Tales From Retail: Black Friday

I actually wanted to put this up last week, but I’m still traumatized 6 years later.

Listen. If you’ve never had to work a Black Friday before, count yourself lucky. It is some of the most dehumanizing foolery you can imagine. The customers turn to creatures possessed, and the workers end up snapping at each other out of frustration.

Let me tell you my story of the first Black Friday I had to work.

Picture it: day after Thanksgiving, 5am. I am up before Jesus and the sun and NOT happy about it. I’m working with one of the most horrible managers I have ever worked with in life (this holds 6 years afterwards. She was THAT bad, y’all.) I was volunteered for the early morning shift because, well, nobody else liked her.

I didn’t like her either, but I can get along with anybody.

The aggravation started early, as she was an hour late, so I was outside waiting for her to get there. Doors opened at 7 and we still had setup to do. And as I am that early in the morning, I’m not communicative. I am trying to get this store ready so that we can be as prepared as possible for the crowd. They had their faces pressed against the windows and doors as we worked. I might mention she never apologized for not telling me that I didn’t have to be in that early. So I’m already annoyed.

So. Doors open, and we’re swamped. It’s just two of us (why in heaven would you only schedule two people on Black Friday?! Why?!) and we’re running about like chickens with no heads. I leave the manager to run the register, and I’m helping on the floor. We have a customer who wanted a fragrance that was still in the cage. I needed the key, so I ask Snotty (name changed to protect the stupid) to hand me the key so I can get the product.

Snotty: “I can’t hear you; you’ll have to speak up!”

Ok. It’s loud in here, so I raise my voice a bit.

“Could you toss me the fragrance key?”

Snotty: “I really can’t understand you!”

She’s standing next to me now, so I don’t…*sigh* Ok.

“I need the fragrance key please!” I speak loudly this time.

Snotty: “Don’t you dare yell at me! You could ask nicely!”

Me: “…”

Snotty: “Act like you have some sense! You have some nerve…”

And it was here that I think I blacked out a little. Let paint this picture for y’all. I am on the sales floor. This foolishness is happening in front of a throng of customers and she’s getting in my face. Like, personal space bubble in. my. face! The customer I was helping didn’t know what to do, cause she saw me ball my hands into fists. I was trying to calm myself down, but it wasn’t working. Once she finished her tirade, the look I laid on her was something like this:

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Snotty gets quiet. The crowd even gets quiet. One woman in the line goes: “This poor girl is about to snap.”

Me: “I asked you three times for the key. All three times you claimed you couldn’t hear me, so when I get loud enough for you to hear me, I’m yelling? Let me tell you something…”

Snotty: “We will talk about this later—“

Me: “Oh, no ma’am. You yelled at me out here, so we’re gonna handle this here! I am here to help you because nobody else likes you, but please know I can clock out and go home RIGHT NOW. Is that what you want? Cause you don’t ring as fast as I do and you definitely don’t know the product like I do.”

Snotty: “No. But we’ll talk about this later.”

Me: ” No, we won’t, unless you’re firing me. Now, give me the key so I can get this customer what she’s asking me for. Thank you.”

After that, I don’t know that I have ever moved as fast as I did. I kept the key, got folks what they wanted, and virtually rang up 4 customers for every 1 she helped. By the time 2pm rolled around, the crowd had thinned, and it was time for me to go. The assistant manager was so impressed with how I was working, she asked if I would stay late. At this point Snotty pulls her to the side and tells her what happened.

AM: “OMG, you didn’t make her quit, did you?!”

Snotty: “Did you not hear me say she yelled at me?”

AM: “And you started it. I swear, if you made our best cashier quit–“

Snotty: “…”

Me: “I’m not quitting. But I’m not staying late either. I’m going home. Let me know if I still have a job tomorrow.”

AM: “You do. And I’m sorry about today.”

Gotta love how the assistant manager had more pull than the store manager! I stayed with that company until I packed up and moved to NYC, but the experience scarred me. Now that I’m a manager, I schedule myself off on Black Friday despite the fact that my company doesn’t even do Black Friday deals!

Sending love to my fellow workers in retail this month. I know it’s gonna be long, but you’ll make it through. I hope your customers are all kind and the unkind ones step on their children’s Lego with no shoes.

Stories

Tales From Retail: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble….

Picture it: NYC, 2011. Late Night.

I’m finishing up my closing duties, and I’m on my way back from the bathroom when two men streak past me. One of them has a full garbage bag slung over his shoulder.

I already know what this means, so I head upstairs as quickly as I can to alert the loss prevention (LP) on duty so they can file a report.

Didn’t seem to be a need, because by the time I made it up the stairs, there was a standoff.

There was a third man involved, who upon seeing things were getting just a little bit too hot for comfort just kind of strolled out of the door.

The second man, who had nothing in his hands, was pleading with LP to let his friend go. His friend had the full garbage bag of all manner of medicines, whitening strips, you name it.

Yes, people steal these things. They also steal makeup testers, because they’re gross. They’ll steal YOU if they could figure out how to do it so you won’t know. It’s that hard out in these streets.

Anyway.

The thing is, we can really only hold the person who has the product, so second dude is pleading with LP to let first dude go.

“Man, you got your stuff back. Let him go,” he said.

LP wasn’t having it. “I advise you to go ’bout your business before I have you arrested, too.”

And the argument was starting to escalate.

It went from pleas to cursing, until I saw the first punch thrown. I ran to call 911 (not knowing they’d already been called) and did my best to calm down the customers in line. I remember there was a family of French tourists, mom, dad, and little boy. The little boy, who had to have been about 11, was so thoroughly enjoying what was going on. He looked like most folks do when they’re watching an action movie: eyes so big you could see the whites all around. His mom was petrified (rightly so), and kept trying to drag him towards the back of the store as he (and his dad) kept trying to inch towards the front to get a better look.

Meanwhile, LP and first dude are still going at it: LP trying to hold him till the cops got there, and dude trying to break free. LP is continually saying: “Dude, you’re going to jail. Stop fighting me,” until..

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Seriously, before any of us knew what was happening, LP had flipped this dude on his back in the floor. “Now STAY DOWN, I said!”

Whoa.

My reaction:

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It was dead silent for a few seconds as we all processed what we’d just saw.

Dude was too shocked to keep fighting, and about 5 minutes later, the police walked in and arrested him.

I keep telling y’all: retail is dangerous. I was really trying my best to keep the customers out of the way. Let’s be real: this could have gone south real quick, and when you have customers more involved in trying to see what’s happening rather than getting out of the way ( *side eye emoji*) it makes life more difficult for us to make sure folks stay safe.

Hope y’all’s week is going well so far! See you next week for another installment of Tales from Retail. πŸ˜€

Stories

Tales From Retail: *Facepalm*

Y’all, sometimes the stuff I deal with at work doesn’t even warrant a full post of its own, just because it’s short and full of “what the actual hell?!” moments.

So, I decided to compile the best of the best here.

A lot of this is something that retail workers both former and current will deal with and recognize. Now, don’t think that if you’ve asked these questions, we employees are judging you. It all depends on your nature. If you’re nice, we’re nice. If you’re not nice, we’re still nice, but we talk about you when you leave. Standard operating procedure.

1.”How do I get out?”

How did you get in? I always have to wonder about this type of thing. Like…were you just not paying attention or…?

2. “Why don’t you have this cream/yogurt/shampoo I like? Why do you take away the things I love?!”

This one doesn’t bother me so much because I am a consumer too. You fall in love with a product and it disappears. But please know that WE don’t control that. It’s the people above us. Yelling at us does not make it magically appear. Yelling at corporate might, though, so email them your concerns! They’ll listen to y’all before they will us.

3. *yells in language I don’t speak*

This will never make me understand your native tongue. It just won’t. Now, if you have a picture of what you want, ok. But I keep Google Translate (problematic as it is, it helps) on my phone for just such a reason. We’ll work this out. But please, don’t yell at me.

4. “But you can get this in Canada!”

Canada is not America. They have better healthcare.

5. “You’re really pretty.” *leery stare*

Eww. Don’t be that person. It’s gross. We’re never going to give you our number. Never.

6. *flings money on counter*

Y’all. Y’ALL. Don’t do this. Please, hand me the money. Flinging it on the counter is rude as all the hell.

7. “So, I’m bringing this back because it didn’t work for me. It broke me out.”

*looks at unopened product* “Oh, I see. I’m so sorry, let me get you a refund.”

You don’t have to lie, y’all. You don’t have to lie! The majority of retailers will require us to take it back. We’re asking the issue so that we can do two things: 1. tell the company so they can be aware and 2. figure out if we can sell it or damage it out. That’s all.

8. “Why y’all prices so high?!”

*long sigh* We don’t set the prices at store level, y’all. Corporate does.

9. “Oh, well *insert retailer here* has it for cheaper.”

What we want to say is: “Then go to said retailer.” But that’s rude, so I’ll just say see the answer to number 8.

10. “Do you work here?”

This question irks my nerve. 9 times out of 10, I’m in the middle of a task, in uniform with a pen and notebook/pricing gun/duster in my hand and wearing a name badge. You reckon folks come off the street and do that for free? What in heaven’s name? Now, I could see if I’m standing with say, my cell phone in my hand and no other indicator of working there (that’s when I’m on break. And somehow EVERYONE knows I work there) then I understand asking the question. But otherwise? Yes. Yes, I do. One day I fear I’ll be having a bad day and say I don’t just to see the reaction.

Starting off your week with a smile! I have tons of fashion to show you this week. See you tomorrow!

 

Stories

Tales From Retail: Harassment

Picture it: NYC, 2011. It’s the beginning of rush hour, and I’m just finishing up a display. A man approaches me and asks me for some Clearasil.

I think this is a normal, run of the mill customer with a normal, run of the mill question.

Y’all, I can’t even begin to explain how not normal this interaction was about to get.

So, I take him to the Clearasil, and he asks me a few more questions about skin care, and I answer them. He tells me that I’m pretty, and smiles at me.

Aww, I think. How nice of him! I say thank you, and ask if there’s anything else I can assist him with.

Y’all, I should have learned my lesson the LAST time I asked that question, but customer service. *side eye emoji*

Anyway. He says no, so I’m assuming we’re done here, and I head back to my center and I start looking for something in my desk. While I’m rummaging through the drawers, I feel…a hand.

It ain’t MY hand.

But it’s a hand.

And…it’s around my waist…

And my back is to the person trying to feel me up on the sales floor…

And I turn around…

And y’all? It was that damned customer I’d just been helping.

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Y’all…before I’d realized it, I’d said “What the actual fuck?! Don’t put your hands on me, I don’t know you!”

I don’t normally snap, y’all. I tend to be calm, cool, and collected even in the most ridiculous of moments, but when I tell y’all he almost caught my left and my box cutter? Woo, lawd, have mercy. And I was so loud. Loud enough that one of the assistant managers came running over to see what was going on.

The manager comes around the corner to me standing with my fists balled up looking like I’m about to drag dude all through the store (oh, and please believe I was. Cameras be damned.) and puts two and two together.

“Sir, I spoke to you downstairs about harassing the women in the store. You will NOT come up here and harass my staff!”

I’m still ready to pounce. I hear the manager, but I’m still ready.

“He comes any closer to me, I’m flipping him over the banister,” I say. I really was, too. The manager steps in front of me. Not to shield me, but to protect dude.

Dude: “Well, I just wanted to let the young lady know I was interested…”

Manager: “Out. Now. Before I move out the way.”

I have my box cutter in my hand now. Please move, boss. PLEASE.

The guy finally gets the hint and walks out of the store.

Manager looks at me. I look back.

“You know, if you would have swung at him, you could have been fired.”

I hear everyone’s jaw dropping. Mine did too. And yes, you read that right. Retailers are so worried about being sued, had I swung at him I could have been fired. Honestly, subconsciously, Β that’s probably why I yelled as opposed to throwing hands. Sigh.

I never saw him again. But that day is when I decided it would be best to keep a box cutter on me at all times.

Safety first. πŸ™‚

Stories

Tales From Retail: Holiday Edition

Yesterday was Memorial Day. The unofficial first day of summer for us Americans. A day filled with cookouts, beer, friends, and family.

I, like quite a few other folks that work retail, had to work. Because Memorial Day sales and whatnot.

Anyway.

Before I begin, let me first say thank you to the servicewomen and men out there that keep us safe, and I send peace to the families that have lost loved ones.

So. Yesterday.

Listen, I don’t know what it is about holidays that turn some shoppers into entitled snots, but I swear, anytime it’s a major holiday folks tend to get really snippy.

I’m helping a customer, right? She’s looking for correcting concealer (these are the concealers that come in orange, yellow, or green; most often used for correcting skin concerns), so I’m showing her a concealer palette we carry. Now, it’s clear that the person I’m speaking to is a customer, as I’m handing her product and explaining the best way to apply it when I hear a crash on my counter.

I look over, as does my customer.

Here stands a woman with giant sunglasses on and one too many lip injections tossing items on my counter.

“Hi, ma’am. Can I help you?”

“Yeah. You ring up here, right?”

I look. My customer looks.

“Well, it might be a moment, as I’m helping someone right this second–”

“But there’s a register here. You ring up, so get to it.”

I blink. What in the actual…

“I do ring, but I am currently with a customer, who was here before you were. We do have other open registers with no line, and if you don’t wish to carry your items, we have baskets to your immediate right. But I cannot ring you up right this second. If you want me to help you, you’ll have to wait a moment. I’m sorry.”

She looks at me. I look back like…

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She sneers (or tried to sneer, cause the Botox wouldn’t let her frown), snatches her things and takes off to the other register. That was less that 5 steps away. With NO LINE. *side eye emoji*

My customer: “Did she not see me standing here?”

Me: “I know, right?! What in the world…”

“Honey, I work retail too. I get it. But listen. I’m going to take this concealer, so…can I get rung up here?”

At which point we look at each other and dissolve into laughter.

And yes, I rung her up there. πŸ™‚

Just a little something to make you smile on the first day back at work. Happy Tuesday!

Stories

Tales From Retail: Anatomy

Picture it: NYC, 2011. I’m going about my duties at work, when I’m approached by the (very confused and flustered) assistant manager. He has a woman with him, and she’s carrying two boxes with her. I can tell by how he’s looking around he needs ME to help him sort this out, and I immediately get nervous.

I step from around the corner to see how I can be of service.

“Yes, um, this young lady needs some council on this, and she doesn’t want to speak to the pharmacist about it.”

I’m confused by this, until I see the two boxes she’s carrying: the Today Sponge, and the Instead cup. Ok then, I think. The pharmacist is a guy, so she wanted a woman’s opinion. No problem, I can oblige.

“Sure, I got it. How can I help you, ma’am?”

“So, I am seeing a handsome man tonight, and we want to get into…activities. {I snickered. Couldn’t help it.} How do I use these things? I am on my menstrual.”

Hmm. Having never used either of the items she was holding, I did a quick read of the box.

“Well, the sponge here you wet it, lather it, stick it in there, and leave it for up to 48 hours, and the cup you put in there and leave it for up to 12 hours. You’ll have to take it out, dump it, rinse it, and put it back in periodically.”

Her: *blank stare* “So, I just put everything in there? I can do that.”

Me: *headshake* “No, you can’t put both of them in there. It’s either or, and unfortunately, you can’t use the Today sponge when you’re menstruating.”

Her: “But I need both.”

Me: “Ma’am, please forgive my bluntness, but how much room do you think is in there? If you put both in, there won’t be enough room for activities.”

We look at each other.

Her: “And you’re certain about this?”

I nod.

I see her face drop. Aww. I felt bad, so I decided to offer her an alternative.

“I’d do the Instead cup and have him use a condom. That’s gonna be your best bet.”

“Well, I hate condoms, but if that’s the best option…Do you have a favorite?”

“I have some suggestions. Let’s have a look.”

And I went and helped her pick out some condoms so she could enjoy her evening with her handsome man.

If this isn’t a PSA for proper sexual education and anatomy, I don’t know what is. But I hope her evening had a happy ending! πŸ˜€

Stories

Tales From Retail: Still Got It

Picture it, April 30th, early evening.

I’m in GNC getting some protein powder for my smoothies (trying to get healthy, don’t ya know), and one of the two salespeople ask if I need help.

So, you know that customer you ask if they need help and they say no and wander aimlessly until your coworker asks if they need help and they say yes and you get annoyed?

I was that customer. *hangs head in shame* I wasn’t trying to be, but I needed unflavored protein powder and couldn’t find it where I thought it should be.

Anyway.

So, the guy asks if I need help and I finally admit I do, so he takes me to the protein powder I want.

Me: “Let me get the smaller bag. I need to make sure I’m going to stick to this before I commit to a larger container.”

Him: “That seems wise. This will help make breakfast easier; just make sure you have a good workout plan too.”

Me: “Oh, I do. Today’s my birthday, and I’m trying to get my life together.”

Him: “Oh, I know that balance. Trying to do both work and school can be rough.”

When he says school I realize he thinks I’m around his age. He’s got a baby face, so I just have to ask.

“School? How old are you, hon?”

Him: “20.”

I had to stifle a laugh. That’s precious. When I was 20 I was pulling all nighters writing papers and trying to figure out where I was gonna get my liquor for the weekend. You aren’t concerned about getting your life together. You’ve just discovered you have one.

“Aww, hon. I’ve got 10 years on you. Enjoy this part of getting your life together. It’s the fun part!”

“You’re 30? You honestly don’t look it!”

“That’s super sweet of you.”

And I got my protein powder and my vitamins and headed home to eat my slice of German chocolate cake.

Heh. Still got it. πŸ™‚

Stories