Black Friday: Round One

In retail, there is nothing more thrilling and stressful than Black Friday.  It is the day that we work for and build up to for months.  It’s also where most of us tend to get in the only overtime hours we will ever earn at our jobs.  Our overtime sheet was six pages long last week with most people getting over 50 and 60 hours this week.

Unfortunately I wasn’t on that list.  I just barely made it in the upper 30s, thanks guys.

Anyway, most people don’t see the stress of the day until they get there that night or morning.  Until they drink in the amount of people in line.  Until they feel it in the air.  Our store is in a building with two other big stores.  The line for one of those stores actually crossed over one of the entrances of our store.  However, our line was on the other side, completely wrapped around the building.

It’s amazing how many people actually came out on Thanksgiving night to shop.  I’ve never been too much of a family person myself, but I think it’s a little… dirty to mar Thanksgiving with shopping greed.  Hell yeah stores have some wonderful deals, but I don’t think you should sacrifice your time of giving thanks and maybe actually acting human for them.

Then again, this is America.  Land of the Free and Greedy.

Our store was nicely organized.  We blocked off all access to the front registers save for a line that formed at the other entrance.  For the first hour, we saw absolutely no activity at the front end.  Everyone was worried about getting the big items set at Guest Service or in Electronics.  Then slowly they started to trickle in.  We had three front end team leads.  They were in charge of 8 registers a piece and had one helper with them.  The helper (which was the role I played—big surprise to me as I was supposed to be at the service desk) handled the breaks and ran any errands needed by their team leader.

Some people got in line for the registers and then ended up stopping and waiting on someone or something.  It was a mess.  One lady waited for almost half an hour for some stupid Xbox points card that no one could ever track down.  At least not until several hours later anyway.  She was blocking the “road” as it were and we kept trying to get her to move out of the way.  A few people got mad that we blocked the middle walk ways to the registers.  They were mad that they had to walk all the way around the store to stand in line when they only had a few items.

Hey, suck it up, so does everyone else, and unless you want to get kicked out of the store and not get the items in your hands, fall in line, bucko.

There were a few hiccups with people getting in and out of line.  Or a person paying and then walking back through the store.  I don’t even want to think about the amount of theft we had.  I bet that was pretty high up there.  Hey, don’t you look at me that way, people take opportunity where they can.  At one point after everything died down, I took a few things to the backroom and picked up a few sunglasses labels (which have security tags in them) and a few clothing tags.  I’m sure those were only the tip of the iceberg.

What made most of us cringe the most is the fact that they just left the game cases open.  Our games are locked away and they were opened for this extravaganza.  It’s scary to think that the things that we normally lock away were just free for the taking.  And there’s no telling how many dishonest people we had.

I did encounter a few guests that were quite angry that we weren’t price matching for Black Friday.  It was a special event, so we weren’t doing it since there were so many other sales and a lot of store had “Surprise Doorbusters” and all that junky jazz.  It’s not really fair to point this out, but our signage around the store even says that Black Friday is excluded from the Price Matching.  But its in the fine print, and who reads the fine print anymore?

One man even tossed his games down on the register at me.  Sorry, dude that the store you wanted to buy these games at ran out of them or whatever, but I’m not price matching them for you today.  Come back Sunday or Monday and we will be happy to assist you.  Don’t you go throwing things at me because you’re pissed that I’m doing my job.

We had these coupons print out automatically saying that if you spent $50 in home, apparel, or small appliances that you got a free $10 gift card.  And it started in large letters that it ran from 4am to noon.  You cannot imagine the amount of people I had mad that they couldn’t get their free $10 yet.  Hey, dumbass, read the coupon.  I’m tired and I don’t have time for you.

Later in the morning, when things had died from a massive crowd to just busy, one lady left 8 sweaters with me because she thought she was getting the $10 gift card.  But it was only 2:30.

Thankfully, for the most part, guests were rather civil which surprised me.  Though, it got very annoying to hear them say “oh, I bet you’re tired.” 

No, no not at all.  I just had to come into work at 8:30PM to say up here until 4:30 in the morning and then come back at 5PM on Friday.  Just. For. You.  I’m not tired at all.  Why don’t you just rub it in that you’re going to go home and go to bed.  I’ll stay here.

Sometimes I wish we were able to accept tips at our store.  For realsie.  I think, though, what made that night easier to get through was knowing that I was getting paid an extra $2 per hour for it all.  And that sat quite well with me.

When it slowed down, my stomach started to rear its ugly head.  Some co-workers, my girlfriend, and I went out to eat at IHOP before going into work to fuel up and kind of zen out.  I had their sad version of a chicken fajita quesadilla and I regretted it later that night. They ended up sending me to the team leader’s office to help sort all the massive abandons because I thought I was going to puke all over the place.  I never did, thankfully, but because of it, I convinced them to let me leave a half hour early when my girlfriend got off of work.

I was so tired and pukey-feeling by then that I was crying over spilled milk.  Figuratively, not literally.

All in all, Round One of Black Friday surprised me.  I thought I’d have a lot more angry people to deal with, and in reality I dealt with so many people that the nice, patient people totally zeroed out the few bad ones that I had. 

Round Two was the killer though.  Almost every single worker in the store that night had been there to open the night before.  So you combine the fatigue with disgruntled guests and you get a nice little cocktail of badness.

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