(This is the fourth part in an on going series dedicated to the many years, going on 8 now, that I have spent as a retail whore.)

Take that, paper!

As the last three parts have showed, the most obnoxious aspects of retail are the people involved. But there are other annoyances that I deal with on a daily basis. These are the retail equivalents of cover sheets on T.P.S. reports. They’re nothing too serious, but they peck at you day in and day out, much like a mother in law, or so sitcoms and hack comedians would have me believe. Ok, let’s put the spaghetti in the machine and get into this.

Now I’m sure most of you exist in the 9 to 5 world. You know that from now probably until you retire, your schedule will be Monday through Friday, arrive at 9am leave at 5pm. Maybe your is slightly different, or occasionally you have to go in early or stay late. My point is that it is consistent.

Mine varies from day to day.

I could have to be at work as early as 6am or as late as 6pm. And get off at 10am to 11:30pm. Around the holidays it could even be midnight. There have been occasions when I have left work at 10:30 in the evening and came back at 7 in the morning.

While having a shift like that only leaves me approximately six hours of sleep, that’s not the worst part of the scheduling. I never know my schedule more than two weeks in advance. So if you said to me today let’s do something on Wednesday the 18th, I’d have to say maybe, I don’t know what I work. And the cruel irony of it is that it is now too late to ask for that day off.

I end up planning my life around work, and that’s not right.

Speaking of not right, some of the shit we sell is downright awful. Granted we don’t a shotgun casing toothbrush holder, but some of this stuff isn’t much better.

There is this serving bowl that is made to resemble a pig. Not just a pig, but what a pig would look like if it were made entirely out of fruit. It consists of a watermelon body, it’s eyes are a couple of cherries, lemon slices for a nose, and an orange peel forts tail. I wish I had a picture of it, but its not for sale on the website anymore, dammit.

We’ve been referring to it as Manbearpig.

I just want to know who designs some of this stuff. I know Vera Wang does some of it. While she may be a brilliant fashion, um ist? I don’t know. Her stuff is probably better when its specifically designed for one person, not massed produced.

Her color combinations, and shapes seem a little out there. Just about everything we have from her looks very baggy, and I think only someone with shoulders like Lady E could get away with wearing most of it. In all fairness though it was a smart business move for the retailer. I’ve had customers tell me they’ve never been in Kohl’s before but came to check out the Vera Wang collection.

Maybe the people who enjoy the awful products we sell also enjoy the music, or muzak, that is played through the store.

It’s all very mellow, non-offensive, but still modern crap. While there are certain tolerable artist, like Tina Turner, Abba, and Ace of Base, they are few and far between. Mostly its stuff that is or sounds like Jack Johnson, Dashboard Confessional, various 70′s, and awful covers of awful songs like The BeatlesStrawberry Fields Forever.

There was a time when we had a cover of the Clash song Train in Vain. I was always torn when it played. I love this song, and it was great o hear a Clash song at work, as well as the Clash being covered and appreciated by a band not in the genre of rock, but at the same time the cover was not doing justice to such a fantastic song. I would say Joe Strummer was probably rolling over in his grave, but he strikes me as the kind of musician who has a respect for music as a whole and would enjoy hearing his music played in a different way.

Thinking this helps me to believe that London Calling was purposefully made to sound completely different in three significant ways: A) When it was released it didn’t sound like anything else that was available at the time. B) Point A includes other albums by the track, so it was a completely new sound for them as well, and C) the entire album doesn’t sound like itself. Each track sounds like a slightly different genre than the one before it that by the time you get to the last cut you aren’t eve sure it’s the same album. But the changes are subtle enough that it is not distracting. These reason are why I think London Calling is the greatest album of all time. I just hope others will at least consider it in the top 5.

I apologize, I’m always excited to talk about the Clash, and I got a little carried away.

But the worst part of the music at work is occasionally a song is used for television and radio advertisements. When this happens those fat cats in corporate decide that song needs to play once every hour. I don’t even like to listen to songs I like once every hour, and now I have to hear one I don’t like every hour? Fuck that! That means within a month I will hear the same song approximately 160 times. By the end of the first day I’ll know all the lyrics. The song they choose is never a good song. It’s always some feel good new new wave crap.

If I have to hear “Yamo Be There” one more time, I’m going to “Yamo” burn this place to the ground.

Well, its some wacky hour which means its time for me to get ready and start my work day. So remember two things: Grin and Greet within 8 feet, and expect great things.

Yeah, something like that

 Also expect for the fifth and final part of My Life In Retail next week.

Lee.s.hart@crujonessociety.com