Black Friday — From the Other Side

The Dreaded Black Friday

I used to work in retail and Black Fridays were like a death hole of shopping.

None of the workers in my store could enjoy Thanksgiving because we were approaching the next day with fear and loathing.

We had to show up on our scheduled workday before Thanksgiving and also our scheduled hours on Black Friday, or we wouldn’t get our holiday pay for Thanksgiving. In other words, if we didn’t show up on Black Friday we lost TWO days’ pay. That was our incentive to show up.

My first Black Friday was by far the worst. We didn’t open until 6 a.m. but they opened the store 20 minutes earlier without warning (while we were still opening registers) and the lines were long by 6 a.m. The lines snaked down the aisle and around the escalator.

After all, you can never have enough STUFF. Right?

Management Caused Most of the Problems

The customers were difficult but it was MANAGEMENT that made us miserable. I quickly decided that retail management intelligence must be an oxymoron. Of course, they weren’t the ones who had to deal with their anger when they continually changed the rules.

The sad thing is that I really enjoyed helping customers under normal circumstances.

Sometimes I really miss it — but not enough to work evenings, weekends, holidays, and be available 24/7 during the Christmas season.

The sad thing is that retailers don’t really give a fig anymore about customer service — I was continuously told that I was TOO helpful and spent TOO MUCH TIME with the customers. The stores only care about sales and SELLING CREDIT CARDS.

I could tell you stories . . .

If you enjoyed this post, please read my review of Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store-Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate by Freeman Hall. 

Written for and linked to Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

I love books, writing, film, and television.


  • Carol N Wong

    Thank you for posting this, I don't think that a lot of people realize what it is life for the people working at the stores. I loved the video about stuff!!!! I agree that we all have too much stuff.

    I had it easy on Thanksgiving Day when I worked for Directory Assistance. No one calls for a telephone number then. I used to bring a book and read, got a call about once an hour and we got double time and a half. Black Friday was just a regular day, the calls were back to normal along with the pay.

  • The Literary Lioness

    The store I used to work at is now opening at 12 midnight on Black Friday. I think that I would actually have preferred to work those hours, since I couldn't sleep the night before anyway.

    Quite frankly, I don't understand those people who will tear out to the stores on Thanksgiving Day to "buy presents for family", instead of spending TIME with their families.

  • Carol

    Nightmare!!!! I don't have to work retail to see that one. Black Friday brings out the worst in everyone. Who in the world invented that one? I don't do Black Friday's and never plan to. It's a day that needs to go down in history as the worst day of the entire year!

  • Gracie O'Tripp

    Totally agree. I worked retail one Christmas when I was in high school and swore that if there was any way to avoid it I would never work in a store at Christmas…and this was before they ever invented Black Friday. I love my computer and the UPS man.

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