For a variety of reasons and as an experiment of sorts, I recently took a very part time retail job for the holidays. For the most part it has been interesting, helpful, and illuminating. This weekend was Black Friday, and even though the store where I work is at the “good mall” so it’s not a madhouse (Saks and Tiffany’s don’t run door buster sales at 4am, go figure) I did work more this weekend than I normally do. As I was in the store for so long I had occasion to make a few observations, which I offer to you here for your edification and amusement and to satisfy those who have privately told me they are tired of me only blogging book reviews. Ahem.
1) Some people are very nice. Actually, I would say most shoppers are very kind. Lots of people let me help them pick out gifts and outfits and thank me profusely for my advice. One lady congratulated me for being “just so pretty, and such a doll” and told me I was “obviously going places in life.” It doesn’t take much to smile and thank the people working in stores where you shop, and it makes a big difference.
2) Some people are really not nice at all. This weekend when I told a lady we were out of the size 8 black pants she wanted, she acted like the shortage was the direct result of a flaw in my character. Another lady glared at me as though it was all my fault that the store is not carrying any truly camel colored trousers this season. Lots of people get annoyed when I have to tell them the store specials or ask them if they would like to make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The fact is, I do not ask these questions for my health; I have to ask because it is the policy. Since I’m such a doll and everything (see above) I smile sympathetically and apologize for taking up their time, wishing I could trot into the back room and quickly sew up a pair of size eights while dying raw wool the perfect shade of camel. Bless their hearts, I’m sure these ladies were just having bad days. But working retail has made me mindful of how easy it is to misdirect frustration onto people who aren’t in authority over the situation. Being polite can be hard after a long day, but it’s worth it.
3) Some people are pretty clueless. Since the store where I work caters to women, men often loiter about waiting for their wives/moms/girlfriends/whoever to shop. I guess they get bored because they usually just stand around chatting to the girls who work at the store. I’ve had several men advise me that what the store really needs is a flat screen TV and a few recliners tucked in among the high heels and cocktail dresses. I smile and tell them that I’ll pass their suggestions along to Corporate. Anyway, one time I even had a guy ask me out to dinner whilst he waited for his woman to try on clothes. I wanted to say, “Sir, you’re not going to believe this, but those louvered doors are not sound-proof as they might seem, and your girl in there can hear every word you’re saying and you are sketchy to the max.” Instead I politely declined the invitation and hastened to the far opposite corner of the store and refolded some cashmere until they were gone. Sheesh.
4) “Santa Baby” is the world’s most annoying Christmas song. The store plays a mix of Christmas and non-holiday songs and it’s streamed rather than being a static playlist, which is a blessing of variety and dilution. Back in high school I worked at a store that had one continuous loop of 10 Christmas songs playing from October through January. One of them was “Santa Baby.” Sadly, the store where I’m working now also has this song in the mix. It takes everything I’ve got to avoid having a seizure when I hear that pouty, flouncy, whiny voice, “Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing – a ring (I don’t mean on the phone), so huuuuuuuurrrrrrry down the chimney toooooniiiiiight.” Gag me with a spoon. That said, I think the runner up for most annoying Christmas song is “Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus? I hope he won’t forget to clack his castinet! On Pancho! On Vixen! On Pedro! On Blitzen! Ole! Cha cha cha!” Whoo boy, has it ever been a weekend.
However you spent your Thanksgiving weekend I hope it was fun and a good time for reflection on your many blessings, whether or not those blessings included streamed retail music playlists or being told you are a doll. In any case, if you find yourself in the malls this month, please be nice! 🙂