Retail Memes: What It’s Really Like To Work In Retail

If you have ever experienced the thankless hell that is retail employment, this compilation of memes and tweets about grueling shift work for meager pay will grind your gears, just as capitalism’s gears grind the hopes and dreams of the working class.

when they ask you to show the new employee around

Customer walks up, I scan their item, it doesn’t scan. Customer: must be free Me:

Customer: Do you work here? Me in my work clothes stocking shelves:

Me after a long day of pretending to like people.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

When a customer asks to speak to the manager & the manager tells them exactly what you said

My face when I fix a display and I watch a customer mess it up

When the customers randomly having a rant you can do nothing about and you stand there like

until you work in food/retail, you will never understand the level of stupid that exists in the world

When a customer says they forgot their coupons

When your boss comes around the corner and you grab the closest thing around you to look like you're working.

Concept: The Purge but it’s 24 hours where workers are as rude as they want “Do you have a bathroom?” “No we shit outside like bears”

When a customer peaks in the window 2 minutes before closing time

Me when the customer puts their money on the counter instead of my outstretched hand

Customer service voice is babytalk for boomers

Retail workers once Mariah Carey starts singing

[butcher shop] customer: do you work here? me: *wearing a bloody apron and holding a knife* haha, I can see why you'd think that

When the customer gives you attitude but then their card gets declined

Oh, you're a customer? Please enlighten me on how to do my job correctly.

Welcome to Retail, where you start to hate people and the weekends don't matter.

When you're already doing 5 things and a customer asks you for help.

Me: "Sorry we don't have this in stock" "Can you look in the back?" Me: *Walks to the back, stands & stares at a wall* Me: "Sorry we don't"

When the customer asks me how my day has been

22 thoughts on “Retail Memes: What It’s Really Like To Work In Retail”

  1. I used to work in a supermarket and there was a middle aged chap and his elderly mother who would always come and ask for random things. “Excuse me, do you know where the cans of pork tongue are?” “Yes, of course, in the 1960s.” Is what I would have liked to have said. Then there was the lady who told me that her husband had been told by his doctor to drink red wine, but as he didn’t like it, was Rose OK?

  2. Anyone who has ever said “the customer is always right” has never worked with the public. Be nice out there. People that are mean to retail workers, servers, etc will die and be reincarnated as a Macy’s worker at Christmas time in an eternal loop.

  3. I‘m a customer. That doesn’t mean I sm always in the right. But neither does it mean I am just an imconvenience standing in the way while you are stacking shelves or whatever else retail workers do that doesn’t involve me. Your jibbis to sell me stuff and that means treating me nicely. If you don’t like that aspect of your job, get another one.

  4. As much as I wish everyone would be nice, I find it hard to believe that someone works in a supermarket out of choice.
    And as we all know that the harder the job is, the less rewarding is the payment and the worse are the conditions, I don’t expect the workers to be understanding and patience.
    On the other hand, I do my best to be polite and respectful.
    I have my limits, but I try to keep it in mind.

  5. If for no other reason, everyone would work retail for a period of time so they will understand human nature better, so they will understand the Golden Rule better, so they will understand economics better. Sadly, we’ve arrived at the point where no one thinks they have anything to learn and are owed $20/hr. to hand you a diet Coke. I go through self-checkout these days just to hear the words “Please” and “Thank you” (albeit electronically) from a store representative, because I know darn well I won’t hear that from the surly teen behind the scanner.

  6. I’m going to call out the bathroom comment – lots of shops won’t let customers use their washrooms (bathrooms).

    Out of curiosity, do all Americans use the term bathroom (for a room with at least a toilet and sink) rather than washroom, or is it regional?

  7. Anonymous – your bathroom question – some folks in the US say bathroom, some say washroom, some say toilet, but most say restroom. I don’t think it’s a regional thing within the US, I think it’s a preference thing. I grew up saying washroom and toilet, but no matter what establishment I went into the signs for the toilet always read “Restroom”, which I have always found odd because most of the ones I’ve been in were not environments I’d want to rest in.

  8. Added to the bathroom question, some of it verbal squeamishness. Some think that calling it the toilet is crass, and call the actual device a commode. Bathroom is what I have heard the most. I worked with an older lady who would whisper that she had to visit the little room, and wouldn’t say anything if a man was around. Then there are those gree spirits that say they have to go see a man about a dog, or others that say they have to take the kids to the pool.

  9. For the “customer” that thinks they deserve to be treated nicely, only if you do the same. But you sound like an entitled child so probably not. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat people how you would like to be treated. If, for whatever reason, they don’t respond in kind, be the “B” then because they’ve shown that’s what they want. Otherwise, don’t be that jerk or find out the hard way one day.

  10. I work at a restaurant named “The Battered Fish & Chips”. Most days someone will come in and ask me “So, what’s good in here?”, To which I inevitably respond:
    “I generally recommend the fish”

  11. Most people in u.s. don’t say just toilet if they’re referring to the room itself. That’s more of a British thing, in my experience. Also never heard washroom over here either. Restroom is used in a public setting, bathroom in home settings seems to be the norm.
    I’ve always found referring to the entire room as a toilet funny. You hear someone British saying it in a movie or whatever, and you just imagining they go in there are just start shitting on the floor. The whole large space IS the toilet.
    But no. There’s a toilet in the toilet.

  12. Instead of unionizing, retail workers projecting their internal frustrations into internet memes about customers. That’s funny! 😂

  13. I used to work in grocery stores and in doing so is how I found out I dislike the general public, your typical customer is an entitled prick that the manager will bend over backwards to please no matter how wrong they may be. The one that irritated me the most was a guy tried to come through the 5 items or less line when I was running it with a cart full of stuff, now this register I had no counter on so I couldn’t sit anything to the side properly. When I turned him away he got this smug look on his face and walked away, a few minutes later my manager walks up and asks if I turned the guy away. I told him yes and why and he just goes “That guy spends X amount of dollars here every week, he just informed me that he won’t be coming back. Next time just take them” No. Full stop. No. I don’t care how much money somebody spends, rules are rules and everybody has to follow them he’s no better than anybody else. It’s not my problem if he doesn’t want to stand in line

  14. I have done 10 years of retail, and I have dealt with entitled people. I had a woman who thought spending $40 on shoes, entitled her to use the phone in our department. When informed that our phones don’t dial out, and that there was payphones in the back, I got cussed out. She did the same to the other supervisor in the department, when he told her the same thing I did, and when a manager told her the same thing, she was cussed out as well. I have had people cuss me out, because they missed the previous week’s sales (both retail and grocery store). And I was called a “f–king r–ard,” because a guy read a sales sign wrong, but he thought I was the one who messed up. And for any of you who have the audacity to say, “If you don’t like it, get another job,” you try working retail and trying to find a different job. It’s not as easy as you think. It took me years, before I could even find an office job, because a lot of these places want experience or a degree or both. It’s not as easy to find a job outside of retail/food service as you assume it is.

  15. I also wanted to share this one from a previous anonymous poster: “I find it hard to believe that someone works in a supermarket out of choice.” I worked in a supermarket out of choice, because I needed to work 2 jobs, to clear out the debt my ex-husband put me in. I worked as a receptionist in a body shop from 9-6, then would go to the shopping center across the street, where the supermarket was, and work 6:30-11. I did it, because I was tired of credit card companies hounding me for payment. I didn’t have to apply or even work there, but it was part time, it was near my main job and the pay was decent. So I took it. There’s no shame in it.

  16. Few fun facts about retail you boomers don’t know because you think you’re too good to work there-
    Unions- at the start of the job, most retailers have an onboarding session that explain to workers how horrible unions are, and in some jobs, voicing or even speaking to a rep are grounds for termination. A few years back, a Walmart in the Midwest unionized. All their workers were fired and the store promptly hired new ones to take their place. Most retail stores are very anti-union.
    The magical backroom- I am not sure what y’all imagine the backroom of the store is. It is not a TARDIS where it is bigger on the inside, it is not Warehouse 13, nor is is it a portal to Narnia. Most store have all of their product out on the floor for customers to purchase, not where it collects dust in the back. In most cases, the back is for the employees to use to keep their belongings, for Vendors to use to stock their things, for work place equipment and compactors. If a store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, unless you live in Bainville, MT, go check another store, there are usually several in each town or city.
    ‘I spend a lot of money here’- Congratulations. So does everybody else who shops here. And they can give my employees and me a modicum of respect and can follow the rules. So why do you think you deserve special treatment?
    ‘I know the Manager’- What a coincidence! So do I. They wouldn’t let me act like you are right now either.

  17. I have worked retail for several years. Just because you’re customer doesn’t mean anything. More often than not, you are wrong. And the sad fact about retail management is that most of them are corrupt a-holes who are in it for the power trip and money who have no problem kissing an entitled Karen’s ass instead of sticking up for their employees who are following the rules that their company has laid out. Rules like-
    15 items or less at a check out- those are meant to be express lines, and many of those self checkout machines tend to breakdown faster (and cost lots and lots of money to fix) when you bring your barge down there.
    No alcohol sales between x-x time/alcohol sales in general- guess what? Every cashier goes through alcohol training when they first start working. If they are not selling you alcohol, there is a legal reason why they are not. So if you are old enough to drink, act like it, because nothing more makes me want to give a person and AA recommendation than when they throw a toddler’s temper tantrum about their alcohol.
    As a side note here’- always carry your physical id. And if you have your kids- why? Also, no pictures of your ID on your phone are not recognized by the government, nor are they recognized by cashiers (same thing for Debit/credit cards). You are also creating a huge risk for theft/fraud if someone were to steal your phone, or, an even bigger risk if those pictures are linked to the cloud via email and your access is set to public. Anyone who knows your email address can access that information. Do Not Store Pictures of Your Shit on Your Phone. Period. You aren’t being clever, you are making it so much easier to become a target.
    Out of state checks- first and foremost, checks are antiquated. If you worry about your information being stolen, then I fail to see how using something that has your bank account and routing number, not to mention name, address, and some times phone numbers and driver’s licence number right on it will put you at ease. It would be so easy for a criminal to pretend to text on their phone while they snap a picture of it while you take it out/make it out. Also, you wouldn’t believe how many people they me they don’t trust debit cards but have 10 different credit cards. Most places don’t take checks because they are so easy to steal and forge. And most, if not all places (there may be a few) will not accept out of state checks. The longer the distance, the greater the risk. And the same rings true for third party checks.
    Long story short- if an employee tells you know, be the adult you think you are, and listen and respect what they tell you. Odds are there is a reason why they are telling you no. The instances I explained here about alcohol and money? If an employee breaks these rules the consequences are anywhere from warnings/write ups, to termination and even jail time and charges for breaking the law. So be respectful and kind to retail workers. We know our job and what we are doing and have very few in our corner to back us up. The job is much more demanding and frustrating than you think it is. And if you still think it isn’t, then either try working it for six months, preferably during a holiday season. If you don’t want to but sti think you’re better than us, than I hope if you believe in reincarnation and karma, that you get reincarnated as a retail worker during a pandemic in your next life.

  18. Yeah holidays are the worst. Same with if there’s a snow storm on the way. Folks, if you hear that there’s a snow storm on the way, don’t wait until the day it’s due to arrive, to go shopping for snow boots. I worked during a snow storm (I believe it was in 2003) and you wouldn’t believe how many people came out trying to buy snow boots, and got pissed off, because 99% of them were sold out. I endured, “How can you not have snow boots ?” Well Karen, here’s how: 1) we are not in charge of what goes on the trucks 2) we sometimes get an extremely limited supply of said shoe 3) what we get, we usually get a mad rush on (especially if it’s a limited amount) 4) some of these stores, their main hub is in the Midwest, which means they get shut down due to a ton of bad weather. When that happens, there are no delivery trucks going anywhere. 5) if their hub isn’t the Midwest, it’s extremely likely that delivery drivers have to drive through areas that are in the line of the storm, and 9 times out of 10 the state gets shut down and the governor declares a state of emergency. So when you hear that a snow storm is on its way, don’t sit on your sorry procrastinating a–, get up and out and get those boots. And clean up after yourselves and any family members you bring in with you. Were you raised in a barn ? How would you like it, if I came into your house, and trashed it and then just walked off ? Would you like it if I stopped my family member from cleaning up, point to you and say, “Oh no honey. That’s their job.” You wouldn’t ? Then stop doing it to retail workers.

  19. It appears 90% of readers of this site are retail workers playing on their phones in the break room. 🤣

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