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Please Remember to Be Nice to Store Employees on Black Friday

Toys 'R' Us on Black Friday
ndanger, Flickr

Ahh, Black Friday.  The start of the hectic holiday shopping season always comes with a bang.  The crowds, the lines, and the stress of shopping on Black Friday can definitely breed some anger and resentment that easily explodes onto the nearest person.  So, as a former retail employee, I beseech you: Please remember to cut the store workers some slack!

I worked at the Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us superstore in Fort Collins for over three years, and Black Friday was always stressful for the people working (which was everyone).  For my very first Black Friday, I was assigned to be a “line guard” for the electronics department.  My job seemed simple: stand where the line for the cash registers was supposed to start, and direct people to form a line behind me when they were ready to check out.  Sounds easy, right?  Wrong.

Within ten minutes of opening the doors at 5am, the electronics department was overrun.  People were racing around everywhere trying to get to all the DVD’s and mp3 players that were on sale, then bolting straight for the registers once they had their hands on them.  I had to shout at the top of my lungs numerous times to even get anyone to acknowledge me.  Eventually we got the situation under control, and everyone was where they were supposed to be.  Which brings me to the next issue I faced that morning.

When customers saw me (a store employee who appeared to just be standing in one spot doing nothing), they were very quick to ask for my help finding things.  The problem was, I had very strict instructions from the managers not to leave my post; and considering the pandemonium I had just witnessed, I wasn’t about to take any chances.  My only option was to verbally direct guests to where I thought the items were.  Most of them gave me dirty looks or made rude comments about poor customer service, and a few of them came all the way back across the store to blame me when they couldn’t find what they were looking for!

Needless to say, by the time my 12-hour shift was over (yes, TWELVE), my feelings had been hurt more times than I’d care to remember, and I was emotionally exhausted.  I had no idea how stressful working in retail could get until I experienced it for myself.  It was on that day I promised myself I would treat store employees more fairly.

Store employees are there for one purpose: to help you.  But on crazy-busy days like Black Friday, it’s important to understand that they’re given very specific, very important jobs to do; and they have to stick to doing what they’re told, or else everything falls apart.  I hope that makes sense.

So if you plan on racing down store aisles the day after Thanksgiving this year, try to remember that the employees are under just as much stress as you.  Please don’t take your frustrations out on them.  They’re just trying to help!

Do you have a crazy Black Friday tale to tell?  Leave it in the comments below!

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