One woman’s account of retail hell

It’s not exactly the corporate ladder, but many of America’s employees spend some time working in retail.

When the economy turned south in 2009, author Caitlin Kelly found her freelance writing gigs shriveling up, one by one. In an effort to stay afloat she began working at in The North Face at her local mall.

She wound up encountering the struggles, fears and frustrations 15 million American workers feel every day.

Her latest book — “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” — chronicles her two years as a frontline retail sales associate and diagnoses a broken system of low-wage/high-expectation, emotionally taxing work.

“Retail looks like it’s low-skilled. It’s not. That’s why I wrote the book. I came away with a lot of respect for a job that demands a high degree of emotional and intellectual skill,” says Kelly, from her home in Tarrytown, New York. “It’s a low-wage job, which to a lot of people means it doesn’t take a lot of skill. It doesn’t mean that. It just means it pays badly. There are people behind counters with Ph.D.s and MAs. And even if they don’t have a college education, they’re still bringing an A-game. But they don’t get the corporate respect.”
On the inside

Kelly bristles at a common theme in the criticism of her book: Namely, that her perspective is that of a privileged outsider.
“Define privilege: I’m not wealthy, I live in a one-bedroom apartment, I have an old car. If I was that privileged, I wouldn’t have taken a low-wage job and stayed in it for 27 months,” she says. “People have said, ‘Oh, you’re whining.’ You know what? You go do that job for a while. Go get emotionally abused for the next 27 months and see if you come out all perky and shiny.”


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…


Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.


Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.