I might be the only doctor ever to decide it was a good idea to work retail while also working 80+ hours as a Pediatric Resident.
I’m not entirely sure. The logic was flawed right from the start. But let me try to explain.
Firstly, medicine is stressful – plain and simple. You spend years of your life working absurd 24-hour-shifts, praying that the Code Blue Alarm doesn’t go off in the middle of the night, hardly sleeping, waking up obsessively to make sure your pager is still on when you actually do fall asleep, watching people die, telling people they’re going to die, thinking about the $200,000 of debt you’ve amassed and – if you’re in residencies like Orthopedics – wondering if there will even be a job at the end of the day.
So until I found writing (I’ll blog about that later…) I experimented with other ways to vent my stress.
And working retail was one of those failed experiments.
You see – like many people who go into medicine – I came from a privileged background. I had never worked another job except as a camp counsellor. So the allure of a 9-5 gig where no one was dying seemed appealing. And heck, if someone had a heart attack over sold out yoga pants, I could do the CPR until the paramedics showed up.
So I applied to Lululemon Athletica secretly thinking I’d never get the job anyway.
“You’re over qualified for this position,” I thought they’d say.
I got it.
And to Lulu’s credit, they were very flexible with my not-so-flexible doctor schedule. They let me work 1-2 shifts a week. Sometimes I’d even go in post-call (after a 24 hours shift).
However I quickly found out that working a not-so-stressful-job on top of a stressful-job does not have the cancelling out effect I’d hoped.
The skills I’d attained in my medical training were not completely transferable. And there are some things you can say as a doctor that you just can’t say working retail.
Shopper: “Do you not have anything larger than a size 12?”
What I had to say: “No. Sorry.”
What I wanted to say: “No, but great job coming into Lulu. Are you planning on starting an exercise routine? The benefits of weight loss would be enormous. Have you had your blood pressure, glucose and lipid profile checked recently?”
My favourite retail moment was when a lady came in to tell me the incense we were burning was carcinogenic and we’d all have cancer by the end of the year.
I had to bite my tongue really, really hard on that one.
I learned that retail is stressful in its own respect. I went from listening to people tell me why they weren’t going to vaccinate their children to listening to people complain about size 6 stretchy shorts being sold out.
Overall, the job didn’t have the effect I’d hoped for, but that said, I did learn one very valuable lesson:
The difference in how people treat you based on whether you’re a doctor or whether you’re working retail is disgusting!
Just because someone has an MD doesn’t mean they demand more respect than if they sell you your yoga pants.
Respect should be universal.
With the upbringing I had I was never exposed to this dichotomy. Now – having experienced it first hand – I am more aware than ever to be courteous and respectful to everyone.
And to those people that think it’s okay to abuse the kid selling you your yoga pants – watch out – you might just find them working in the hospital the very next day;)