|Student days were the best!|
I've done a lot of jobs in my time (I was a student for six years and have been working since I was 13 years old!), all of them menial, most of them degrading in some way and some of them just unbelievable.
In my last year of University, I decided to apply for a job at a shop my friend managed. She was looking for part-time staff to help her over the Christmas period. I dutifully signed up. Eight hours a week. Just a wee bit of extra money in my pocket over Christmas.
In a high street sex shop.
Here are 5 myth-busting facts about people who work in your local high-street sex shop
- They don't care about your sex life.
- They don't want to help you tie up a see-through nipple covering bra (I.e NOT nipple-covering) in the changing room. That is not 'customer service', that is 'way beyond the call of duty' and if they do assist you with such a thing, they should be commended. Greatly. In all walks of life. Forever.
- They have normal, often very creative, intelligent lives outside of work. They are probably into high-brow art, great literature and are probably all very well-read, very intelligent and can see through all kinds of bull-shit.
- They don't care about what you are buying, as long as you are buying and they can meet the targets that are pushed onto them by management. They are good at making you do this.
- They don't think dildos are a big deal. They don't think crotchless underwear is a big deal. They don't think that lube in any flavour is a big deal. Unless it is in a disgusting flavour, in which case, yes, they are probably judging you. Nothing in the high street sex-shop is a big deal because it's in a high-street sex-shop, which pretty much means that unless you are a complete prude and/or blind to the effect of media, you are more likely to be shocked at the contents of Rhianna's latest music-video than what is on the shelf in your local high-street sex-shop. They are not allowed to be on the high-street unless they are confirming to strict laws and rules about certain kinds of merchandise. So don't get your (pardon the pun) knickers in a twist. It bores the staff, who just can't look pseudo-shocked everytime someone gasps dramatically at PVC vests. Once you have helped an 80 year old lady pick out sex-aids, nothing is shocking.
Like most of my life seems to be, this job was poorly timed, as about six weeks into my new job, I fell pregnant for the first time (I'm realising the hilarious coincidence here - I swear it has nothing to do with staff discount).
Suddenly I was faced with a dilemma: become a poor, destitute pregnant lady who had to look for a job straight after having said baby, or stay at work in said sex-shop and get, at least, maternity benefits.
I stuck with the the sex-shop - it was a job in retail and I really had no other option. Plus, you know, I'd worked in worse places. Cutting up returned dildos before they have to go in the bin is only bested by scrubbing the rim of a toilet, or picking used condoms out from soiled bed-sheets (the time I was a housekeeper in a hotel - that's a whole other blog post).
My hours were upped, and, believe it or not, I was allotted a space on the training programme, which included trips away to different stores to learn more about the 'science' of vibrators, which was actually quite interesting; I learned more about the female body here than I did from my antenatal classes, that's for sure!
As my bump grew, my manager friend left the store for pastures new, and our new manager assigned me the task of teaching my colleagues all of the lovely facts I had learned on training about our new dildo range, and assigned me the post of 'vibrator expert'. Thus, whenever I was in store, I had to stand in the vibrator section, and convince customers of the different attributes of each vibrator, helping them to choose the right one.
Here are five types of customer you can expect in your local high-street sex shop:
- Men shopping for a 'gift' for their partner. It never failed to amaze me how many men thought that the hugest, most expensive, most terrifying dildo in the whole shop - coupled of course with horrific all-in-one body stocking and a TUB of lube, gift-wrapped of course (no expense spared) was the perfect gift for birthdays, Christmas, or even anniversaries. They didn't wait to hear the science or the benefits of the dildo in question, they were just working under the line of 'bigger is better' and went with it. And invariably, the next week would produce an embarrased and angry wife or girlfriend, who marched in, gift box and tissue paper intact, demanding a refund or an exchange for some of the flowery, feminine underwear sold at the front of the store.
- Men shopping with the right idea, but with no knowledge. I'm speaking here about the stand up guys who genuinely want to buy something with a bit of thought for their loved one, like a silky thong or beautifully laced corset, but who have no idea of size or shape of the lady in question. 'She's about your size' is not a great line - I was never keen to divulge my (somewhat impressive for my size) bra size to strange men, regardless of circumstance, but when the guy is really struggling and just wants the best thing for his partner (that's not a dildo or nipple tassles, I felt obliged to help him out. And again, a week later, the woman would be back exchanging for a much bigger or much smaller size. Poor guys.
- The creepy Sunday morning customer. We opened our doors at 9.30 a.m on a Sunday. No other store would be open in the city centre, except chain coffee shops, and no customers ever really entered the shop until about 11.30a.m - except the creepy Sunday morning guy. We only ever saw him a few times, but each time, he waited until the shop doors opened, marched straight up to the sale dildos and purchased about ten of the most horrific-looking and faddy things ever. Like, the dildo that you can plug your I-pod into and vibrates to the beat ('you are aware this isn't an I-pod sir?'), or the big fleshy finger dildo, or worse, the double-headed rabbit-eared ones that were glitter-pink and about 15 years old in 1980's style dog-eared boxes. Never a word spoken. Just casually buying tons of horrible old discount dildos on a Sunday morning, y'know?
- Women with young children. Who are not actually allowed to take their children to the dildo bit of the shop - strictly over 18's to comply with regulations. It isn't always possible to stop women who are desperate for a dildo from pushing the buggy all the way in, and to be honest, the children were always below eye-level of the aforementioned goods, thus I was never too worried - if the kid was walking, that was a different matter. One incident that stopped it all sticks in my mind. A Woman wheels a toddler in a pram to the back of shop. Toddler s clutching a Wall-E robot doll, straight from the Disney store, still in it's box. Woman picks up shiny, mechanical, rather large rabbit dildo, also in shiny box. Toddler looks at it in awe and says 'Mummy's robot!' That was my breaking point in that whole matter - no more kids in the vibrator area.
- The Expert. These come in many forms - from the cute doddery old lady with a wry grin on her lips,'looking for something discreet', to the unassuming gent in a business suit who knows which particular brand of cleansing wipe he needs for his newly purchased anal beads. these folk know what they want, and will not be swayed by sales patter or special offers. They know what works, and can they can often be engaged in serious discussion about the merits of particular sex-aids.
I'm leaving out a particular kind of customer here - mainly because they are in a league of their own - The Joker. Everyone is a joker when they spy a heavily pregnant girl trying to tout dildos.
I have to say, it doesn't matter how much science you know, how much knowledge you have, nobody is taking you seriously when you are six months pregnant and trying to sell faux-penii to the masses.
Needless to say after I left (as early as I possibly could) on maternity leave, I never went back. It wasn't so much the selling of sex items as the soul-less dirge of retail, targets and pushing store-cards onto customers that turned me off.
I have to say that it was worth it though - if only for some of the awesome stories I can now tell to people who never believe that I once worked in a sex-shop.
With 30% discount.
Which is great for buying the family Xmas gifts with, let me tell you.
Which is great for buying the family Xmas gifts with, let me tell you.