What They Don’t Tell You When You’re Hired

I recently started working at a retail job (that I LOVE!) and I’ve noticed that it is a lot different from what I’ve expected. So, I put together a list of everything that people should tell you but don’t when you’re hired to work a retail job.

1. Your feet will fall off from pain.
No, I totally made that up! But it will hurt like a b-word until you’re used to working on your feet all the time. Also, wash your shoes regularly because they’ll start to smell terrible. And pedicures are essential (but do them yourself because ain’t nobody got money for that).

2. Your coworkers are your greatest allies.
They will come to your rescue on the battlefield – I mean the work floor – whenever you need it. If you ever get a customer you don’t know how to deal with, pull aside a coworker and ask (or better yet, a manager because they know everything). Don’t feel stupid for asking; you’re new, it’s not expected that you know everything right away. It will be way better if you just ask for help rather than stumble through trying to figure something out. You won’t be fired for asking for help, I promise.

3. Don’t. Make. Enemies.
Whatever you do, remain polite to the customer and to your coworkers. If you make enemies with the customer, it looks bad on the store you represent. If you make enemies with your coworkers, they’re liable to stop assisting you so kindly when you need help. All and all, just be friendly to everyone, even when they don’t return the favour. If you find this hard to do, please don’t work retail.

4. Pack yourself some food!
I’m hungry 24/7 and I always forget this rule! Also, if you work at a mall like I do, try to avoid eating at the food court all the time. It eats your money (ha ha, get it?) and it isn’t super healthy for you either (sorry Jared the Subway guy). I usually make myself a salad and pack some granola bars because it’s fast, easy and cheap – not unlike a hooker.

5. Please for the love of God don’t be late.
If you have a scheduling conflict, LET SOMEONE KNOW! It’s better to work it out ahead of time than to freak out at the last minute and call in saying you’re going to be late, trust me. PLUS, don’t rely on bus schedules to get you there on time. Plan ahead and leave early because you never know what’s going to happen.

6. You will feel either REALLY happy when you get off work or REALLY miserable.
There’s no in-between. Either you still have that “Hi-how-are-you-may-I-help-you?” smile and attitude going on or you’re dead tired and just want popcorn and Netflix. Personally, I’m usually the first one but there have definitely been some days when I just wanted to sleep for 78 hours straight.

7. You can still have a life.
I have TWO jobs and I still make time for friends, class, homework and hobbies (like writing lists like this one). Maybe you’re going to have to cut back on the less important things a bit, but remember that it’s important to still have “you time”. If you need a personal day (like something tragical happened, not “I want to go get my hair done”) then your boss will understand.

8. You will stop caring about your appearance at work.
Sorry, but if I’m up all night doing an assignment, the forecast for work the next day will be a 100% chance of messy bun and no makeup. If my tired and puffy eyes bother you, I can’t help ya.

9. If you fuck up, it’s okay; don’t panic.
Everyone messes up sometimes because hey, we’re human! If you mess up royally, it’s not a big deal so long as you get help right away. It’s no use hiding your errors because you will be found out and the consequences will be much worse than they would have been if you had fessed up right away. Just admit you made a mistake and ask for help to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

10. You WILL have to deal with difficult people, so you might as well get used to it.
Customers can be seemingly unreasonable at times. Remember to stay professional and to just deal with them calmly. If they start making a fuss over something you cannot help them with or control, apologize profusely and get your manager to help you. Mentioning that you’re new also doesn’t hurt. SIDE NOTE: just because the customer is always right doesn’t mean they should ever be allowed to make you feel uncomfortable or violated. If someone invades your space in a way that makes you uncomfortable, tell your boss right away. (An example of this wouldn’t be someone yelling at you except in extreme cases… I was thinking more along the lines of someone grabbing you inappropriately. That’s never okay.)

So there you have it.

Did I mention bring food? It’s important.

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Piece of Fiction for Today

“Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must include a speeding car, a phone call, and a crisp, bright morning.” – Prompt I used

It was a beautiful, bright autumn sun that shone down on the wreckage. Smoke billowed from the engine and polluted the crisp air as it filtered through the crowd of onlookers who just stood there, petrified, beside their pulled-over cars.

What was once a blue Volkswagen was lying completely crushed in a ditch off the small road. Blood trickled down the sides of the window and a child crying could be heard coming from the ruin.

Someone yelled to call 9-1-1 and some of the onlookers went up to the wreckage, blindly trying anything they believed would help a hopeless cause.

Firefighters arrived at the scene twenty minutes too late, and they pried open what was once the front window to pull out the corpse of what was once a loving father.

His son was in the back seat, remarkably and miraculously unharmed aside from a small river of red streaking his blonde hair. He screamed for his daddy until his throat was raw and all he could do was cry in silent incomprehension.

The day eclipsed into darkness according to everyone on who was there that day. No one had known that the small boy was not calling for his father, but blaming him.

It had all started with a phone call on a beautiful autumn day. What could happen?

Nostalgia

It’s like the days of starry wishes
fairy kisses
stormy misses
(was all fictitious)
vanished with
my innocence.

The big house grew smaller
or I grew taller
and forgot how to fit
in all the right places.

It’s like the days of sleepy car rides
handsy new guys
lovely soft lies
(did I realize)
vanished with
my child eyes.

The world grew smaller
or I grew taller
and forgot how to
forget.

It’s like the days of Disney movies
wild beauty
forgetful cruelty
(such young vitality)
vanished with
my reality.

The big house grew small
or maybe I
grew up.

Why Relationships Suck (For Some People)

Before you say anything, if you’re in a relationship then THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU SHOULD READ. Go off and be happy with your SO (significant other) and pretend this article doesn’t exist. No seriously please don’t read this.

If you’re single, like me, by all means please continue!

Now keep in mind that I’m only nineteen years old. Most of the people reading this will probably be in the same age group as I am, so this little rant will be directed at people in their late teens and early twenties.

Alright. That all being said…

High school’s over and with that, the need to date has also vanished. No wait, hear me out. In high school, it was nearly impossible for us to figure out what we wanted in a relationship, so it was important for us to date a few people (or a lot of people) so we could get an idea of what we should be looking for in a partner. By this time, for the most part, we should have a clearer picture of what we want from life (not just in a boyfriend/ girlfriend but our goals and dreams and life plan also). If you don’t have a clear picture of what you want at this point, that’s okay, you’re still young! Date whoever the hell you want to until you figure it all out. And who knows, you might fall madly in love with your soulmate in the process.

Now that we’ve moved past that “experimental dating” stage, what’s next? Ahh yes, the “serious relationship” stage. I’ve been in some of these and while they’re great while they last (and it was great, I’ve dated some amazing and wonderful guys, and I’m really sorry things didn’t work out) these relationships generally lead to two places: marriage or disaster where one person is very badly hurt. Thank goodness mine have ended on a good note.

I’m sorry but the thought of marriage or heartbreak being my two choices terrifies me to no end. To my friends who are happily married or engaged, kudos to you for being mature enough to handle that commitment, I really envy you guys. But I hate the thought of putting either my heart or the rest of my life on the line for the sake of a boy AT THIS STAGE IN MY LIFE.

I really do think it’s important for people like me to just have fun. Since when did dating have to be exclusive anyways? Don’t you miss the good old days (the ones I wasn’t even alive for) when a girl or boy could date multiple people at one time without it being a big deal? I don’t mean that it’s okay to go around and “cheat” on people who don’t understand that the two of you aren’t an item. I mean that it’s okay to say from the get-go: “Hey, I don’t want anything serious. I want to see other people.”

What’s wrong with that?

Relationships don’t suck universally by any means. But for some people, they really do suck.

You shouldn’t have to feel the need or pressure by anyone to settle yourself into a relationship at this stage – or any stage – in your life. It’s okay to be single and want to mingle.

Now of course sometimes people fall insanely in love at a young age. Go for it; if you’re happy then that’s all that matters. But to me right now, love isn’t something I’m looking for. It’s something that would be a serendipitous thing to happen, but I’m waiting for it to find me. I refuse to go searching for something I don’t even want right now.

It’s important for us to remember that just because society says it’s not okay to be single doesn’t mean you have to listen.

I like a good love song or book or movie as much as the next person, but I think people are age are more in love with the idea of love than the actual person. This isn’t everyone by any means, but I still think it’s best for certain people to just relax and go slow right now.

Or maybe this is just me ranting because I don’t want to date anyone for a while? I don’t know.

The Purpose of Life

“And now I know in part” is one of my favourite quotes and was adapted from a Biblical verse. I don’t spend a lot of time (or any time at all) reading the Bible, but I love this quote because it essentially means that you can study one thing for the entirety of your life and you will never understand it 100%.

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the meaning of life considering I’ve only been alive nineteen years, but someone told me something last night that deeply resinated with me:

The purpose of life is to live.

Yeah guys, maybe it really IS just. That. Simple.

To be alive is to experience – to discover and uncover, to revel and reveal, to take impacts and to make them.

Allen Watts, a British philosopher, used to be asked by graduating students, “What do I do now?” and his response was perfect: Do what you would do if money were no object because, when you think about it, would you rather be rich and detesting the life you live or would you rather be happy?

Let’s think about this: If you have a well-paying job that you hate, you’re going to spend hours of your life commuting to and from your job in a car you only use to get to your job that helps to pay off your car bills and then you spend all day away from the house you bought so you can pay that off too. Does that make any sense? Maybe not but I’m hungover so I don’t care.

So do what you love to do while you can still do it. You won’t be able to go mountain climbing when you’re eighty-three, so do it now and make the most out of it.

To me, travelling is the most beautiful thing in the world. I could spend each day of my life waking up in a new place and I would love it; I never want to just live in one place, I would feel trapped. That’s why I ideally want to work with a volunteer organization that travels the world and teaches kids or looks after animals or whatever. I don’t care how much I would get paid because my life experiences would be rich.

So what’s the purpose of life? To live, to experience and to appreciate. You aren’t going to be alive forever (unless you believe in reincarnation in which case, cool) so you need to understand that in this life, you need only to live and to do it your own way.

I could go on and rant some more about how much I hate capitalist society and the ideologies it tries to reinforce in us, but I think I’ve made my point.

I’m going to go nurse my hangover now.

My Love for Archie

You know those “get to know each other” games played in classrooms at the beginning of the semester? One of the questions often asked as an ice breaker is “What is the most interesting thing about yourself?”

Hi, my name is Tara, and I’m an Archie-holic.

We’ve all heard of the beloved Archie comics, right? Well incase you haven’t, Archie is basically an average teen American boy who has two beautiful girlfriends (Betty and Veronica) and a best friend who eats all the time (Jughead) and a nemesis/ frenemy who makes his life difficult (Reggie).

These characters, along with countless others whose names and character traits I know by heart, All attend Riverdale High and go on fun adventures and learn valuable lessons while upholding positivity and friendship.

Sounds cheesy, right?

WRONG. (Okay, well maybe right, but I’m in firm denial about anything anti-Archie).

So now we come to the point of this blog post: I have somewhat of an obsession with Archie comics that has resulted in a colossal collection of these comics, particularly the Betty and Veronica Double Digest ones.

I haven’t counted in years, but when I was twelve my collection had reached 134 comics.

Since then, my collection has at least tripled in size. No regrets.

Ask me any question about Archie and I will have an answer (or multiple answers because the comics often contradict themselves). Tell me about almost any Archie story and I will be able to tell you the ending because I’ve likely read it before.

I read and reread these suckers like I’m breathing oxygen. I almost always have at least one comic on the go (I am currently in the middle of three) and if I’m ever at a flee market or Value Village, I am constantly hunting them down. I buy them at grocery stores also, but I like the older ones (comics and stories from the 1980s are my favourite – the style and pop culture references are just so amazing).

I’m always on the hunt for rare, really old first edition comics from before the seventies. I have two so far; a Betty and Veronica comic and a Jughead comic. The B&V one is in terrible shape though, so I’m always looking for a replacement for it.

Many people have tried to tell me over the years that this is just a phase I’ll grow out of when I get to a point where I realize these comics are intended for children and teenagers. Uh, no, I’m almost twenty and I’ve never loved them more. They aren’t just for children, they’re for everybody. If I enjoy a hobby that hurts no one, that’s my business. Don’t judge me for loving to collect these.

If we want to dive into my murky past (ooo scary) then I guess I’d have to admit that my love for Archie arose at a time in my life when I had very few friends and was going through my first awkward stages of puberty. These comics would cheer me up, and so I got through some of the toughest years of my life with these characters. I love them as much as a Potterhead loves Harry. I love them as much as Veronica loves money. I love them as much as (gasp!) Jughead loves food.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that these comics are a part of who I am at this point. They’ve travelled the world with me (I took some on my missionary trip to Costa Rica) and they make any place feel like home. I love Archie, and some small part of my wants to believe he loves me back.

If he was a real person, Betty and Veronica would have to watch out.

S.O.S. – Save Our Students

There’s a joke I heard recently that goes like this: I changed my name to the scariest thing I could possibly think of for Halloween… Tuition fees!

I thought it would be a funny ice breaker to introduce a scary topic.

Let’s look at this for a minute, logically. Keep in mind I don’t want this article to be about statistics; I want to evoke a powerful, emotional response in you, dear reader.

So I’ll use myself as an example. My parents have saved my whole life to afford sending me to university. They have prevented me from spending a large portion of my birthday money and early paycheques to help me pay for post-secondary education as well. The result? Together, we can pay for only a portion of my university fees (not including accommodations, text books and food) and OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) can cover a portion of it. They rest of it will be payed off by moi in the years following my graduation.

And my poor younger brother gets even less money for college than I do because he had the misfortune of being born second and my parents used most of the money in our joint post-secondary funds account for me. Sorry Ryan.

Let’s break this down a step further so I can get my point across. After spending four years to achieve my two degrees and a diploma from my university and college, I will be broke. At a time when I will be looking to moving out of my parent’s house and into my own place, I will be BROKE. At a time when I want to travel the world because I’m young and single and have no children yet, I WILL BE BROKE.

But hey, that’s just me, right?

No. It will be everyone graduating in the next several years, or decades. Shout out to the Baby Boomers for taking every single job society has to offer at the moment! Because of our shitty economy, it’s nearly impossible to get a job of any kind after you graduate. Thank God I have two jobs now that will hopefully help me pay off of some of this tuition-induced dept (unlikely).

Now this reminds me of another joke: I’m in school because I don’t want to be an unemployed college dropout, I want to be an unemployed college graduate!

This joke happens to be less funny.

So what do we have happening now? Well, I see people in their mid-late twenties and beyond still living with their parents. I see people waiting until their forties to start families with their SO’s because that’s when people start becoming more financially stable. I see people saving up for their own kids’ tuition fees when they themselves are still in school (and usually kid-less)!

When I was in Costa Rica over the summer, I heard about some of the tuition fees schools in the States charge and I remember thinking, “Thank God I’m Canadian!”. But that was all a lie. Just because one system is worse than our own doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.

I know of more than one person who was discouraged by their family from continuing their education because of financial difficulties. That shouldn’t happen.

We may be the the true north, but there really isn’t anything “free” about these prices.