It’s that time of year again folks — time for endless Christmas carols, gift buying and wrapping, family drama, and oh yeah, that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling. It’s the time of year that kids look forward to all year long, parents dread and retail workers consider torture.
As someone who worked in retail for 10 years, I can tell you that working in retail is a unique form of hell on earth. I’ll break it down for those of you lucky enough to escape working
retail at one point in your life. (Sorry Human Resources departments of retail stores — there might not be any
applications pouring in after publication HAHA).
First Pain Point: Extended Hours.
Most retail stores, such as JCPenney where I worked, open earlier and close later during the holiday season. Some days, the store would open as early as 8 a.m. and close as late as midnight. In recent years, some businesses have started opening early for Black Friday, forcing employees to cut their Thanksgiving Day festivities short. Shoppers don’t often stop to think about the fact that the employees are spending time away from their loved ones to staff a store so that you can shop — instead of treating them like crap because the prices didn’t ring up correctly, why not be grateful that they are there so you can shop.
And for heaven’s sake, PLEASE don’t show up at a business five minutes before they close and try to do two hours’ worth of shopping. If you need one or two items and you know what they are and what size to get, by all means, make it quick. I’m talking about the folks that want to come in, pick up items and unfold them and leave them on the shelf, floor or in the fitting room. Those are the people that deserve worse than coal in their stockings.
Second Pain Point: Grouchy Customers
I swear, it seems like some of the customers I had back when I worked at JCPenney thought I had a personal vendetta against them and I had programmed the register to ring their items up at the wrong cost or that I’d taken the last gaudy sweater in their size and hidden it in the back so they couldn’t have it. It seemed like everyday someone was unhappy with the service you provided them — even if you were the nicest, most helpful sales associate they’d ever encountered. I could never understand how someone could be in that bad of a mood all the time — until I continued working retail.
Third Pain Point: Gift Buying
When you combine the extended hours that your company has (and you have to work) with the grouchy customers you deal with at work, the LAST thing you want to do is head out to shop for your own list. You get paid to deal with grumpy customers, you don’t want to dodge them while you’re shopping. I’ve always enjoyed buying gifts for those I love, but when I worked retail it was extremely hard to get into the Christmas spirit when I’d been bullied all day for incorrect prices ringing up or because someone’s expired coupon wouldn’t work.
Fourth Pain Point: Christmas Carols
You know those people who start playing Christmas carols as soon as their jack o’lantern is rotted? I will NEVER be one of those. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of Christmas songs that really get me all holly and jolly, but I can only take them in small doses. I actually know several songs that my family has never heard of because JCPenney played them on repeat every. SINGLE. Year.
If constant holiday music isn’t enough to drive you mad, imagine that you’re stuck in one place for EIGHT HOURS and they’re playing the same 10 songs… but each time it’s played, it’s a different version. Sometimes the versions are great and others, not so much. At one point in my years of retail, I couldn’t stand to hear my favorite Christmas song — because each time it was played, the version that JCPenney played was awful.
I know, it’s easy to think to yourself “then why did you work there?” Well, because I needed a job, got that job and was able to keep that job. So why wouldn’t I? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say all these things to disparage the retail industry. I say them to disparage society. I’m kidding!
In all seriousness though, I put all these things out there so that readers/shoppers can keep themselves in check as they go about their holiday shopping. Especially during this time in our lives, when COVID-19 has some spirits beaten and broken down, why make life harder for someone by being rude or inconsiderate?