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Blakeley Fogleman
Professor Blair
UWRT 1102-051
28 April 2015
Becoming Literate: Working at Bath and Body Works
While primary discourse comes natural when having parents to look up to all your
life, it makes it hard to master a secondary discourse. Recently, I encountered finding
this out when I got a part-time job at Bath and Body Works. I found myself to be nervous
because I didnt know what to expect. I knew it would be easy to make mistakes and
misunderstand what I was expected to do as an employee. Day after day I learned new
information that helped me master working there as my secondary discourse. For me, it
was important to pay attention and learn from the mistakes I made. I had to learn new
words, experience new gestures and dress code, gain new actions and tasks, and
grasp values and attitudes that were also new to me. Once I eventually figured out the
routine and process of working in retail, I was able to feel confident in what I was doing,
just as I am in my primary discourse.
The first day I had to learn the words clock-in and clock-out. This was done
through an employee code and password on the computer. The most difficult part was
remember the 7 digit employee code the first couple weeks. The business used this to
know how many hours I had worked so they would pay me accurately. When working in
the first couple weeks, I had a hard time remembering to do this. Of course this was
important down to the minute because it determined the amount I should get paid.
When I forgot, I would have to stop my manager from the middle of

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what she was doing to fix the time I should have clocked in. Of course being a new
employee, I felt embarrassed and bothersome to the manager. Once I made this
mistake a few times, I found it easier to remember to clock-in and clock-out when I was
suppose to.
I also learned the word cash wrap. When I first heard this word, I immediately
thought of wrapping purchases for gifts, but I was incorrect. This actually was behind
the counter, ringing up items for the customers. Instead of being called a cashier, the
manager would tell me to go get on the cash wrap. This was a little different for me to
learn because I had never heard this term before working at Bath and Body Works.
When working out on the floor assisting customers, managers would tell me to build
her bag. Of course this wasn't a term used in my primary discourse, so I wasnt sure
what this meant. I had to ask when they told me to do so. This meant when customers
had a few items in their shopping bag, I was suppose to encourage them grabbing more
items. By just adding one extra item to the bag, it helped the store reach its daily goal of
I was able to learn the word signature collection. This is the most popular
collection of fragrances in the store. This collection always has the best deals, making it
a target for customers when they come in. I had to learn over 40 fragrances by hear in
this collection so I could be helpful for any questions that customers may have. It is
important to know many facts about each fragrance such as the scent, the purpose, and
which are the most and least popular. The more information I knew, the easier it was for
me to help customers. More words are

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used when working at Bath and Body Works then I assumed for there to be. It would be
impossible to include all the words and phrases I have learned thus far.
Dress code is very important at my job. Both employees and managers must
wear a plain white shirt with a choice of khakis or blue jeans. Pants are not allowed to
have holes in them because it would lessen the professional look. Closed toed shoes
are required for safety reasons. No tattoos are allowed to be shown, and only two ear
piercings are allowed on each ear. Aprons are worn at all times to help customers
identify workers. Dress code is important because it helps establish a brand look for the
company. It is a great way for employees to represent the business they work for (The
Why of Dress Code). Dress code at Bath and Body Works makes it easier for the
customers to find me if they have a question. I have learned that the way I look doesn't
just reflect on myself, but it also reflects on the company.
There are different gestures used that I have learned while working. It is
important to always have a smile on my face and use my hands to promote new
products. Maintaining good eye contact when talking to a customers always grabs their
attention. Customers want to speak to someone that has a good attitude, confident
stance and knowledge, and interest in their questions. It is a good feeling to be
appreciated by customers. To do this, gestures have to be an eye opener for customers
the second they walk in.
I have experienced answering many questions that customers have about
products and sales. The dress code required is definitely helpful because I have never
been asked, do you work here?. I am able to stand anywhere in the store and be
noticed by customers. This is because my attire stands out and looks professional for

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retail. As soon as customers walk in the door, I am required to ask how they are doing
and see if they need help finding anything specific. No matter what their answer is I tell
them about specific sales going on throughout the store to help encourage a bigger
purchase than they were anticipating. I tell them my name and express to them that I
am there for any questions they may have while shopping. Gestures come into
importance during the first conversation I have with a customer. I must use the
knowledge I have from experience to have a happy and helpful body language.
Many tasks and actions take place at work, most of them repeating themselves
from day to day. For example, a customer may ask where are your hand soaps and
what are the special sales you have going on with them today?. Working with retail,
products are constantly being set up in new sections of the store. It is my responsibility
to notice these things so I can easily answer a customers questions. Sales are always
changing too, which means I have to keep up with whats going on from day to day that
I work. When customers ask me a question, they expect me to know the answer
because thats the purpose of my job. In many situations I dont have an answer such
as when will your candles go on sale?. Of course I must apologize to customer
because I honestly dont know the answer. It is still part of my job to encourage them to
buy the product anyways. Retail is very tricky and it is important for me to always be on
my toes when I am asked a question.
On some occasions, it is my job to restock products even during the hours we
are open. When we are busy, products are being taken from the shelves for purchase,
making the store look bare and messy. It is my job to restock the store when this starts
happening. The store has shelves along the left and right side of the walls that reaches

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from the front to the back of the store. They are stacked 5 shelves high, which makes it
difficult to restock. In some situations, I have to bring out a ladder so that I am able to
reach the top. Just because I cant reach the top shelve, doesnt mean I can keep it
looking messy. There are also tables located in the middle of the store. Each table has a
theme. Throughout the day, people pick up items and place them on the wrong table,
creating a mess. I must also reorganize these items so the store looks nicer and more
organized than customers leave it to be. Organization and restocking is very important
because at any time, the head manager (who is over my managers) can walk in. She
expects the store to neat and replenished at all times of the day, even if we are
extremely busy.
Not only am I there to help customers, I am there to help my managers restock,
rearrange, and organize products. When I work a closing shift, it is my job to do as my
manager asks. They give me a piece of paper that shows everything that must be done
to the store. For instance, some sales only last one day, meaning all the signs must be
taken down after we close. New signs must replace the old ones to promote the sales
going on for the next day. If I dont do as my managers ask, then it can become very
unorganized and look very unprofessional in the store. Customers expect signs to be
correct so they can understand the sales happening on that day. It is up to me as an
employee to make sure everything is correct for that reason.
Many values and attitudes are expected out of me when on the job. It is
important to show respect and interest to customers and my co-workers. Customers
are the main focus of my job. Even if Im having a bad day, I have to put on a smile and
proceed with my job. If a customer doesnt need my help, I still must offer to help them

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anyways. If I am busy restocking, I must stop what I am doing and help a customer that
needs me. It is important to value the customers over anything else.
During one particular experience, I remember having three questions coming
from three different people all at once. I was very bombarded because I wasnt sure
which customer to help first. I had to ask for another co-worker to come help me out so
we could help each customer as quickly as possible. Even though I was stressed at the
moment, I had to keep calm and have a good attitude to each person. It was important
to approach the situation calmly so that no one got frustrated with me. I must value my
customers before anything else because they are the main target in the business. Not
only am I there to make money for myself, but to help improve the business also.
Over time I have learned abundance of information that has helped me become
successful in this job. With the many different words, gestures, actions, and values I
have learned, I have been able to master my secondary discourse of working at Bath
and Body Works. Thankfully I have had superior managers to help me throughout the
learning process. This discourse will help me realize I may not know the answer to
every single question. This will help me realize that it is okay to make mistakes if I ever
learn another discourse. The most important part of learning a new discourse is to try
my best, because eventually it will become easier once mistakes have been made.

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Works Cited
"The "Why" Of Dress Codes." Retail Minded. N.p., 14 Dec. 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

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Work Consulted
Pooler, James A. Why We Shop: Emotional Rewards and Retail Strategies. Westport,
CT: Praeger, 2003. Print.
Grugulis, Irena, and dl Bozkurt. Retail Work. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Price, Robin. Young People and Work. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate Pub., 2011.
Cravens, David W., Kenneth Le Meunier-FitzHugh, and Nigel Piercy. The Oxford
Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.
Williams, Joseph. My Life as a Retail Worker: Nasty, Brutish, and Poor. The Atlantic.
Atlantic Media Company, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.