Lessons in Holiday Shoppers

Working retail during the holiday season has reminded me of the worst and the best of the holiday shoppers, that being all of you!  Oh, I have seen it all, from the best of the best to the extreme worst. 

There was the woman that threw a fit because a door buster for $9.99 would make her 25% off coupon exempt.   It stated it on the ad and on the coupon but she was smoking hot. Forget the fact it normally retails for $25.00 and she was getting it for 60% off.  She wanted a manager to personally explain why and until so, she did not want to budge from the counter and let another person be rung out..  Give me a break lady. I was about ready to pull out my wallet and pay the extra $2.50 just to get her to quit blocking up the line! I told my associate to give her the discount and even that displeased her; she still wanted an explanation. I told her to go to the service desk for one. I was only authorized to give her the 25% because she was so unhappy.   Oh brother! 

Then there is the other extreme, the kind gentleman who sees someone short on money and offers to pay the difference for someone in front of him. Or the woman who has a list from a teenager on an angel tree. Never having had children of her own, she not only buys everything on the list but adds a few things to the list for the girl.   Her additions are simple things she asks me to help her pick out.  The extra added list included  a winter coat, leather jacket, prom dress,  2 pair of jeans, coordinating legging outfits and 3 extra tops with matching pants in addition to the items she was suppose to choose from!  She said it was important the girl be happy on Christmas since she had no parents and would feel alone like she did with no children.  This, she said, was her best gift for Christmas to herself. Why is the world not full of more people like this? Does this not epitomize unselfish love and giving a gift without any personal recognition either?  

I love the guy who yelled at my worker when she pulled out her calculator to double check her math. Our calculator was missing one day and the dresses were not ringing up right so we had to mentally calculate the costs and readjust them on our register. She wanted to make certain she had the cost figure right.  When she pulled it out, the man yelled at her assuming she was placing a call with some profanity thrown in there.  When she explained what she was doing, no apology was given.  He did not even react as if he heard her. Of course he didn't for then he would have to admit he was being a jerk.   Some people show their true side when on the other side of the counter, when being serviced instead of servicing others. I duly noted other customers did apologize, for him!  Those others have a conscious and have compassion.  They will certainly get to heaven in the express lane.  He will be stuck in the car wash for his dirty mouth.  

Let us not forget the rude customer service folks behind the counter either.  The one that is snappy with the customers.  They wait for the customer to bring up coupon savings without mentioning it in order to drive up their sales dollars.  If the customer doesn't ask about any deals, the service personnel doesn't either so they drive the sales up.   Most are paid either based on commission or based on sales goals, e.g. sales dollars rung up per hour.  Isn't good service trying to provide customers with savings? I find doing so will net return customers. In fact, they will spend more if I present savings, not less.   Wake up people, be helpful to others and mindful of providing savings to all.   Selfishness is so unattractive and will come around in the end to bit you you-know-where.   Ouch!  Also, how disturbing to have conversations going on among employees when you are there trying to get service. I, as a consumer, hate that, and as an employee, I hate to hear or see that.   Extremely rude! 

The shoppers that are sheer joy are the ones with the faces of love of Christmas and full of the spirit of giving and of the season!  They come in the store full of bounce and zip ready to find gifts for others and, along the way, buy gifts for themselves too. They laugh, smile and speak of their plans. They greet others with smiles, help others with decisions and wish others Happy Holidays with no hesitation.   They appear carefree, full of the light of the light of the season.   They emulate Christmas.   They are why I am here this season; they are contagious to be around.  

It will take a very long time to forget the little boy from hell that came skipping into the department two nights ago.  He was dragging every article of clothing he could reach right along his way, a tornado with a cute little face with moppy blond hair in his face, leaving a massive path of destruction behind him everywhere he wandered. At one point, he wandered away from my department and with him, his parents left also. Yeah!

But that was premature thinking. His mother quickly came flying back towards me, quicker than his feet flew through our entire area,  all the while frantically half yelling for me to help her. She said he was missing.  I called our Security Department immediately.   When I began to describe him, I was met with, “We know who this boy is.  Is this the same boy that was banging his head in the mirror behind you, tearing the bags out behind the register and running in and out of the changing rooms and being a holy terror over there?”   Needless to say, they had not lost sight of him from the minute he walked in the store.  Once he was safely back to his parents arms, he was brought back to my department for a joyful reunion to me. In his exuberance to see me, he proudly stomped his foot on mine as hard as he could, while I was ringing out another customer.   Ah, the love of a cute 4 year old, aka Dennis the Menace.   I wonder if he would recognize what coal is.

The stories I have heard make me feel like I have a better understanding of what bar tenders must hear. It is so wonderful to hear about other people’s lives.  When you are a stranger, and are brought into people’s lives in these rare moments in time around the holiday season, people are so much more sentimental and open.  I have heard such moving stories and learned of such giving hearts. 

Several women have brought their teen age daughters to shop with them and landed up buying them extra things for gifts.  Their unknowing daughters are trying on items in the dressing room and their moms sneak back out front to the registers asking me to put something on hold or an associate I work with so the gift will be a total surprise all the while telling their daughter “no, we are not buying one more thing.”  I wonder what it's like to feel as if not getting a shirt is the end of the world.   When you age, you miss that kind of stress somewhat. As we get bigger, so does our problems, our stressors.    We need to practice what we teach our kids, don’t sweat the small stuff, the name brand sweater is awesome but at the end of the day, how you feel about you matters the most. 

Though the experience is eye opening and a thrilling ride in many ways, nothing can replace the joy outside my working life. If I need reminded, last weekend I got it.  Standing at the register amongst a throng of customers, answering questions, getting pulled this way and that, I thought I detected a familiar voice.  At first I ignored it, but then it came louder and I made out the word, “Grandma.” I knew in an instant it was my grand-daughter Ava.   She was dressed all girly from head to toe and out on a shopping trip with her mommy and came by to say hi.  I was so proud to show her off.   I scooped her up, as soon as I had a chance, to give her a big hug and tell her I loved her.  There is nothing in the store that is as priceless to me as that baby girl or the time I can spend with her.   Christmas is only one day, the time we spend preparing is something we should do all year long. Something to think about, aye?