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26 July 2011


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Wow. I made $2.75 an hour during summers, pulling staples in insurance offices. But yeah, lifeguards do need more skills and training.

And another thing - she took the job to "get out of the apartment"?

I remember making 4.50 at the Exclusive Company--and that was the premium for working full-time! God, hilarious.
Well, she took the job for a bit of extra cash, and in her defense, you do go a bit batty sitting by yourself in the house freelancing. I think she was also looking for some chats or something, and I'm sure she had the idea for this book in the back of her mind. All fine reasons, but one or two shifts a week? Not enough, particularly not to feel the physical effects of the job.

Oh, yes there are plenty of frightful shoppers out there. I'm flashbacking a few right now as I do anytime I recall those years I worked in retail. I worked for a store that was rather kind to employees. We got bonuses and everyone worked every other weekend as an acknowledgement that people deserved a life. If you're not working a shift on the weekend at a store, you haven't really experienced retail. Tuesday and Wednesday? That's like tipping your toe into a pool and writing about competitive swimming.

I agree, Susan. Until you've been behind a service desk on a Friday night, you haven't worked a service job. Ditto on the other weekend hours. (Loved the swimming analogy, by the way.)

I don't have anything to add, just wanted to say that in my Google Reader, the blog post (on another blog, of course) right above this one had the title "Retail therapy."

Wackadoodle, Brandon. Evidently all of our minds are on retail these days, since it's the only sector with jobs?
Can I ask what the blog was? I'd like to read the "retail therapy" post.

I'd call that pretty decent money.

But whatever. I was just a dog walker and an office temp, not a retail person.

I had this on my TRB list, as I am also interested in this topic. Guess I can take it off now! I haven't read Why We Buy, but read Paco Underhill's Call of the Mall which had some interesting facts.

Thanks Brandon!
I always find it interesting to read how others shop (and enjoy shopping). Outside of bookstores shopping gives me anxiety attacks; I NEED therapy after I'm done with retail.

I didn't think it was so bad either (although it's not really a living wage for a full-timer), which is why I was wondering how on earth she got them to give her a higher wage than normal.

If you liked "Call of the Mall," I think you'll really like "Why We Buy." I found it the more interesting of the two. Let me know what you think of it!

Dear CR:

A few issues need clarifying/correction in order to be accurate and fair, which I'm sure is your goal.

Your assertion that I never offer specifics of lousy/nasty customers is inaccurate and therefore misleading to potential readers; see pages 83, 186 and 195. All of Chapter Eleven focuses on them, "Customers From Hell."

You're fan of Paco's? Me, too. He's also been touting the book, and his connection to it, in his own newsletter. My original interview with him is on pages 62-64.

It is a popular, but inaccurate and cynical assumption that I "always had a book in mind." The best way to find out why an author does something is to ask us directly, not guessing -- wrongly. I answer every email, including critical ones.

While I took the job for several reasons, getting out of my home was one of them, *not* the only one; see pages 92-95 for the true, more nuanced details.

You've never asked for more money when offered a job? Your call. I did, and say that clearly on page 17; the part-time wage was $9. The manager could easily have said no to my request, but he didn't. I do explain later the three reasons he hired me; page 52.

Thanks very much for setting the record straight!

Ms. Kelly:
Thank you for your impassioned defense; it's always nice to have my impressions countered. It rounds out the picture for readers.

I don't know that being fair is my goal. You write your book, I read it; your interest is to sell it, my interest is to say how a certain book struck me. I do stand by my post's accuracy--I didn't say getting out of the apartment was your ONLY goal; in the same sentence I state you also hoped to supplement your income.

You shared some customer service stories (hence "periodically alludes"), and I'm sure they were on the pages you cite, but perhaps they didn't feel like very strong examples to me. Perhaps I should have mentioned I'm a jaded reader, as I worked in customer service for twenty-five years; I may have higher requirements for "customer from hell" stories. Actually, Freeman Hall's memoir "Retail Hell" is more my speed--he cites feces in the store (in the dressing rooms, I think?). Now THAT is a customer service story.

To say I'm sure you had a book in mind from the start was a cynical assumption, but I make a lot of those. Thanks for clarifying that point. I often do email authors with questions when it's something I really want to know or think readers might want to know, but often I don't want to waste their time. I'm not a big-time literary blog here, and I don't like to pretend that authors owe me anything.

My quibble with your asking for more money story is that you never then stated that they agreed to your $11 an hour demand. I guess I should have assumed that, since they still did hire you. And hey, here is a question for you, if you're up for answering it: how did you feel about working with people who probably didn't ask for more and were all making $9 while you made $11? I'm not trying to be difficult, but it really just never occurred to me to negotiate for better service job pay. Particularly in this economy.

Again, thanks for your input, and really, good luck with your book. (I'm glad Paco's touting it, I'm sure it's nice advertising for his work too.)

Some of us are reading this blog the way we follow authors: we want to know what the cynical CR has to say about books. That take may or may not influence us, but it's a good reference point.

It is nice to see an author respond. Those of us who are interested will now find our reading enhanced. Thank you both. However, some of us remember writing in college or other places, and learning that once you put your words out there, folks make of them what they will. Sometimes the author wasn't clear or complete, but sometimes people just have their bents, and experience has everything to do with future experience in my experience.

CR is cynical, generally cranky and occasionally potty-mouthed. I like her that way.

CR Fan, Ruthiella:
You two are the best. And I mean that just as un-cynically (what's the opposite of cynical anyway?) as I can.

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