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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Would You Treat Your Wife The Same Way You Treat Retail Workers?

Hello, everyone.

I just wanted to warn you ahead of time before I post this blog entry for today.  I understand that the holidays are one of the most magical and beautiful times of the whole year, and I know that everyone has the same thoughts during the holidays.  They want to spend the holidays with special people and enjoy themselves.  I know I certainly want a holiday like that, and I hope that everybody taking the time to read this blog today has the best holiday season ever.

And of course, this blog will be observing the holidays by hosting A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR until December 25.  And for the most part, it will be a fun-filled smorgasbord of holiday favourites and holiday stories.

However, on this - day #3 of the calendar - I have a topic that while related to the holidays, is a rather serious topic.  I've been observing a rather disturbing trend the closer we get to the holidays, and it is this observation that I have to comment on because I do have a lot of strong opinions about it.

Certainly, the holidays can be a happy time.  But it can also be a frustrating time.  It's WHO AM I WEDNESDAY today.  And this time, it's personal.

December 3, 2014

Sometimes, working retail can be a really frustrating experience.  It can also have its share of rewards as well, and certainly over the nearly ten years that I've been working in that field of work, I've had some highs and lows.

Of course, I definitely find the month of December to be one of the most frustrating months to work in retail.  I am sure that every single person who has ever operated a cash register once in their lives would agree with that statement.

There certainly are a lot of variables that go into making the month of December extremely difficult to work retail.  Limited stock for customers.  Long lines at the front end.  Trying to get the best deals possible by price matching.  And, of course, there's the challenge of trying to balance the time spent between a half dozen customers within a ten minute window.  That is a real art in itself - one that I still have trouble with.

Though I will say that in quite a lot of cases, the customers do show their appreciation to you for helping them out.  They greet you with a smile, say thank you, and in the case of one recent customer encounter, they hugged me right in the middle of the store when I helped them find the latest release by Beyonce in the CD section!  See, encounters like that are what make the job worth it, and I wish that every single transaction I perform at work went as smooth.

But, over the course of the last few days, I've noticed a really alarming trend.  And, it's one that I do NOT condone at all.

I understand that dealing with difficult customers is a part of any job.  You'll always have those customers who are impatient and want to be served right there, right then.  You'll always have the customer who wants to open every single box in the store to make sure that the items aren't defective.  You may even have the odd customer who tells you that you've destroyed their Christmas because you ran out of Elsa and Anna dolls.  Been there, done that.

But one thing that I will not tolerate is when customers are so rude that they bully, intimidate, or threaten sales staff.  It is something that I deem completely UNACCEPTABLE under any circumstance, and I will be the first to say that anyone who works in retail does not get paid nearly enough to take any sort of abuse from any customer.

I once served a delightful (and believe me, I use that term loosely) customer who was with her young daughter.  They were looking for an item known as a Rainbow Loom, and I was the unlucky employee who was on the floor at the time to help them out.  Keep in mind that while I now know that a Rainbow Loom is a kit designed to make jelly bracelets and other pieces of jewelry, but do you think that a man in their early thirties who has no children would have a clue what that was?  Nevertheless, I tried to find out if we had the item in stock despite the lady obviously getting madder and madder.  

(Interestingly enough, the little girl showed more maturity than her own mother.)

Long story short, it turned out that we were sold out of the kits, and when I told the mother this fact, she tore a strip off of me and launched so many F-bombs in my direction that if they were real bombs, my remains would have been vaporized on the spot. 

Need I remind you that this incident happened right on the sales floor, right in front of her own daughter?  Yeah, great lesson you're teaching you child, Mom.  Let's show her that retail workers are not worth respecting and that they don't have feelings.  Let's teach her that it's okay to treat people badly for no reason whatsoever.  Great plan, Mom.

By the end of it all, I felt bad for the little girl for having such a nasty parent.  But I felt even more angry over the fact that it wasn't just this mother that was guilty of such behaviour.  In fact, I have seen an increase of nastiness from customers towards myself and my fellow co-workers, and I am not liking it.  

It seems as though customers are almost encouraged to treat retail workers like garbage in hopes of getting discounts, or freebies, or whatever they want because they have had some of their friends do the same, or they see it in action.  It is just so disgusting and shameful.

I think in some cases, people don't seem to understand just how badly they come across.  I'll say it like this.  If you talk in a flippant and sarcastic manner towards a retail worker and try to make them look stupid, you're approaching a line that shouldn't be crossed.  If you call a retail worker a nasty name, you just crossed that line.  And if you verbally or physically attack a retail worker to the point where that worker is in tears, you have taken that line, crossed over it, and blew it up with a grenade.  Enough is enough.  Don't be a jerk.

I ask you this question.  Would you verbally attack your wife or husband because they didn't know the answer to a question?  Would you make your own daughter cry because she wasn't fast enough in answering your question?  Would you throw a fit and cuss out your grandmother because she couldn't find an item for you?

Then why the hell would you go out and abuse someone who is trying to help you and is doing their job to the best of their own abilities?  After all, us retail workers are someone's son.  Someone's daughter.  Someone's mother.  Someone's grandmother.  How dare you go out of your way to intimidate them or ruin their day because you were in a bad mood prior to going to the store?  How dare you put yourself on a pedestal when your actions don't warrant it?  How dare you play mind games with retail workers because you want to get something for nothing?  And how dare you make people cry because you just enjoy being a jerk?

If you're really going to be that nasty towards service people, then do us all a favour and do your shopping online.  Nastiness like that is contagious, and I certainly don't want to be put in a bad mood because you are angry at the world.

However, there is one good thing about this.  Just as nastiness can be contagious, so can kindness.  And here's a little tip for all of you.  The more patient you are, and the more understanding you are, the better service that you will get from me.  That is an absolute promise from me.

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.  

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