Friday, July 31, 2009

Revisiting places I used to work in White Oaks Mall -- I'm sooo glad I don't work in retail anymore!

This past Thursday I headed out to White Oaks Mall where I used to work in a couple of different stores.

Waiting for the bus is really NOT fun.

At least these guys walked by to make things interesting . . . I saw them later in the mall too--funny.

Shot of the main entrance of White Oaks Mall.

I tried the new Uncle Burger at A&W . . . it wasn't bad. It's too bad Korea doesn't have any A&W locations.

My first retail clothing store job was at Over The Edge: a designer brand name clothing store that functioned as the test location for new designs that if successful were then transferred to Jean Machine. I learned a lot about 'how to dress myself' here as I really had no clue before getting hired--which looking back makes me laugh. The manager's rule for doing interviews was to show up dressed as though you were going to go out clubbing. If he liked your style, and personality, he'd hired you. It didn't matter whether or not you had good sales experience, and I think I get where he was coming from: it's easier to train someone new with no bad habits than to break in old dogs with new tricks. Also, a lot of the clientel would do repeat business due to the image and personality of the sales associates--I still find it funny that I fit into that image for the time I worked there, lol.

At Over The Edge I worked as a part-time sales associate, then got promoted to full time key-holder, then promoted to 2nd assistant manager (all of this at lightning speed, if memory serves I think I was doing management stuff by my 5th month, lol) and transferred to Masonville Mall's Jean Machine . . . and so on and so forth.

One of my personal favorite bs things about working here: "No refunds." This return policy created limitless confrontations with customers . . . it was really 'fun'--barf!

Walking around the mall I saw how so many things had changed since the last time I had been in it. It still felt weird to be in the mall and not working there--but that feeling has faded a lot over the years and I think I just felt a bigger sense of accomplishment and gratefulness that I'd gotten out of this line of work and into teaching.

I walked around and snapped a few more pics . . .

I've seen quite a few of these little zippers around London--they seem to be pretty popular here.

It's so tiny!

And then I came to another of the stores I worked in--Foot Locker. This place, along with Over The Edge and Jean Machine, also had pretty bad working conditions. I was on salary at Foot Locker and as a result of this I had to work one open to close shift minimum per week (12 hours, and with opening/closing routines it usually totalled about 13 hours, and then add on top of that taking the bus to and from work I'd pull a 14 hours day). Often I would end up working more than one 12 hour shift a week, and my 'normal' shift was 9 hours. The reason it wasn't 8 hours was because my lunch and dinner breaks were not counted as part of my shift--I really HATED this kind of bullshit . . . let me say it again, I'm so glad I don't work there anymore.

I finally smartened up and resigned to go to university so I wouldn't have to do a career in retail management--so not something I wanted to do after having seen my mother and father do it; the long hours, bullshit with customers, bullshit with higher-ups, bs bs bs . . . yeah, not a job I'd want to do for 20 plus years.

There are other stores I worked at in other malls during the 10 years I worked in retail--but I really don't want to revisit all of them . . . suffice it to say that when I'm having a bad day at work teaching in Korea I try to tell myself that I could be working back in retail, and to find the silver lining in my situation and job . . . though some days that just doesn't work very well, but it does help put things in perspective.


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