The Unofficial, but totally legit, Black Friday Survival Guide for Retail Workers

The strategy behind being joyous(ly miserable) this holiday season

by Victoria Priola

Black Friday is like the Super Bowl for department stores. It’s all a competition for who has the best sales at the earliest time—a nightmare for anyone working in these said department stores. It’s a war out there, but you can survive the holiday without a mental breakdown. It’s possible.

Don’t go into work thinking you’ll have a good shift. I hate to burst your bubble, but it will be pandemonium. You’ll want to cry at least five times throughout the day, but there’s no shame in that.

You are an ant in a stampede of raging bulls. The sooner you realize customers don’t care about you, the happier you’ll be and the easier your shift will get. Hiding in racks of clothes whenever possible is recommended.

Your weapons of choice? Coffee, hand sanitizer, and a whole lot of patience.

Coffee is a necessity because once 2:00AM rolls around, you’ll be dragging your feet across the floor. Sleeping on the job is, surprisingly, frowned upon by management (bummer). It won’t keep you awake for long but some liquid encouragement will keep you standing, at the very least.

Hand sanitizer should be on you at all times. You never know when you’ll need to pick up a water bottle full of piss in the fitting room. The hygiene of the general public is questionable, so do yourself a favor and arm yourself. Bath and Body Works products are your friends. Use them.

You know how people say when you get mugged, you should just give the person whatever they want? It’s the same deal for Black Friday customers. They will fight you to the death for that extra 10 percent off. Save yourself the aggravation and just give them what they think they’re entitled to, within reason, of course. Maybe they’ll use the dollar they saved to buy themselves a new personality. Who knows?

These are the people that never shop on any other day but today. They have no idea how to interact with sales associates other than barking orders. Odds are you’ll never see them again, so don’t expect much respect from them. Just try to answer their questions without cutting their heads off.

After midnight, the sales on some items will change. What was discounted before may not be after. There will be that rack of things that ring up full price but are marked as half off and customers will throw a fit. Don’t freak out, it’s not your fault. Call your manager and ask her what to do. Then take the signs down to avoid more confusion.

If your friends think it’s a good idea to come visit you during your shift, talk them out of it, immediately. Unless you’re like those groups of people that wear bright colored t-shirts at amusement parks to avoid getting lost, it will be difficult to find each other through the madness.

Coupons are virtually useless during this night of festivities, but customers could care less. They will still want to use them anyway even though what they’re buying doesn’t, and will probably never, take coupons. Don’t bother explaining it to them, you’re basically talking to yourself.

If you work in a mall, pack your own dinner. The food court is usually packed and you have no time to wait on line for 20 minutes. A bagel, salad, or sandwich will suffice. Don’t eat too much, the itis will be in full force when you get back to work. Gum is also a necessity, it will keep you alert and minty fresh for the long hours to come.

The customer is always right, until they’re wrong. Don’t let their nasty attitudes and snarky comments get you down. Get through your shift, make that paper and be sure to treat yourself to a day of R&R after.

The next day? Spend the quality time you missed on Thanksgiving with your family. Working during the holiday sucks, but it’s just one day out of the year. Plus, you’ll have the best stories to tell the next day while eating leftovers with your loved ones. The struggle is worth it.  

SIDEBAR: Top 10 Thoughts Retail Workers Think During the Holiday Season

  2. “I missed grandma’s Thanksgiving sweet potatoes for this sh*t.”
  3. “Please don’t ask me for help. No, no, n–crap.”
  4. “Why, God? Why me?”
  5. “How are there this many versions of Frosty the snowman?”
  6. “All I want for Christmas is a job that pays more than minimum wage.”
  7. “Jesus didn’t die for you to be this rude.”
  8. “I asked you if you want a paper or email receipt, not if evolution is real. Chill out, bro.”
  9. “No, your coupons don’t work on that. Yes, yelling at me will make everything better.”
  10. “I need five coffees to the face.”

1 reply »

  1. You are BRILLIANT, that is all. Great work, but I am not surprised in the least at all. You perfectly captured and encapsulated the thought process of a retail worker, during this time of year.

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