I realized this past Friday, a dreaded start to the weekend for retail employees, that I hadn't worked Black Friday in two years.
Two years ago I published this entry and last year I just wasn't scheduled. It was a miracle.
This year, my department manager at Burlington Coat Factory asked how I pulled that one off...I really have no idea. A god must have been with me when the past manager wrote the schedule.
At the end of the biggest shopping weekend of the year, I am exhausted. I wore a pedometer one day at work for fun, and walked 11 miles on an 8 hour shift. My legs feel like I just put them through a marathon.
I worked 2-10 Friday, 12-8 Saturday, and 11-7:30 yesterday. We closed at 7 last night, but we didn't get to clock out until 7:30 because there was a couple who had no intentions of leaving after the closing announcement was made.
Who followed them around the entire store for that half hour with their arms crossed? That's right, me.
If you want to shop when the store is closed, I'll be damned if it's not going to be an awkward experience for you. Customer or not, you're on my time now. I may be wrong; I understand it's my job and I'm being paid for that time, but the sheer ignorance ignites my fuse like nothing else. Black Friday we were out by five minutes after.
This is a somewhat regular occurrence at Burlington. Last night, the wife of this fantastic couple casually leaned on her buggy with her head in her hand, pushing it slowly through the store. At the end of the announcements, the manager says, "departments call 117 when clear."
The registers all have phones, as do the departments (8 in all). It's easy to hear the rings at the front end from the various departments when the store is closed. Seven rings later, the speakers beeped to prompt the announcement, "youth dial 117 when clear." I don't think I've flown through the shoe and coat department from my own so quickly in the past year and some odd months. I arrived at the youth department to find my fellow employees up in arms watching the couple pick at the racks.
"I'd love to find out where he works so I can go park my car behind him when he wants to leave!"
Yep. Agreed, Scottie. It's simply beyond rude.
All in all though, despite the exhaustion, late shoppers, and another customer threatening to knock me out (she had the last of an item with no tag and apparently I wasn't fast enough remedying the situation), it was a good weekend.
I got to talk with Barb, my Sunday regular who comes from Uniontown every week without fail. She noticed I've lost almost 20 pounds and complimented my eyelashes. It's people like her who get me through the day. I listened to her complaints about the new Uniontown store and talked fashion with her--she's quite forward in the subject for her age.
I helped a handful of teenage girls find dresses for their Christmas dance. Another woman told me I was fabulous for finding her a shirt at the last minute when she'd given up. An elderly woman showered me with thank-yous for helping her find a skirt in a petite size, "they just don't sell them anywhere anymore!"
One customer, who finally found her gift card after I'd completed her transaction, asked if I would come to customer service and stay with her while Jerry did the payment exchange for her. I knew she was just a little weary and felt more comfortable with me there, it was adorable.
I had several customers approach my manager to compliment my service to them, mostly at the register. Besides maintaining the second busiest department in the store (which pulled in 20 grand on Friday with the average price of an item being around 8 dollars), I was a back-up cashier all weekend (oh yeah, and even the greeter for an hour on Saturday).
People laugh at retail jobs, but I've been doing this since I was 16 and it's taught me so much and definitely shaped who I am. Working at the mall for four years hardened me; but Burlington gives me the chance to really build rapport with customers. At least I wasn't killed this weekend.
I'll never be on the other end. I refuse to shop on Black Friday. I had a pair of customers come through my line with matching shirts which read, "I eat, sleep, and breathe Black Friday." My friend stood for nearly 2 hours with her hand on a GPS at Wal-Mart waiting for the go-ahead to fly to the registers. My mother lost it on some lady who was hitting her in the ankles with her shopping cart at 5 in the morning at Sam's Club. The retailers just create this mess.
Alright, now to enjoy the day off.