(What you are about to read are true confessions from various former, and occasionally current employees in the industrial giant known as the hospitality industry. All names have been changed, as have most locations. What remains true are the stories of employees; the good, bad, ugly, heartwarming, heartbreaking, scary, action-packed and unique stories that only that industry could bring.)


For a surprising 18 months when I was in college, I somehow got a job at our campus’ bookstore and merchandise store. More commonly known as just the “bookstore”, this particular store was essentially a tent due it being a temporary bookstore being held up with only metal bars, thick plastic walls and a plastic, gym-like flooring. If we happen to be closer to the coasts and a hurricane rolled through our campus, this bookstore would’ve been decimated. Yes, although it could sometimes handle the occasional storm, it wouldn’t have been able to handle a hurricane and that’s coming from someone who’s survived Hurricane Ike.


Our campus at the time was also building a newly extravagant and several million dollar costing student union for the future generations to cherish. Due to that, the constant construction became something that the majority of the students just grew up and dealt with. It was inconvenient a lot of the time, but we were officially adults and realized that not everything would go our way.


Still, we sometimes had fun at the bookstore. Hours and hours were spent goofing off and hearing the life stories of the eccentric characters of the bookstore. That, and I sort of had a strange and mutual love-hate attraction with a co-worker. That’s another drunken story in it’s entirety so I’ll just focus on one particular and somewhat blunt interaction I had with a customer.


The way the sales of the bookstore worked out was essentially 60 percent textbooks and 40 percent school merchandise, containing literally anything imaginable with our school colors and name on it. A good amount of the employees worked in merchandise while another good amount worked in the textbook department. However, there were a proud few that not only received the honor of being the faces of the bookstore but also got to interact with every single weird customer that walked through those doors.


The few, the proud, the cashiers of the bookstore. That’s the not so proud role I had. Sure, there were overachievers as with any job. But I certainly wasn’t one at all. I showed up to work an hour late, hungover and in my Halloween makeup from night before and would get caught on my phone plenty of times.  


One interesting customer said a simple yet so honest comment to me that I’ll always remember. It’s something I’ll remember until I’m 100 at least.


Even though my university wasn’t a huge university compared to the other schools in my state, we had name brand merchandise. Nike, Under Armour, even the occasional Nautica polo. It was honestly pretty impressive the merchandise selection given the limited and temporary space we had.


(Nike Store)

However, with Nike quality came Nike prices. A simple Nike t-shirt with our logo could cost you $40 at least. One such item, a Nike dry-fit long-sleeve shirt, that a woman was looking at was approximately $80 for one shirt.


“Do you need help with anything?” I asked her in an attempt to look busy to my nosey managers.


“80 bucks for a dry fit?” she asked me sarcastically.


“Yeah, I’m sorry. I know it’s kinda pricey here.” I replied.


“I wouldn’t dry hump you for $80!” she exclaimed.


Luckily, I was in a relationship at the time.


“It’s okay, I have a girlfriend anyway.” I told her.


The rest of the interaction was pretty normal. Just that very blunt and honest rejection made me laugh a bit. I told my fellow employees and they thought it was hilarious. Overall, it’s not like I’m scarred or anything. It was honestly pretty funny.


Do you have your own story of working in retail or hospitality? If so, Tweet me at @CaptainKasoff because I’d love to hear it.