Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I knew this would happen sooner or later

A certain kind of musical conflict sometimes occurs between shoppers and staff - especially when the majority of shoppers happen to be middle-aged to elderly women and the staff consist of highschool and college-aged "girls".

When I first started working where I work now, I suffered for about two months listening to "store music" (basically, albums the store sold - they ranged from 60s diva music to classic rock tunes which I originally loved but grew to hate by the 17632th time I heard them). So what one of my coworkers and I used to do was bring our own CDs to work when the manager and our older coworkers weren't around. At first, we were sure to select music that wouldn't offend and which would accentuate the atmosphere of a home decor/gift store rather than contradict it. Anything with cursing, sexually suggestive lyrics, and/or aggressive shouting were total no-nos. I think I had a post-punk album in the cd player once that actually got a complaint. My 'new' boss (fortunately with him, we didn't have to listen to store music anymore, he burned his own cds) immediately jumped to the conclusion that my music was "crap", hid everyone's cds, and for about a month or two right before school ended, we were stuck listening to the likes of Lily Allen to the point that if you liked her infectious pop tracks before, you were definitely sick of listening to them after those two months had passed.

Eventually, we discovered the hiding spots of our beloved music so we were back to playing it when the boss wasn't around. I did learn a lesson, though and took my shouty post-punk album out and stuck to music that again, would hopefully be fine for a diverse audience. One day, I accidentally left my discs in the cd player one evening but the thing is, my boss left them there when he came to work the next morning. Success!

Anyway, I'm straying off from my main point - that's just the context of the situation. Over the summer, someone brought in Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds, Timbaland's Timbaland Presents Shock Value, and Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad. In other words, we're listening to far more rap/hip-hop/r&b music than we ever have before.

My favourite track off of JT's album, I think, would have to be "Damn Girl". The first time I heard it (I hadn't yet heard the album from start to finish before my coworker brought it in), I couldn't help but find it extremely funny (and at the same time, veeery awkward) to hear this song while old ladies (and sometimes, gentlemen) were shopping or worse, entering the store to hear "Damn, girl!" blasting at them. The irony is highly amusing.

What I knew would happen sooner or later was what happened yesterday.

While I was standing on a ladder precariously hanging chimes, this middle-aged woman came up to me and asked with a slight frown, "Who chooses the music around here?" "The staff...." (Yes, I know now that I should have lied and said, "My boss...") The lady screwed her face even more and said, "I don't think I can stand to listen to this much longer!" About two seconds later, she walked out of the store.

I know I should feel bad when shoppers don't like the kind of music that's playing in the store - but heartlessly, I don't. If you're shopping, the longest you have to hear what, in your opinion, is horrendous music is about half an hour...two hours tops if you're one of those shoppers who really like to take their time. We, on the other hand, are listening to this music for seven or eight hours straight, multiple times a week. Of course, there's validity to the idea of "offensive music" but I also think some people take offense too quickly to things that aren't meant to be offensive. That's one blatant aspect of the generational gap for you. It spoke even more clearly for me early this morning when my mom exclaimed that some song playing on Joe FM (come on! Joe FM??) was "noise" and proceeded to ask, "How can you call this music?!" ('s NOT Christian radio).

By the way, that song that lady was complaining about yesterday was none other than "Damn Girl".


Thomas said...

"we were stuck listening to the likes of Lily Allen. . ."

Nnnnoooo!!! Oh god, I feel the pain.

After working in retail for a few years I realized that I had grown to hate everything I was selling and everyone who was buying it. That's when I knew I had to quit.

I completely agree with your logic. If the customers don't like the music, they can leave. You can't.
I'd have to say, the worst for me is during the Christmas season (which seems to start two months too early in the retail world). If we can all bite the bullet and listen to that incessant Christmas cheer every year and still get our shopping done, everybody should be able to do the same for JT and Timbaland. :)

Kristina said...

Hi Thomas,

I recognize you from Renato's blog...nice to see you here!

I'm soo glad I'm not the only one who feels this way! Retail's a bitch and one of the few things that keeps me sane at my job is being able to listen to music I like. There's also the argument that music is a factor that helps or hinders business but I think that applies more to certain workplaces more than others (ie. restaurants).

Don't even get me started about Christmas music (and like you, I hate the fact that it starts waay too boss was already telling me the Christmas plan the other day!) It's two months worth of music you will surely grow to hate (at least that's how I felt last year).