Category Archives: Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job

All about the daytime gig.

Cat’s Rules For Retail Customers

(I wrote this back when I was in retail. Obviously. Many of my retail friends saw it when I brought a copy into work, but it bears publishing here, I think!)

1) When we ask “How are you doing today?” it’s generally because we are so bored that we’re desperate for any kind of socializing. Snapping in a demonic voice that you’re “just looking” is not the correct response and will probably ensure that you will have to crawl under the door to gain entrance into the otherwise locked fitting room. And then we’ll call security and put the tape on YouTube.

2) We have to ask if you’d like to open a credit account. Big Brother is watching us. Most of us will get fired if we don’t open at least one a month. Yes, most corporations are unaware that we’re in a recession. So please don’t pitch a fit and start accusing us of being banking Nazis, or we’ll add an extra 15% to your purchase as a grievance tip. And then we’ll call security and put the tape on YouTube.

3) Just because your little angels Bucky and Bitsy are cute in their matching outfits doesn’t make their public shrieking sound any less like banshees being hit by an ocean liner. The fact that you’re ignoring them while you browse in a zombie-like state says less about your saintly patience and more about how deaf your evil progeny have made you. If Bucky turns into Damien the second he sees the mall, you may perhaps choose to find an alternative means of bringing him into public. Such as an iron maiden.

4) There is nothing in this world you need so badly that you can’t wait until the store re-opens tomorrow to purchase it. Unless the store in question is an oxygen-machine retailer, take a shot of whiskey and cool your heels until 10am. Walking into our place of business 5 minutes before close just to browse is usually the best way to get locked in and have the security tape of your dumb ass sleeping on the Martha Stewart bed display wind up on YouTube. And yes, you make lewd gestures in your sleep.

5) If we’re helping someone, don’t come up and interrupt. While we’re sure that you will wet yourself if we don’t retrieve that Ed Hardy jacket off the top rack right this instant, this other more industrious customer got to us first, and you now have two choices: learn patience, or bring your own ladder. There’s a Home Depot down the block.

6) If you recognize the sales person as someone you tortured in high school, it’s probably best that you don’t ask her to assist you in selecting your outfit for that all-important job interview, or she may decide to get back at you for that whole “no one at this school will stoop to date you” incident and send you out looking like Lady Gaga on five hits of speed. Just saying.

7) We know stuff is expensive; we’re the ones who had to spend all morning putting stickers on everything. You, however, are the idiot standing there with yet another Gucci sports coat in your hand, griping about the price when there are perfectly good jackets elsewhere in the store that, while they aren’t designer, are just as quality and a lot cheaper. If you’re enough of a jerk to complain about the cost of a luxury item to the sales person trying to help you, you’re enough of a jerk for us to send Bruno from the stock room out to your Mercedes and have him push it into the food court.

8 ) Your home is not the fitting room. You have obviously been misinformed. The fitting room is actually right around the corner. If you don’t have time to try it on, you don’t have time to shop. There is a secret online record of customers who purchase three items, take them home and try them on, and return the two that didn’t fit. Every night, we retail slaves check the list, show the pictures to rabid hounds, and release them if we see you return to our store with the same bag we gave you yesterday.

9) On a similar note, if your dearly beloved hates shopping, we understand. Getting most men into a mall is like getting Fluffy into her cat carrier. So don’t buy him clothes. Once he gets to the point of having to leave the house naked because none of his clothes have fit him since 1994, he’ll make the pilgrimage. Until then, if you come in to purchase items so he can try them on at home, your name is on the list for Randy the Rabid Rottweiler too.

10) If someone has spent the better part of two hours helping you pick out the perfect pair of shoes for your blistered, calloused-up feet while you complained about your bunions, ingrown toenails, and the economy, don’t take your things to another department to purchase. More than one transaction won’t kill you, but a psychotic sales person who just lost their commission to someone in housewares because you had to have that Farberware knife just might.

11) On the other hand, we don’t all work on commission. We may recommend that more expensive pair of Calvin Klein underwear over the Hanes just because it won’t ride up your ass, not because we’ll make an extra two bucks on our paycheck for the sale. So take a breath, Rocky. Or else we’ll sell you the clearance rack tighty-whiteys that were recalled two days ago because they cause a rash.

12) The Antichrist has arrived, in the form of a soccer mom who waits outside the store door at 9am so she can be first in line to return the clearance rack shoes she bought her 13-year-old son two months ago that didn’t fit. It’s a great way for us to start a morning, and we celebrate making voodoo dolls in the stock room using the hair strand she left in the shoe box.

13) There is no need to punch the security guard because he doesn’t open the door right at 7am the morning after Thanksgiving. Truly smart shoppers know the sales on Black Friday are the exact same ones we had November 3rd, April 7th, and August 11th, and once the idiots who got up at 4am for the same prices that were there yesterday figure it out, the merchandise will still be there in December – at an appropriate hour for consumerism. If you’re that desperate to get 20% off a comforter that you would physically harm another human bring, you may be happy to know that you can get a brand new comforter free of charge in your local Happy Hyatt. Cheers.

14) When we ask if you’d like to be in our client book so we can call you about sales, it’s really because we want to call you about a sale. It’s not because we’re going to sell your number on the black market, find your house and boil a bunny in your kitchen, or are planning on drunk-dialing you every weekend. You’re not that hot. Unless your name is John Cusack, get off your imaginary catwalk and let us actually do something nice for you.

15) Most of us are not in retail because it’s the career we dreamed about as children. We’re in it because we needed a job and it was there. But since we ARE there, we’re trying to do our job as well as we can. The country is in a recession; times are tough, so let’s all make things a little easier on each other and be nice while out in public. Besides, between the iron maidens, foaming Dobermans, and voodoo dolls in the stock room, we don’t have any more room anyway. So don’t give us a reason to go buy that blow dart gun on eBay, and we’ll send you home happy and fifty dollars broker.

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Dawn of the Black Friday Dead

This past Thanksgiving, there were plenty of things to be thankful for. My family. My friends. A roof over my head and fabulous shoes on my feet. The Falcons being tied for best record in the NFL. Never in my life would I have imagined I’d be thankful for working from 9am until 7pm on Black Friday. But I could lay my head down on my pillow that night peacefully with the knowledge that my place of business, a retail department store, was only open for 2 extra hours on Black Friday. Only open for two more hours. As in, opening at 8am was a blessing.

Surely when our founding fathers sat down to break bread with our Native American compatriots, they didn’t do so with the anticipation of doorbuster savings at their local trading post at 4am. (Okay, so the Pilgrims and Native Americans never really had the amazing camaraderie history books would have us believe. Work with me here. I’m painting a picture.) Pilgrim mothers in their bonnets didn’t sit up combing through the November 25th issue of “Ye Olde Plymouth Rock Daily News” for the greatest coupons on corn and wheat and take each other out with a well-cloaked elbow for the latest upgrades in stocks and pillory for their kids. Think about it! The Native Americans could have made a fortune off of the exploitation and built skyscraper tepees all over Massachusetts with the proceeds, but alas, Salem was alive and well for the witch trials years later and the natives were relegated to Tennessee. But that’s another chapter altogether.

Thanksgiving has, in essence, become Black Friday Eve. Some families are even partaking of their family meal a day early just to rest up for the marathon that is the Friday after Thanksgiving. Sick doesn’t even begin to describe this rabid type of consumer. How important is a Playstation 3 that you would skip a day of food and family to trample other soccer moms for one? At the very least, we’re talking an afternoon of pumpkin pie and football, people! Not everyone has to go out and scoop yams at your local soup kitchen, but pitching a tent outside of Best Buy to get an LCD TV ten dollars cheaper? And I thought the Black-Eyed Peas were the biggest sell-outs in America.

Just think of the name: Black Friday. Kind of like the Black Plague. Black Death. Only in the retail world would “being in the black” be considered a positive thing – although I do like a little black dress as much as the next single gal. I have ventured out on Black Friday once in my entire life. Have you watched “The Walking Dead” this season? There is a scene in downtown Atlanta where the sheriff is spotted by herds of zombies and hides out in a military tank; the following aerial shot slowly zooms out to reveal thousands and thousands of zombies descending upon the tank in waves, like piranhas on a carcass. This, my friends, is Black Friday. Tons of zombies running their hands down the glass front doors of a department store at 7am, attacking the security guard to get inside for the new comforter sets. True story, except the zombies had bleached hair and yoga suits instead of the tattered clothes and moved much more quickly. Same glazed expressions and primal instincts, however, and by the end of the day, the tattered clothes were there as well.

2010 was an even worse Black Friday than the norm. “Monster-in-Law” being featured instead of “The Wizard of Oz” was traumatic enough. I wept a little. Nothing compared, though, to the fact that Thanksgiving was completely skipped. Failed to exist. Stores remained open. And boasted about it. BOASTED. Old Navy, Sears, and Toys ‘R’ Us aired commercials all November long parading the fact across every media outlet they could that their employees were being forced to work on a national holiday. The Kohl’s ad highlighted a soccer mom poised at a podium crowing about having the right to shop at 4am. They assume this is something we women have fantasized about since kindergarten, like scoring the biggest mat during naptime and dating the cute boy from Nickelodeon’s “15” who grew up to be Ryan Reynolds. Macy’s decided having Martha Stewart wake up a sleeping couple at 3am with a live rooster was a good idea, which, in my household, would have earned Ms. “It’s a Good Thing” an alarm clock embedded in her left ear. And Best Buy – who, by opening at 4am, was relatively lenient on its staff – took the grand prize, airing an ad featuring an extra-perky actor/employee who shrilly announced how much she loves Black Friday because the sales are incredible and the customers get so excited. I threw said alarm clock at her as well, but they sadly do not go into the television and inflict damage as I had assumed after watching various male relatives watch televised sporting events and chuck remote controls at the Magnavox.

Why would you boast that you care so little about your employees that you open on Thanksgiving Day and deprive them from time with their families and friends? That you skip out on dinner and go to bed at five so you can join the stampede at Sears for a washer that will be the same price tomorrow? While I do tend to volunteer on Thanksgiving, hell, I’d rather sit around and watch the dreaded “Monster-in-Law” than take a cattle prod and electrocute my former cubicle buddy over the last pair of Vince Camutos. I don’t care how fabulous they are; silver wedges won’t do my feet any justice when I’m lying mangled with an eye twitch in the ER like a stand-in on a Romero set.

And we wonder why other countries think we’re materialistic. We get offended as a country when they call us infidels and pagans, yet more of us go to the mall than church over the holidays. We get ill when they say we’re shallow, but look at our news outlets over the weekend. Yahoo featured articles on the best Black Friday deals. MSNBC showed stampedes at the entrance of the Mall of America. The rest of the world sees us celebrate one of our once-treasured national holidays by killing each other at JC Penney. People literally have died for these bargains. LOST THEIR LIVES over a Bratz doll. I think, 15 years from now, your daughter will remember the family sitting down and playing a game of Sorry more than the doll that wound up relegated to the corner of her playroom. And would much rather have you around with all of your limbs – and sanity – intact.

So on the dreaded Black Friday, I ventured into work braving what would hopefully be my last Black Friday in retail, and certainly the last time I’d voluntarily wander anywhere near the flickering pit of Hades that would be our local mall on any future day after Thanksgiving. Please – take a moment, next Thanksgiving, to really ponder what matters. They will make more televisions. More video games, more Uggs, more Silly Bandz (God help us.) They won’t make another one of your mothers. Fathers. Sons or daughters. Brothers or sisters. Give that a thought before you skip out on the family meal to get some sleep for your 3am wake-up call. Before you force your employees to report to work on Thanksgiving Day because your competitor doesn’t open until midnight. I, on the other, will take a moment to be thankful that, for once, my employer put its employees’ needs over its bottom line and we were able to spend a holiday with our families. And I could laugh at the zombies in pajamas and Crocs showing up at our doors, frothing at the mouth, before we even opened because they woke up for nothing. My department wasn’t having a sale. Such is the Greed God’s revenge on the Thanksgiving zombies.