Why everyone should work retail during the holidays

Working in retail during the holiday season takes the happy into horror.

I have worked at least 7 holidays in retail. First one was at 16 as a sale associate while my last was as management. Regardless of the position I was in, it sucks. Capital S-U-C-K-S! Why? Let me provide you a simple numbered list as to the major reasons why being in the retail industry during the holiday season is one of the WORST times of the year:

  1. You work until it’s illegal for you to work any more that week. But sometimes you get sucked into working extra hours or even a split shift because a new temp decides to bail on her first shift & the team needs you!
  2. The big guys & gals say they appreciate you, but instead of showing it through a raise they order Domino’s pizza + discount Walgreens candy.
  3. Customers tend to personify the Grinch over Cindy Lou Who, but still expect you to treat them like Cindy Lou Who even after they’ve spit in your face.
  4. Last minute shoppers still expect you to have exactly what they want even though it’s 10 minutes before you close on Christmas Eve.
  5. Don’t you DARE say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” unless you expect to be corrected and perceived as offensive.
  6. You are allowed one day off – either day before a holiday or day after a holiday. So, if your tradition is to go out of town to see family, forget about it! Unless, you’re okay with hoping a redeye + heading straight to work from the airport.
  7. Everyone wants gift wrapping. If you are not a pro at gift wrapping, ask to be front zone or fitting room the entire holiday season or you will be crucified.

As many know, I do NOT like to tolerate any of the following: bullish*t, rude comments, a sense of entitlement, whining, temper tantrums, threats, or vanity. Understandably so, working the holidays completely drained me of the enthusiasm I have for the season. I’ve been in charge of making everyone else’s holiday a memorable one, but what about my own?

Now, this is a crazy (read: brilliant!) idea, but maybe if everyone aged 16 & up was required to work at least one holiday season in retail (November 1 through January 1), then maybe we wouldn’t be such asshole consumers?

Not only would requiring all individuals to work in retail allow them to feel the same emotions of despair, NOT joy, during the holiday season but it would provide them a reality check of maybe we’ve gotten to be a little bit too materialistic and lost the meaning of season.

But as long as holiday movies keep getting made, my genius idea will never grow into fruition. ::Sigh::

But I do wonder if my retail experienced readers find yourself getting back into the holiday mayhem as a shopper, or do you still hold on to the empathy you have for the store workers who brave this crazy storm?

For those of you working holiday this year, here’s another numbered list with some points of advice:

  1. Even if you’re hired as seasonal, you are expected to work. If you think you can request days off, think again. Not only will management hate you, but your new co-workers will hate you.
  2. When in doubt, smile it out. I got through some of the most ridiculous customer situations by just smiling softly as the customer ranted and raved. Typically, when a customer is cranky during the season, it has nothing to do with you and letting him or her let it all out will help him or her to realize they’re being a dick. This isn’t always the case, but I’ve found just listening to be the best response to cray.
  3. If you feel overwhelmed on Black Friday or Boxing Day, don’t hold it in. Communication to your manager on duty is key. If you need a second set of eyes, don’t be afraid to ask. If you need a break off the floor to gather your thoughts, ask. If you aren’t sure of an answer to a question, be honest with the customer about your limitations and then ask someone else.
  4. Technology will fail you. Often at the worst times. Remember, it is out of your control.
  5. Get to work 10 minutes early so you can walk the sales floor and have an idea of your surroundings. Nothing worse than running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
  6. Be a team player. You all are in this together. Don’t take out your negative emotions onto your peers. If you do, it’ll be all down hill from there.

Good luck, holiday workers! I’ll be rooting for you from the comfort of my computer screen!


Good for You, Not for Me

For some reason, we as humans, feel like we need to have an opinion on any topic that we hear.

I’ve realized recently that I really hate getting advice from people.

To the point where I regret telling them anything that’s happening in my life. For some reason, we as humans, feel like we need to have an opinion on any topic that we hear. It’s very rare that I have encountered a person that has asked me “what’s new with you?” and I tell them. And they nod their head, and smile. No two cents. No trying to talk me in or out of anything. They just take in the words.

I don’t mind having debates. I don’t mind having “what if” scenarios thrown at me. But honestly, when I tell you about my choices, don’t try to change them. If I want help, I will ask for it. 

I used to be that person. I used to always tell my friends what I thought they should do, even when they hadn’t asked for it. Why? Because, again, like a majority of people, I thought that because I liked how I was living my life, and my decisions, that I could tell someone else to do the same and they would be happy. But that ISN’T the case. I went 20+ years reacting to peoples’ stories, life updates, gossip that way…until I crossed a boundary with a good friend in college.

“Caitlin, I’m not asking for your opinion, I’m not asking for you to tell me what to do, I’m telling you because I just want you to listen. If I want your help on making a decision, a choice, I’ll ASK.” 

I get it now. I understand her frustration. I no longer try to tell others how to be, well, me. I listen. But damn it, why can’t anyone else!? So, I challenge you reader, to see what kind of person you are with your friends, your co-workers, your family: are you a listener, or are you a pusher?

Ask yourself: is the advice that you’re giving, what would be best for you or, the person asking for it?

The best takeaway I got from Amy Poehler’s autobiography, is now how I deal with super-helpful friends: “good for her, not for me.”