Retail the Tenth Circle of Hell!

{ Dear Cookbook, It looks like I’m going to have to go back to working a retail job. I really don’t want to, but I don’t have anymore contacts in my old field and I need to keep the roof over my family’s head. Do you have any tips that will help me transition into such a volatile environment? Thanks in advance, James }

James, have you really tried everything you can think of to get another job?  Because frankly, jumping into the retail environment is not something I’d take lightly. In fact, I’d rather muck out horse stalls in my underwear while singing showtunes before I took another retail job. . .but that’s just me. You might think I’m being a little dramatic here, but considering the inconsistent hours, store meetings, power-hungry managers, grumpy customers and angry coworkers, it seems fairly obvious that retail work is best avoided. Reading this, is it any wonder I refer to retail as the ‘tenth circle of hell?’ A place so horrific the rest of hell seems like a walk in the park. 

Some would say fast food is the tenth circle of hell, but I disagree. It may be hot in the kitchen, but at least when you work fast food, you get some type of meal for free.  In retail, sometimes they don’t even let you take a short break! So, if you’ve truly exasperated all the contacts in your field and are ready to work anywhere that will have you.  Plus you’re desperate and void of any dignity, let me help you get re-acquainted with your new terrain: the tenth circle of hell.

First, make sure you pack your retail sunscreen.  As you may remember hell is hot and you don’t want to get burned.  The best way to make sure you are safe is to keep yourself covered every minute of the day. In another environment you might call this the CYA (Cover Your Ass) principle. But here in hell, we’ll be calling this retail sunscreen. The best way to apply your retail sunscreen is to keep your eyes and ears wide open. Make it your job to know about everyone and everything that goes on in your store. This way, you’ll be less likely to get burned.

Next, adopt the buddy system. Hell is a big place and you don’t want to get lost. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have someone to watch your back. Retail sunscreen is a good start, but it will not work by itself. Try to find someone loyal and not as smart as yourself. This way, if things go wrong you can still apply the sunscreen and get out alive.

Lastly, keep an eye out for demons. And remember demons don’t always look like demons.  Sometimes demons come across as friendly and helpful, only biding their time until they can stab you in the back. For this reason alone, it is safe to assume that all members of management, and those coworkers who wannabe management, are demons. The best way to avoid these demons is to ‘appear’ busy. This will stop a demon dead in its tracks, as it will not want to interrupt the work they will be claiming credit for later.



Are you thinking about using some of this advice to navigate the tenth circle of hell?  Before you do, let’s take a gander at Jobless Johnny and Hireable Hank’s results:

Jobless Johnny has taken the idea of retail sunscreen one step further. He keeps an entire shopping cart of tropical related items near him at all times. This way he has anything he might need in a hot environment like hell, from sunscreen and aloe vera to flip-flops or a palm tree. Johnny also figures that by toting around a full shopping cart, he will keep the ‘demons’ off his back, because clearly this makes him look busy.

Hireable Hank literally laughed out loud when he read the Cookbook’s advice! It should also be noted that Hank has an impressive work ethic, and already knew how important it was to keep yourself busy at work.  Not because he’s avoiding demons, but because he knows that’s the right thing to do.


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