A recent online discussion broke out when a forum member asked: “What is a dirty little secret about an industry that you have worked in that people outside the industry really should know?” Some of the responses are shocking, while others do not surprise me at all. Let’s take a look.
1. Valentine’s Day Roses
A florist warns: “The roses you buy for Valentine’s Day were harvested around Christmas. It’s the worst time of the year to buy roses, and I don’t mean because they’re more expensive. They’re also the worst quality because it’s a longer holding time between harvest and use than any other time of the year.”
Did you know that most hotels do not change the comforter on the beds in between guests unless there’s a noticeable stain on it. Furthermore: “If the pillows are placed on a chair instead of on the bed at check out, housekeeping assumes they weren’t used and puts them back on the bed without changing the pillowcases.
All of this is due to cutting corners in housekeeping because the keepers are under strict timers for each room, and they have an insane amount of rooms to do every day.”
3. Teacher Bias
A teacher confesses that they will fail you or lower your grade simply because they don’t like you. Conversely, if they do like you, they will raise your grade, even pass you.
4. Handle Package With Care
One time, I came home to a package my mom sent for my birthday. A crystal dolphin platter for food. I picked it up and could hear the broken glass despite the “Fragile” notation. So it does not surprise me at all to learn that nobody who sorts mail handles your package with care.
“The word fragile doesn’t stop them from throwing it 20ft into a metal container. While working at UPS, the only time I handled a package with care was if the box said ‘Biological Samples’ or ‘Live Tropical Fish.’”
5. Health Inspections
“When the health inspector shows up, a mad scramble happens in the back to clean the kitchen while they start the inspection in the dining and bar area of the restaurant.
One manager will hold the health inspector up in the front of the house while the back of the house is busy labeling and making sure minor violations they visibly see are dealt with.” As someone who worked in food service, I can attest to this truth.
6. Grocery Store Manipulation
Did you know that insane amounts of money are spent every year deciding where specific items are placed on grocery store shelves? “If you’re at a grocery store that’s part of a chain, and you look at a shelf, and there’s an item that’s approximately at eye level, I guarantee you that the company that makes that item paid a lot of money to put them there.
There’s lots of weird psychological tricks that go on in terms of how stores are laid out.” It’s why candy and sugary cereals with mascots are at lower eye level for children.
Did you know that Aerospace has a phrase “Get Healthy in Maintenance?” Translation? “Underbid the contract to win the work; then they overcharge on the maintenance activities. It’s an investment strategy that pays well. Many aerospace sites have ‘cash cows,’ long-term maintenance contracts that keep the money coming into the site.”
8. Airline Cargo
Wow. I had no idea that airlines make more money carrying cargo than passengers. “Also, they have much stricter contracts about delivering cargo on time than passengers. If a plane is overweight, they will usually remove passengers before they remove cargo.”
9. New Clothing
Someone suggests that you should always wash new clothing because a high percentage have been worn and returned. A former retail employee shares: “Worked at a nationwide chain store that would retag underwear if it was returned. The managers would ask us to do a ‘sniff test’ to decide if we should resell it.” BARF!
Additionally, there are chemicals like formaldehyde that need to be cleansed from new clothing. “I used to work in a retail clothing store, and another good reason is all the dye,” one explains. “Folding new jeans for around an hour, your hands will be black like you have been handling newspapers.”
10. Political Office Staffer
While this is alarming, it’s no surprise to me: “The U.S. government is run by an invisible network of interconnected staffers. The good elected officials are informed, but the staffers still inform them.
They write bills, write bill summaries, research the issues, and write the things the elected officials say. Without staffers, the vast majority of elected officials wouldn’t have a clue what’s going on, and we have an absurd amount of influence over the information they base their platforms.”
11. The Five-Second Rule
A former meat packing plant employee admits: “More product hits the floor and then thrown back on the line than you know.” A second person confirms: “This one is true. I worked for a bakery at one time.
I saw whole trays of baked goods hit the floor, get picked up, and put out for sale.” As someone who has worked in food service, this is true. I’ve seen steaks and burgers hit the floor and still be served.
12. Cosmetic Companies
Did you know that they put little weights in lipsticks to make them feel more expensive so they can charge more? “Lipstick bullets all contain about the same amount of product; the extra weight is added to make the packaging feel heavier, implying better materials. And if you think the packaging is higher quality, you assume the product it contains is also higher quality.”
13. Government Budgets
In an infuriating but believable discovery, one writes: “The Defense Department literally just spends money to spend it without any actual purpose just so they can say it was spent so they don’t receive less next year.
In my building with ten men, the men’s restroom was gutted and remodeled three times in three years.” Another person claims: “That’s the entire government, not just the defense department. — Use it or lose it.”
14. Child Seats in Grocery Carts
“I apologize in advance,” a grocery employee asks: “Do you ever set your groceries in the fold-back child seat of your grocery cart? Between children with leaky poop diapers, vomit, dirty shoes when children stand up, and the small pets often placed there, you probably should stop doing that.
The carts are not cleaned daily…not even close. They are sanitized by professional steam cleaners once a month. ONCE A MONTH. That’s the frequency the Health Department requires. You’re welcome.” I’ll stop putting my purse there immediately, ew!
15. Pregnancy Tests
“I work in a clinical laboratory at a big hospital,” a forum member writes, “There is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between pregnancy tests you get from the dollar store vs. the $20 Clearblue at CVS. They have the same exact technology.
Also, we use cheap pregnancy tests in the lab. If you’re in the U.S., please save yourself that $1,000 ER visit and get a cheap pregnancy test. I promise they are no different.”
16. Food Waste
“Large grocery stores throw out thousands of dollars of usable, safe-to-consume food every day and then have the audacity to ask you to make a donation to help fight hunger at the register. I spent many years working produce. The amount of meat, dairy, produce, and baked goods thrown out at the end of the day — what a waste,” writes one.
This reminds me of when I worked in fast food. When McDonald’s closed at midnight, we had to toss all the food. We were not allowed to give it to any transients, but they dug in the dumpsters.
I always bagged the food and put it neatly by the dumpster. The reasoning for not being able to hand it to them directly was that if they got sick, they could sue for food poisoning. A homeless person suing? With what resources? It felt horrible to throw food away.
17. Antiques and Junk
Wow. I’m not at all surprised when someone confesses: “In the antiques and junk business in the U.S. (e.g., the TV show American Pickers) … we really do make up the prices. And sometimes, if we’ve had an item for a while and it is not selling, we raise the price, and it usually sells.”
18. Movie Theater Popcorn
“On weekends,” a former theater employee admits: “The movie theater I worked at popped a lot of the popcorn the night before and stored it in giant garbage bags in the back room. Before opening, they’d dump day-old popcorn into the warmers to make it seem fresh.”
A second person adds: “Actually, a surprising number of movie theatres don’t even pop their own popcorn — the warmer you will typically see usually doesn’t actually pop kernels. It just warms the popcorn that they truck in.”
19. Going to the Back
Have you ever asked a retail employee to check the back for something? Well, they don’t have it back there and only go back to “check” to appease you and get off the floor for a few minutes.
“When I was a manager at a popular thrift store chain, people always asked me if I had another in the back. And I’d have to explain to the person, like they were five years old, what a thrift store was and suggest the mall across the street.”
Did you know that eyeglass frames are marked up a whopping 700% to 1000%?! An optician chimes in: “You are going to have a much better life with $1000 lenses and $50 frames than the other way around.
Luxottica owns about 70-80% of the market, so most major brands are all the same cheap Chinese mass-produced acetate. They also overcharge private practices to funnel sales to their big box stores, which is why places like Lenscrafters get their Ray Bans at $150, and I have to sell mine at $250.”
21. Store Brands
Are you aware that most store brands are just repackaged name brands? All they do is swap the packaging. I’ve heard and believe this about food and grocery stores. However, I was surprised by one member’s revelation: “Used to work at Best Buy — can confirm that the store brand TVs are this way.
Whoever got the manufacturing contract that year, quarter, or whatever made the TV. That Insignia TV could be a Samsung, LG, or whatever. At least that’s how it used to be.”
A thread contributor shares: “Mattresses are now one-sided in order to bring the life down by half. All are owned by one corporation who greases salespersons pockets to hard sell.”
23. Radio Contests
A former radio DJ admits: “Any contest where ‘caller number X wins’ means we are screening calls and just trying to find someone who will sound good on the air.”
24. Active Management
“I work in finance,” a user writes: “Active management is a scam. The portfolio managers do NOT have your best long-term interest in mind. They are only trying to get their ‘batting average’ up one quarter at a time. Invest in index funds, people!”
25. Buying 1/2 Pies
“If you see a half pie being sold at the grocery store, avoid it. It’s an old pie they cut in half and put back out with a later ‘best-by date,'” a bakery worker shares.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.