"Excuse me! Where can I find bags for a vacuum cleaner?"
"I'm sorry, I don't work here. Please, try to ask at checkout."
I don't know how many times exactly I had to use this phrase during 4 years I've been working as an employee of a Pilot pens company and doing some of my duties in Tesco stores. People come to me and ask me where to find various things from a hair dryer, coffee maker filters, light bulbs and stamps to handsfree or a children's seat. When I tell them I'm not a Tesco employee, some of them start to apologize, but some just walk away or even get angry at me for no reason. This is really wasting my time, customers' time but mostly it's incredibly exhausting. So, I was wondering, if it's possible for me to do something about it.
Well, it' true that Tesco does not have many employees. People often have no choice but to ask for help from a cashier. More shop assistants would definitely help the situation, but they wouldn't solve the problem completely. The main issue I see, is that customers don't really pay attention to my company clothes or a tag I'm wearing. They just spot me messing with a pens and automatically think I must work there.
Therefore, I decided to work with my outfit. I designed myself a new working T-shirt with a sign on both sides. To choose the right words was the most problematic part for me, because it had to be short and as clear as possible, but I didn't want to offend anyone at the same time. I wrote "I am just filling in pens here" at the front and "I'd be happy to help with Pilot pens" at the back of the T-shirt. I am also aware that there will still be cases when I can't avoid a questions, but my goal is at least to minimize it.
When I tested the T-shirt, the number of people who asked for help was really lower than previous days. And also, I was asked mostly by older people. But because every day is always little bit different, for the exact result, the shirt needs to be tested for much longer time and I would try variations of signs too. However, based on the observation of my friend, who was the photographer of the whole process, some people were really discouraged by looking at my T-shirt on the way to ask me something.
Based on this, I consider the project to be quite successful and I will continue to wear the T-shirt at work every time. Hopefully, it will make my life there a little easier :)
This project was created during the course Critic – Critical practice in Graphic Design at Department of Visual Communication at Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Tutored by Katarína Balážiková. The course foucuses on practicing and developing individual or collaborative critical projects.