I work in retail and my horror stories will make you want to stay home.

Recently I was reading an article about survey results outlining the staggering number of retail workers that are verbally and physically abused whilst at work.

After making the decision to leave a stable career in order to return to study this year, I now work in retail (again), so sadly this did not shock me.

Over the years I have had more than my fair share of dirty looks, angry tirades and general nonsensical interactions with customers.

I have also been kicked, poked and had my hair pulled. Granted children did this, but they are still considered customers.

the disgusting side of retail

Never been better. Image via Giphy.

If I'm totally honest though this stuff doesn't really bother me because majority of the time the fact that I am patient and friendly (no matter how badly I don't want to be) means that I can turn around or successfully manage most situations.

The bigger issue for me, is the disgusting downright GROSS things that customers do or allow their children to do.

Over the years I have had the *great pleasure* of dealing with or being loosely associated with too many poo, wee and vomit related incidents.

Here are my top four.


1. Your window display looks poo-fect.

Anyone who has worked in retail understands the importance of shop windows.

They lure a customer inside. Display your latest products. Highlight any promotions and special offers.

The visual merchandising team sends countless emails explaining exactly how the window should look and after deciding to erect said window during a quiet period which suddenly becomes busy, battling with posters that are double your size and squeezing your adult body into a space designed for someone far more child like than you, the window is finished.

You step back proud and continue with the other 87 jobs you have to do.

the disgusting side of retail

Me after perfecting the window displays. Image via Giphy.

The only thing you expect to hear about that window is praise, customers asking about the products displayed within and perhaps (this doesn't happen enough) sheer amazement at how great said window looks.

The last thing you expect to hear is the lady from the cafe outside your store running in to tell you that a child has pooped in your window.

And said child's parent is nowhere to be seen.


How? When? Why? What is wrong with the world? Surely this is a cruel joke? Who poops in shop windows?

All perfectly normal responses to a poo-fect window display.


That happened.

2. A vomit shower.

I am a BIG believer in the fact that if your child is too sick to go to school, then they are also too sick to go shopping.

Simple manners.

Obviously there are a lot of people really offended by this logic because apparently shopping with a sick child is a trend that is sweeping the nation.

Not only do I feel sorry for your child, who should no doubt be resting and enjoying the perks of having full control of the remote while their siblings are at school.

the disgusting side of retail

I will never relinquish the power. Image via Giphy.

But also, perhaps selfishly, I don't want whatever your child has.

With hindsight I should have known better, I should have seen this disgusting retail moment coming, it is a moment of weakness that I have regretted since.


After assisting a child with an item that him and his mother were looking at, I was putting the box back together again on the floor.

That's when it happened.

The child, who was standing over me watching, threw up on me. All over me.

This wasn't semi-cute baby vomit. This was eleven-year-old-I-eat-solid-food vomit. And I repeat, it was all over me.

the disgusting side of retail

When covered in vomit you can act however you want. Image via Giphy.

Suddenly the mother was patting me down with a towel. A towel that she just happened to be carrying in case her SICK child vomited.

Suffice to say, I never saw her in our store again.

3. A sneaky nappy change and dump.

I am not a monster, I swear.

I understand that as a mother of a young child you have absolutely no control of when they choose to fill their nappies.

Children have an uncanny sense of timing and always pick the moment when you are next in line after having waited for 30 minutes or when you just used the last nappy in your nappy bag thinking you would have time to quickly duck into the supermarket before a new nappy was required.


BUT under no circumstance is it okay to change a number two (or a number one for that matter) nappy in a crowded store and then dispose of that nappy under a display.

the disgusting side of retail

Preach. Image via Giphy.

I will admit that when this happened I was impressed by the fact that no one working noticed, so your stealth is to be commended.

I will also admit that your hiding skills are also impressive because the stench of the precious parcel you left for us was allowed to develop for far too long before we could successfully locate the hiding place.

Desperation has struck everyone, but speak up and most of the time a solution can be arranged.

4.Toilet training mishaps.

Toilet training.

Every human being on the planet has been there.

Learning to control your bladder and bowels is a challenging task for any young child and accidents WILL happen.

They will happen at home, in the car, at the shops, out for dinner, in the moment that you really didn't want an accident to happen. That uncanny sense of timing again.


No matter how many changes of clothes you pack, you will always be one short.

So when your Mary Poppins bag of changes of clothes runs out and you're at the shops, please, I repeat please, do not do what this customer did.

Allowing a shop assistant, namely me, help your child as they try on the various gumboots on display in aisle twelve when their socks are sopping wet in their own wee is not okay.

the disgusting side of retail

I have no words. Image via Giphy.

Smiling and nodding as I make remarks such as "oh my goodness little man your feet are so sweaty" or "have you been jumping in puddles outside?" Is simply cruel.

Not buying said gumboots after your child's wee drenched socks have walked around them is just as bad.

So as Christmas rapidly approaches and the shopping centres reach bursting point please remember that under no circumstance should a retail worker be dealing with poo, wee or vomit.

Accidents happen but at least offer to help in the aftermath.

What disgusting thing have you had to deal with in your retail job?