Every Man, Woman & Karen Should Do Compulsory Hospo & Retail Work So They Act Right In Macca’s

compulsory hospo work
Contributor: Melissa Matheson

If you’ve ever worked in hospo or retail you know a certain truth about the world: people are the fucking worst.

The moment some customers walk into a cafe or a shop, they somehow feel entitled to treat the staff like shit. There’s a reason that “I want to speak to the manager” meme is so bloody triggering.

But once you’ve worked on the other side of the cash register, I can tell you now you’ll never be rude to service staff ever again. It leaves you with deep scars. So deep in my case that it took me years to enjoy Christmas again because Christmas shoppers are pure evil.

So here it is, the solution to shithead customers: everyone should be forced to work in hospo or retail like it’s compulsory military service.

Instead of completing a boot camp or whatever, make every Australian serve coffees in rush hour, deal with customers trying to return clothes they’ve clearly worn (which is both gross and dodgy), or face supermarket shoppers screaming about self-serve checkouts being on the fritz, again.

It doesn’t have to be for years — just one Christmas in retail will change you forever. Make it mandatory at the end of high school. Complete 50 hours and you’re good to go. That’s less than half the time required to obtain a driver’s licence these days.

I served a year and a half in the trenches at a jewellery store in Westfield Mount Druitt. On top of the many security threats you have to train for — code words to call security when there’s a robbery in process, or how to give police a proper description after a snatch-and-grab — you also have to be on-guard for customers about to go ape shit in the store because they just don’t want to wait in line.

Reddit’s TalesFromRetail has no shortage of horror stories, but I’ll give you my own encounter with the Grinch just for kicks. A couple of days before Christmas, a dad came into the store with his two young daughters to buy their mum a gift. He gave them $50 to spend, which isn’t a lot even with chainstore jewellery, but I helped them pick out a little gold ring and they were proud as punch at their efforts.

The day after Boxing Day — AKA Hell for retail workers because every customer is impatient for a “bargain” or to return a gift they hate — the mum who was the recipient of this thoughtfully selected gift was in the store with her kids and husband in tow.

She huffed and puffed in the queue and when she got to the counter, chucked the ring at me and shouted “I won’t wear this, I want a refund.” My heart sank for those kids, and their little faces indicated they had been dragged from store to store all day returning gifts. It ruined my Christmas for years.

Online shopping is a fucking godsend.