I work in retail. I’ve started denying I work there. I find it funny to embrace the awkward. Maybe you will too.
I’m not a very social person, and I can come across as strange and aloof. I’ve been told by my wife that I have resting b—- face. I’m friendly and happy, but the vibe I give off on a first impression, for better or worse (definitely worse), is “this dude probably collects dead bodies.” We all have to play the hand we’re dealt.
Our store is very laid back, you get the idea… These customers don’t know where anything is. So they spot me, decidedly not looking like a model employee – t-shirt, jeans, no nametag, one headphone in. Still, I obviously work here, since I’m doing price tags, cutting open boxes to stock shelves, etc.
Here, we reach a fork in the road. They can ask politely, “Hey, do you work here?” and they’ll be helped to the best of my abilities.
Or, their tone of voice can send them down the other path. The fact that I don’t match their preconception of what a worker drone at some suburban outlet store should look like will add a hint of disdain to their voice when they almost sarcastically sneer:
“Excuse me, do you work here?”
Eye contact, try a smile on (the trick, I read, is to smile with your eyes and not show teeth – I think I’ve mastered it).
Deadpan, very convincing, play my hand as dealt:
“No ma’am, this is just a hobby.”
And back to work, ignoring them.
If they get too upset I’ll give in a little and offer to help them on the condition that they don’t tell anyone I was in here “volunteering” again, but usually it’s just a blank stare and a really awkward silence until they shuffle off and I keep doing what I’m doing. It’s not much, but I get a kick out of it.