Working Catastrophe

I got my first job when I was 16, a year after an impromptu interview for the said job. I was so excited and grateful for this magical opportunity, and the money it came with (which was below min wage by the way) that it didn’t immediately register with me what I had signed up for.

Before I continue, I would like to point out I did not receive any official training there beyond the very basic functions of the sales program on the computer. I guess they thought I was clever enough to figure it out on my own. They soon realised their mistake.

It started off as minor things a new employee could get away with, especially one who looked around ten. Things like secretly reading the magazines instead of standing motionless behind the till waiting for customers to show up. Or the blank stares whenever somebody asked a question I couldn’t answer (any question ever).

The first semi-major screw up was what I call The Destruction of the Displays. See in this shop, when entering through the main entrance there were several tables covered in clearance items, first CDs, then DVDs and then books. Not small tables either. They were foldouts, but could definitely have worked as a dining table for a family of six. One day I was walking the floor, watching for customers I could accost with offers of help, and congratulating myself on having a reasonably productive day at work thus far. Then I was on the floor in a shower of books/DVDs/tables and possibly some CDs. I looked up and the coworker nearest to me simply shook her head in pity.

Another BAD and significantly less funny screw up was the time I got yelled at to handle a till, with a bleeding finger. I was not allowed to stop and put a band-aid on it. All throughout the transaction I had to keep wiping the blood off on my skirt to the bewilderment of the customer and to this day I am not sure if I got blood on her books or not (I really hope not). This one is the one that haunts me the most.

My crowning glory was managing to crash an entire lotto system. All I did was try to scan a ticket. This was a big deal because all new employees were sent on a fully funded day-long course to learn the ins and outs of every aspect, and the exact protocol for every situation. We also got lotto-specific name tags, which is fun. So there I was, scanning this poor woman’s ticket, and the entire system crashes. Twice in a row, actually. Both times we had to phone HQ while my coworkers gave me the same look that I had received after the Display Massacre. The joke is that I didn’t actually do anything wrong, it was just bad luck, but I think they gave up on me after that.

There was plenty of other things, like being incapable of turning off the automatic doors so they started vibrating extremely fast, or the time I was helping with the window display and screamed because of the spider and disturbed all the customers (it was big and fat and hairy ok) But I truly do not want to remember the things I worked so hard to repress.

Moral of the story, do not work illegal hours for below minimum wage unless you are both really good at the job, and really love it.


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