I just survived my first retail Christmas. I know there are more seasoned vets out there that will probably give this an eye-roll, but I decided to record a few stories that I heard (and some that I experienced!) that shocked me. As a time of year that we should be celebrating those that we hold most dear and a time of giving, and peace and goodwill to all people, it’s pretty strange that it should cause so much stress and heartache to some people.
1. The management issue.
“My first job, at 17, working seasonal retail. My grandpa died two days before Christmas. However, my employment contract required that I work Black Friday, or Christmas, if I wanted any chance at keeping the job after the seasonal time period. So of course, I took off Thanksgiving and black Friday, to spend time with my family, considering what condition my grandpa was in. So now, I was in the position of HAVING to go to work, when I should have stayed home, mourning my loss. Because I was so young, and emotionally upset, I spent a good deal of the time crying at work. Because of that, it was an obvious factor in their decision of letting me go after seasonal.”
2. The one who got banned from the mall.
“During Christmas Eve a few years ago I worked at a Taco Bell in a mall. A lady complained her order was done wrong, so our policy is to fix it immediately and I did so and she grabbed her newly made food freshly fried potatoes with hot nacho cheese on top as she proceeded to dump it on top of my hand and scarred my hand for life. All because she ordered her food wrong, she was that *sshole that got escorted and banned from the mall for life on Christmas Eve.”
3. The one who "KNEW she was right."
“I was helping my customer and she had a jewelry box that she wanted to purchase. I scanned the item and told her that the price was $99. She insisted that it was wrong, so I checked the price again and sure enough, the price was still $99. She said I could put it back because she didn’t want to pay that much since it was supposed to be $79. I did, finished up her purchase, wished her a good day, and went on to help the next customer. In the middle of the next customer’s transaction, she comes up to my register holding the sign that showed that we had a sale on jewelry boxes, saying ‘I knew I was right.’ I continued to help my customer, and when I was done, I brought back the jewelry box, scanned it again, and it was still $99. I looked at the sign she’d brought, and had to explain several times that no, the price was not supposed to be $99 because it was originally $249. There are price points, and if something was originally $249, at 60% off it is $99, and the price in the computer is with the percentage removed so we don’t usually have to do it manually. She was visibly not pleased but she left anyway.”
4. The one who was just plain hateful.
"This young lady works in a clothing department of her store, and she doesn’t normally have to operate the register, but the store was particularly busy and so she had to help out up front. She had one really nasty customer who had a return from an online purchase, and so she told her that the online purchase returns were in a separate section of the store. The customer left and went to that section, and it got busy, so she went to help in that section after finishing up front. When the customer didn’t get what she wanted back there, and the girl came to help there, the customer called her a b**** and told her to go die. I have never heard something so unnecessary said to an employee."
5. The jokester?
“So this one day it was my job to sort and re-fold the table. Customers would always go to the piles I'd just finished sorting, obviously, because they were the neat and pretty ones, and I would have to resist the urge to go back and fix them until I was "done" with the whole table. Ultimately a job that should have taken about... 45 mins took upwards of 3 hours because people wouldn't give a crap about messing up the neat piles even with me standing there. So, I get to my very last pile. The table is almost pristine. 19 very neat, nice stacks of t-shirts, with one messy corner I am working on. A woman, about 45 I'd wager, walks up and starts looking at the t-shirts. She unfolds the top t-shirt of every. Single. Pile. With me standing there. And leaves the shirt unfolded on the pile she just pulled it from. About 7 stacks in, she looks at me and with a saccharine smile says, "How about you fold and I unfold? I'm keeping you in a job." To this day I can't tell if she honestly thought she was being funny or if she was trying to be b*tchy. I just politely laughed and didn't say anything else the rest of the time she was at the table unfolding each pile.”
6. The impatient one.
"I got a customer who started a return, nothing major, and wanted to do an even exchange, which wouldn't have been a problem if she had gotten any of the same items she had originally purchased. Normally, if they are not the same item, or the same variety of item in a different size or color, we can't do a return, so I told the customer this, to which she said, "Well, if I've returned 3 pairs of pants, I should be able to get 3 pairs of pants." This would have been true without question if she had even tried to match prices, but she didn't. Nevertheless, I got the approval of a manager, so I started to change the prices to the ones she had paid for the first 3 pairs. I had to go back and forth between the prices on the original receipt and the pants I had already scanned before I was allowed to do the exchange, and make sure I didn't miss any that I had scanned, and the lady began to get impatient with me, and told me "Maybe you should just start over," in the nastiest tone I think she could have used. I told her I could continue as it was, I just needed to make sure I hadn't scanned anything twice or missed anything. She kept insisting I had already gotten everything but I don't believe I did, so I rechecked my work, and finished up her transaction, with a 'thank you, have a good night' despite my frustration with her attitude. I was trying to help her out!"
Now, I know that there are many harder jobs out there, and there are even harder situations than these that I mentioned, and to those who have to brave those, I salute you and thank you for your service and dedication to what you do, be it that you're a police officer, or a member of the military, or a server, or a manager, or whatever else it is that you do. I simply wanted to address the stories I had seen, experienced, or been told myself, and implore everyone to respect everyone always, but during the holidays that are supposed to be a happy time for everyone, especially.