A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Retail Bullies and The Cleveland Uppercut

If you work in retail or any service industry, you know what it's like to be on the receiving end. You've gone home close to tears from the public abuse that you've suffered...again. For simplicity's sake, let's group all the public bullies into one class:


The receiving end, trust me, is nowhere to be:

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I've worked for over twenty years in retail and customer service (major book/department/convenience stores and three hellish call centers).

1) Call center work can be the most degrading work in the world.

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You work in a tiny cubicle, with rushed imperfect training and often imperfect equipment, dealing with telephone tough guys and gals. You take angry calls for 8 hours a day...with 5 minutes personal time should you need to go to the bathroom. Your call metrics are insane: the times allowed for call handling and file notation...your average time between calls (you may need to research a matter or ask for a lead's assistance). And callers will scream about the hold time while their rants increase the holding time for others. Furthermore, your calls are monitored for quality--while you must, to meet your metrics, get rid of bums who are calling to rant. As they used to say at one call center, 'If they don't blow, they've gotta go'. (Or: if they're not buying, screw 'em.)

2) Any form of retail is second most degrading.

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Sadly, the worst abuse comes from those in the same field: from waiters to baristas, from doormen to busboys, from bullied clerks in other stores to call center prisoners. Bullied themselves to the snap-point, they revel in sliming clerks who can't hit back.

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But payback is a two-way street with often shocking reversals. An RB never knows if the sad sack s/he's abusing is ready to quit and go postal. An abusive fare beater never knows if the driver s/he's just spit on is willing to do something crazy in turn.

All RBs would do well to remember the punch heard round the world: The Cleveland Uppercut.


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