Sunday, 28 September 2014

10 Things I've Learnt Working With The General Public

I've had a lot of jobs and most of them involved interacting with the general public. It's taught me a lot, like...

1) People stink. OhmyGod, please shower before you grace this business with your presence. The counter between us is nowhere near enough. I honestly have to take a step back from customers a few times every working day. If I know that a certain customer reeks I even hold my breath while I serve them.
2) People will sadistically pay for a €10 charge with 10 and 20 cents which I am meant to count out for them. Nine out of ten times there'll be a line out the door whilst I'm trying to deal with the contents of someone's piggy-bank.
3) Everything is somehow my fault. The tills are down because of me. The line is long because of me (I guess I invented the lunchtime rush). The items are over-priced because of me. The thing they wanted is out of stock because of me. Their children cry because of me. They have to break a €20 note because I charged them the money. FYI guys, I'm also responsible for the ebola outbreak, 9/11, the failing economy and terminal illnesses. SOZ.
4) Tills hate cashiers. I don't know why.
5) Customers will put a few items before me then wander off to get more even though there's clearly a queue behind them. There's no way to gauge if this is to quickly get one item (reasonable) or whether it's to fully sweep the shop and fill a basket (unreasonable and very rude).
6) You don't realise how many people are functioning alcoholics until you work an early shift and can smell drink off every other customer at 8am on a Tuesday.
7) When someone else is cleaning up the mess people are disgusting. Now, fair enough they've paid for the luxury of sitting down with a coffee and some food but that's no reason to be a pig. Put your gum in the bin not on the empty plate. Don't let your kids smear butter packets all over the table and pour sugar everywhere. Don't discard wrappers on the floor, I'm only asking that you leave it on the table/on your tray!
8) The correct change will suddenly be found just as I'm about to hand them the change from their note. It's never something simple like giving me 20c so they can get a note back, usually it'll be something like, "Here's another 73c so now just give me the fiver note and the €1.50 as change." Except customers don't do the maths for you.
9) People have no patience and will throw euros at me then run for the door before I've even scanned their items. It's incredibly ignorant and ignores the fact that, hello, I'm a person too and I deserve a bit of common courtesy. If you want to throw money at something use the self-service checkouts in Tesco.
10) People buy a disgraceful amount of sweets for fat kids. Obviously you have to feed kids a lot to make them fat, but seeing it in play is quite a sight to behold. Why are you buying your 5 year old a King Cone and crisps? Why are you giving your child a large breakfast roll when a small one would be far more appropriate? Why are you giving a child free reign over a share bag of sweets? And why are you doing all this at 8 in the morning?!

Some of the things you might expect to feature don't actually bother me. I sympathise greatly with parents of demanding toddlers. I even try to help them out when I can (I once told a 4 year old if she didn't stop shouting I'd have to get the manager and, much to her mother's delight, she shut up).
I have no problem with older people who take a long time with their orders. I even try to spend extra time with them because I'm aware they may be lonely. For all I know I'm the only person they've talked to that day so I'm going to make damn sure they feel welcomed and taken care of.

Anyone looking to improve the working-life of minimum wagers like myself should follow three golden rules: one, once you've handed me the money don't start faffing with more change, it's easier just to give you what the screen is telling me; two, use disposable cups and plates where available because it's more buses and washing-up otherwise; and three, smile and use your manners. They're free you know.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Are Employers Exploiting Young People?

My friends often come to me complaining about their bosses. They switch shifts last minute, they accuse workers of being unreliable when they can't meet every demand, and they pick on them for insignificant things. Why? Because they know they can't afford to walk away from the job.
During the recession people's job moans have often been answered with "At least you have a job!!!" Which is true, if you're lucky enough to be in employment you're luckier than 747,000 young people who were out of work between May and July 2014 in the UK. But does that mean you should be treated unfairly? No, it doesn't.
There isn't adequate protection for young workers because the job market is so demanding. Bosses know that if they fire you there's another ten who would take your place for half the wage. Part-time jobs are scarce and young people are desperate so what does this breed? Terrible working conditions for minimum wage.
Most of the time these bosses are working within the realm of the law but that doesn't mean all is fair. Take the example of a young worker asked to work late time and time again. Sure, they're given the legal amount of breaks (perhaps unpaid) and they may be within the maximum working hours permitted but maybe the worker is exhausted and doesn't want to work extra hours. What then? Refusing extra shifts looks bad and can put you first in the firing line when cuts have to be made. So the young worker feels there's no option but to take the extra work.
The only way out is to keep working on your education and get the career you've always wanted. Then you can walk into that sandwich shop/restaurant/clothes shop and stare your former boss in the eye knowing you earn twice as much as the person who once pushed you around. Heck, say it to them. Write them a patronising letter if that's what you fancy. But until then young people will have to keep their heads down and their mouths shut because working for the man is what's paying the bar tab at the moment.

Never admitting you don't know what to do
is also a major part in most minimum wagers' days



Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Freshers: Making the Transition

Going to university is hella exciting, we all know that, but there's a flip side to every coin and once freshers' week is over you might find yourself feeling low. The golden rule is keep calm, no problem is too big. Here's some helpful advice on common problems.

You don't drink a lot. It's a myth that all students drink. However, there's definitely peer pressure for those who do. From drinking games to buying rounds of shots it can seem like there's no way to avoid binge drinking on nights out. If this isn't your style just refuse the drink. You'll probably be heckled at first but once people cop on that you're serious they'll shut up.
You miss your hometown. Everyone gets homesick at uni but some feel it more than others. If you're finding being away from home try going back regularly. Be warned not to neglect your uni life though because you'll feel worse coming back if you haven't got strong friendships waiting for you.
You miss your friends. Your 6th form/college years are over and you still meet up with old classmates regularly but you find yourself missing 'the good old days'. There's no solution to this one, you have to accept that they're over and move on with your life or risk missing out on 'the good present days'.
Money. Everyone struggles with their finances at one point or another. Make a budget and stick to it from day one. There's really no getting around it.
You're having doubts about your course. Loads of people doubt their degree choice at one point or another (usually in the library at 2am) so worry too much. If your doubts persist see your personal tutor. You might be able to transfer course.
You're having doubts about your uni. Love your degree but not your uni? Transferring uni will usually involve repeating a year so it's best to analyze what you're really unhappy with. If it's a certain lecturer or tutor then there's no need to change as they change every semester. Maybe it's your living situation that's making you unhappy, if so talk to the people in charge ASAP.
You're finding the workload difficult.Two words: time management. Are you leaving things to the last minute? Are you trying to work late at night? Are you rushing your work? Uni demands attention, there's no skimming through and getting a first.
Make a study timetable and stick to it. If you're still having problems then speak to your PT.
You don't get on with your hallmates/you're having problems making friends. The solution to both is to get out there! Join a society, talk to new people, try your hand at a new hobbie/craft. University holds a variety of diverse people so you're guaranteed to find a new bestie by the end of it.
More serious problems. You're well on your way to becoming a 'proper adult' but we all can struggle. If your bad days are turning into bad months don't be afraid to see a doctor and get help. Likewise the pressure of university can bring out the worst in those who already have problems such as eating disorders and social anxiety. Don't stay silent, uni can provide you with all the help and support you need. The hardest step is the first one.

Above all, enjoy your time at uni guys. Not everyone is as lucky as us!


Friday, 5 September 2014

Review: If I Stay

If I Stay stars ChloĆ« Grace Moretz as Mia Hall, a girl whose biggest problem in life is getting into college and keeping her boyfriend. Then a carcrash changes it all. Mia must decide if she wants to wake up to a world without her family or to simply pass on.
If I Stay's characters were a mixture of totally believeable and Hollywood corn. The girls looked like normal girls, no one was wearing a mini-skirt in the snow, but the lines Adam (Mia's boyfriend) came out with were so unbelievable it ruined the realistic appearance.
There are some definite tear-jerker moments; the biggest being the scene where her grandfather tells her it's okay if she wants to go. It really makes the audience think about the quality of life Mia would wake up to and the reality of the situation. There are also some mega-cringe moments. As this is a film about a high school girl you can pretty much guess that most of the cringe came from romantic moments, most horrifically so in the 'deflowering' scene. I literally watched from behind my hands.
The ending was...unfulfilling. It's obvious *spoiler alert* that Mia is going to choose to live. I don't think anyone walked into that film thinking otherwise. The film builds Mia's story through a series of flashbacks and this helps her make her decision but the reasons to die seem to outnumber the reasons to live. Mia has her mind firmly set on dying and seeing her boyfriend doesn't suddenly make her want to live. In fact her out-of-body-self is telling him she can't stay, but then she suddenly wakes up. And we were just sat there like *hands in the air* what was that?

I'm giving If I Stay three stars mainly because of how cringey it was and the ending. It's worth seeing for Mortez alone because she's set to become such a massive star and this is the first film where she gets to play a normal girl, instead of one with demonic powers or a penchant for superhero masks.