Spare a thought for the real heroes of the season— retail workers. K-Ci Williams recounts some tales of Christmas's past, all of which seem to have the same moral: don't be a dick.
Christmas. Kirihimete. Also known as the time to cut down allergy-inducing trees and listen to the same ten Michael Bublé songs on repeat. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I can hear the jingle bells already.
Unfortunately, Christmas can turn people into monsters too. Working in retail, that means your regular, run of the mill, ask-to-see-your-manager type asshole, becomes an even bigger asshole. Despite this, yours truly — and the other retail workers you’ll pass in the next month — forge ahead with a fake smile, facing the reality that Santa’s given us the same thing he did last year — verbal abuse.
I have a love-hate relationship with retail. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for a genuinely kind person. Like other salespeople, I have been a shoulder to cry on, I have heard the absolute worst tales of somebody’s life and boy do I have stories. We all do. But the irksome attitude of one entitled customer can send my sleigh ride straight into a wall.
Working the silly season is a departure from the typical retail experience and certainly better than the time I was told I looked like 'the black guy' from the new Star Wars movie. (I mean, have you seen John Boyega? I should be so lucky.) What he said wasn’t even a compliment. A word to the wise: don’t be like ‘Star Wars guy.’ It makes baby Yoda cry and I won’t tolerate that.
My least favourite part of retail in December is dealing with Karen. We all know a Karen, complete with a self-aggrandising lecture about how they’re right and a soccer mom haircut. Karen wants to speak to the manager, wants to complain about everything under the sun and generally makes everyone’s life that tiny bit more difficult. I’ve been asked to find a specific book with no information other than “the cover is blue.” I’ve been sworn at and called a faggot. Yet to this day, nothing annoys me more than Karen on December 24th.
Karen: “Can you order this in for Christmas?”
Retailer: “It’s Christmas Eve!”
Karen: “This is horrible service and I’d like to speak to your manager.”
We aren’t miracle workers! The only Christmas miracle is the birth of Jesus (that's it, right?). Sometimes, it’s better to bite my tongue, especially when my main source of income is at stake. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a phenomenal film, but it’s also an apt name for Karen.
This chaos continues for all of December, as 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' soundtracks the scenes that play out. Christmas Day arrives like a miracle unless you’re working in the foodservice industry. (Handy tip: don’t piss off the people who make your food.) I applaud anyone working through the Christmas period. Retail workers deserve a Netflix film made about their Christmas struggle; a rom-com with a flash mob and Vanessa Hudgens, probably.
So, this holiday season, I implore you — the hopefully sane person reading this — be a little wiser as you begin your Christmas shopping. Smile at the salesperson who helps you. Wish them happy holidays. Our job is to sell, not to mother you or mediate your behaviour.
And no, the customer is not always right. The worst that can happen is that you end up becoming a work story, like ‘Star Wars guy’, who to this day leaves me a teensy bit pissed off whenever I see a lightsaber.