Black Friday to Christmas from the other side of the counter

Reading Time: 3 minutes Black Friday isn’t the best for shoppers, but retail employees aren’t that lucky either.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
A few articles have been written over the past weeks on Black Friday, and all of them were very good. I feel black Friday is something I know a little about, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the issue to make things clear. Over the past fifteen years I’ve participated in about 10 Black Fridays. Not buying gifts or spending all my holiday cash. No, I’ve been on the other side of the counter, the truly black part of every Black Friday.

Before I begin, I want you to know that I think buying gifts for your loved ones during the holidays is a wonderful thing. I am in no way against businesses doing well during the holidays either, especially since those businesses have supplied my paycheck many times. What I am against however, is the loss of the human spirit during this day of blackness. There is time before Christmas to seek redemption. If this article can in any way change someone’s heart or thinking, that would be wonderful. If not, I can say that at least I tried.

Let me start by painting you a picture of what it has looked like from my point of view on the other side of the counter. The following has happened to me over the past fifteen years. I’ve been kicked, screamed at, pushed, threatened and have had my car vandalized. I’ve also dealt with somewhere around 30 shoplifters, hurt children and stressed out mothers and fathers. I had a customer tell me she wanted to return some shoes because they made her son’s feet smell bad. I had a customer tell me the March of Dimes should donate to her instead of the other way around. I’ve had to work thirteen hours without a break, and this is just to give you a small glimpse.

Now I’m not saying that working long hours and dealing with some customer problems doesn’t come with the territory. What you can never plan for is what this day does to you. I remember my family having to bring me food Christmas day because I was at work. I remember they also had to come take a family holiday photo at work because, once again, I was working.

You might ask: Do I know what it looks like from the other side of the counter? Yes, I have shopped on Black Friday, not much, but I have. This year I felt sorry for my wife. She was going to shop alone on Black Friday, so I told her I would go with her and our two-and-a-half-year-old twi boys to support her. I stood there with my boys at Wal-Mart Thanksgiving night in front of a shrink-wrapped pallet of kid’s slippers and underwear. There was somewhere around fifty people around this pallet alone. An elderly woman bent over my children sitting in their stroller to get a better look at the sizes inside the pallet. My wife looked at me as if to say, “Are you kidding me?”

That’s the question I ask myself after every Black Friday: Are you kidding me? There are a lot of days during the year when shoppers can get crazy, but it seems that black Friday is usually the worst. Here in Utah, one of the worst cases of Black Friday violence happened in 2006 when 15,000 shoppers rushed the Fashion Place mall and local police were called to break up 9 different fights.

May I make a plea from the other side of the counter? May we not lose sight of what’s most important? Especially on Black Friday, let’s take care of each other. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. As my wife was checking out Thanksgiving night at Wal-Mart, she looked at the cashier with genuine concern and said, “I’m sorry you have to work today, but thank you.” That’s all I ask, a little humanity, please. You have some time left. As I sit here writing this article, there are 23 days until Christmas. No matter your religion, or what you believe, Christmas has the power to bring out the best in anyone, if you chose to allow it. So I plea, allow it to change you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.