them through watching a movie, listening to music, reading a book, walking your dog, playing Dungeons and Dragons, eating a Spicy Meatball, enjoying a Salty Peanut or grooming your Back Hair.
We have all been in this spot at least once before….BUT REMEMBER, we are the ones who are creating the Stress due to our perceptions of the Urgency of the Matter. Retail is one of the only Careers where you have the ability to control your destiny and the path your on. If you are Stressed due to a Timeline, talk to your Superior for an extension, ask for Help, or just jump in the Deep End and get it completed; I promise you wont drown.
Many of the Stressors we face are because of the unknown; but the unknown should be your Adrenaline as its like the Create your Own Adventure books. Go for it…whats the worst thing that can happen….meet a Dragon, play with an Oracle, or get fired? At the end of the day, you tried and the Adventure will always continue but on a different path.
So the top of the bun and the meat of this sandwiched lesson has been shared, now on to the bottom of the soulless boring bun…the end.
What happened next? I quit 6 Months later for a salary increase of 2000$, a 2 hour drive everyday and a chance to work with bouncing lemons. ……but I did return to Blockbuster 5 Years Later in an interesting turn of Events “that smelled good”.
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