Holiday season retail secrets

2010-12-12 00:46

I see no reason why WikiLeaks should have a monopoly on revealing carefully-guarded secrets. What I’m about to reveal to you are secrets more closely guarded than the formula for Coca Cola. Most people would not believe these things even if you told them. They are outlandish, they are implausible, and most people would never imagine them. And yet, I tell you: They are true.

  • The person who decided not to order enough of something you wanted to buy is not, in fact, working at the cash register.
  • Most retail workers are not licensed therapists with adequate training to resolve domestic disputes. Their unwillingness to pick sides in your dispute with your spouse reflects this lack of training, not a general unwillingness to help.
  • Many retail workers are, in fact, people. They may have friends or family. Typically, they need to eat at least a couple of times a day and sleep occasionally in order to stay healthy.
  • The person who did not hire enough cashiers is also, most likely, not one of the people working the registers.
  • Despite their impressive accomplishments, the reality is that most retail workers are not psychic. They cannot read your mind, and they cannot foretell the future. They did not have any way of knowing what you would want to buy today.
  • The vast majority of retail workers have never met your niece, and cannot reliably tell you what she likes.
  • The clerk you’re asking for advice about cameras did not sneak into your garage and siphon gas out of your car, causing you to run late because you had to stop at the gas station.
  • With rare exceptions, the people working at the shopping mall did not contribute in any way to your decision to postpone some of your shopping until now.
  • Yes, actually. That is too much to ask. Show some sense.
  • No, the 16-year-old whose first job ever is seasonal help at Target did not “ruin Christmas” for your kid. The idiot who decided to buy a really popular toy on the 23rd of December did. Buy a mirror.
  • While you may be under stress, the retail workers you’re dealing with are under the accumulated stress of hundreds of people all of whom are just as stressed as you are.

I dunno what it is about Christmas shopping that makes people be assholes to retail workers. But, you know. Knock it off. They have homes to go back to, for the most part. They have families to be with. They have friends. They have, in short, just as much right to a peaceful or relaxing holiday season as you do.

And, here’s the other secret: If you treat them decently, you’ll get better service. Works way, way, better than yelling at them. So even if you’re completely free of genuine concern for fellow human beings, and all you want is to get good service, you’ll still be better off being nice.

Peter Seebach



  1. * Word of the day, every day: Prophylactic.
    If you used one, I wouldn’t have to witness your bad parenting or be subjected to “Bring your screaming child to Target day”. Everyone is staring at you, not just the underpaid retail worker. * As courtesy, to our “guests”, and to be more energy efficient, the retail store is dimming the lights. (So, you can go ahead and take your sunglasses off.) * As courtesy, to our “guests”, and to be recognized for our wonderful customer service, you have entered the cell phone “dead zone”. Please, now apologize to whom on the phone you’re speaking, and inform them of your location. Please don’t give your cashier the respect, or appropriate chance to service you professionally. And, yes your cashier is taking your order extraordinarily loud. * Where the hell were you raised, the barn?? Pick up after your damn selves. You just passed 6 garbage cans. * Do I really have to read the sign to you?? * Repeat after me: “PLEASE” and “THANK YOU”.

    Over worked, under paid, exhausted, retail worker.

    — Christine K. · 2011-09-10 22:25 · #