Retail workers are people too: How crappy customers corrupt Christmas

Illustration by Annie Lepage

Illustration by Annie Lepage

“Oh, don’t mind her, she’s pooping”

“Pardon me?!”

“That’s the face she makes when she’s pooping”

Or so I was told by one completely unfazed father on Black Friday. His toddler daughter was staring at me with wide, unblinking eyes while (apparently) soiling her diaper. The father chuckled and walked away, as if this was a socially appropriate exchange to have with a sales assistant.

Working retail over the holidays should be a rite of passage for all young people — it shows you life from the other side. Many people tend to treat those working in customer service positions with complete disregard for their feelings and well being, and I firmly believe that the way a shopper interacts with a sales associate says a lot about their personality (and degree of human decency).

However, the five worst types of holiday customers are those who:

1) Have complete disregard for the hours you’ve spent cleaning and organizing your store. These are the folks who will look at the item they’ve dropped on the floor, shrug, and leave it there — or else they’re the people who decide to rearrange your store by randomly leaving items all over the place. (Pro tip: put it back where you found it or give it to us at the till. But don’t hide it in a different display.)

2) Get irrationally angry. This anger can be triggered by multiple things, such as hearing a store has sold out of an item or if sales staff cannot direct them to a totally unrelated store. It’s not our fault you left your shopping until Christmas Eve, honey — the most popular items went to those who weren’t procrastinating. And you can’t expect everyone who works in a mall to know where every single other store is — and then get angry if you’re directed to the concierge (who will, in fact, know where to send you).

3) Don’t keep an eye on their children. Over the last few weeks, I saw children lick,  break, and even try to shoplift countless objects around the store while their guardians were completely oblivious. I’m sure some children are a handful, but sales associates are not being paid to babysit for you. Also, if your baby/toddler/teenager starts screaming, please remove them immediately. Don’t ignore them and continue shopping.

4) Ask inane questions. Yes, four and a half dollars is the same thing as $4.50. I don’t know why this confused you. Also, please look at your surroundings before opening your mouth. Sometimes questions similar to “Where are the shoes?” when entering a shoe store can be avoided with a little bit of brainpower.

5) Blatantly ignore the staff. If someone asks you if you need help, it’s common courtesy to respond. We don’t mind if the answer is “please” or “no, thanks” — but don’t push past us or look the other way without comment. It’s super rude and it gets pretty disheartening after a while.

So please, next holiday season, do your best to stay off this list. People working in customer service are people too — screaming at us during our eight-hour shifts doesn’t just ruin our days; it also makes you the villain in our daily stories. When we regale our friends with the story of the pooping daughter or the really angry shopper on Christmas Eve, we aren’t sympathizing with you — you have become a punchline.

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