What It's Like To Be
What It's Like To Be

My First Day in Hell #RetailTales

by Peter Ellis 2 years ago in industry

Featuring Drunk Football Fans, Police Vans, and a Suspicious Number of Wetsuits

My First Day in Hell #RetailTales
"What do you mean this isn't in the meal deal?!"

Like a lot of young adults, my first real job was in retail. I had a summer job a couple of years prior at my parents' workplace, but this was the first one I had applied for myself and wasn't handed to me on a plate. Before we dig into it, this is a true story.

The job was at a service station just outside of my hometown. I went into the interview drastically overdressed, which amused my friends who already worked there a great deal. We didn't bother sitting in an office, we sat in the cafe, on an unpleasantly sticky table. It was definitely the wrong choice to wear a suit.

But with that, I'd got the job, I'd done it! A full-time part-time job. Wanted to earn some money but wanted to have enough time to study for my A-Levels (which I bottled anyway, massively, but I digress). I was told I could start on a later day that week at six.

I woke up unreasonably early. No sane person should see two 5'o'clocks in a day. I got there early to make a good impression despite feeling like the human embodiment of death. I'm a terrible morning person.

I introduced myself to the guy behind the counter, but he didn't think I was supposed to be there. He went to check the rota, turns out I was meant to be starting at 6 PM, not AM. Great start, Peter.My parents came back and to pick me up. I probably should've asked for clarification on "come in at 6", but hey, Future Peter is now a wiser man for it.

"I Have a Bad Feeling About This"

So, 6 PM was upon me and I turned up when I was actually supposed to this time. And my god, it was busy. It felt like every man, woman and child and their individual accompanying dogs were out. It felt quite overwhelming to start with. Besides the initial joke about me turning up at the wrong time, the tone descended quickly.

"Yeah we're not going to be able to let you sit in the office to do your training because it's too busy, we're gonna try and teach you on the go."

Brilliant, I thought. I'm going to cry. I'd never used a till system before, so they ran me through the basics of how it works. It quickly became clear I had no idea what I was doing.

Why does it have so many buttons? I thought it was just "check deals" and hit total? These people are geniuses.

These are all things that passed through my mind as I tried to wrap my brains around this enigma of a contraption disguised as a till. The training laptop wasn't much help either; it was one of those small Notebooks, that was the size of an actual notebook, and had about as much processing power as one. It took me nearly a week to complete that training in the end.

From then, things are a bit of a blur. I think it went pretty well. I didn't set fire to anything, so they let me go for my break. But from that break time on, everything was clear as day.

As I was eating, several buses of very drunk, very loud Swansea fans turned up. No matter where you were in the service station, you could hear these awful people. I had no idea where the staff toilet was, so I went to the public one. Guess what, more Swansea fans. As I cowered in a cubicle they all started chanting impossibly loud. I hated it, so I swiftly left.

"Out of the Frying Pan..."

As I came out, several people sprinted past me. Not too far behind them, was one of the ladies I was working with screeching, "Thieves!! Stop!" It took me a second to process what was happening, but I followed her outside to ask what'd happened. The Swansea fans had only gone and ransacked several shops, including ours. I got my other supervisor to go out with her, and they had no choice but to leave me to run the whole store while the police were on their way.

Many expletives flew around my head. Enough to make your mother hate me. But I had no choice. The number of people coming through the station hadn't lessened, so I was almost constantly busy. It meant I starting solving how to work the infernal till machine, somehow only needing help about ten times. People were mercifully easy on me, everyone in the station was aware it was "only my first day" by the end of the shift.

When I say the police turned up, they turned up. Multiple police cars, vans, and good boys (sorry, dogs with jobs) came to apprehend the Swansea fans. Turns out, they had stolen over £150 worth of goods just from us, including food, alcohol, and for some reason, wetsuits. Lots of wetsuits. And some sandals. Why? I doubt it was that sunny in Swansea. Anyway, I'm digressing again.

Instead of trying to figure out what was ours and what was already on the three coaches, the police decided to confiscate absolutely everything. Much to their dismay. For some reason, several two-litre bottles of Coca-Cola smelt not of Coke, but rather suspiciously like vodka. You don't even want to know what happened to some of the pasties. (Some were hidden down some trousers).

To be quite honest, I have no idea what happened next. Did they all get arrested? I probably forgot to ask, I was too busy running a shop on my first day. It didn't even relent that much until I was finished. The people just kept coming. I felt like I was stuck in Lemmings, but instead of these people relentlessly throwing themselves off cliffs, they were relentlessly throwing themselves at my till. Talk about baptism by fire. Not a small kitchen fire, more like my mixtape kind of fire. (*flame emoji*)

One of my supervisors said she wouldn't blame me if I didn't come back after that. The thought had crossed my mind, but I needed the money. How else was I going to fund the future sessions?

That concludes my first "story time" article. I realised I have quite a lot to say with regards to my time in retail. So it may become a regular thing. If you enjoyed this, please share it around with all of your other retail-working, retail-hating friends!

Peter Ellis
Peter Ellis
Read next: Why Denny's Is the Perfect Starter Job for a Cook
Peter Ellis

23, living in England. A keen lover of films, video games and music. Some would argue I'm too sarcastic for my own good. They would be right.

Twitter: @PM_Ellis1

See all posts by Peter Ellis