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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

150

How I Got Rich Working at the Mall (Just Kidding)

This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

My first mistake was working at the mall, obviously. My second was working at a store in the mall about which I had once said: "I want everything in this store so bad that it physically hurts." My mom totally saw this train wreck before it hit. "Are you sure you'll be able to resist the temptation to spend all your money on clothes?" she wanted to know. I smiled and answered, "What money!" And then we laughed, because I had no money, which to my mother meant I was going to have to use the money I earned to pay my bills, and to me meant that I would be putting a lot of new clothes on a credit card.

The work was okay. It was fine. It was a mix of  feeling snobby and "above retail," which, gross, Logan, don't be like that, really, you're not above anything, seriously, and then also feeling like a total idiot because I could never remember how to use the cash register or the steamer or fold the tank tops with the proper amount of crease. Or, you know, sell anything, to anybody.

This was not my first stint in retail. One of my earliest jobs was in another clothing store, and the discount when I was working there was half off everything, which is basically, but not quite, free. I bought up all the leg warmers, racer back tanks, and hot pants that my then-little butt desired ("These are classic basics! I'll have them forever!"), then wondered, at the end of the month, why writing my rent check was a dicey undertaking. That gig lasted four months, the clothes maybe six months after that, and at some point the realization that it's stupid to spend all of your money on clothes came … and went. And came … and went. It's a lesson that went unlearned throughout the years and would continue to be unlearned at the new job at the mall. You see, we got half off sale items and 20 percent off full-priced stuff. It was kind of a good deal.

Do you see where this was going? At 27, I got a job at the mall so that I could pay my bills, and I earned money to pay my bills, but I also used my discount to justify spending that created more bills. I even condoned getting the store credit card (the last thing I need is another credit card) as a way to "monitor my spending," which, what did I think I was going to do? No idea, and never found out, because I immediately automated minimum payments so I never actually had to login to look at my damage. In fact, I didn't even think about it for months until I was about to swipe for an $84 purse (originally $300! SICK DISCOUNT) and felt a slight pang … of something. So I paused and pulled out my phone and logged into my account and saw that I was quite near my $750 limit! But not so near that I couldn't buy the purse. So I did.

At the end of three months, my paychecks added up to $1,060.36 (this was not a fulltime job, and I made $8.50 an hour, with the promise of sales bonuses that never materialized because, apparently, the only person I'm capable of selling to is myself). Which I did, well and often. I put $750 on my store card (maxed) and $387.65 on my other credit card (not maxed, but close enough), for a total of $1,159.87 in beautiful consumer goods that evoke the spirit of America but are all made in Asia.

I got a lot, sure: five silk shirts, one wool skirt, two pairs of tights, one pair of jeans, five pairs of shoes, three necklaces, one hat, three hairclips, a bathing suit, a leather bag, three winter coats, two leather belts, one gray cardigan, two tanktops, and a tiny wool blazer for my nephew. But: my favorite coat is still the one I've had for years. The silk shirts are all snagged or stained because I don't take care of my things. The jeans are the ones I wear when I absolutely can't wear my other ones even one more day. And I still have nothing to wear. And nary a credit card with which to remedy that. Which is for the best, of course. My new job keeps me out of the mall (mostly).

Previously: How to Bring Your Lunch to Work — A Guide.

Logan Sachon lives in Brooklyn.

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Photo by crystalfoto, via Shutterstock

150 Comments / Post A Comment

MKE
MKE

Was it J.Crew?

Exene

@MKE Was it Sbarro?

bitzy

@MKE Benetton, I'm guessing.

Sam I am

@bitzy Anthro?

Judith Slutler

@MKE It seriously sounds a lot like J. Crew, and also, if I worked at J. Crew I would end up doing this exact thing.

frigwiggin

@Exene Obviously Orange Julius.

acookieaday

@bitzy Benetton is particularly snobby. J. Crew isn't really snobby but the sales people are sometimes distant for a while until they start helping you. Probably, Benetton then. Also, lots of clothes there that you eventually realize are ridiculous. Or maybe Anthropologie. However, Benetton stands out to me as the monolith of snobby boutique even though they're still in the mall!

Judith Slutler

@acookieaday Ohhh, it could also be Banana Republic.

Jillsy Sloper

@Emmanuelle Cunt I was picturing Banana.

fabel

@acookieaday I was thinking Anthropologie, because at first I was thinking Urban Outfitters, but then she said "snobby" and Anthropologie is, in my mind, the snobby version of Urban Outfitters?

TELL US

isavedlatin

@MKE I was thinking Madewell.

acookieaday

@Emmanuelle Cunt Yeah, but the Banana people are just older women and bright, bitchy gays who don't want to help you. At Benetton they actively despise you except they wouldn't bother to convey that much interest. Hmmm, the author does sound too nice to reach those levels of snobby.

itmakesmewonder

How I Got Rich Santos Working at the Mall (Seriously)

Okay I'm going to read it now.

Edith Zimmerman

@itmakesmewonder Ambiguous!!!!

Bebe

Working retail = shopping 8 hours a day. I used to volunteer to unpack new stock in order to snag my sizes in the good stuff and hide them in the back until I could buy them on my break. Thank god I was still in school and living rent free at home, because I saved a grand total of $0.00.

Decca

As someone who has worked in food services for the entirety of her part-time job career, I often envy my friends who work in retail - "You don't get gross food all over your hands! You don't have to refill the water glasses of assholes!" - but then I read this and thank my lucky stars I have stayed far, far away from retail jobs.

sox
sox

@Decca AND! On good nights you can make $25+ an hour in tips. Then you can blow your hard earned cash on ANYTHING (drinks), not just the retail store you work for.

Hellcat

@sox Ahh, the rationale that kept me serving food at a Pizzeria Uno long after I was more than disenchanted with that whole mess. And it actually had the opposite effect that a clothing store job would have, in that I eventually wanted no part of what the place was selling (I think I actually lost weight while working in a restaurant).

The other side to this is that I also worked in a Barnes & Noble at the time. Good thing I had that hard-earned waitress money with which to take advantage of my book discount.

TheDragon

@Decca I work at a petstore, and everyone thinks this would result in having tons of pets.
It does for the first week. Then you realize how much the supplies for that awesome chameleon cost, how loud that gorgeous bird is, and how aggressive any small mammal apart from rats are. I will say, the kitten adoption wall nearly gets me. Then I remember that my mother is caring for my cat while I'm in college, and would rip my jugular out if I got another one.
Problem solved. :)

Glee

@The Kendragon Rats FTW!

insouciantlover

I feel like the implication here is that I should get around to doing my taxes, for one, and also that I shouldn't buy anything online today even though I'm waiting til the 5th to deliver my rent check because I get paid on the 5th and will probably have $100 leftover from paying rent from the paycheck I haven't even received yet. ALTHOUGH, if I put it on my credit card then I could pay back the amount I charged with my NEXT paycheck, right? Someone tell me this is a reasonable thing to do because that clearance wrap dress isn't going to buy itself.

anachronistique

@insouciantlover I spent my entire tax refund on a skirt and a necklace. Whoops?

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@insouciantlover DON'T DO IT. This is often my mindset and it is not a good one. On a related note, my credit card bill is due in a few days and my checking balance is $300 less than my bill. Whee!

insouciantlover

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Can't you just take a cash advance from another credit card and use that to pay the other credit card balance? Isn't that the American way?

Bebe

@insouciantlover Put down the credit card, step away from the wrap dress. That's it, nice and easy. Just put the card down and slide it over, and no one gets hurt. There you go. It's okay, it's over. It's all over now.

nonvolleyball

@insouciantlover Bebe speaks the truth. I've gone from $20k in credit debt to zero in the past few years, & while I don't have the same quantity of beautiful new clothes & accessories, I also don't have the awful panicky feeling that would arise every time I thought about the disparity between my credit card balance & my checking account.

sovereignann@twitter

@insouciantlover no.

sovereignann@twitter

@insouciantlover This is a horrible, horrible idea. Go shopping in your closet, it's spring and there are probably things in there you forgot you had while being bundled up for winter.

insouciantlover

@sovereignann@twitter How about if I start selling crank for money for a clearance wrap dress? Still a bad idea? Get back to me soon.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@insouciantlover That IS the American way. But I loathe the American way/do not want to live my life in (more, non-education related) debt.

sovereignann@twitter

@insouciantlover Prooobably also a bad idea. But maybe if your end game is a wrap dress you wouldn't have to be in the drug trade too long AND on the up side, no additional credit card debt.Down side? Illegal activity and since SCOTUS decided that you can be strip searched anytime you get arrested, even if it is for not wearing a seatbelt, maybe I was looking at your ideas for credit cards all wrong. :) I did not mean to offend and if I did, apologies.

Craftastrophies

@nonvolleyball Congratulations! That is an amazing effort (3k here, and that was bad enough. But think of all the money I saved, by buying things on sale the day before payday! Ugh, whyyyy)

werewolfbarmitzvah

Several years ago, I felt hurt when Anthropologie declined to hire me, but it was probably for the best, because this is likely how it would've turned out.

itmakesmewonder

@werewolfbarmitzvah Man, I recently saw that a flaky person I went to college with is working at Anthropologie, and I'm certain you'd do a better job.

nevernude cutoffs

@werewolfbarmitzvah I definitely knocked over a large display of ceramic goods with my purse in an Anthropologie, so we got them back.

itmakesmewonder

I do really love the idea of making your own sales bonus by buying clothes for yourself. Like a gimmicky rewards program, which as humans we're programmed to fall for every time.

iceberg

Is it bad that the list of clothes made me go "worth it"?

olivebee

My husband loved my employee discount from working at Bath & Body Works because we always had a cabinet full of amazing-smelling hand soaps. He practically ate his own hands when I brought home limited edition Vanilla Pistachio hand soap.

Plus all their stuff is cruelty-free, so it made getting certain cruelty-free toiletries in one place much easier (rather than standing in a drug-store aisle for 45 minutes reading the tiny fine print on the backs of every bottle).

anachronistique

@olivebee I really wish they offered hand soaps that weren't antibacterial, because some of them smell delicious.

Bebe

@olivebee My husband says one of the best parts of living with a woman is that he gets to have scented candles and fancy hand soaps that he loves, and he can just pretend like they're all my idea when his friends come over. His favorite is the gardenia-ish one.

olivebee

@Bebe Haha, my husband joke-tweeted something along those lines...about how he has to go chop down some trees and build a cabin because he spent too much time savoring the smell of the soaps I brought home.

whateverlolawants

@anachronistique They do have non-antibacterial soaps! At least, they did. I worked there for like 7 years. It was in the Aromatherapy section. Sometimes they have them in a gift caddy with hand lotion too- usually around Christmas, sometimes other times.

And yes... working there for so many years was INSANE. I have enough toiletries to last me through the 2010s. I was especially ridiculous when I was in college.

whateverlolawants

@olivebee Vanilla Pistachio mmmmmm that was good

LizHo

This is why I got my one and only mall job working at The Disney Store. It had some good moments, like observing the romance between my co-worker and the toothless guy who manned the sock kiosk just outside or store, and some bad moments, like the endless-on-loop soundtrack of pop songs sung by Disney Channel stars, but I can confidently say that I was never once tempted to spend a dollar of my paycheck on anything sold in that store.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@LizHo Another good place to work retail is the boy scout store (they sell stuff like the uniform shirts and pants and patches, and a few camping items). I did occasionally buy things there (zero-degree sleeping bag for $20!), but for the most part my paychecks remained intact.

packedsuitcase

@LizHo Yeah, after a cash-negative job working at Express in college, I opted to work at Build-A-Bear instead when I got back from study abroad. Best choice ever.

Judith Slutler

@LizHo Yeah, I worked at Toys R Us, and had a similar experience. But the music in that store... holy shit.

DrFeelGood

@LizHo Also, at a lot of stores - Gap, Anthro etc., I've heard that you must be wearing their brand, and fairly recent styles too, that you have to purchase yourself? Is this true?

Megasus

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me There is a Boy Scout Store?

Bebe

@LizHo I lasted 2 whole weeks at the Disney store. I just couldn't handle the forced cheerfulness (the manager was always walking around hissing at us to "have more fun!") and the screaming of children who were denied some piece of plastic crap shaped like Mickey Mouse. I did learn a lot of great Disney trivia during the training, though!

candybeans

@Emmanuelle Cunt I did fine working for borders, and *even* did ok working for a bakery (seeing how the sausage is made and all that really kills an appetite), but if I worked for toys-r-us?? The box I had to live in would be full to bursting of nerf guns and gak (they don't make gak anymore, beans) and spy kits and... and...

frigwiggin

@candybeans THEY DON'T MAKE GAK ANYMORE???

Megoon

@DrFeelGood It's been a while, but during my tour in Banana Republic we had to wear the brand (purchased yourself). It didn't have to be BR head-to-toe, though, and they weren't specific about how recent. Honestly, they didn't NEED to be specific about how recent, because literally every single employee had to be like, restrained from purchasing the entire store during sale time. I still remember the night they started marking leather skirts down to $30 + 30% off. A-line leather not-too-short skirts in EVERY CONCEIVABLE COLOR?! Rioting.

candybeans

@frigwiggin ISN'T THAT FUCKING TRAGIC?!?!?!?!?!!!!!

nevernude cutoffs

@candybeans SPY KITS! Spy kits are my favorite. Do they make Spy Gear anymore? And Skip-its? To ebay, brb

Theresa Borkowski@facebook

@DrFeelGood not true for for any of them- you just have to look like you could. they don't care if your shirt was $3, as long as it's the style

candybeans

@nevernude cutoffs YES on spy kits! and, dude, the only exercise I got as a kid was playing with my skip it!!

nevernude cutoffs

@candybeans Okay, I did some research. I found a brand-name Skip-it on Amazon for $80... I'm going to examine my Hasbro Toys connection, and report back. (Or ask my unemployed engineer brother to weld me something similar)

Canard

@candybeans Urgent bulletin! I saw Gak at Target like a week ago!

beanie

@DrFeelGood having worked at Anthro, I can confirm that is partly true. You have to be wearing something in "the spirit" of Anthro, and cannot have any other outside labels (as in, a polo horse for Ralph Lauren). They cannot make you buy anything but they will tell you if your outfit doesn't "look" the way it should. You get no stipend to buy the stuff, just a discount.

Hellcat

@nevernude cutoffs What? Is Skip-It that thing you put around your foot with a lemon on the other end? I always wanted that thing but, in hindsight and having lived as a clumsy oaf all my life, I think I'd have sucked at it. (Also, I now keep reading "spy kit" as if it were another way to spell "Skip-It"--like "skyp-it").

And I saw the Gak too at Target (when I was in there buying the BF a Lego Millennium Falcon as an early birthday gift)! I forgot I ever even knew what it was!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Megan Patterson@facebook Yep! It's where kids/parents buy the uniforms, and where the troops buy the patches to give to the kids. Also where they sell the pinewood derby car kits.

TheDragon

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me
See the boy scout store would kill me. All my money would go to camping gear.
All my money already goes to camping gear. Or bug catching stuff...

camanda

I have a prepay store card that I can carry a balance on if I want, but the limit is only like $100. I also only ever shop during the good sale days (15%-20% Use Your Card plus any public coupons I can get my hands on; bonus points if it's one of those sales where they raise the employee discount). I may or may not also put things in the stockroom until the sale is better.

On the one hand, I don't want to know how much I've spent there since we reopened. On the other hand, I have seen people come in and spend $45 on a toaster oven for which I paid $20, and know that I actually shop a lot smarter because I work in retail and know what I'm doing, for better or worse. So I'm okay with it. Everything I've bought has been put to good use, too.

I definitely agree, though, that it's SO HARD not to shop while you're working. When we did inventory, the first area we tackled was my stockroom, and I had a bunch of people helping who don't normally work with me. So they spent rather a lot of time going, "Oh, this is nice! I may have to get this!" and then buying it and feeling bad about it. I feel much the same way when I get assigned to handbags. Preeeeeeettyyyyyyyy. Don't need. But so pretty!

cherrispryte

Three winter coats! (NOT JUDGING NOT JUDGING OKAY MAYBE JUDGING A LITTLE.)

Also, my retail stint was put in at KB Toys and Sears. (Simultaneously!) I wound up spending more at KB Toys ......

MoxyCrimeFighter

@cherrispryte At current count, I have 2 peacoats, a light woolen capelet with a hood, a mid-thigh light wool coat, an ankle-length Mary Poppins-style trench-weight coat, a plaid wool bomber, and I just bought an adorable mustard peacoat. I...love outerwear, obviously.

anachronistique

@MoxyCrimeFighter Two long winter coats, two trenches, one babydoll velour peacoat. I aim to have a coat in every color of the rainbow. (What, I live in New England.)

joie

@anachronistique
JV league! Three down coats in varying degrees of puffiness, one fur coat, three black wool coats of varying lengths, one plaid wool duffle coat, one goretex shell, one knee-length trench coat, three lightweight khaki jackets, and far too many fleeces for reckoning. I...live in a cold place.

Frankie's Girl

@cherrispryte
I worked at a KayBee Toys through high school and right before I went to college. They promoted me to assistant manager and tried to give me my own store as an incentive to not go to college... um, no. I already was spending too much on toys and "collectable" action figures. (at least my hubby got some fun out of the original in package TMNT figures I stupidly saved).

Could never work at a bookstore. I'd be paying them to employ me due to the abundance of books I'd purchase.

Prostitute Robot From The Future

@heyits Let's see...one leather coat (just one? Hmm...), one kelly green pea coat (SO fantastic), one leopard coat (never been worn), one cape, one yellow vintage trenchcoat (25 euros, omg!), one winter coat with a dramatic collar, another winter coat (bought one month after the dramatic collar coat, because it was on sale (39 euros!)), a heavy duty winter coat (bought after the other two winter coats, because it got really, really cold, I really should've just worn all my coats at once), one winter coat (hunter-like, purdy), one summer coat worn to death (finding summer coats is haaaaard) aaaand I think that's it. I had more, but I got rid of a lot of clothes when I moved in with my boyfriend.

I need help.

aphrabean

@cherrispryte I've got one puffy coat that's a sleeping bag with arms, basically, a wool pea coat that was free but also that my dog ripped the hell out of while going through his terrible adolescence and a lighter, shorter down coat that he also ripped. Teenage dogs! The worst. I'm not a shopper by any means, but depending on where you live (the Midwest) three winter coats can seem pretty reasonable.

HaughtyTotty

@cherrispryte Erm...one puffy down coat, a good wool coat, a fake wool coat, gorgeous 1950's cherry-red dress coat, red leather jacket, black and white leather jacket, red suede jacket, shades of blue suede jacket, two velvet blazers, vintage houndstooth capelet, and uh... those are the ones I collected while sweltering in the desert. Now that I'm in a (supposedly) cold climate, Imma wear the shee-it out of my outerwear!

MilesofMountains

@cherrispryte Three winter coats is nothing if you live in a cold area! I have a puffy coat (for when it's really cold), another puffy coat (for when it's cold and I'm doing something that will get me dirty), a midweight coat with a removable liner (warm winter days) and every other day between the end of September and mid-April I have to alternate between my grey wool coat and my green wool coat because wool needs a rest between wearings and I really wish I had a third wool one for some variety. I should buy a third wool one.

Hellcat

@MoxyCrimeFighter With you on this... yet I hate cold weather. Puffy coat, girlier puffy coat (with a hood!), mid-length plaid coat, gray peacoat that I always say I hate and then end up wearing a lot of the time because it doesn't show lint like my preferred black peacoat (which was $29 at Joyce Leslie so it doesn't really count), longish light-blue coat (so pretty but I'm scared of spilling coffee on it), vintage suede number with that fuzzy-hairy faux fur, vintage black leather one (my favorite purchase ever, maybe), and big faux leopard from Forever 21 that I bought and wore just once because (a) we had a warmish winter, and (b) I always forget that I am already wearing some other leopard-format shit and feel weird doubling up. This is not counting the oh-so-necessary in-between jackets.

joie

@Hellcat
that faux leopard coat sounds amazing...actually, your fashion sense, overall. so the Hellcat wears leopard?

Hellcat

@heyits Well, thank you. And HA! Purrhaps I actually am a cat (I'm sorry). The leopard coat was such a must-have. I mean, it was at Forever 21 so obviously not a big financial strain there, and (also obviously) it doesn't look like anything one is trying to pretend is super-fancy--in fact, it's kind of... fuzzy-bathmat-like! It's just very cute. (But being from Jersey, I sometimes try to go easy on the animal prints lest I be accused of trying to emulate various reality-TV ladies who are awful.)

Ellie

I work at a bookstore (well, now it's my second job). I'm not much of a book buyer in general but I feel like I just get soooo sick of books and consumption thereof. Maybe I'm a saint but I feel like I would feel the same way about clothes. Once you see so much stock going in and out you come to see it just as a commodity and get really jaded. I got sick of ice cream working at an ice cream place too.

However, I definitely subscribe to the fantasy that the perfect article of clothing will transform my life which you can't do for books (though ironically, in reality books are much more transformative) so maybe I would be susceptible to the same problem if I worked in a clothes store.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Ellie Did you also get sick of HAPPINESS when you worked in Heaven?

packedsuitcase

@Ellie I found the opposite. I would be in the store for hours at a time, and clothing I thought was HIDEOUS when it first came it looked cuter and cuter until I eventually just *had* to have it. It was like beer goggles, but way more expensive.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@packedsuitcase Stockholm Syndrome! (Pun!) I used to get that, too, when I worked in retail.

DrFeelGood

@Ellie I get that whenever I walk into a department store. It makes me feel guilty and like we as americans have WAY too much shit, and we're ruining everything because of it. Over the weekend, I was in Macy's, and the vast majority of the women's clothes were on sale. I feel like an old lady, but I remember as a kid, sales were kind of seasonal? Because they only got 1 new shipments of clothes a season? Now, it seems like every time I walk buy a clothing store, it is SALE! and they are bringing in new stuff :(

gtrachel

@packedsuitcase That's hilarious and I know exactly what you mean.

baklava!

@packedsuitcase That was my experience working in a bookstore through highschool and college. "this latest oprah book looks terrible"--> "oh hey zillionth customer you *also* want that terrible-yet-reportedly-life-changing oprah book? right this way"--> "why is everyone on the planet buying this"--> "I should probably just buy it and find out". Fortunately it was easy to let go of most of it once I left that job and regained my perspective.

living internationally

@Ellie I lost my taste for popcorn when I manned Popcorn Island in the local cinema. Did you know that popcorn smells vile in large quantities? Also it may look fresh from the popper, but it's not.

Are They Biting Ducks?

@Ellie It's sad, but this is a true thing. I was one of those people NEVER without a book - then I went to work for a bookstore. I've been doing it for five years now, and I have never read less in my life. :(

werewolfbarmitzvah

@baklava! ZOMG, in the 2 years I spent working at Borders, I swear that all people ever bought was the Left Behind series, or Nicholas Sparks, or else they were teenagers shopping for their summer reading lists precisely one week before the start of school and were shocked - shocked! - that all of the short/easy/fun books on their lists were all sold out, because all of the bad students bought the same exact short/easy/fun summer reading books as each other and wiped out our inventory lickety split. And then I'm all, "Hey, no problemo! Hows about some JAMES JOYCE instead? He's totally on your list!" and they would just have the most heartbroken faces imaginable.

no way

@lessismore My partner and I both did stints at movie theaters and therefore cannot abide movie theater popcorn. It's the fucking smell. The smell that lingers. The awful feeling of slinking into the stinky vest and smelling like work. Also, a small popcorn and a small drink cost more than I made an hour.

sox
sox

@Are They Biting Ducks? Yes! Same with being a photographer working in a camera store/lab. I processed two (2!) rolls of my own film over the course of a year.

living internationally

@no way YUS. Also nachos and the 'cheese sauce'.

Hellcat

@baklava! OH MY GOODNESS, I KNOW! I worked in a B&N at the height of "Oprah's Book List." God, people, if you just have to have it, you could maybe find out the actual name and author... because, NO; Oprah did not write it and I am possibly confused because, while you were at home watching Oprah, I was here all day cleaning up after people like you! (Ooh, sorry.)

baklava!

@werewolfbarmitzvah @Hellcat (fortunately the many times I got to make recommendations for great lesser-knowns that people loved and never would have bought otherwise made up for all the what-do-you-mean-you-don't-have-any-more-celestine-prophecies and i'll-just-tuck-this-half-finished-sandwich-in-the-true-crime-section-heh-hehs. --the joy of working in a bookstore)

baklava!

@Hellcat (one other tangent: perhaps you were working there around the 'You've Got Mail' time then? When 1/5 of the customers we had accused us of being big-box robots that did not have an appropriate amount of love for books, and enjoyed testing us to prove it?)

Hellcat

@baklava! I was mid-'90s... and oh boy do I remember The Celestine Prophecy (it was greenish-blue!)... as well as that Oprah cookbook! We could probably share some stories of which many would start with the phrase, "You'd think bookstore shoppers would be intelligent, but..."

area@twitter

My retail stint was at Starbucks, before I started drinking coffee on a regular basis. This worked out optimally. Had I, instead, landed a job at the bookstore, my spending habits would have deteriorated to such a point that by month three I would have been forced to move into an igloo built from old genre fiction paperbacks.

monicamcl

@area@twitter I worked at an Encore Books for two years part-time and never made a penny. This was pre-Amazon, and the store was in a college town, so professors were constantly coming in and special-ordering these obscure books that were so amazing that I was forced, FORCED, to order a copy for myself at the same time. Luckily I was working for an antique furniture dealer during the day, and his prices were so exhorbitant there was no way I could ever afford any of it. Otherwise I would have been living in a John Dickson Carr igloo, too.

Achyvi

@monicamcl That would be the BEST IGLOO EVER.

screwball cate

I haven't even read this yet..I just wanted to say that I am already laughing just based on the title. Also the fact that the article is sponsored by TurboTax.

Dancercise
MoxyCrimeFighter

@Dancersize Say what you will about America, 13 bucks still gets you a heck of a lot of mice.

candybeans

OHMYGOD, all this time I thought it was RAZOR-back, not RACER BACK.
SOMEONE PLEASE TAKE AWAY MY DEGREES. TOO STUPID.

frigwiggin

@candybeans Aw, we all do this! Until a couple of years ago I didn't know that "segway" and "segue" were homophones. (I thought the latter was pronounced "sayg." Let's just sayg into a different topic of conversation...)

candybeans

@frigwiggin yeah, but that's a heavy-reading-less-talking mistake (I make plenty of those, too). Mine is, like, the kind of mistake a 3-year-old makes. somehow.

hahahaha, ja.

@frigwiggin: I HAD NO CLUE OH GOD THIS COMMENT HAS JUST TURNED MY LIFE UPSIDE DOWN. I did wonder why "segueway" wasn't a word ...

QuiteAmiable

@ietapi SAME HERE. I am stunned. I've just been through these stages: denial, shock, anger and now acceptance. Sigh.

stuffisthings

@ietapi Is that when you transition from one ludicrous mode of transportation to another?

Like if you see someone dismount a unicycle and get onto a blimp, you can be like, "Ooh, nice segueway."

frigwiggin

@candybeans Well, it's not like racerback makes any more sense out of context than razorback does. In fact, spellcheck doesn't think "racerback" is a word, while it accepts razorback! Take that, language! Now we just gotta get some pigs in tank tops and we'll be good to go.

@ietapi @QuiteAmiable I'm somewhat reassured to know that I wasn't the only one.

hahahaha, ja.

@frigwiggin: So I tried to find a picture of a pig in a tank top but could only find pigs printed on tank tops, and also learned that there is a rare breed of pigs with curly hair!!

frigwiggin

@ietapi Ah! I want one, except I don't, because what would I do with a pig. Those need to be in every petting zoo starting now.

QuiteAmiable

@ietapi THIS HAS TO BE MY SPIRIT ANIMAL!

OwlOfDerision

@frigwiggin I went around saying 'segyoooo' a lot, until corrected by le boyfriend. There was shame. It was mine.

sergeant tibbs

@frigwiggin Ahh I used to think it was pronounced "seeg", like a musical fugue...all my friends still make fun of me for that one.

bloodorange

@frigwiggin WHAT OH GOD

catsuperhero

@candybeans "Racer back" (I'm pretty sure) comes from swimming. The tanks are modeled after racing suits.

(Also: Solder. Awry. Colonel. All words that have betrayed me.)

frigwiggin

I wonder if Goodwill employees get a discount.

simone eastbro

@frigwiggin If it's a thrift store that supports a rehab program (or whatever) (in which case you wouldn't want to work there anyway because it would mean you were in rehab (or whatever)), probably not, no.

QuiteAmiable

@frigwiggin Yes they do! But not much, only like 15% or 20%.

florabora

@simone eastbro I'm nearly positive Goodwill store employees are not placed there through their program, so no it would not mean you were in rehab. Management positions definitely aren't.

stuffisthings

The highest something something advanced capitalism something.

stuffisthings

@stuffisthings Something something on your own supply something Al Pacino.

florabora

This has reminded me that I have yet to do my taxes. Oops.

Also my time in retail was at a used book store. Less dangerous than a clothing store.

frigwiggin

@florabora I have to do mine too! Thanks, Hairpin! Ugh, I've never had to do taxes before, what if I screw up so badly I get arrested?

candybeans

@frigwiggin unless you're a wealthy independent contractor and will be deducting lots of things, you're not really a priority for the IRS. Don't fret.

florabora

@frigwiggin If you never having done them before means you are a young adult, you are possibly so poor you don't owe anything and it's pretty easy. Use the 1040 EZ and the free fillable forms on the IRS website and if you do something wrong a) they may never realize b) they'll probably just send you a stern letter telling you to fix it, not arrest you. Unless you actually are a millionaire and accidentally commit major white collar crime.

Also what's even easier than figuring out how to pay your taxes is filling out an extension form! So if you're freaking out just do that then find someone to help you.

stuffisthings

@frigwiggin See? Money well spent, TurboTax people.

frigwiggin

@florabora I'm hoping it will be easy! I've only had "real" jobs since last March, so this is very new to me. The main bump in the road is that I have some inheritance money that my parents have invested, but my mom sent me the appropriate papers regarding that, so I'm just hoping I won't turn out to be an incompetent boob at this.

stuffisthings

@frigwiggin I hear there's some really good software you can use that is easy as hell, and maybe free for basic federal returns, which makes it impossible to screw up. Can't remember for the life of me what it's called, though.

ormaisonogrande

@frigwiggin seriously don't worry. Once when I was still in college both my mom and I claimed me as an exemption and all they did was send us both a letter saying something like, "Pick one. Just one. And please let us know which one you picked." And then my mom (obviously her and not me because I made something like $5000/year total) had to give back something like $150 of her tax refund = the part that we had both claimed.

whateverlolawants

@florabora This year I had the good folks at VITA help me! This is a govt. program for people who make under $49,000/year where a volunteer helps you do your taxes for free. I think it stands for Voulunteer Income Tax Assistance. Look it up. I went to a local community center. I had to schedule it, though, and spots fill up fairly quickly.

florabora

@whateverlolawants Those programs are great! Everyone who's confused should go there.

stuffisthings

@florabora I'm really so confused here. USE TURBOTAX JESUS CHRIST. I think it charged me, like, $30 because I wanted my returns direct deposited or something? What the hell. Why on earth would you tie up some volunteer program for low income people? I make $40k a year and my mom is a tax accountant, and we both use TurboTax to do our personal returns.

Also, TurboTax people, you should be paying me and not Hairpin probably. You've got my account numbers, just deposit it in there.

whateverlolawants

@stuffisthings Uh... because I *AM* a low-income person. (Yes, we use the internet.) Because $30 to do my taxes is a lot. Because I had a minor complication with my taxes this year and my mom and I decided we needed a professional opinion. (My mom was a professional tax preparer a few years ago, in fact.)

Wow. Just wow.

Craftastrophies

@whateverlolawants You mean low income people know how to type??

(/sarcasm)

dabbyfanny

@frigwiggin FreeTaxUSA is one of the online ones, it's so freaking easy, swear to god you will love it. Although I think it may only be available in some states? If you go to irs.gov, you will see links for places you can file online. What's really sweet is that you can opt to get refunds via electronic deposit. I went from crying with stress over my taxes to running for my computer the second my W2 hit the mat.

frigwiggin

@dabbyfanny I may try that one next time! I bit the bullet last night and used TaxACT or something because my boyfriend's mother likes it, and man, they nag you to buy their deluxe version like every other page. I got it done, though! And I'm getting $69 back, which means I'm basically obligated to spend it on sex toys, right?

New Hoarder

@florabora I've been using Free Tax Usa (.com) for years now, and it's great. I earn... not enough so I get to file my federal taxes for free/ choose direct deposit, though I nearly gasped when I started having to pay $10 to electronically submit my state return (but then I get my return faster and have peace of mind). I also like that everything is pre-filled since I have been using it for years.

Anji

Ha! I worked at JoAnn's Fabrics and Crafts the summer between junior and senior year of high school, and saved damn near every penny - partly because I am in no way, shape, or form anything resembling crafty. (I was that cashier who would just make shit up, because I figured if you were dumb enough to keep asking a teenaged cashier about your projects, even after she's told you several times that she's really not sure, instead of an actual floor employee who's been trained in that, you get what you deserve.) Also because my managers were evil and would do completely illegal shit like lock us in the building after closing until it was cleaned to their satisfaction, and I didn't want my money going into their paycheck.

melis

92 comments in and no one has mentioned discreet shoplifting as the answer to your problem?

stuffisthings

@melis It's not discreet if you MENTION it.

Hellcat

@melis I debated this and then I got scared. I'll just say that the days just prior to inventory were the best days to make "necessary changes," and then subsequently "buy" the book all legit-like with its fancy new low price.

Craftastrophies

@melis When I stopped working in the beauty aids aisle I had to buy toothpaste again. It was a sad day.

breccalynn

My solution was to work in a high end chocolate store. The pay was crap, but the chocolate was free and plentiful. It was actually outlined in our duties to eat the chocolate for the purpose of quality control, and also so that we would know the product. So except for the occasional extremely mad customer that would lose their shit over chocolate related wrongs done to them, it was pretty much the best job ever. I even somehow managed to LOSE 15 POUNDS while eating chocolate all day every day.

Wait, why don't I work there anymore?

cc
cc

@breccalynn please find attached my resume!

Valerie Sprague@facebook

@breccalynn This came out recently http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2012/03/30/eat-chocolate-lose-weight-yeah-right/

BUT actually that makes sense to me, because if I eat a piece of chocolate I'm less likely to go have a Big Mac and giant fries, because it's so satisfying.

omgkitties

First job (15): Contempo (followed by Limbo Lounge, RIP) was 100% this. Now I work at a library which is awesome because I still have not learned self-control but it's all freeeeeeeeeee.

whateverlolawants

I am reading this on break from my job (career?) at the mall. It's a mid-priced jewelry and collectibles store, and I don't go too crazy here, b/c the prices are just high enough to deter that. The discount and allotment is decent, though.

young preeezy

I've always played with the idea of working a part-time retail job (ideally on the weekends, since I do have a full-time job) as a more "relaxed" way (ha!) to make some extra cash. This article is a good reminder why that's a terrible idea for me. Not only would I lose any free time I'd otherwise earn for the weekend, but I'd just probably blow all the cash on clothes instead of on bills, debt, etc where I'd actually need it to go.

Now I don't feel so bad for being too lazy to look for such side jobs.

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