Be Kind on Black Friday

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?)

  • David Rekow-Bergren


    • Becca Sands

      Further proof that I should not write at 3 in the morning! :)

  • Sarojin Abhishaker McAllister

    The worst in humanity comes out within the confines of retail space. I’ve done it for 12 years and I totally could write a book.

    • Becca Sands

      Power to you for being able to hang in there for 12 years. There are some customers I really adore, but most are the absolute worst. I don’t know how much longer I can deal with it. Hang in there!

  • Catrina Huskey

    I worked 5 black fridays at walmart. Pure hell. People are not nice to walmart employees on a regular day and they are 10 times worse on black Friday. I’m soooo glad I never have to work that shiz again!

    • Becca Sands

      I would never, ever work a Black Friday at a place where toys were involved. Women shopping for themselves is bad enough, but for their children? No thank you! I’m glad you survived!

  • Audrey Leihser

    I’ve worked four Black Fridays at Target as a front lanes manager thinger, about to work my fifth this year. It’s my least favorite day of the year. Something inevitably happens. One year, as I was leaving for work, late, at 4:00 a.m., I got a speeding ticket and the rest of the day was its own special hell. I don’t know what this year will hold but I know that when I get off work I’m going to update my resume again, apply for some online schools again, call my BF and cry again, take a bath and drink a bottle of wine and just try to forget it happened. Healthy, right?

    • Becca Sands

      Oooooooooooh my gosh, that’s the worst. :( But if the day ends with a talk with the bf, wine, and a bath, I say it was worth it. :)

  • Dani Hetzer

    I wish just once I could tell a customer what I really think of them! There are plenty of nice customers out there but most of them are rude, inconciderate and self-centered. I can’t say where I work but when we run out of our Black Friday free gift with purchase women will sometimes literally throw whole shopping bags full of stuff at me because they found out htey can’t get one item. And last year a women told me I was being “too chipper” for her taste and to leave her alone. Reguardless if it is black friday or not I am always upbeat and positive when I interact with a customer. I don’t really care if they’re not 100 percent nice to me but a little mutual respect would be awesome.

    • Becca Sands

      TOO CHIPPER? Oh whatever, that lady clearly has issues. I wish I could tell a customer what I think of them. Just clock out, tell them like it is, clock back in and not let them be able to do a darn thing about it. I just pretend yell at them in my car when I drive home. If only that brought the same satisfaction. Also, if anyone ever threw something at me, I’d immediately stop ringing them and tell them to leave, and if they refused, I’d walk away. I mean, at least I like to think I’d stand up for myself. I’d probably just pick up her things and go, “Whoopsie, here ya go, you dropped this!”

  • Alexandra Rae

    I am always super nice to the people that work on Black Friday because I feel SO bad. Don’t worry! I will do all of these things and I will make sure everybody within a 20 foot radius of me does it too damn it! Trust me, I have no problem glaring at people to put something back where it came from ;]

    • Becca Sands

      You’re a doll! Customers like you keep us going, girl!

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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…

  • Gretchen Mummert


  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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