Random craps #51: Retail Christmas Edition

One cannot overstate the deleterious effects the holiday season has on a retail worker. Did you know that holiday music has been shown to induce a months-long psychosis (four thousand versions of all I want for Christmas is my heart I gave you last Christmas… God help us all).

If you think it’s annoying how the decorations go up in August or September, imagine how we feel to come into work sweating like a pig because the air conditioner is broken for the tenth summer in a row to find people decorating trees wearing Santa hats they are forced to wear because there’s a gun held to their head by a certain store manager. (In fairness, the workload is such that there would be no way to decorate the store and put out the stock when the customers would prefer it to happen.)

One of my jobs is training new hires. Every year is the worst I’ve ever seen. For every new worker that the regulars see on the selling floor, there were about ten that didn’t show up the first day, didn’t show up the second day, or got fired within two weeks for ripping us off. I’ve never seen so many people disappear. It happens every year, of course–I’ve even had people disappear during training when my back was turned. But this was different. I don’t understand why people go through all the trouble of filling out digital reams of forms only to never show up again. You know as soon as you walk in the door that you don’t want to do this. Or when they watch the fourteen hours of videos only to not show up for their first shift.

The HR powers-that-be decided it would be a wonderful idea to hire people without interviewing them or speaking to them, even people who did not fill out an application. No, I’m not making this up, they literally send people job offers without ever speaking to them. So you can well imagine the quality of candidates we get…

They put phone hiring into effect a number of years ago. I remember the first time a phone hire showed up, we were like, who the hell are you? No one spoke to you over the phone and hired you. Nor would we have hired you if we did. We may even have turned them away and then found out it was real. At least in those days they actually interviewed the person on the phone. Now they just send an offer. And I’m not exaggerating when I say they hire people who didn’t fill out anything besides their contact information. I could write a book about the tribulations and angst the phone hiring people have put us through. I don’t know how I haven’t had a stroke yet.

Anyways, the new hires suck. They have attitudes and don’t want to do anything. They get annoyed at you when you tell them to get off their phones. Now, I am pretty cowardly about reprimanding, but when my rage rises to a certain level (especially when I have PMS), I no longer care and I tell them point blank that they’re done if they don’t get off their phone. Of course, they don’t listen, and when they hit the floor, they lean on the counter looking at their phones while the regulars run around busting their cracks.

One girl was so sweet during training. She wanted to stay extra hours on her first day and loved the little “social media” site we have for employees. On her second day, she had a bipolar attack and started cursing out customers and threatened to sue everyone for racism. She filmed managers with her phone and screamed how she was going to send it to her lawyer. Needless to say, she wasn’t employed by the end of that day.

My favorite was a guy who assured the security guard that nothing was going to leave the store on his watch. One day this security guard returned to his office to find the door wide open and the new hire sprawled in his chair. He was apparently waiting for his ride, and of course he hadn’t looked at the wall of cameras right in front of him. The guard ran the tape back from the camera that records the office itself and saw this fellow watching the cameras and vaping. To everyone’s surprise, a lot of things DID leave the store on his watch.

We get a list of who’s been hired and when they’re scheduled to show up. I no longer call them to remind them. We’re supposed to make “welcome” calls and tell them what to expect, but my position is that I’m not chasing you. Using the Meatloaf criteria, you are zero out of three! We don’t want you, we don’t need you, and we sure as hell ain’t ever gonna love you! It’s your responsibility to, hmm I dunno, SHOW UP FOR WORK ON YOUR FIRST DAY WITH PROPER IDENTIFICATION. Though I do love when they come in and tell me they don’t have their ID’s. Another one bites the dust.

And we are still training. Four days until Christmas and we’re still fucking training. I wanted to call them and tell them not to bother coming, but my manager said don’t, they’re not going to show up. Well, guess what, all three of them scheduled yesterday showed up. I was so apoplectic I thought I was going to have a heart attack. They all had their ID’s. I told them we need them to close every night and work all day Christmas Eve and they said that was okay. I told them there were no hours after this week. Fine. I even asked my BOSS to speak to them and try to scare them off. They didn’t look happy after that but still wouldn’t leave.

(It’s weird though, they all told me they were available until eleven pm but suddenly had dentist appointments, driver’s license tests, or final exams and had to leave at 2:30pm.)

I can’t really speak anymore to what it’s like on the selling floor because I haven’t extensively done it in a number of years now (I work in the office, although it’s not isolated by any means). I try really, really hard to avoid getting stuck on a register. The never-ending lines and nasty customers are as bad as you’d probably guess. So far we’ve had one bloody fight, one mental breakdown (besides the bipolar girl), two or three faints, and one broken hip.

I admit that sometimes the shitshow is fun, when the store is burning down and there’s nothing you can do but laugh because nothing matters at that point. There are some enjoyable moments. Listen, maybe I sound like a real asshole in this post. I didn’t start out this way but year after year after year of the same old shit has made me really tired, cynical, impatient, and bitter.

Anyways, I can’t wait to click that “Terminate” button next week! I’ll leave you with two of my favorite Christmas songs.

This is my favorite song they play on the overhead:

I love this one too:

(I swear there’s NO resemblance between me and the woman in the video! I don’t have that kind of accent.)

38 thoughts on “Random craps #51: Retail Christmas Edition

  1. Well, I love the Ramones. I have forgotten this song. My husband makes it a point to be cheerful to every worker in the stores during the Christmas season. My goal is to keep my head down and get my stuff. I did my time in retail at Settlers Green in New Hampshire. Here’s to wishing that you get through the holiday madness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you guys are kind to the workers, you know how hard it is when everyone treats you like garbage. And don’t be fooled if you see them singing to the Christmas music, it’s actually a sign that the psychosis has fully set in and they are suffering tremendously.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Damn! I can make a movie or write a book about this, where the employee in your position is going homicidal slowly, until one day, they snap!

    I’m glad I live in India. Though people do celebrate Christmas here, at least we don’t have to suffer through the music.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You should write something, I’d definitely like to see your take on it, I’d sure you’d have an interesting angle. The songs that annoy me the most are the pop songs that you hear a thousand versions of over and over. I don’t mind less known things.


  3. Omg . HR hire without interview or background check – what utter hell!

    Christmas song from August- oh dear!

    The song by the penguins doesn’t play.

    I am glad that you can make us laugh at the madness of your work place, and that you can laugh to.

    Wishing you happy holidays

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, they background check for certain jobs, BUT they let them start working before it clears! So you can guess what sometimes happens. We don’t have music officially in August, it starts on the overheard in November I think, although I believe it may have used to start earlier. I don’t know why the video won’t play–it works for me. Everyone must know Jingle Jangle!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and enjoying. It is indeed a unique circle of hell. But no–terminate means I click a button and fire you. If I were gonna quit, the announcement is going to be a Big Deal! I might even do a giveaway.


  4. People still go out into the wild to “shop”? Have they not realized that the world will come to them through the internet? Brick n’ mortars have no reason to exist anymore. The Mall is dying (nearly dead), Long Live the Mall.
    Of course, I’m a contributor to that eventuality. I’m an agent of ecommerce’s manifest destiny, writing software that optimizes the online experience of “shopping”. It’s no wonder I hate my job, but maybe not as much as you–I have zero in-person human interactions–and most of the folks I Zoom are smarter than I.

    Never heard either of those “songs” (the second being more of a cacophony).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What? Not a punk fan? Well, this was slick, but punk is the last bastion of honest rock. The early Who, before they were the Who. The Yardbirds. Early Jeff Beck? Even the Quarrymen before they got pop. Scream and thrash. Punk only sucks when it confuses itself with metal and you end up with shit like Alice in Chains. Otherwise, there are times I’d rather listen to four dopers dragged off a corner, shoved in a room and given instruments than most of the radio ready shit comes out of Hollywood or Nashville (particularly) these days.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I love the mall, if my mall closes I will need intensive therapy, possibly even electroshock therapy. I don’t understand where people hang out if they don’t go to the mall. But it’s not like the old days, that’s for sure.


  5. “Or when they watch the fourteen hours of videos only to not show up for their first shift.” I worked for a company that made those videos, and wrote the canned synth music in the background. Shell, Neiman Marcus, Albertson’s Grocery chain, Target… I know why they leave. Well, after the opportunity to steal some $400 boots from Neiman’s. As for Christmas music, I caught the two pharmacists at Walgreen’s making up profane lyrics to the Muzak Christmas music. It’s been on since before Halloween.
    Gotta love the Ramones. If I had one wish for the music business, it would be that the suits left Punk alone and did it the old-fashioned way. Put up a couple of mics and let ’em rip. But they made their point, slick and all. Most cool. The Penguins are a classic example of how they should have recorded the Ramones! What’d he say? Cheer? Tears? Tingle Tangle? What? A Louie Lou-eye… Oh baby, we gotta go…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love that synth music! And the instrumental Muzak! I miss that. Honestly, the videos aren’t that bad. They’re updated to keep up with the ever-changing Woke landscape. I like Jingle Jangle because it’s catchy, and I thought people would be amused at the Ramones one since I assumed everyone has the experience of fighting with somebody into the wee hours of the morning of major holidays…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully the music didn’t start until November at some point. That moment when you come to work and hear it playing is horrible though. That parrot thing is crazy. Usually we just hear people’s parents or kids screaming in the background.


  6. Lol, I’ve not experienced holiday season music, but I do know how it feels to work retail at a place that repeats the same CD over and over again, for months on end. That’s low-key Guantanamo Bay shit, that’s for sure. Anyway, wishing you all the best for Christmas season!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh jeez! I can’t imagine what it’s like just pushing in all the unfiltered rabble like it’s supposed to help with the seething public. I’m staying in my bedroom with the lights out until the crowds thin out.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. That is true. I call it hiding in plain sight. Now, my keys and wallet hide in plain sight and I can’t find them. I have no idea how they got into the refrigerator and the milk ended up in the dish washer. The more distracted people are the less they see around them.

            Liked by 1 person

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