Christmas Shopping: Be Kind
Retail Anything Isn't Easy At This Time Of Year
Remember, It's Not Just You
I remember working at a music store with a friend of mine a number of years ago during the Christmas season. Shockingly, though I was in my mid-20s, it was my first time working retail and my first time working the holiday rush. It was busy, to say the least, and you could feel the stress boiling off of people. My friend and I kept our smiles, mercifully, and also our sanity; the fact that we were friends and worked well together probably helped in that regard.
Anyhow, a harried looking woman came rushing in about an hour before close on December 23, demanding the Special Edition Star Wars collection. The collection had been released the year previous, but as with most special collections, it had only been out for a relatively limited time and then was put back in the Lucasfilm vault. I explained this to the woman, and I remember she looked at me, quite shocked.
"But I need it," was her explanation.
I tried, again, to explain to her that the film simply was no longer available for purchase in stores, and this was far before the time that Netflix became the on demand service, so there was simply no way I could just magic up a special edition of Star Wars for her. As I recall, this was also in the days before Amazon so there was no way I could even direct her to a website to try that.
When she stormed out of the store, looking as angry as though I'd kicked her dog, my friend and I exchanged a glance, shrugged and carried on with the next customer's needs.
I was lucky. That was my one standout negative experience in the world of retail.
So many others aren't so lucky, and I'm not saying that some of the retail service workers that we deal with during this time of year are the bubbliest and friendliest individuals that we'll ever deal with in our lives. But nothing was made better by responding to someone being crusty with anger of your own, so there's a few things we need to remember over the course of the holidays.
Firstly, be kind. We don't ever know what everyone else has had to deal with through the course of any given day, or for that matter, through their lifetimes. While we can't be responsible for anything that occurs to others during the course of the day (unless we ourselves have been directly responsible for those occurrences), we need to remember that life is often about how we respond to what happens. At the end of the day, how we respond or react to the way people treat us can have the power to either make our day better or worse.
This is the absolute busiest time of the year for pretty much everyone. Teachers are busy at all levels, trying to keep a lid on the growing excitement for the upcoming holiday and still trying to reach their learning goals; hospitals tend to get busier with holiday revelers who tend to either overdo things or with people who have just been felled by the nasty viruses and bacteria that tend to float around a lot more as it gets colder; retail workers are inundated with people scrambling to get the last little bit of their Christmas shopping done.
It's not easy for any of us, but given retail workers have a tendency to still be the front line when it comes to holiday shopping even though there is a growing number of people who do their holiday shopping online, they tend to bear the brunt of a lot of the crap that happens, ranging from customers unhappy about not being able to find something, to little kids who are so hyped about the holidays that they just forget not to touch everything in the store, to the overabundance of plain old noise that occurs.
Those who work in the restaurant industry at this time of year are also dealing with a fair bit of unpleasantness. Let's keep in mind that between the retail and restaurant worlds over the holiday season, shoppers see a fair bit of both these sorts of workers. We're either busy shopping and trying to get everything done for Christmas or we are at a restaurant (whether in a food court or otherwise), refuelling before the next shopping stop or attending a holiday party. These workers are working a lot of hours, trying to make money to then go off and do much of the same sorts of things we're doing before Santa comes. Being grumpy won't help anyone.
Sometimes, stores run out of stock.
Sometimes, your meal might be a little cooler when it gets to you.
While these are definitely inconveniences, these are not reasons to get aggravated with the retail or restaurant workers who are very often just the messengers when it comes to relaying information to customers. Try to remember how you would prefer to be treated when dealing with these workers over the holiday season and I think everyone may just find the holiday shopping experience a lot easier.
However you choose to honor the time off, do so and try to relax.