Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's almost Black Friday

So, if you scroll down, you can read the first part of my little story on retail. This is the next part. Black Friday is 8 days away. Two years ago, at a Wal-mart, customers trampled a holiday or temp season worker named Mr. Damour to death in their selfish greed frenzy. Four other people had to be taken to the hospital for treatment, including a woman who was 8 months pregnant. Here's a link, in case you missed it: Death by shoppers

Okay, so why am I bringing this up, right? Well, it's just to make you think. There is not a single item in any retail store anywhere in the world that is worth getting that crazy about. Black Friday is something that retailers & giant corporations created in the guise of saving you huge amounts of money so that they can control their sales & know whether or not they are in the red or black for their share holders before the end of the year. The "sales" are directly related to how good or bad the company has performed the rest of the year. Makes you think about the mark-up these places have on the stuff the rest of the year, doesn't it?

Now, what happens in retail during "Season", the period from late October to mid-January, is that retail chains hire temp workers, usually under the title "Seasonal Employee", which is a fancy way for these companies to hire min. wage workers with no experience to man the crap jobs & just fill empty spaces as quickly as humanly possible. This is why during the holidays the store employees seem like complete idiots & can't tell you where anything is. They really don't know. They aren't complete idiots though. To treat them as such is unfair. These people were thrown into a job, only trained on register for about two weeks, and not very thoroughly usually, and not shown how anything else works or where anything is other than what they are supposed to be filling, shelving, & merchandising. Those not on register are shown the basics of where stuff in the back is & what part of the store they are responsible for keeping full. Here in lies a problem.

You come in & find an employee shelving or merchandising in the kitchenwares. They look hard working & competent because they are indeed working. They probably are if they are working & out on the sales floor at all during season instead of hiding in the back with the supervisors & managers who make twice what they do. However, when you ask them where the digital camera chargers are, they don't know & seem hesitant to walk you over there & try to help you. This angers you & you change your mind about them. You instantly judge them as being lazy & stupid. Well, congratulations, you're a complete asshole.

First of all, the employee in the kitchenwares has been assigned by their manager to do a specific task & most importantly not to LEAVE their area if they have stuff out on the floor. They have also been told to help customers, but seriously, don't leave your stuff because someone might trip or say they tripped & sue. No, seriously, happens a million times a year. Now, the person wants to help you, but has no idea where camera chargers are because they haven't even ever been over to that side of the store & have worked here approx. 3 or 4 weeks, so you are both just as likely to find them. The employee knows that if they leave their area to go take you over to do a search for you item before loading up everything they are trying to shelve & taking it to the back, that some assistant manager or manager could write them up or just be an ass to them, or someone really could be a dumbass & trip & sue. They got this job as temp, with the promise that if they were really good, they might get to stay on, so this poor min. wage worker is torn between what the managers & supervisors want them to do & helping you & worrying about some idiot suing the store. It's a no win.

The best thing you can do is ask, if they seem unsure or hesitant, thank them & go over to that department & see if there is anyone there that can help you. No? This is where the patience part comes in. Wait approx. 2 minutes. Seriously, keep time. I almost guarantee whoever works in that department is back in the stock room hunting for something or they had to go to the restroom. Yep, employees poop too. Just be patient. If no one shows up within 2 minutes, there is a chance someone didn't show up for work & this person was THAT person or they are trying to juggle two positions because they are covering for the bastard that overslept. Remember, min. wage. Sometimes, it just doesn't seem worth the punishment to come in. Now, your next step is to head to the customer service desk or to try & find it yourself. Yep, buck up lazy ass & look. Use those logic & critical thinking skills.

Now, the customer service desk is your friend. Think of it as the INFORMATION HUB of the entire store. The Brain. It can find & contact anyone in any department for you. Before surprising random employees with questions, find the customer service or information desk in the retail store & ask them for help. Their only responsibilities are directing employees to customers & answering the phone & saying hello. These people have usually worked at the store far longer than the 4 weeks the employees out shelving stuff have as well.

There are also huge signs hanging from the ceiling. Learn to read. Look up, read signs, find what you were looking for. I was always amazed by the amount of people, probably 95%, that never even bothered to look up & read these enormous hanging signs dangling throughout every store. They would stand directly under a 6 foot sign that reads "FICTION" and ask where the fiction was. Or directly behind them would be a huge display of calendars & they would ask where th calendars where. Lol. Now whose the idiot? Seriously though, learn to utilize the enormous signage in stores. You will have to rely less on the employees & learn to be a self-sufficient shopper.

So back to Black Friday. You may have noticed the trend this year of pre-Black Friday sales. It has gotten so dangerous for employees & customers that many retailers have decided to try and space things out a little. They are hoping perhaps the crowds will be a little more manageable if they offer some great deals the weekend before & the weekend after Thanksgiving. Besides the trampled to death employees, many criminals have figured out this is a great weekend to rob people as they come out of stores. There have been more & more armed robberies in parking lots & people breaking into cars every year. It's a virtual Smörgåsbord of pillaging for the "bad" guys. With a terrible economy & more desperate people now than ever before, this year promises to be the worst. All of this just to get a great "deal" on a giant TV or that Tickle Me Elmo toy. People shoving each other, swarming into aisles, fighting, swearing at employees as well as other shoppers, anger, frustration & the thrill of the deal, in what is a disgusting display of desperate desire to have material possessions. All in the name of that sacred Christian Holiday...Christmas.

If you do go out this Black Friday, I urge you, don't be an ass. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Do unto others... Please pay attention while you are driving. No cell phones & no TEXTING! Don't fight over parking spaces. Don't stand so close to the person in front of you that they can feel your breath on the back of their neck. Remember, PERSONAL SPACE. Say hello & thank you & don't get pissed off if the over-worked under paid employee forgets to. You have NO idea the amount of stress these poor bastards are under right now. Have some compassion. Check with your bank before dropping more than $200.00. Banks often monitor purchases & if you don't usually spend larges sums of money in several transactions in one day, they may put a hold on your account. This means when the employee swipes your card it is going to come back denied. It isn't their fault. It's a safety precaution from the bank & for you. It will save you all sorts of frustration if you call your bank & make absolutely sure this won't happen BEFORE you go out. Swearing at employees will not make your card magically work. No one thinks you are trying to pull a fast one so don't get all bent out of shape & embarrassed. Chill.

One more thing. All of these people working on Black Friday have been pulled away from their families all over the country & forced to come in at ridiculous times like 3am, just to serve you. Most of them got less than 24 hours of time with their families to enjoy Turkey & Dressing. They not only had to work Black Friday, but the day before Thanksgiving as well. Many of them, college students, didn't even get to see family because their workplace makes it mandatory to work on Black Friday, so if their family is more than an hours drive away, they have no way to get to their families, enjoy Thanksgiving, and get back to the store by 3am or 4am or 5. All of this just so you can save $50 bucks. So, please, be nice. Practice patience. Be compassionate.

Part three will be about Shopping Vampires. Coming soon.

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