When starting their first job, most people are at the lowest rung. Me? I was there at least four times before I finally crawled my way through the glorious swamp they call ‘the workforce’.
Customer service, especially for a person who struggles with social cues (AKA an introvert), is possibly the worst imaginable thing when picturing a first job. Or a second. Or even a third.
Okay, so holding a stop sign for fourteen hours probably isn’t that exciting either. But, nothing is worse for an introvert than being forced into constant, plastic-smiled conversations day in and day out. “Nice weather, eh?” “Oh, yes. Very nice.” Not that I actually know, because I’ve been stuck inside all day preparing this meal for you that you are probably going to yell at me about because it is somehow lacking in expectation from your overly-particular specifications. Gasp. How’s that lukewarm triple non-fat grande latte with extra foam tasting now, sir? Plastic smile.
My career life began at the age of seventeen. Any earlier jobs were at the neighbour’s farms and my mom’s bookstore. I lived in the middle of nowhere, with no vehicle to my name and about twenty cents in savings.
So, I was seventeen, with the prestigious job of being a cashier at the local Peavey Mart.
I’m not even going to mention the six hours I worked at Tim Hortons, because that was a nightmare strapped to a horror movie and wrapped in a stale chocolate glazed donut. Do-nut ask. Okay, sorry, no more puns.
If there were a perfect model to depict exactly what Hell looked like (and trust me, many famous artisans and authors have tried and failed to recreate precisely this picture), I truly believe that Peavey Mart is the epitome of all that is simultaneously fire-and-brimstone and excruciatingly drab. As boring jobs go, this one was at the top. Plus, I had no clue what I was doing. No, sir, I’m a high school student, so I actually have no idea what sort of penicillin you should administer to your cow. Have you tried children’s aspirin?However, I somehow managed to survive that job, and moved along the career track into housekeeper.
I actually didn’t mind cleaning houses, other than the occasional missed toilet (if you know what I mean).
Then began my illustrious job as a Barista for the big, magical company known as Starbucks (Praise be to Howard Schultz). Working in a place where the customer buys an eight dollar Pumpkin Spiced Latte and expects it to taste like gold and contain zero calories was, let’s say, intense. On the bright side, I could have as many espresso shots as I wanted.
My coworkers at Starbucks were probably the best and weirdest human beings in the world. The customers, however, were rude and rushed and ridiculous (not all, just a significant amount). I was once yelled at because the ‘no foam’ latte I made had three bubbles on the top. THE MILK IS FOAMED, PEOPLE. Just saying.
The best part, though, about working in customer service at Starbucks (and no, it wasn’t the pay. That was atrocious at best) was the bonding experience my partners and I were able to have over our hatred of rich white people with husbands that were too rich and nails that were too long.
Yes, medium is our grande. No, I didn’t invent the stupid name for it. Yes, grande does mean large. How very astute of you.
Next came the job as a bank teller. This came after I had graduated university with the high expectation of becoming either really rich, or really famous (albeit with an English degree, so maybe I needed to be knocked down a peg or two). Once I realized, sadly, that I was actually not God’s gift to humanity, I took the first job I interviewed for. Then, ta-da! I was a bank teller. I was actually the most overachieving bank teller in the world, if you can believe it, and again I had a lot of affection for a fair few of my coworkers. But, my brain started to shrivel and I was anxious to do more.
It seems incredible to me that any person is willing to walk into a bank and yell at the person who has immediate access to all of their personal information and most (if not all) of their funds. It’s like they see a person who makes minimum wage, or slightly more, and decide on the spot that this person is fully deserving of the backlash of their bad day. What did we low-earners ever do to you, man?
One lady was so cruel to me that I hid in the vault (where all the big fancy bills are kept) and cried because she called me a Stupid F***ing B– you know what? For the decency of this article, I won’t finish that sentence. Let’s just say: I never cry, and that was dehumanizing. The best part? I was not the cause of her grief. Just the beneficiary of her wrath.
Can you say “wrong place, wrong time”?
I can declare, without any semblance of difficulty, that customer service is not a cup of tea (unless that cup of tea spills all over your hand, but after two years of working at Starbucks you’re so used to the burns that your skin has turned to dragon hide). I can also declare that every human being who ever lives should be required to work, at minimum, one job in customer service. For one full year. Perhaps, then, they might all gain some common decency for all those common people out there, and stop yelling at the poor messenger who must to inform them of that bad news that the CEO implemented, and they had no say in.
Amazingly, I survived customer service. I have to say that I am a better, if perhaps more cynical, human being for it. I’m proud to say I have never yelled at any admin assistants, servers or cashiers.
And, by the will of Howard Schultz (May He Live Forever), I will never work in customer service again.