So I have now been employed by Alan’s Jewelry and Pawn for a week. I’m still training, but I’m not sure how long I’ll stick around. It has its good points and its bad points, much like any job. But the bad seem pretty overwhelming to me. I have a few major complaints…

1. The hours. I knew going in that it would be over 40 hours a week, and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is how those hours are arranged and what you can and can’t do during them. The shifts are enormous – typically from 8:30 in the morning until 7:00 or so at night. One week you work five days, the next week six. During those shifts you get two fifteen minute breaks and an hour lunch break. The only problem is there’s no break room, nor anywhere to sit at all except for the stairwell, and unless you’re on one of the above breaks, you’re not allowed to sit there. You’re also strongly encouraged to limit water and bathroom breaks to the absolute minimum.

With no break room, lunch becomes a wasted hour that ends up costing more money than it’s worth. No one wants to sit in a stairwell for an hour, and the summer heat makes sitting in your car unrealistic. That leaves going somewhere as the main option. Going home is cheaper than going out to eat, but either way I’m wasting gas. I’d much rather take another fifteen minute break and leave 45 minutes sooner, but that’s not an option. Also not an option: moving your days around, switching shifts with coworkers, or getting any time off around Christmas. So basically it’s 45-50 hours a week, spent on your feet, with very little water entering or leaving your body, and if you don’t like that there’s really nothing you can do about it.

2. Everyone who ranks above me tells me to do things in a different way. It’s pretty much impossible to know if you’re being trained correctly when the answers you get to your questions are completely different depending on who you ask.

3. I’ve barely been able to do what I was hired to do (sell musical instruments). I understand there are many departments and many different types of products and transactions, but it’s a bit frustrating when you take a job specifically to focus on something you like, only to spend more time learning other things. I’ve spent entirely too much time messing with guns and jewelry (our two biggest money-makers, neither of which interests me even a little). I’ve mostly gotten the hang of the pawn/sell process, bill pays are easy, check cashing isn’t too hard, and walking the sales floor is like every other retail job I’ve ever had. Why can’t I do those sorts of things when there’s no one in the music section and when I get someone asking about guns or jewelry or power tools or whatever else, find someone who knows about those things? There’s something to be said about workers who can cover all the bases and do a variety of tasks, but the Industrial Revolution was built on specialized labor.

4. The pawn business is crooked as hell. We base what we pay for things on what they sell for on eBay, giving about a third of what they go for in decent condition. Then we turn around and sell them at scarcely less than full retail. We pride ourselves on being a place where people can bargain, but we refuse to come down too low. Today there was a man who bought a $20,000 diamond who was also interested in an XBox 360. The store manager told me to treat him like the most important customer I’ve ever had. When I pulled out one of the 30 XBox’s on the shelf and he asked how low we could go on it, I assured him we would give him a great bargain. Then I asked the store manager how low we could go, and he told me to take 20% off the sticker. The “most important customer” who just spent $20,000 can only save about $15 on his video game system. Something seems a little off there. And we haven’t even gotten to the crazy interest rates on loans and the many fees for check cashing, bill pays, and using a credit card.

So yeah… those are my main complaints. I’m sure the money will be good (they still haven’t told me my exact rate of pay) but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m still keeping my eye out for something better, and when I find it I’ll jump. Speaking of which, tomorrow night (night?) I have an interview with one of the animal hospitals I applied to. They’re a 24 hour hospital, and luckily the person in charge of hiring veterinary assistants works night shift. She called me and we played phone tag for a while before I finally got to speak to her the other day. I’m hoping she likes me, and that they give their assistants full-time hours. If so I’ll definitely take the job, even if the money isn’t as good. If it’s only part-time hours, I’ll talk to my current job and see if it’s possible to cut down to part-time. If not I’m not passing up the opportunity to do what I’ve been studying the past few months, so I’ll settle for part-time and try to find a second job, possibly going back to the gas station if I have to. One way or the other I will have a job I like that pays well, even if it takes a little work to get there.

 

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