It’s no secret that the holidays are rapidly approaching! We’ve only got two weeks left to snag those last minute gifts, decide which dishes we’ll be cooking for the big family dinner, and find the perfect outfit to wear for the office party. And let’s not forget that we’ll want to bring in the New Year with style, too!

Consequently, we’re spending lots of time at stores, shopping centers, and the local mall taking advantage of extended seasonal hours. Sometimes, despite the joy and cheer that the holidays are supposed to bring, we lose sight of the real meaning of it all. As a shopper that’s stressed, out of time, and over budget, who’s the first person to feel your wrath? The sales associate at your favorite store.

Having worked in retail for several years, I have a different attitude towards the holiday season. It’s certainly not all fun for us! Take this time to delve into the shopping frenzy from the perspective of the retail employee. Perhaps, it will open your eyes and bring awareness to some bad habits of yours that, just maybe, you weren’t aware of…

Twas two weeks before Christmas, and all through the mall, the shoppers were running wild.
But within the stores workers worked hard to have clothes hung, sorted, and piled.
I, as a sales associate, was filled with the holiday cheer.
But soon enough I’d lose the spirit, as soon as you came near.

I greeted you with the warmest of smiles, and even told you my name.
You’re engaged on the phone, too busy I guess, to look up and offer the same.
You walked swiftly through aisles and pushed over displays, but “Oh well” – that wasn’t your problem.
You had gifts to buy and an outfit to find. Issues, and I was to solve them.

I told you I would be here to help; you insisted on helping yourself.
You couldn’t find the size you needed – you pulled all the shirts off the shelf.
I showed you the new blue shoes we got in, but you just had to have red.
You rummaged through neatly organized stacks, and left messy piles instead.

You came to the back to try it all on, I prepared a room for you.
Unlocked the door, hung up the clothes, and took your shopping bags, too.
So why couldn’t you be as helpful to me, returning what didn’t work out?
Clothes left on the floor, tangled, unzipped, and some even inside-out.

But even still, I was ready to help you find whatever you needed.
I climbed a ladder to grab a purse, since I knew that you couldn’t reach it.
I rushed back from lunch to make sure you were fine, but tripped as I came through the door.
Apparently you couldn’t find the trashcans. So you sat your cup down on the floor.

It’s okay, though. I didn’t fall. But now you were ready to pay.
We walked to the register, where there was a short line. I apologized for the delay.
You hooped and hollered and made a scene, rushing those who were in front.
But come to find out, you’d taken even more time. You couldn’t decide what you’d want!

By then I was through, but kept on my smile, sorting through what you’d picked up.
I scanned all the winners, and gave you the tab. But now, guess who’s in a rut?
See, you were the type to not check the price, not sure what it would all cost.
Just my luck, your poor wallet was short. Damn! A headache gained; my time and commission lost.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Ladies and gentleman, please be more courteous retail shoppers. Understand that sales associates are there as a resource to help make your experience in the store an easier, more pleasant one. They’re trained to offer customer service, knowledge about products, prices, and sizing, and have access to areas of the store that you as a customer do not. Who else can go to the back room and grab that pair of shoes, or find a ladder to reach the shirt that’s up high on the rack? Only they can.

Now, granted every sales associate you encounter will not be the nicest or most pleasant, I’ll go ahead and apologize for that. We’re only human, and have our bad days, too. But as the age old saying goes, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Show respect, patience, and understanding; most likely, you’ll be met with the same.

Now get up, stop slacking, and go finish your shopping – we’re almost out of time! Take what you’ve learned today and see how it changes your overall experience, now and even into the year. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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