Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to Shop and Be a Decent Human Being

I've spent the last six Christmas' working in retail and I have some lil' pearls of wisdom that I'd really like to pass on. Spoiler alert! Every scenario is a true story, your fellow human beings can be real dick holes.

  1. The person selling you a book, a pair of shoes or an ugly candle holder does not set the policy for either the store (returns, sales, price) nor the larger bodies of governance (ei. the $.05 plastic bag LEGISLATION in Ontario). Accusing a cashier of personally ripping you off is a little like accusing a cat of voting for Rob Ford -- moronic and pointless. Retail workers make barely $10 an hour, that hardly makes them leaders of economic policy. This goes for the exchange rate as well. Economics are best left to those who understand them. Oh, we also don't control the heat in a building.
  2. If a store is out of the thing you wanted; those chord jeggings, the new Nora Roberts/JD Robb (spoiler alert: they're the same person!) collaboration or the cute garden gnome with the twinkling eyes; it is not a personal affront. That sales person is not profiting from your misery (well, they might enjoy it a little if you are also doing the other things on this list), there is no conspiracy afoot. All it boils down to is maybe getting your shopping done a little earlier than Christmas eve or Boxing day. Stomping around a shoe store on Boxing day, petulantly asking, "well what DO you have in a size 10??" Isn't endearing, heart wrenching or sympathy inducing; it's obnoxious.
  3. This one goes for everyday but Christmas eve especially. When a store is closing, leave. Christmas in Canada means that majority of stores close early and stay closed until Boxing day, it is a guaranteed day and a half off. And, for the most part, we all really appreciate this time off regardless of whether or not we will be celebrating Christmas. This Christmas eve, I had a woman trying on jeans tell me, "I know you are closing in two minutes. I'll just be five. I know it's Christmas and everything but...". That's right, she knew that she was being a jerk ass but her desire to buy a pair of jeans trumped our desire to finish our shifts on time.   
  4. Keep in mind that the stores are busy everywhere and that all your fellow shoppers are also stressed and cranky and that no body wants to be on either end of a never-ending line-up. This means that cutting in line is out, whining to the cashier and other shoppers is out and calling the cashier who points out that you skipped the line a "fucking c*nt" is especially out. 
  5. The cashier or sales person helping you is a person. Difficult to sometimes remember in those heady days of present gluttony, I know. That person has a family and friends; they have hobbies.; they laugh sometimes, they cry sometimes; they are just like you! That person doesn't deserve to be yelled at, for any reason; to be told they're stupid (or accused of not being able to divide because they word the price as 50% off of $240); to have eyes rolled at them; to have their appearance maligned; (TOTAL ASIDE: Rebekah just came downstairs and I told her that I'm compiling a list of Holiday shopping don'ts and she suggested don't shop); really to be attacked in any way personally, professionally, mentally, physically, emotionally. If you do any of these things, you may actually be too far gone and you may actually have to live out the rest of you days on a farm for the humanity challenged, where the emotionally devoid can all roam free and be miserable together eventually withering up from their own poison, I picture that to be something like the starving, leg and armless zombie dragging itself along the grass, desperate for a bit 'o flesh, in the first episode of the Walking Dead -- pathetic and weirdly compassionate.
That about sums it up, there are so many, many horrible things that the general public does to those in retail and a quippy list of five doesn't really cover the constant onslaught of abuse. Really, all that a shopper needs to remember is to be kind, respectful and compassionate and Santa won't check your name on the naughty list you won't be stuck with voodoo pins and mocked for years. 


  1. Wow - great post!
    I've never quite understood people who go shopping on the busiest days of the year, and then act surprised that they have to wait in lines. They never seem to be in a rush when they're spending hours browsing, but as soon as they're waiting to check out...

  2. Thanks for commenting, Kelsy! I know, it's like our whole society has a narcissistic complex where everyone believes that their time is more important than anyone else's time. If I could have a superpower it would be a wand of empathy that I could smack people over the head with so that they'd begin caring about strangers.

  3. Haha - as soon as you find a retailer for that wand, let me know. Then I can go buy one myself and be outlandishly polite to the person who sells it to me!