I’ve worked in retail and customer service since I was in high school — so about three years now.
I’m a full-time college student with my own bills to pay, so I can’t afford to focus only on school without having a job. Not to mention I live in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country.
When the world shut down in 2020 and I was furloughed from my retail job, I had no choice but to turn to unemployment. Luckily, due to the 2020 CARES Act, I was able to receive help. But it left me and many others in the same position with a lingering question — how am I making more money on unemployment than I was at my regular job?
Once I returned to work, I ended up only staying at that retail job for a little under two months until I quit and moved on to another customer service position at a spa. But now, I’ve finally left the customer service industry for good — I hope.
I was tired of dealing with unappreciative and entitled customers, working long tiring hours for mediocre pay, and coming home mentally drained from work that I had no passion for.
I’m not sure if any amount of money would have kept me at any of the jobs where I worked. But I know that I was not compensated enough for the emotional and physical labor I put into them. The pandemic made me re-evaluate what my time is worth and my own value.
So I quit — something that may not be feasible for everyone working a retail or customer service job. And even though I’m still figuring out what my career will look like, I’m much happier.
A version of this story also aired on KCBS on September 20, 2021.