Sunday, 26 June 2011

Intellectual Stereotyping

Over the past year of working as a sales advisor in the childrenswear department of a well-respected, popular high street chain I have witnessed many interesting things. Working with so many different members of the public and getting a chance to examine their shopping as I scan it has, in my opinion given me an amazing insight into the  different things people value as important and worth spending their hard-earned money on.
 Without a moment's hesitation however, I would say that the most interesting aspect of working there is the assumption from the majority of customers that as I am employed within retail, I must therefore be academically inferior. I have been 'corrected' on my mathematical accuracy, my knowledge and understanding of retail law, my grasp of store policy and even what is being reguarly repeated through the tannoy system. Yet the amount of times this correction has been genuine? At a push I think I could count these times on one hand. The unfounded feelings of superiority that are rarely stifled seem out of place, and on a parr with the regular games played by customers of 'guess the college course' in going against basic manners. As it is I am starting on my year 13 work at my local sixth form, I'm studying: history, religious studies, English literature and psychology and getting reasonably good grades, out of the original team of where I work (so when the store itself first opened) I was actually the least qualified there. Every single person there had either a degree already or where working towards them, yet random people still had the audacity to try and tell us we were stupid?
 My personal favorite was when a man was speaking to me in the same tone as would be used on a toddler whilst they were being potty trained when I noticed the book in his hand was a biography of Mao by the Chinese author Jung Chang. Admittedly I haven't yet read the book, however I adore Wild Swans (by the same author) so started quizzing the gentlemen on the book and compared it to Wild Swans and we discussed Chinese Human Rights. It's only small, but still, any victory is good, and the feeling of satisfaction from knowing I'd changed one person's mind, in part made up for the six others over the following weeks inquiring as to how my health and beauty course was going at college....

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