For many years I worked on the front lines in retail. For those who have never worked retail, let me tell you, it can be a hard job, particularly at Christmas. Christmas is when every single worker behind a cash wants to shout out at least once, “Take this job and shove it!” Why? Well, I recall doing split shifts, where I’d be scheduled 4 hours in the morning and then 4 hours at night. That was fun, splitting your day up like that. Then there were the long hours. Retail is typically not a well-paying job and Christmas is usually the only time of year retailers are willing to pay overtime. When you’re trying desperately to make ends meet, you jump all over it. Then there’s the crazy stock rotation and the stressed out managers trying to meet sales quotas chasing after you to up sell every sale. “Do you need a pair of socks with that sweater?” *gigantic eye roll*
Inevitably, I would spend Christmas day sick in bed after touching every form of germ possible handling money and then, after only one day off, back in at 6 in the morning the next day for a full 12-hour shift of Boxing Day madness. It was a really hard time of year and even with all of the above factors at play, I still enjoyed my job for the most part. There was only one thing that made it unbearable at times and that was the customer. At least once every season (it was often more) I would end up in the stock room doing an ugly cry after being ripped a new one by that one customer that couldn’t hold their tongue. That one customer who would decide to take all their pent up frustrations out on the girl behind the counter. It was a humiliating experience, and completely out of line.
So, at this time of year, I think it’s important to remind people that no matter what, you don’t get to ruin the clerk's day. If you don’t like the policy of the store, it’s doubtful the clerk established it. If the line is long and the store is hot, the clerk didn’t make it so. If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or you had an argument with your spouse, or your kids are behaving poorly, or you’ve overspent, the clerk had nothing to do with it. They do not get to be your personal punching bag.
This week, shopping will hit a fever pitch and it’s good to keep in mind that the people behind the counter have to deal with hundreds of people a day, some not so friendly. They may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed too, they may have possibly had an argument with their spouse, they could have a sick child at home. They probably don’t like the policy they have to enforce to keep their job.
They also want to enjoy their holidays, just like you.
So this holiday season, instead of losing your cool, go out of your way to be nice. Look them in the eye, ask how their day is, crack a corny joke. I’ve stood in those shoes and I can tell you that a little kindness goes a long way. Just a friendly reminder this Christmas, don’t be a jerk to the clerk.