Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ten Things I Learned On My Ten Hour Shift

I worked 4AM - 2 PM on Black Friday.  It was a first, and  I can't say it's a favorite memory.  I'm told it wasn't as bad as other years.  Having no frame of comparison, it did seem dead at times, and I didn't expect that on the "biggest" shopping day of the year.  More proof our economy is not recovering.

I never understood the Black Friday hype.  To me, you can get the same price another time.  My store has sales every weekend.  The coupons change; the prices don't.  Personally, I'd pay ten extra dollars to sleep until morning.  And I'd rather not cut Thanksgiving short to save a few bucks.

But it was an experience to add to life's resume.  And like all experiences, I walked away with new knowledge.  I'm not sure this knowledge will ever be useful, but it's still knowledge nontheless.

1.  When you need to fall asleep at 7PM, Benadryl is your best friend.

2.  The majority of people waking to shop in the middle of the night do not shower first.  Or brush their teeth.  Or pop a mint.  Or even get dressed.

3.  Despite number two, they have no problem getting up close and personal with their retail associates.

4.  It's possible to feel tired after seven cups of coffee.

5.  Checking fantasy football stats from games you slept through is not recommended until after clocking out.

6.  Sitting, kneeling, or squatting may be disastrous for associates, as said sitter, kneeler, or squatter may require assistance returning to his or her feet again.

7.  When going to lunch at 9:30AM, you're hungry again when it's actually lunch time.

8.  Someone will always pick Black Friday to perform the most complicated return possible.  That same person will be the one to complain about long lines and inefficient checkouts.

9.  Five weekly workouts do not prevent the physical pain to come.

10.  Long weekends don't exist in retail.  Neither do weekends, but I already sort of knew that.

Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Are the deals worth the insanity?  Has it changed since the recession?


  1. Oh I feel your pain, Paul. I worked retail for 10 years, and was at Black Friday bright and early at 3am for every single one! I must say, it's quite an experience that I think every person should go through...makes you appreciate service workers!

    And congrats on surviving...here lately, that's quite a feat!

  2. Did your manager discourage the checking of fantasy football stats while working or were you just to tired to comprehend?
    You couldn't pay me enough money to go to a store on Black Friday.
    Glad you survived.

  3. Hi Paul! I haven't stopped by in such a long time, and I really don't know why. Just too many blogs to try reading, I guess. I LOVED this post, especially Numbers 1 through 4. Too funny!...but not to you, I'm sure!
    Hope all is going well with you. Guess I better read some of your archives.

  4. I always say no to Black Friday. There is nothing I want that bad, and you're right, I can usually get just as a good a deal another time. (Sometimes better)But look at all the potential characters you probably met that night. I guarantee they'll pop up in a story some time!

  5. Before I had my kids and worked a second job, I did a few years of black Friday retail work. It was crazy and so many of the customers were cranky.

  6. Jamie: I think retail jobs provide the full "starving writer" experience. It makes us want it more. Right????

    Alex: Actually, it's because I went to bed winning and woke up losing. Made me rather cranky for most of the morning.

    Becky: Good to see you. I've been HORRIBLE with visiting other blogs lately. Unfortunately, with the new job, I'm not at the computer as much as I used to be. Thanks for stopping in.

    Michele: You are exactly right - there were PLENTY of characters. Not to mention, a great human experiment. I finally answered the question: who in the world shops so early?!

    Susan: I was pretty cranky until around 8 or so. But I was honest in my interview and admitted I'm not a morning person. :)

  7. I was dragged out on Black Friday by my Canadian friends who came down from Vancouver wanting to shop all night, and we did. And I can honestly say I never want to do it again! It was insane at times, and I felt bad for all the people who were on their feet all night, working.

    And you're totally right about the not brushing teeth/not popping mints thing. There were times when I was afraid to breathe in the smells of the people around me.

  8. I am NOT a black friday shopper. I value sleep and you're right most of the deals happen at other times. Plus, I'm not one for crowds especially with cranky, smelly people.

  9. Ugh--10 hours?? I'm not a Black Friday shopper; I hate crowds. My Christmas shopping is done already. I try to do it early. When my girls were young, I had it pretty much done by Thanksgiving (which was important since we lived close to the mall and the traffic was horrid in December). I think people are getting really crazy (even violent) out there, all to save a few bucks. Is it really worth it? I don't think so.

  10. Yeah, that Black Friday crazyness is just strange to me. I remember working customer service at a Bed Bath and Beyond all through university. It's pretty much a mind sucking experience during the holidays, but there is one perk... generally people who have worked retail during the Holidays are the nicest and most civilized shoppers you'll ever meet... so just think of it as a character building experience as people complain about lines the day before Christmas. :)


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