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Black Friday Nightmare: It's not shopping it's war
Posted by R. Wesley Lovil, Nov 25, 2012. 1511 views. ID = 6021

Black Friday Nightmare

Posted by R. Wesley Lovil, Nov 25, 2012. 1511 views. ID = 6021
This post was written in 15 minutes.
My first Black Friday as an employee
This post has been awarded 19 stars by 4 readers.

As a way to make a little extra Christmas money this year, I took a position in a major department store as a temporary seasonal employee. In all my years, I have never worked retail nor have I experienced the 'joys' of shopping on the infamous Black Friday as the day after Thanksgiving is called. As one of two hundred hired for the season I was given an hour of instructions on line about cashiering and around an hour and a half of inspiration video on how to treat the customers to inspire them to buy more.

Black Friday was my second day on the job, and to be my trial by fire, so to speak. The store opened at midnight and I volunteered for the early shift thinking that would be the easiest part of this dreaded day of shopping infamy. I was scheduled to start in the housewares department at half past midnight and my first surprise of the day was the packed parking lot of the mall when I arrived. I have no idea how all the customers already in line to check out as I walked into the store could have picked up so many things to buy so fast. I stepped into the fray and began my on the job training as each new customer I waited on seemed to present me with a new problem that I hadn't yet learned how to handle. From I didn't bring my credit card, can you look it up to the sign said it was only so much, not what the scanner says, all these things I hadn't learned and so had to take the time to ask my neighboring cashier for the answer. It sure helped that she was so patient and understanding with me as I kept pestering her with questions.

With each customer I helped, instead of shrinking, my line seemed to grow by two or three new ones and by the time, I took my break it had doubled instead of gone down. Just as I realized it was to be a day of nonstop chaos and confusion, I looked up to help the next in line and there was no one there. My co-worker, a seasoned veteran of the trenches told me there was always a six AM lull and I was glad for the chance to take a breath and clean some the debris of returns and unwanted product that we had accumulated around us as we did battle. The rest of the morning the customers would come at us in waves as our line would grow and then ebb, always busy but not as chaotic as it had been earlier.

After my lunch, I was instructed to go out to the sales floor to help the customers find things and to straighten up the displays. It truly looked like a war zone; it was hard to believe how so much was messed up in such of a short period of time. Helping the customers was difficult, as I knew less about the products than most of them. A customer would ask where something was and then I would go on a quest to find it only to not be able to find the customer when I came back with the answer. Finally, I learned to take a moment to remember what the customer looked like so I could find them easier when I returned and by the time the second shift of new employees came on I was now the expert they came to with questions.

I must say that even with all crowds, the long lines, and mass confusion almost everyone was pleasant and understanding of my ignorance. I'm not so sure I would have been so patient if I had been on the other side and the one standing in line. I'm guessing the customers understood that if a little pandemonium was included in the bargain price there were looking for it was still worth it. As for me, after surviving my first Black Friday, I think of myself as a veteran and I'm sure the rest of my time as a seasonal employee will be like a walk in the park.

Copyright 2012 R. Wesley Lovil. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 19 stars by 4 readers.
This post is part of a writing prompt: Black Friday


Nov 26, 2012
Thanks for saying what you said. You reminded me that we're all human beings, whether we're the greedy, rude, black friday shopper, the stressed-out clerk, the homeless man, the greedy politician, the soldier with post-traumautic disorder, etc. We need to believe that the perfect creator of the world loves us despite all of our imperfections. i worked fast food minimum wage for ten years and i still have nightmares about it. i appreciate your willingness to be of service.
   ~Posted by MarkHudson, Nov 26, 2012

R. Wesley Lovil
Nov 26, 2012
I forgot to mention that as fas as I can remember not one word was spoken of a day of giving thanks that we all celibrated just one day before. Black Friday is a day about bargains and greed, so maybe giving thanks is a sign of weakness to the ninja shoppers who stalk the malls on this new national holiday.
   ~Posted by R. Wesley Lovil, Nov 26, 2012

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