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Losing your job is no fun. Be nice.

January 16, 2012

La Senza’s gone… that’s PANTS! AHAHAHA SO FUNNY! Blacks are closing down… winter of our discount tent! AHAHAHA I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING! Actually I did find that one mildly amusing the first time.

You know what though? It’s not that funny. If you’ve been through the administration process or lost a job you love, the last thing you need is people poking fun at it or reminding you of it. The worry of how you’re going to pay the rent and bills, feed yourself, feed your family if you have one and the general uncertainty and feeling of “What the hell am I going to do?” is one of the worst feelings I’ve had, and for me it’s lingered longer than any other bad feeling I’ve had.

Again, the news of shop closures in the last couple of weeks has brought all the memories flooding back, not that they ever really went away. Memories like having to tell the first customer after THAT meeting you can’t accept their gift card because the company is in the hands of the administrators. The texts off nosey/ caring family and friends saying they’ve just heard the news. Having to put up with customers telling you they’ll steal things from your place of work because you can’t take their gift card. Having to put up with people telling you they’re glad you’re losing your job, all because they can’t spend their £15 voucher. Having to put up with phonecalls from reporters, tv crews and press outside, knowing that your shop or place of work is going to be on the lunchtime news on the television, radio and all over the internet. Thinking you work with people you can trust who end up getting sacked for stealing, and worse still, the ones who don’t get sacked…

Most of this happened on Christmas Eve 2008 in the Cardiff Zavvi store, the day the company went into administration ( I should probablygive a special mention at this point to the cash office person in another store that did a runner with a load of money a few days later).

It’s pretty unlikely these days that you wouldn’t know somebody who has lost their job recently, so before you retweet that joke that’s been tweeted by 100s of other like minded thoughtless people, think about who your friends and followers are and how they might be affected. My use of ‘thoughtless’ isn’t meant in this instance with nasty connotations, I just mean it literally. I’m not calling anyone out  and this isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, but we all have moments where we instinctively do things then later think maybe we shouldn’t have because we haven’t thought about what we’re doing.

How about doing something original like wishing them luck? Or if that’s not edgy enough for you, say nothing.

Also remember that just because somebody works for a shop, it doesn’t make them less important than you. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living or for a hobby, it doesn’t make you cooler or better or more deserving or important than these people and this is no time for saying the high street is better off without a shop because it doesn’t sell what you like.

Think about the people involved: cleaners, shopworkers, cooks, graphic designers, clothes designers, merchandisers, reps, delivery drivers, contractors… the list goes on. When a big company goes the knock on effect is massive.

There will be people who loved their jobs and people who don’t, people who need their jobs and people who don’t. People who may not be bothered, and people whose job meant everything to them and defined them. It drives me nuts to see some of  the attitudes presented in the comments of related news articles just because a person associates a business with a person of a different social group or class, or different taste. It doesn’t necessarily mean the people working at these shops are of a different social group or into different things, and even if it did, what difference does it make?  We’re all people.

Before you make a comment or retweet something, just think. Think about how you’d feel in that situation if you were to read it. If you still don’t care, I hope you at least understand how it feels.

Be nice, people. It’s not that hard.

And if you’re one of the unfortunate ones caught in the middle, don’t let the attitude of some people or customers get to you. Don’t take anything personally. Keep an eye on your colleagues and make sure they’re ok, help them deal with any nasty situations that may arise. Stick together, you’ll need each other.

You will always get people moaning at you that your merchandise isn’t cheap enough considering you’re closing down. Rise above it. You may be in a situation where your company is desperately trying to salvage parts of the business and jobs so they won’t be selling things off dirt cheap straight away, but some people still won’t understand that. Again, it comes down to people being thoughtless. It may not be intentional- when you work in a shop you’re quite often not seen as a person, you’re seen as a thing to assist people in getting what they want. How often do you go into a shop and ask for help, then wonder about the person who has served you? Very rarely, I’d guess. It’s easy to not make the connection that they’re a person with a beating heart and feelings too.

There will be customers you’ve never seen before complaining about prices- there’s not much you can do to stop the vultures from circling, all you can do is try to educate them. It can get tiring, which is why you need to stick together with your colleagues. Support each other and hopefully every so often you’ll get an absolutely lovely customer who brightens up your day, just by wishing you good luck and telling you they know what you’re going through. When this happens, be grateful and sincere. It’s much easier when you know the person is genuine.

If you’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut in your job now is the time to act. If you’re in Wales you may be eligible for free retraining for a different career, just pop into your local careers office or go to careerswales.com and see what help they can do. If you’re not in Wales, still pop into your careers office, they’re there to help.

Stand tall and stick together, and from some who’s been through it, good luck. And if you do lose your job and have nothing to go to, don’t do what I did and throw all your savings away. Follow the advice of this till prompt (and please don’t steal my photos. 😉 )

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2012 3:47 pm

    Well said, Simon! I really dislike how some people think saying things on Twitter/Facebook or in comments sections on websites are any less hurtful than saying it to somebody’s face. It’s all about thinking before you speak (or in this case, type) and like you say, many of these people are thoughtless – perhaps not intentionally, but it just doesn’t factor as an issue in their heads. I’m sure they’d have enough to say should the tables be turned.

    I massively applaud you for this post – it’s honest and tells it exactly like it is from the point of view of somebody who has been there. Thanks.

    • January 18, 2012 8:12 pm

      Thanks for taking time to reply Lola. The other thing that gets me (well, one of many things that get to me!) is that people comment on shops and businesses having had limited/ no experience. People make assumptions too quickly, often without thinking, based on one bad experience, or people who they see coming out of these stores or because of the area they’re in or based on an outdated view of the business and I’ve seen this happen with all sorts of shops and businesses. It’s such a shame. Brand loyalty is fine, but putting down other people and their livelihood without good reason is not.

  2. grace permalink
    January 18, 2012 6:26 pm

    Insightful,considered and full of humanity and humiliy.well written sir

    • January 18, 2012 8:13 pm

      Thanks a lot Grace. I’ll pay you the next time I see you. 🙂
      It won’t be much though!

  3. Kate permalink
    January 18, 2012 9:32 pm

    A really powerful post, made me so sad.

    • January 18, 2012 10:19 pm

      Thanks Kate, sorry, that wasn’t the intention! Hope you haven’t been through it yourself.

  4. Beth permalink
    January 20, 2012 11:52 am

    Very nicely said; as a Peacocks employee I appreciate this quite a lot at the moment. A lot of good advice, thank you 🙂

    • January 20, 2012 3:58 pm

      Thanks Beth, I worked in the Cardiff St David’s Centre store for about 6 weeks back in 2000 and there were some lovely people there, and having been through it all myself and how the high street has transformed in the last few years I couldn’t not write anything. I know some of the issues I mentioned (the vouchers, specifically) have already come up in the customer services department, so I’m guessing that’s the case in the shops too. That side of it will die down and get better soon hopefully.

      I really hope after the job losses yesterday the damage can be kept at a minimum and I really hope you and your colleagues can keep your jobs. Good luck!

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