It is with relief that Sophie White is REFLECTING on her years in retail at Christmas. To the heroes still navigating the insanity, we salute you
If you have never had a crying nap on the floor of a stock room then I can only assume you, my friend, have been spared the torment that is retail at Christmas time. The high street in December rapidly descends into those looting scenes in disaster movies with all humanity revealing itself to be garbage people as soon as the Christmas lights go up and the deranged hysteria of Christmas shopping commences.
Working in the midst of a nightmarish and violent environment where a dispute between customers over the last size 10 basically leads to a reenactment of Oberyn Martell’s death scene from Game Of Thrones can really take its toll. Come January, retail workers could be forgiven if they began hatching a plan to form a breakaway utopian society where no one has even heard the term 'last minute reductions'.
After some reflection I've identified some of the 'stressors' of the yuletide retail working environment.
12 Reasons Why Christmas Is A Hellscape When You Work In Retail:
ALL the people.
The same 16 Christmas songs on repeat for 10 hours a day, 38 days straight.
"Punch me now, punch me now, punch me in the head..." you might sing along to the 864th rendition of Jingle Bells you've heard since November.
Then someone brings out the Bublé Christmas album. *Punches own head*
Have I already mentioned the people?
Working Through Everyone's 'Fun Fest'
The fact that other people are out shopping (tormenting some other unfortunate retailer) while you're stuck at work is unbearable.
The Mildly Drunk People
All the day-drinking at Christmas is really good fun... when you're the one who's DOING IT. For the rest of us, dealing with your belligerent, unreasonable, inability to comprehend a basic returns policy due to day-drinking is TEDIOUS in the extreme.
The Really Drunk People
Don't spew on the merch, guys.
Smiling At The People
At Christmastime, smiling becomes a high intensity workout for those in customer service industries. You know that feeling when you've done 34 reps and you're doing the last few weighted squats. That's what smiling at a customer at 4.40pm on Christmas Eve feels like. "JUST. GET. OUT." you snarl-think as the customer announces she wants everything gift-wrapped individually.
The Panicked People
This group are particularly volatile. Their aggression is always in direct proportion to how disorganised they are. "I've NOTHING done," they shout on Christmas Eve in the face of anyone with the misfortune of serving them. A fun way to deal with their requests is to laugh and say "are you joking?" when they ask if you have the Paw Patrol Lookout Tower. Try not to dance for joy when telling their angry, red little face "That sold out in October, mate."
The People Who Can't Work Percentages
A customer once interrogated a friend about whether the 30% was taken off individual items or from the whole bill at the end. IT'S THE SAME THING, LADY. She could not be told and continued acting as though everyone else was being profoundly stupid.
The Display Wreckers (AKA everyone basically)
It is a bit of a soul-crusher every time a rogue bag slung over a shoulder cruelly and cavalierly sweeps yet another stack of recently folded jumpers to the floor.
The Display Fixers (Any former retail workers)
Just leave it, you're out of the game too long, you don't know the system.
The People Who Think You Are Out To 'Get Them'
Contrary to what this list might suggest, we don't actually bear ill-will towards you. If we say there's none left, it is not some Machiavellian plot to screw you (we're much too tired for that) there just is genuinely none left.
Enjoy the Christmas bloodletting (shopping) everybody but spare a thought for the customer-facing workers this year, it is a continued triumph of self-restraint that they haven't punched anyone in the face yet.