Be Kind on Black FridayBecca Sands

I’ve been working retail for a little over a year now. I started in a women’s clothing store and am now also a manager at a children’s clothing store. Both stores have shown me a side of women that both disgusts and terrifies me. One would think that other women would be respectful of those working at a retail store, but this is often not the case. In a few weeks, I will once again be in the throws of Black Friday. God help me. So now I will beg you all to take pity on me and the other retail workers you will come across this holiday season and give you tips to not completely tick us off. We’re more likely to help those who are respectful, you know?

  • Most fitting rooms have a designated place to put clothes that don’t work out once you’ve tried them on. Make use of this area. Leaving your clothes thrown around in your fitting room just leaves more work for us, and during this time of year, we don’t have time for it. I am not your mother!
  • I have this friend who would decide in the shampoo aisle that she didn’t want that mac and cheese and put it alongside the Suave. “I’m keeping someone employed,” she would tell me when I gave her a glare. Not cool. Put things back where they belong. I’m not even asking you to fold things properly or straighten anything, just put it back on the right shelf or hook, okay? It’s just respectful.
  • I am required to ask you to open a credit card. It’s part of my job description. I am also required to ask three times. You’d be surprised how often someone changes their mind that third time. Don’t get snippy with me. Don’t get snippy wi–oh, fine, just walk away! 
  • You do get that it’s not my fault that we don’t have your size, right? Like, I have no control over that. At all. Chill out.
  • Probably my biggest peeve is when people ask me to put together outfits for them and hate all of them. If you’re 53 years old and I’m 24, we probably won’t have the same style. And I really can’t help you if you don’t like the clothes we have to offer. There are other stores all around. Enjoy.
  • I swear to crap, if your child touches our jewelry ONE MORE TIME…
  • Okay, this is a big one, ladies. This is the one that really grinds my gears. Our return policy is on the receipt, along with the expiration date. It shocks me how angry people get when I tell them it’s expired or we need a licence for a return. The best part was when a woman tried to return something from last Christmas and when I said we had a 60 day return policy, she said, “And?” Oh, lady. Get out of my face.
  • I once had a woman whose receipt was one day expired. I felt bad, but there was nothing I could do. She left seemingly understanding of the situation, but within five minutes, her husband walked in screaming, “RIDICULOUS! RIDICULOUS!” over and over again. Didn’t help. Cause, you know, screaming at computers doesn’t really get you anywhere.
The worst moment in my retail experience happened on a Sunday when the mall closes at 5pm rather than 9pm. A woman, we’ll call her Crazy, came in at 4:45 and announced, “I know exactly what I need, let me grab it real fast and I’ll be out in a jiff!” Sounded good to me, right? She was aware we were closing and promised to be quick. At 5:02, I was summoned to the cash wrap where I discovered the woman had put a pile the size of…oh my gosh, this thing was so huge, I don’t even know what to compare it to. I mean, it wasn’t the size Mount Rushmore, that’d be totally unrealistic. Okay, you know how if you are really hungry so you put a ton of cereal in a bowl, and then you add your milk and you’re like, “Crap…crap…CRAP, OVERFLOW!” and the little Kix fall to the ground? It was like that. On my register desk.”Okay, honey,” Crazy said to me, “If you could sort these for me by size, that’d be great!” Uh huh. So now it’s past closing and I’m sorting her clothes for her because she’s shopping for herself and for her mother and for probably twenty billion other people. But I’m a nice person, and I said, “Sure, no problem!” and I did that for her while she went and added more to the pile.Her coupon was one of those where if she used her store credit card, she’d get another $10 off her purchase. She didn’t have her card on her, so she said it was okay and not to worry about it, even though I had offered to look it up for her. Two transactions later, she decides she DOES want to save that money. All you really need to get out of this is by the end of it, I had done 5 transactions, 2 post voids, and it was 5:45.

“You know, my friend works at The Limited,” she told us as I finished up her (hopefully) last transaction. At this point, I was no longer friendly, I was rude. I’m not proud of it, but I was so annoyed that I wasn’t even smiling and being all, “No problem, ma’am, I’d love to lick your shoes clean for you! Would you like me to start with the right or left?”

Crazy continued, “She’s the manager there, and she has no problem staying open for a customer!” My manager was with me to help me through the post voids now and gave Crazy a look. “It’s true! She would stay open until…midnight if she had to!” When this clearly did not convince us that her presence 45 minutes after closing was acceptable, she added, “Well, I just gave you ladies a nice commission!”

“We don’t work on commission,” my manager snapped back, and she went to the backroom, probably to swallow a bottle of pills and set herself on fire. I finished up with the woman, she left, my manager came out and said, “Go home. I’ll finish up here, you need to go home before you hurt someone.”

I went home and shot myself in the face.

So Black Friday is coming up and I’ll be opening the midnight shift. I’m begging all of you to take it easy on me and my fellow retail employees. Black Friday can be a lot of fun if people keep from getting too insane. They’re just things, people. Also, be nice to each other. If I hear of another person getting trampled or shot or groped or whatever goes on, I’m really gonna lose it on all of you.

Better yet, stay home. Eat leftovers and hug your kids or your significant other or your cat or your remote or your computer while HelloGiggles is on screen and make hot chocolate and listen to She & Him’s Christmas album. Doesn’t that sound so much better? Yes it does.

(Also, get it? Black Friday? Rebecca Black’s Friday? Hilarious, right?)

  • Tammy Volbrecht

    been there done that five years now the depths of peoples intelligence at Christmas time never ceases to amaze me. I have almost considered going into retail therapy Just so people who work retail could learn to deal with the stupidity that comes through the door at times.

  • Cassie Ellson

    LOVE this (and you) and as a fellow retail manager I agree with EVERY WORD.

  • Kate Pauley

    I’ve never worked retail, but I have worked at a bakery in the lead up to Christmas up to Christmas eve (We don’t have thanksgiving, thus no black Friday in New Zealand) You have not seen rage until you see the face of someone denied a 6 pack of gingerbread men the day before Christmas. I had a lady THROW a box of Christmas pies at me for telling her we had sold out. It was 6 pm, on Christmas eve, and we had been working since 4am, the bakers since midnight and she threw a box of unpaid for mince pies! One of my fellow employees escorted her out and I had to go out back to pick fruit mince from my hair. never AGAIN!

    I now work as a teacher, I get the summer off from the 20th of December to the 30th of January. I may have to work with children, but at least if they do something rude I can send them for time out.

  • Naomi Prale

    I am working my first retail black friday this year. I work at a popular women’s store so I am SUPER nervous! (really nervous :( ) I loved this post and only hope that everyone reads it to calm the nerves of all the crazy employees out there.

  • Melissa Rae Brown

    i have never gone shopping on black friday. and i never plan to. but i have worked in retail and had to wait on some of the most miserable and insane human beings ever born. i mean, i have had some REALLY bad customers. reversely, i have also had some really bad cashiers. so, customers, remember to be nice! and retail employees, remember that just because one person is a douche bag, it doesnt mean the next customer will be a douche bag, too! ive had so many cashiers act totally rude to me just because the people before me were assholes or they were having a bad day. EVERYBODY needs to be nice to each other!

  • Keryn Josephine

    Last year, on Black Friday, I was working at Home Depot…where I didn’t expect a big crowd. I was sorely mistaken. The worst of the crazies, was a soccer mom (I could pick that hair out anywhere) with a heinous attitude. One of our deals was a poinsettia for 99 cents. This woman came up to me at the service desk at 1 PM (we opened at 5 AM) and asked where to find them. I explained that we had sold out earlier in the day. She glared at me for a solid minute before hissing, “SOLD. OUT!?!?!” I apologized and said that it had been a big seller since we had them up by the registers. She said, “Well, this is unacceptable. I should call your corporate office…” I apologized again and offered to get her a manager. She snapped “I don’t have time for that. Just give me a rain check.” I explained (super nicely) that, as a company policy, we don’t offer rain checks. She turned an unhealthy shade of purple and screamed, “Are you f***ing kidding me? It’s in your flier. You HAVE to give me a rain check. It’s the f***ing law.” I pointed to the part in the flier (which she was waving wildly) where it said “While supplies last”. She screamed about how I was incompetent and that’s why I was working at Home Depot and stormed off. Twenty minutes later, she came back and demanded that I find another store that still had them. I typed the SKU into the system and told her that none of the stores in the district were showing any. She insisted that I call around to be sure. I began calling around, but with it being Black Friday, it was taking a long time to get through. She got frustrated and stormed off again. This went on until I left at 3 PM. She ended up calling the corporate office to complain about my refusal to assist her. I will NEVER do Black Friday in retail again. Ever.

  • Shandra Goldfinger

    I think everyone should have to work retail at least once so that they can understand how frustrating it can be, and hopefully be a bit kinder next time they’re in a store.

  • Emily Starbuck

    All of this is so painfully true!! This is my 3rd Black Friday and my first at my current store. I totally sympathize with the credit thing; once a lady yelled at me and said that I was trying to steal her identity. And the outfit thing! The other week a lady came into our store with clothes FROM HER OWN CLOSET and wanted me to match jewelry with every top she had. And then she went into the fitting room and tried all the tops on and rejected everything I’d suggested.
    Oh, and our store opens at 9pm on Thanksgiving, and that’s when I start. They’re giving us 2 1/2 of our normal wage though, so I think I can suffer through.

  • Shannon McMahan

    Oh my goodness….you have just summed up my feelings in a well written essay. Bravo my lady! Or should I say, brava!

  • Kirsten Brewer

    AMEN!!!!My initiation into working retail was tax-free weekend, and at first I thought that was hard. I quickly learned that Black Friday through Christmas Eve is by far the worst; by the end of Christmas season I couldn’t stand the thought of the holidays.

    I did get my revenge once on a customer who was extremely rude to me (making unnecessary comments and such) for absolutely no reason. When she came to the register she had a pile (much like the one in your description) and wanted to make 5 separate transactions, each time using her husband’s credit card. It was my store’s policy to check the ID for a match so I did…every single time. What’s worse is that she would keep putting the ID away and have to pull it back out every time I asked. When she finally blurted out “ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME?!?!” I calmly smiled and told her it was the store’s policy and I was simply doing my job. I got some mass credit from my managers after that one…

  • Amanda LaCroix

    Hint: Most black Friday sales either start the day BEFORE Thanksgiving or are valid all weekend long. Shop then, avoid the crowds!

    I’ve been a retail manager for 5 years and, even though I know what’s coming, every year the Holidays bring out even more terrible qualities in people than the year before.

    I wish I could make every person in the world read this.

  • Danielle Thueringer

    I worked in retail for over two years, at a grocery store. It was absolutely amazing to me how some people treated me. Some customers were great; some made want to turn all psycho and kill shit. I don’t think most would understand what retail is like until you’ve experienced it. It’s not always bad. In fact, working in a service-type job made me come out of my shell. I can actually talk to complete strangers and not pass out! But really, I hope people are more aware of their actions, especially on Black Friday. Best of luck to you and all who serve, and know: I appreciate you!

  • Mallory Wagner

    @Becca Yep, I work an hour on thanksgiving and I’ll get the time and a half, thank God. 13 hours (on probably what’s going to be no sleep) might kill me or someone else. Thanks for the mental hugs, I’ll be sure to send you the same!

  • Gretchen Mummert


  • Sarah Bonnett

    I’ve never worked retail… but when I put clothes back where I got them after they don’t fit I normally have one of the people being all “Do you work retail too??” to which I have to sadly reply that “no, I do not feel your pain, I was just taught to put things back where I got them from the day I was born…. OCD is not always a curse…”

    • Sarah Bonnett

      P.S. I work as a bartender/server…. I work all holidays. I feel some of the pain and rude customers who are just out to be miserable at everything you do, even though you’re the one working on the Canada Day/Thanksgiving/Halloween/New Years/EVERYTHING and they are enjoying a nice meal with friends/family or shitloads of drinks… I swear people hate anyone in the service industry there to help them…

  • Courtney Miller

    I worked in retail for a hellish 5 years and once a woman threatened to kill me over a stuffed snowman. Even though I avoid the malls/big box stores during December I’m always super polite to those who do work in retail – because I know just how shitty it is!

  • Mallory Wagner

    I work at 11pm on Thanksgiving to 12 pm on Black Friday. Totally with you there. Good luck!

    • Becca Sands

      You have to actually work on Thanksgiving?! Girl, that sucks! Do you get time and a half or anything for that? It’s only an hour, but still, that’s the worst! Good luck to you, hang in there! I’ll be sending you mental hugs all day <3

  • Liz Gillis

    My manager just asked me the other day if I could work Black Friday (I’m not available on Fridays) and part of me really wants to say I’m going out of town…..Working retail on Black Friday must be a certain level of hell. Being a cashier on Black Friday is even worse!

    • Becca Sands

      That’s what I do, I’m cashier, and it’s a nightmare. I will say that last year I did the midnight shift, and actually, a lot of customers were just happy and excited for the season–it hadn’t gotten to the point of complete chaos and hatred by the time I left, but some people were still awful. If you don’t have to work it, don’t. Our company requires all workers do at least 4 hours on Black Friday, so I’m stuck, but save yourself!

  • Briana Whitecar

    This is EXACTLY how I feel every holiday season (and the rest of the year a lot of the time). I’ve worked retail for five years and it still amazes me how rude people can be (but it does make it really nice when you have that super sweet person that just makes your day). If people realized how sucky retail can be because of this, no one would work and we would all have to shop online…ooo that sounds like a good idea.

    • Becca Sands

      Uuuugh, right? The worst is when I know a customer does/did work retail, and they STILL act like a jerk! One of my own co-workers did that once–filled up a fitting room and put nothing away, leaving me to do it. Like, seriously?! Why can’t people be more like us, Briana?

  • Becky Musser

    I only made it one year working at Macy’s for the holidays. Black Friday and Christmas Eve (and several days in between) I would barely hold it together until I got to my car and just started bawling hysterically. Luckily, I’ve come to the conclusion being a barista is MUCH better! People are still really mean (did they not get that whole “be nice” lesson in preschool?), but at least the focus is more narrow and I can use the time it takes to steam milk to do some deep breathing.

    • Becca Sands

      Oh my gosh, I could NEVER do a place like Macy’s. I have heard such horror stories! Luckily, my store is relatively small, so straightening is still a nightmare, but nothing like a department store. Compared to the stories you probably have, I have no right to complain!

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