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The experiences of working in a sex shop

In Communities /

By Bahoz Dara

Students from all across the nation are all too familiar with the concept of the minimum wage job. This is just how it goes when you’re forced to “invest” tens of thousands of dollars on education. Unlike most of my previous jobs, the one I currently hold has been a genuine learning experience.

I am employed at one of the city’s most popular adult stores. Although there have been some horrifying incidents, it has been the most eventful place to be paid eleven dollars an hour.

Mind you, I haven’t been there for too long. I first began this journey in early December. Although I classify myself as a very open minded individual, and even paid the shop a visit a few times in the past, I still was in no way prepared for what was coming (pardon the pun).

It all started with an interview, which only slightly differed from any other type of shallow integration I have encountered.

The only noticeable variation arose when they politely asked if I was fully comfortable with both the products, and what the job entailed, to which I assumed I was. It was not until I strolled onto the sales floor for training that I quickly realized this wasn’t your average retail establishment. After all average retail establishments don’t have an entire wall catered to products that belong in one’s asshole.

As I was being bombarded with product knowledge in a place where saying fuck, pussy, and cock was not a means for termination, I realized how comfortable I truly felt amongst the staff. This place was an ambiance of acceptance, where sexuality was free to roam, and I could talk my current regret/sex partner from the night before without out fear of judgment.

A broad spectrum of customers would come into our store- anywhere from first timers who have never even seen a sex toy, to experts who could most likely assemble one from a leaky battery and some tinfoil.

Despite the experience (or lack thereof) one had coming in, the majority would still share their most intimate thoughts and experiences. The bond of trust developed here with each patron is unlike any other, it is astounding to see people who fight through both their own emotions and societal norms to share details of their life that are generally as deemed taboo.

Normally my shifts were highly rewarding, leaving me to feel like I have made minor waves in sexual activism- but what would a job be without a couple of annoyances and horror stories?

By far the most superficially irritating aspect of the job are people who come in and can be heard cackling from any area of the store. I honestly don’t understand why sex toys make some immature rugrats simulate a death induced by laughing gas. Not only are they unbelievably obnoxious, they make those in the store actually looking to purchase any products uncomfortable.

Non-inclusive language of any sort, be it a joke about a toy your childish-self deems as oversized or not user friendly, is not okay. It is rude and it instills shame in others. I will never hesitate to educate these prudes, nor will I allow them to stay if they continue to make others uneasy.

That’s not the worst of it though, an awful situation I had been in while working had nothing to do with bratty immature beings, but more so to do with a middle-aged couple looking to purchase a variety of toys. They came in like everyone else, and were incredibly friendly. I guided them around and presented them with numerous options. I noticed they picked up a double-ended strap on, which I thought was pretty neat.

If you know anything about me, you know that I think gender neutrality amongst straight couples is fantastic and a positive step towards equality. Once they gathered up a few items, I left them to deliberate but frequently caught them staring at me while murmuring.

While one of the partners moved to another section of the store, the male asked if I could help him in finding something to his liking. While making suggestions and opening up boxes, I quickly forgot about their constant gazes. In the midst of displaying one of our most popular items, he inquired if I could come to their home and not only assist them in their adult play, but to also take part.

I don’t think I have ever been dumbfounded in my life prior to this moment.  Luckily, once I politely declined, he backed off and told me there was no pressure and if I ever changed my mind they would still be more than willing.

I know what you’re all thinking: it must be incredibly comforting to know that somewhere out there, there is a couple with a double-ended strap one with one head just patiently waiting for me. Only sometimes folks, only sometimes.

All jokes aside though, it did manage to actually hurt my feelings. My genuine friendly nature, and passion for sexual education had been misinterpreted as a flirtation, and desire, which had left me a little shaken up. This is a component of the job that can be slightly depressing; I understand the severity of this word, however I fully believe it coincides with my feelings. It is depressing to know that regardless of your platonic, and informative intentions, someone out there will take it for granted.

I have only had a minor amount of people act in such a way when I am trying to assist them, but I can’t lie and say it doesn’t make me feel used.

There was one situation in particular regarding a man faking an injury and exposing himself to me that really brought me down. I refuse to go into too much detail for it’s still a moderately fresh wound, and currently I don’t feel comfortable enough sharing every aspect of the incident. All I can say about is that to have someone blatantly use, and manipulate you for some sort of sexual thrill hurts.

At first it made me feel inferior, and ashamed for I felt that somehow allowed it to happen; It was not until a few days passed, in which I could begin to recognize that it was in no way my wrongdoing.

Although, I do still think it’s unfortunate it happened; I refuse to allow those types of people to diminish my strong beliefs in the need for sexual education. I still stand with my values in informing the public about matters of sexuality, and if anything it is people like that who need to be educated more than anyone else.

I like my job, although it brings some hardships, it still instills me with determination and refreshes my drive to educate and de-stigmatize. Overall, all I can say is that not just anyone can work in this type of facility, and that despite its rewarding nature; it is not all fun and games.

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