If you are one of those people anxiously still waiting by the mail box for the gifts you ordered online yesterday to arrive before Christmas, I have got bad news. You are going to have get off your butt and join the rest of the Christmas celebrating world and go to the mall.
I get it- I get the whole thing. It’s not that you hate Christmas it’s just you hate shopping. You want to join in and you want the world to see what an awesome benevolent person you are. You want everyone to see your generous heart. It’s just you hate the shops. So let me guide you through this so you aren’t an arse and your act of giving doesn’t become an act of counter –fit. .
It’s going to be rough. The traffic is terrible and you will not find a park. You will have to stalk a pedestrian to their car. You will approach the shops and they will be busy. There will be queue but, here is where I stop you from transforming from the benevolent relative bestowing gifts to the ranting lunatic standing at the counter, having a fit at a sales assistant.
Before you enter the mall take a moment to reflect that retail sales assistants at most mall stores earn minimum pay. If they are at a unionized site they earn slightly more. They work long hours, generally short staffed and they don’t sit down. At Christmas they do all of this, only they are expected to work 4 times harder; all day, every day, and extra shifts as well. They work right through the stats. Their job demands they be gracious and solicitous, even when the customers are not.
When you get to the store and the item you want is not available, don’t yell at them. Even if you are holding a picture of the item, that you have circled in the mailer, from that store. Waiving it in a retail assistant’s face will not make it magically appear. Retail assistants are not responsible for ordering the stock. Nor are they, generally speaking, clairvoyant and anticipating your purchase so able to put one aside for you.
When you see lots of workers stacking shelves and you ask them where the thing you desperately and urgently require is and they have no idea, don’t judge them. Don’t scold or abuse them. Chances are they are a Xmas casual and they have had no training. They may know less than you. They may not have even seen the mailer.
When you have to queue for what seems like hours in a huge snake of humanity towards the self-service checkout don’t bitch, moan and for goodness sake don’t blog. No good will come of your discontent. If you get to checkout and there isn’t even a checkout assistant to help you, but just a machine repeating “please place the item in the bag” do not yell back. It isn’t personal.
Yelling, belittling or being rude to the workers just makes you a bully. They can’t talk back and the issues you face are not their fault. Don’t be that cray cray person having a counter fit and yelling at people that who don’t get to sit down until you are up to your elbows in turkey. If you want to vent your frustration about the issues that are primarily caused by understaffing get out your phone and let the management know. Post it on FB or better still Tweet it. Understaffing, under training casual staff, or having no staff but instead a row of over sensitive snowflake self-check outs are choices made by shareholders and directors. Blame them. The people that are working to keep you happy have the same stresses and demands as you. They too have a Christmas to wrap.
Be patient, be gracious and thank retail assistants for their help because you know that when you finally find your car, it will have a ticket and that won’t be their fault either.
Bio: Kate Davis is. Retail organiser for First Union, the co- chair of Auckland Action Against Poverty and an activist and occasional writer.