You’d think that spending 8 to 10 hours behind a low counter everyday peddling candy, cigarettes and what your customers assume are hot-dogs, but you know are not, would be easy. And if my interaction with the service industry has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t even have to be nice to the customer. I once performed a transaction at a convenience store where the clerk just grunted at me like a gibbon and proceeded to forcibly return my change (see threw it onto the counter like it was a craps table), resulting in me having to gather it from the store’s sticky floor. But is being a convenience store clerk all grunting at customers and throwing change at them? No, actually it is shockingly more hazardous than you might think. Here are some convenience store clerk occupational hazards straight from the trenches.
Measures to Protect
Convenience store crime is so rampant that…well, it has a crime category of its own and few occupations or workplaces have that sad distinction. The reasons are obvious. Often, convenience stores are open 24 hours a day, most of their transaction are cash and they seldom have security personnel. The city of Houston actually has convenience stores register with the police and gives them a sticker to put on their door or window. Because if it’s one thing that strikes terror into the hearts of harden criminals its sticky paper.
OK, to be fair Houston PD also offers various resources regarding security and personnel training. Most of the crimes that convenience stores are victim to are smash and grabs and armed robberies. When I say smash and grab, I mean they smash a car into the shop and then grab. I mean how many jobs are there out there that getting run over while inside can be a professional danger?
Smash and Grab
Actually just smash. I did some work for you by searching Google for car ran into convenience store. As you can probably surmise from the search results, it’s a pretty frequent phenomenon. You’d think by now that convenience store owners would say: “You know what guys I think maybe we should have the parking spots perpendicular to store-front. That would probably help avoid people from constantly driving through our shops”.
But no, no matter how much research I did I have not found the luminary thinker that would suggest facing the parking spots away from the store. Just because I don’t think I’ve illustrated my point enough, feel free to watch the video below that shows CCTV camera footage of cars smashing into convenience stores. I have no idea why the video editor chose to dub the video with the strange electronic video game music but let’s just go with it.
The Wild West
If there is one thing the formative years of the United States of America is known for is its expansion west and the infamous crime that followed. It’s not like other countries didn’t have crime, I mean during the Elizabethan era in England highwaymen not only committed crimes locally, they even took their criminal endeavors abroad to other colonies of the Crown. But honestly how many movies have you seen with Elizabethan highwaymen compared to Wild West bandits with bandanas over their faces robbing banks and travelers while whooping and shooting revolvers in the air?
Well, it seems that the armed robber is alive and well, still using the intimidation of a weapon to get a laughable amount of money from their victims. According to this study on Convenience Store Robberies, convenience stores only have less workplace homicides than taxicabs, with roughly 500 deaths per year. Just to put that into perspective that’s double the amount of Police Officers killed and three times more than the number of Firefighters that get killed per year. So this minimum wage job with hard hours is more dangerous than jobs that require you to chase armed criminals and run into burning buildings.
Ok, so maybe it’s outside the realm of getting plowed over by a car, shot or stabbed, but any job that has to deal with people, any and all type of people that is, will be a pain in the proverbial posterior. Inconvenience at a convenience store is pretty ironic. Isn’t it? Come on! I’m trying really hard for a laugh here…wow, that epithet was unnecessary. Anyway, people are insane when it comes to the service industry, here are a few selected gems to prove that.
One customer called asking for stuffed tigers, which to be fair the specific shop I’m talking about sold the previous year. After the clerk told the customer that a big box toy store would be the best bet for finding them the customer said: “Great here’s my number so you can call and ask them for me, when you get answer let me know”. Look going above and beyond is one thing. But of all the services that customer service employees are obligated to offer being someone’s Personal Assistant isn’t one of them. After telling the customer that she wasn’t allowed to make outgoing calls from the convenience store’s phone, the customer flipped her wig and berated the poor clerk with a stream of obscenities that would make a sailor blush. Ten minutes later the same customer called, and the clerk obviously didn’t answer.
Here’s another great little torture story at the hands of a not-so-happy customer that we’ll call…Cleatus. Cleatus likes to cut his hair very, very short, almost down to the scalp and wear military regalia (such as boots) even though he’s never served in the military. On this fine day, our protagonist Cleatus walks up to the counter and asks for cigarettes that were incorrectly labeled due to a tax increase. After going on an obscenity laced drunken rant he asks the clerk where he is from to which the clerk politely diverts by asking Cleatus if he still wanted the cigarettes.
Cleatus must’ve really wanted to learn about new cultures though so he continued to demand the clerk tell him where he is from and finally the clerk responded: Sri Lanka. This is where I’d like to take you into the mind of Cleatus; please put on your hazmat suits as it’s a diseased toxic place. As you can see in this hate filled cesspool Cleatus calls a mind, he assumed from the clerk’s complexion that he was Indian, which would have warranted an easily recalled racial slur or insult. But now with the revelation that the clerk was in fact Sri Lankan we can see the loosely fitting gears in his head spinning dry. He finally turns to the clerk and says: “Your cricket team is sh*t!” Take that you, you person from Sri Lanka! The thing is that at the time this incident happened Sri Lanka had just won the Cricket World Cup. What perplexes me is how someone like Cleatus would even know about the sport of cricket….
Are you a convenience store clerk? We’d love to hear from you, let us know what it’s like in the comment section below!