November 2, 2017 – It’s that time of year again – the holiday season is upon us. This year is seemed to have started in mid-October with the Christmas music starting on November 1 in the retail stores.
Like many in retail, I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season. Retailers tend to make 50 to 80 percent of their money during this time of year. Black Friday means coming into work on Thursday at 3 PM and staying until midnight on Friday evening. It means stores that will be “destroyed” by shoppers thinking they are getting a super buy on things normally on sale at the same price year around. There will be door busters and super sales during the entire season.
For the corporate buyers, this all started six or seven months ago. I have a friend in purchasing for a national retail chain that starts his Christmas orders a year in advance.
Now, I have worked retail most of my life in one form or another. In my dad’s bicycle store, the windows were painted in festive colors and pictures about a week before Thanksgiving. We had no music in the store, no commercials, just customers wanting to buy a new bicycle for little Timmy.
Now it is music 24/7 with Christmas themes playing about one-half of the time. I am sure it will get worse before the season is over.
I am also positive that there are only 43 Christmas songs written in English, song by thousands of performers with over 100 zillion versions. How many times can one listen to Jingle Bells in an hour’s time? Is Christmas supposed to be White or Blue? And this does not include Alvin and the Chipmunks or that silly song about grandma and a reindeer.
After a day of living with the unceasing sounds of the holidays, I have “ear worms” singing variations of the holiday songs I wish to avoid. Of course, I know all of the wrong words to many and tend to sing those in my head.
“Gone away is the blue bird; Here to stay is a new bird; It’s kinda absurd when you don’t know the words to sing; Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”
Thanks to the late singer/song writer Steve Goodman for that one.
Between now and the beginning of the year, there will be no days off, hopefully two days during the week to recoup and a dread of what is to be expected when we walk in at 8:00 am for a 9:00 opening. And with the “preseason” sales, we are getting a preview of the mess we are about to encounter.
For example, I fully expect to be greeted by stacks of clothing waiting to be hung and folded. Not little stacks, but 40 to 60 shirts alone. That is after the night crew has stayed for a couple of hours after close.
There are the customers that have no respect for retail or others. Last week, one customer took a shit in a pair of shorts and rehung them in the rack only to be taken by another customer. It is not unusual for a woman to pee on a dress or two because they don’t like the associate, the store or the product. Then there was the customer who took a swing at an associate/cashier and the associate decked him.
With all of the complaints and hard work for low pay, I enjoy retail, meeting the customers, 99 percent of which are nice people. I enjoy problem the solving and satisfying the customer’s need when possible.
I’ll suffer through the holidays. I will kvetch about the music, laugh at the customers and complain to my boss that I need combat pay. I will survive the ear worms and the unending musical tales of love won and lost during Christmas.