Do You Work In Retail? 7 Reasons Why You Must Quit Your Job, NOW!

ted supermarket retail
When all is said and done, what we choose to do for a living is a clear reflection of the person we are inside; a window to the soul, a looking glass into how we perceive our own place in the world. There are high achievers and the unemployed, the rich and the poor, those who attain and those who merely dream, together; in the melting pot of life.

It’s all binary – ones and zeroes; true and false.

Which are you? For many years, I was the latter. My life was meandering along and I felt lost in this path of nothingness; barely reaching the speed limit on my journey to nowhere. I was caught between unemployment and menial minimum wage drudgery. Often one was simply a rebelling of the other.

The feeling of dread became unbearable.

I remember it clearly.

Life was unfair, stagnant, devoid of aim and purpose.

The alarm clock was the Pavlov to my salivating dogged desire to remain. The thought of tearing myself away from the confines of my bed would reduce to me to tears. I would rise up like a zombie, shuffling around this metaphorical wasteland in the hope of being put out of my misery.  

I strived for change, I really did, but it was too difficult. My existence was a perpetual cycle of indifference and poverty. On the outside everything seemed fine. To the world I was a young, single guy who had his own apartment in the centre of a large and vibrant multicultural town. On the inside I was the person who spent 35 hours a week hating himself because his lifestyle was the polar opposite of everything he desired.

The main culprit was my choice of employment. It was no different to many other jobs I had taken over the years but for some reason, this seemed worse. I didn’t realise at the time but I had hit rock bottom. From the age of 18 I had given up my integrity in the name of customer service – or more specifically; retail. I’m not ignorant. I fully understand that this is a first world problem and that there are countless people in the world who would love nothing more than to have a job, any job – but I can’t do anything about that.

My life is the only one in which I have direct experience.

I firmly believe that everyone hits rock bottom in some form or another and as such, I eventually managed to quit this chapter of my life. You can read about it here. It wasn’t easy, the most important things in life rarely are.

Retail had robbed me of my ambition and drive to succeed. It was my pimp; always offering to take care of me with its lure of protection and regular payment, but at the same time dulling my senses and stripping away my sense of true self.

When hindsight weaves its magical spell and we rewind the tape, the obvious grabs you by the throat. But what if you’re unable to see it?

My own personal hell was retail but maybe yours is different. It doesn’t matter. False imprisonment of the mind is ubiquitous in modern society. It’s everywhere. Whatever it is holding you back. Whatever is preventing you from quitting the life you hate and taking back control – the following points can help you clear the fog so that you can truly see what is in front of your eyes.

Regardless if you work in retail or any other industry – if you hate your job, then I hope this article will give you the push needed to do something about it.

1. The managers are idiots

A bit of a generalisation you may say, but if you’ve ever spent a significant amount of time in minimum wage employment then you will know exactly what I mean.

There are the odd exceptions, of course, but 95% of the managers I have dealt with are a bunch of brown nosing, incompetent fools. Former playground bullies who gleefully take out their pent up rage on those unfortunate enough to stack shelves for peanuts.

However, dealing with these unskilled idiots is a walk in the park compared to the apparent 3% of managers who are said to be psychopaths. These Machiavellian monstrosities are usually found in the higher up roles where they can sit in their office, embracing their inner Mr Burns whilst fantasising about releasing the hounds.

Yes, excellent.

2. Customers are annoying

We’ve already established that most managers are the sort of people that our parents warned us about as kids – but what about everyone else? Yes, the screaming horde of hatred that manifests itself as the general public. They enter your world on a daily basis with for no other reason than to make your life a living hell.

Well, that’s how it seems.

“Can you have a look out the back for me please?”, because apparently you enjoy hiding stock, and thus increasing the likelihood of worker/customer interaction. Yes, I totally lived for that…

No word of a lie, if I could go through a working day without speaking to another human being, that to me felt like a victory.

I know you feel the same way.

3. You probably hate yourself

As far as job satisfaction goes, working in retail falls somewhere between being a car park attendant and shovelling shit. You can try to spin it however you want but at some point, probably before the end of your first shift, you came to the stark realisation that your life has gone down the crapper.

“Hey, at least it’s a job. You can’t be picky in this economy”, you sternly tell yourself whilst gently weeping inside.

You may have friends at work and genuinely enjoy the banter but that’s scant consolation when you look in the mirror every morning and all that stares back is an empty shell wearing a very pretty uniform.

Also, that name tag isn’t for the benefit of the customers – it’s so you can remember who you used to be.

4. Forget that, you’re just a number

You may as well take the name tag off because for 35 extremely long hours per week, you’re just a number in the system.

Do you think your company cares about you? I’m here to tell you that they don’t. You can put your heart and soul (what’s left of it) into your work and even give many years of service but at the end of the day, you’re as disposable as your dignity.

This is an industry that will happily give you a verbal warning for taking more than 3 sick days in a financial year. Your work is so meaningless that there are thousands of untrained monkeys that could replace you at any given moment – and they will, eventually.

5. Robots will force you out soon anyway – the future is not on your side

Did I say monkeys? I mean robots.

Yes, robots.

Skynet has already infiltrated our daily lives and it will only get worse (or better, depending how you look at it). Chip and pin cards have already been introduced in many countries and now we’re seeing an influx of self-service checkouts. It’s only a matter of time before human operators are phased out completely.

The prediction is that within the next 15 years we’ll simply be able to waltz into a store, grab anything we like and promptly walk out with it. Costs will be calculated by RFID chips in the items and automatically scanned as we leave. The bill will then be calculated and instantly charged to our bank accounts.

So there you have it. It’s not a safe job at all. It’s a dying industry. Think about all of those poor people who will be made redundant without the skills or experience to find something else – don’t be one of them.

6. The money is awful

I’ve always believed that time is more important than money, and for good reason. Time allows you to do all the things you want to do but money is a means to an end – unless you have time available.

So why would you sacrifice all of your free time for a job that pays you minimum wage? It’s not worth the trade. Think about it like this; the job you are performing each day is so pointless that your employer isn’t willing to give you any more money than they’re legally obliged to.

That’s how important you are. You’re working in the western equivalent of a sweat shop.

Also, in the UK, the minimum wage is actually lower than the required ‘living wage’ – a full £1-2 per hour less than most people need to provide themselves with the basics.

If you’re going to do a job you hate, at least find one that compensates you for this mind numbing tedium.

Actually, wait…

7. You’re better than that

Forget everything that has gone before – that’s in the past. What happens from this point forward is totally up to you. You have a decision to make. Are you going to wake up every morning and dread the day ahead or are you going to take back control of your life?

If you’re unsure of what to do, here’s a tip. That thing that you spend all day dreaming about…

That’s it.

Quit your job. Or at the very least, set the wheels in motion towards the career you feel you deserve. It won’t come and find you. The only way you’re going to change your world is if you grab life by the balls and take action.

Retail had its invisible shackles on me for over 10 years but eventually I managed to break free, and you can do it too. In fact, why wait as long as I did? You’ve got no excuses whatsoever. Perform a lifestyle upgrade immediately.

Do you think age is a barrier? Are you worried you don’t have enough time to search for a new job or embark on a new career? These excuses are all in your head. The only reality is the one you choose for yourself.

Stick or twist – the choice is yours.


Click here to grab your free 33 page eBook, ‘Breaking Free – the ultimate guide to quitting your job and pursuing your passion’.

Question – Have you worked in retail or experienced a soul crushing job?

Please let me know in the comments below.


About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!


  1. Julie Dempsey says:

    I was so excited about your book until I downloaded it on my smartphone and could not enlarge the font in order to read it. My next try was to print it but was unable to do that. Did you set it up that way? I only have internet on my smartphone, but actually went to my college I graduated from a year ago, in order to use a regular computer.

    • Hi Julie. If you have a pdf reader on your phone then you can simply zoom in like you would on a webpage – or you can use the + – buttons at the top to zoom in and out too. It can also be printed fine, so I’m not sure why its not allowing you to.

  2. Number 3 is a big one.

    There’s nothing wrong with settling like this. There’s nothing wrong with selling your soul.

    But be honest. I don’t like it when people settle but then complain. Or say they like it, but then complain.

    It reminds me to people complaining about their bodies all the time. How do they go about their lives without ever doing anything about it?
    SEBASTIAN recently posted..I Don’t Kiss And TellMy Profile

    • I agree. If you settle, for anything in life, then it’s fine if you’ve accepted it sincerely. But if you feel like you are in the wrong life or doing something that goes against who you are then you must change. Lifelong moaners are repellent people, in my opinion. Thanks for your thoughts, Sebastian.

  3. Lynda Sams says:

    i was successful at getting your book- I am midway through getting the life I want – I love retail people, and I enjoyed my jobs in retail- so I am sorry you had such a challenge of it- I do not want robots taking over the world, i like being smiled at as I buy a sweater, fast food meal, cup of coffee, lunch..etc… and unless you were a horrid employee, I suspect you were appreciated also and just outgrew the job ready for more- I am glad you moved on. thank you for being apart of my growth and journey- !!!

    • Hey Lynda, with enough time I’m sure the robots will also learn to smile! 🙂

      I don’t think I was a horrid employee. I always worked hard but I quickly became disillusioned when I realised it meant nothing. Those who worked smarter received far greater praise than I ever did. Thankfully it taught me a valuable lesson about work ethic and it’s not about quantity, but quality.

    • Lynda, you enjoyed retail hell? You’re definitely in the 1%. The rest of us have enough sense to despise it. Best of luck in life.

  4. I worked at Circuit City after college and it was tough. I enjoy electronics so that kept me interested in the job, but all of my co-workers were pessimistic and thought that the world was out to get them. When you are in that environment all of the time, you start to take on that mentality as well. I couldn’t handle it and had to get out.

    • Hey Don, that’s something I didn’t address in the article, so thank you. Many of my previous co workers hated their jobs and it was tough working in such a negative environment. It was almost a crab mentality aspect with everyone dragging each other down.

  5. Although I agree that there are better jobs than retail, I’m not sure all retail is bad, and I don’t believe all retail managers are idiots. I think this is a little bit stereotypical. I worked in retail: mini-marts and restaurants (even worse). But I also worked a retail job I loved. Through community college I worked in a record store. I loved that job and still miss it.
    Dan Erickson recently i have to go to church on sunday?My Profile

    • I do agree, not ALL retail is bad, but in my experience, the larger the company the worse it gets. A small store with several staff is usually a fun place to work, but the large places tend to be soulless and a high turnover of staff.

      Not all retail managers are idiots, but again, I’m talking about the larger places. I have worked for around 10 retailers and at it’s no exaggeration to say that many of the worst individuals I have come across, in terms of everyday life, were supermarket managers.

  6. Your experience really sounds like it sucked, Jamie! I worked in retail as a student and hated it because I generally didn’t enjoy the fact that I was working, whilst my friends had cushy loans to pay for everything.

    My financial life is way more cushy than theirs now 🙂

    I understand that your post is based on your experience – there HAD to have been some good days, right?
    Razwana recently posted..Treating marketing as a nice-to-have is for your competitionMy Profile

    • It was like a destructive relationship; rarely being bad enough to force you to quit but with enough good moments to cling on to in the hope that things will change in the future.

      Of course, they never do; at least without change.

      It’s one thing however, working in retail straight out of college or as a youngster, but when you hit your 30’s… now you can understand, maybe? 🙂

  7. nate river says:

    Hey Jaime !

    The thing about the feeling that you’re starting to lose everything in your grasp might come as a traumatic experience for a person to take, so we tend to rely and be contented in what we have today rather than taking chances for a possible improvement in our life status. The game of life is always about 50% winning and another 50% chance of losing, life is a gamble and a game of luck.

    But somehow between the lines, for those who have enough courage to take the path of anonymity and unknown, their life do not depend on luck, but rather they are looking forward for the possibility of being successful and free from slavery forever. Those people already abandoned the word “LUCK” from their vocabulary and instead used the word “EXCITEMENT and BLESSING” every time they win or they fail. For them there is no such thing as “LOSING” because in every failure there is a moral lesson. Like what I said earlier, life is a gamble, life is too short, for them everyday is their last day to do what they want. 🙂

    If we settled ourselves to the HUMAN NORM, we will never gained anything. Success is by realizing that the more you empty your pocket, the more you challenge yourself, the more empty space you provide for the new opportunities to occupy. The more you venture, the more chances to see the shore. After all those people that chained you as their slave only experiment you, so why not do the experiment yourself ?? Being “FREE” is not a gift, its a “CHOICE” 🙂

    Constant craving has always been, so far, that’s what I’ve learned in life and I know there’s still more to come !! 🙂

  8. “Also, that name tag isn’t for the benefit of the customers – it’s so you can remember who you used to be.”

    That sentence made me shiver. Now, I’m thinking of those supermarket cashiers who greets each one of their customers. It must feel bad to do something contradictory to what you feel inside.

    • Yeh, I was constantly pulled up by management for not smiling and greeting customers the right way. I preferred the ‘grunt’ style of communication because at least then it stopped people from engaging in small talk.

      Most of the time… you would of course always get the ‘cheer up, it might never happen’ comments.. which is far worse, thinking about it.

  9. I just quit my job…and while I feel better, I’m letting doubts creep in. Afraid I wont be able to find another one! But you are right. So awful waking up in the morning knowing you have to go back in!!!

    • Well done, Susan. Doubts are natural so don’t worry about having them. If it turns out you did make a mistake, it’s better to make it now than next week or in 5 years, because the sooner something happens, the more time you have to bounce back. But you’ll be fine – you’re in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose the next chapter in your story.

  10. I love your blog. It is inspiring. By the way, you know how to stick it in. You are right that people treat minimum wage workers in the restaurants and shops differently. You can feel that they think you are an idiot who cannot get any better job. This is far from truth. I have managed some retail businesses in my time and worked with extremely intelligent and talented people. For example, I worked with medical, law and engineering degree students who were paying for their education with summer jobs. A few others managed to get brilliant jobs too.
    I must tell you this that I wouldn’t mind washing dishes instead of getting social benefit handouts. If you have a plan you probably don’t mind working in a menial job until you can see the plan through. If not, start making a plan. What is your end goal and what you want to be at the end?
    TC recently posted..Would No Fault Accidents Increase Car Insurance Rates?My Profile

    • Thanks TC. I too have worked with some intelligent and awesome people in retail. People who have gone on to have great careers, so it’s sad that they are often treated poorly when in such jobs. Also, it’s fine when working in a minimum wage job to pay for college/uni or as a stop gap but it’s when people settle into retail or such positions as their career of choice that it worries me a little.

      Some people genuinely are ok with staying in minimum wage careers. I know a guy who has worked in supermarkets from leaving school up until his mid 30’s (today). He says he just wants to earn enough to live and that he’s more than happy to enjoy no responsibility. Do the hours and leave, is how he puts it.

      However, lots of people stick with minimum wage employment because they are too scared to change. Or worse, want to do something more, but have no idea what. Between 2008 and 2012 I was in this exact position. My mind was striving for an idea that never came and as a result, my body was stuck where it was.

      Thanks for your comment.

  11. I’ve actually never worked in retail before, but from what I can tell from those who have, you’re right on. Although I would say that your first point can be extended to just about all managers. Seriously, most people I know who are in charge are incompetent. I don’t know if I’ve just had a string of bad luck, but that’s the way it’s gone for me.
    Steve recently posted..Why I Meditate on Zen KoansMy Profile

  12. Great post. You are too funny man. I use to work in a restaurant. There were a lot of things I liked about it and things I hated. I enjoyed the customers for the most part. I love talking to strangers. The pay is better than retail.

    My friend has a college degree and she works in retail and hates it. Mainly for all of the reasons you stated above. I’ll have to send this to her. It will make her laugh.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted..The Zen of Surfing – Part 2My Profile

  13. Hey there I read your article. I just quit my job at goodwill. Well to start off 6 months ago I was working at Home Depot and I thought to myself im sick of retail this is not what I want. I cant stand this! So I enrolled in Technical School called Job Corps its free education, I got my medical administration certification license. So I graduated and came back home with my parents .. I cant find a job in the medical field its so frustrating that I had to apply at retail store like Good will and they hired .. I could not stand that job. I get upset cause the reason I went to school was so I wouldnt be back at a retail store job that pays you crap. Your article made me feel better about quitting ,I wont give up I know deep in my heart retail is not for me. I know theres something else somewhere I just cant seem to find it. Anyways thanks for the article it really helped.


  1. […] Here’s one very inspiring blog post I found (and heavily identified with) by googling “when to quit retail job” in the break room: […]

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