This I Believe

Caitlin - Elgin, Illinois
Entered on October 28, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

During the summer of 2006 I, like many teenagers, decided to get a summer job. I was hired at a well known department store, and was really excited about my first real job. For the first time in my life, I wouldn’t have to rely solely on my parents for things that I wanted. And while I was able to obtain some of the things I wanted, as well as put some money in the bank, I ended up gaining so much more than just monetary payment. Working retail is a lesson in patience, and the best way to achieve it.

When working in retail I realized that, no matter where a person goes, the likelihood that there will be disagreeable people is extremely high. Working over the summer, in combination with experiences at school and in clubs, has given me the impression that there are two positions that disagreeable people will hold. These people will either be a boss, or other authority figure, or the new person. I’m not sure if authority goes to some people’s heads, but it seems that it does. I’ve personally run into quite a few people, bosses, coaches, and teachers, who seem to have inflated heads. They believe that they are right, no one else is right, and even if another person is right it doesn’t matter because the authority figure doesn’t listen. It is their way or the highway. Of course, this does not apply to all authority figures. Many are very nice, considerate people. But my experiences have led me to believe that there will always be at least one who is there (it would seem) for the soul purpose of being a royal pain in the rear end. The same goes for the annoying new person. Either the person doesn’t really care and the person tries to fob all the work off on the people who have been there for a while, or the new person is just annoying. Working in retail allowed me to see, and to learn now, at the ripe age of seventeen, that dealing with these people in a manner that doesn’t involve a boxing ring, referee, no gloves, and a mouth guard is a very important skill to have.

Retail is also probably one of the best ways I’ve been exposed to, up to this point in my life, communicating with people when I don’t understand. Whether a language barrier or a difference in ideas, I had to learn patience, and sometimes try to communicate in different ways, in order to get my point across. It’s hard to maintain a calm demeanor when the frustration builds to the point that screaming seems like a very good idea. But, in retail, it is necessary to have, or build, patience.

Patience is a virtue, or so people say. It wasn’t a virtue that I had, as I always told the automated response at my mother’s work when it said, “Thank you for your patience.” But after a summer in retail, I believe that I have more patience than before I had my job, and I believe that anyone looking for more patience need only spend a few months in retail.