Bringing High School to Work

I work in a shopping center. Actually, I work in two. It isn’t the first time I’ve been employed with a company that has a store location in a shopping center. I worked at a book shop, and a suit shop a few years ago in one of the same plazas that I currently work in now. The difference is that back then, I worked in an actual shop. Walls, a roof, a back room. You know, a shop. This time, I work in a kiosk. Always visible. No kettle to make a cup of tea. No possible way to escape the teeming hordes of people…or the children’s playground that just happens to be right out the front of my store. It sure doesn’t do much for the rage and anger, let me tell you. But I’m not here to complain about my job.

The thing I’ve come to notice about working in a shopping center, is that it is somewhat reminiscent of high school. Sounds like a silly analogy, I know, but there’s a theory behind it. Bearing in mind of course, that my high school experience may be completely different to yours! The center management team are the teachers; there’s one or two that you have a rapport with, and the rest are ignorant of your worries and too concerned with exerting their meagre power over the rest of you to actually do their job properly.

There are cliques, and if you’re not a part of one, you’re not worth their time. I mean, it would be ridiculous to assume that you’re not going to build friendships with people that work in the same vicinity as you. You would have to be a pretty cold kind of person to not even speak to the people around you. But there is friendship, and then there is elitism. And believe me, shopping centers are full of it. There are certain people who will speak to my work mate, but won’t speak to me. Or at the very least, make it quite clear that if they are talking to me, it’s only as a kind of substitute in the meantime. And the people who smoke all have this kind of camaraderie that we non smokers can’t possibly begin to be a part of. And I’m not saying I have an inherent hatred for smokers, or anything. I like them fine. But there is simply no way to deny that they all have a little group thing going on.

And then there is the gossip. People in shopping centers gossip like high school girls after a weekend party. This one is sleeping with that one, and that guy was fired because he was doing drugs and dancing naked on the roof. She only got her job because she sucked his cock, and that couple are having an affair. Seriously, the amount of gossip one hears in a shopping center is bordering on ridiculous. You have a tendency to hear things, even when you don’t want to. And when things get nasty between two people, its funny how you begin to hear increasingly obscure rumours from one about the other, and vice versa. It’s an incredibly vitriolic environment to work in.

I graduated high school six years ago. I had thought I left all the crap behind me, in my teenage years. Evidently, though, I was mistaken.

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