Just got home from work, poured myself a glass of wine, checked my Snaps from my sister, and am settling in to try and order some new pants for work. I would seriously like to know who the hell is in charge of setting pants styles and deciding that stores will carry only those styles each year. We have to wear plain black pants at work. Any plain black pants or jeans will do as long as they’re presentable and have no visible rips or tears. No yoga pants, or leggings, or ripped up jeans, or pants with embroidery or patterns. Just plain black pants. Think I can find some? Nope!
I have looked at every store I usually shop at. Everything they have is either tights or full of holes. The only blank jeans I found all day that aren’t full of holes had giant embroidered flowers all over the thighs and butt. Unless I’m willing to shell out $60 for a pair of pants that will be worn out in the inner thigh in a matter of months anyway, I’m not getting any pants today. The closest I’ve found so far are ankle length linen pants with flowers on the back pockets.
Of course, I’m doing this online. Today is Black Friday, so there is no way I’m am stepping foot within 100 yards of the mall today. I know that Black Friday is a huge deal in America, but it hasn’t been that big of a deal here in Canada until recently. I live in a border town, so the last few years we’ve started having Black Friday deals popping up here and there. We even have a little display at work with a handful of Black Friday deals that last the weekend. This year is taking it too far though, in my opinion.
Usually, American Thanksgiving signals the start of the Christmas season around here. The mall stays open later, people rush out to go Christmas shopping, there’s decorations and Christmas music everywhere. This year, instead of just keeping the mall open later than normal, stores in our mall were given the option to open at 6am in order to attract the cross-border shoppers who were coming home from a long night of deals at that time. People lined up at stores at 7am, and it wasn’t even the day after Christmas!
I admit I have done the 7am lineup once with my siblings. We made a day of shopping on Boxing Day, getting those post-Christmas clearance deals. I did it once, and once only. I’ve been offered a few times to go again and turned them down every time. There’s just something that bothers me about adding to the madness that causes people to have to get out of bed on a nice, relaxing day to head into work hours early to serve anxious shoppers who come through their store like a tornado.
Black Friday isn’t the only sign the Christmas season is starting, though. Today we had our first seasonal worker in training on cash! He seems like a really sweet guy, and he caught on really quickly. We’ll hopefully have the other four workers in very soon to get their training in because this is our busy season. For some reason, people go nuts this time of year even just shopping at my store.
I get it, this is a busy time of year for people. I mean, just for me this time of year means more hours, a tonne of baking, more shopping in a matter of days than I usually do the rest of the year, wrapping gifts, chasing the ever playful Bowser Kitten after he gingerly plucks another ornament down off the tree and runs off with it in his mouth to nap with, and the mounting stress that comes with dealing with everyone else who is doing much of the same thing. Add to this the constant barrage of sweets, invitations to dinner parties, yet another Secret Santa, Christmas Parties, dealing with relatives who insist there is a War On Christmas, knowing that you’re going to have to spend at least one Christmas dinner stuck between your very liberal uncle and your ‘”Make America Great Again” aunt, and it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. The thing is, we’re all going through this stuff right now.
I know that you’re stressed, and you’re tired of dealing with people. You just want to walk into a store, grab everything you need in one fell swoop, cash out, and never set foot in a mall again. You don’t want to deal with all the other shoppers who are ready to pull out the pepper spray and fight to the death over the very last whatever the hell the popular toy is this year. Walking through the mall, you keep replaying old video clips of the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids riots that happened in stores, waiting for someone to run up behind you and wack you with a metal folding chair so they can take the last cheese log at the Hickory Farms kiosk. You’re on your toes, ready just in case some random dude tries to piledrive you into the shiny tiled mall floor over a novelty Santa apron. The last thing you want to deal with is an over-attentive store clerk asking you what you need.
The thing is, that clerk is dealing with this crap too. Go check out YouTube, look for Black Friday shopping videos. Watch the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids clips. I saw clerks in those videos carrying baseball bats for their own safety. These employees get trampled, get grabbed at, get screamed at, get threatened, all over a few dollars worth of merchandise. And this is on top of the normal dumbassery they deal with! They still have the secret shoppers to worry about, the stacks of clothes that are laying in a heap on the floor minutes after being carefully folded. They have to deal with poop in the change rooms, and parents letting their kids run rampant in the stores while they shop. When you have some free time while in front of your computer and aren’t obsessively reading through my old posts (or listening to the I’m Sorry Dad podcast, which I highly recommend), go check out Not Always Right. People post stories all year about the crap they have to deal with working in retail. Now imagine dealing with the things you read on there, plus all the crap that comes with the holiday season.
And to deal with the increase in shoppers over the holidays, a whole lot of stores hire seasonal workers. We have a new batch being trained right now, and a few stores in my plaza started training their last week. I know a few places in the mall here were starting their workers next week. That means that these people will have maybe six whole weeks of experience by the time they’re done. They may be really slow on cash. They probably don’t know where things are in the store. They don’t know how to look things up, or where the next closest store is, or when the next sales start. They’re basically hired to run cash so the full-year employees can get everything else done.
I know at my store, there’s a 6am shift just for the holidays. The work BFF and I will get in at 6am to wash the floors, pull the warehouse, stock the front end, and start putting stock away. Then we’re unloading the delivery, scanning the warehouse, and doing more stock once the store is open. There is a tonne of freaking stock to put out, and we have everyone possible in to help out. We pull every available body to keep stock on the shelves and need those extra people on the cash registers. For the most part, they can handle themselves. But they’re temporary workers who have no clue what goes on the there the rest of the year. They can’t tell you where a specific wine is, or what pairs best with veal, or whether we’re getting any Beaujolais Nouveau in before the holidays. They are just there to run cash.
So while you’re out shopping this holiday season, have a little patience. Chances are, the person at the cash is new at this. Yes, you’re tired and sore and hungry and frustrated with having to deal with 3/4 of the city being crammed into the mall all at once. But they’ve had to deal with all of the same things, with the added stress of being yelled at and given attitude by shoppers who can’t believe they have to wait an extra 90 seconds to be rung through because their cashier is slow. These poor workers are getting the mental shit kicked out of them, and then having to go out into that same madness to do their own shopping.
So be kind this holiday season. Remember that the people serving you in the stores are just that: people. They deserve the same kindness and respect that you would expect from them.