The most stressful job in the world

13 Dec

It’s Saturday December 11th at 4pm and you work behind the cash register at a department store anywhere in North America.

Do I need to say more.

Caught this telling comment on the blogosphere this morning:

“So tired of getting yelled at by customers because they had to wait in line. It’s two weeks before Christmas, on a Saturday, with a sales associate at every register in the store ringing, and people are still complaining that they have to wait. One woman actually yelled this at me- ” Doesn’t anyone WORK at this store!”- this was while I was literally waiting on three customers at the same time ( jewelry counter).

Ah Christmas. Brings out the best in us.

So you have to listen to Christmas carols all day for 8 weeks AND get crapped on.

In an attempt to answer my daughter’s question from this blog post about why on earth we subject these good salespeople to 2 months of this stress and abuse, I learned that we probably have WW2 to blame.

According to this Christmas historian –  a Reverend no less – families had to have their Christmas gifts mailed early if the troops were to receive them in time across the Atlantic pond. Retailers did their part by reminding the public to shop and mail early.

Cue advertising.

The rest is history.

Photo courtesy of;  Artwork © George Heath 1997-2010


7 Responses to “The most stressful job in the world”

  1. Renée December 13, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    There’s a frenzy that takes over, (especially in crowds) that can be tough to extricate oneself from. Especially when there’s this strong emotional undertow of what this season is “about”. Comments like the one you shared, as well as the post you’ve written, demonstrate the growing discontent with the insanity (people being trampled on Black Friday, for example). I’m interested in how you balance “doing Christmas” without getting sucked in? It’s a challenge, especially with kids.

  2. dougbrowncreative December 13, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Renee, my family is caught between a rock and hard place as my daughter’s birthday falls on Christmas Eve, so there is that party to organize as well. We keep it balanced by making “give back” the theme of Christmas.

    But when store clerks are being trampled to death in the rush to get to the sale counters, we all need to re-examine what the point of all this is. We advertisers sit in the cross-hairs as well, because we do the ads that lead to the stampedes.

  3. margriet aasman December 13, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    There was a time I regretted living in Whitehorse, Yukon with only three blocks of shopping on Main Street (I don’t do Wallmart). That was changed when we went to Brampton, Ontario with three children for Christmas. Forget line-ups at Toys R Us, the traffic jams and hours on the highways just to get there in the first place killed the spirit! Top that off with rain on Christmas Eve. No, give me a few stores I can walk to even if it is -30°C. Limitations make choices easier and faster. Oh… and I’d like to know more about your ‘give back theme’ Doug.

  4. dougbrowncreative December 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    On the one hand, you don’t want to start shopping in November. But leaving it until the “Christmas spirit” descends upon you means the feeling will be fleeting when confronted by the enervation of actually shopping during that time. I have to admit Margriet I am stumped by this whole mess. I like buying gifts for people, but it isn’t fun to do so when everyone else on god’s earth is also doing the same thing.
    The Give Back involves giving something for each gift you get. So one toy in equals one toy out.

  5. Lotus Johnson December 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I work for a major Canadian retailer and look “forward” to the Christmas season with something between trepidation and dread. Myself, I stash away great deals throughout the years in a box, then drag it out at the beginning of December..there are usually only a few more presents to get. This spreads the cost over a longer time and results in less lineup standing.
    I can’t understand how people can become so impatient and unruly when they have left their Christmas shopping until close to the last minute, when they must know that there will be long line-ups..when we have 7 tills open and all are working, the line-ups move fairly fast, but with the shear volume of customers they are an inevitable part of the day time shopping season..However, like most major stores, the place where I work is open until late until Christmas, between 7 and 10 PM one can browse to one’s heart’s content and complete their transaction with no line-ups..

  6. dougbrowncreative December 14, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    I think the real problem for people is not how late the shops are open but how little time in their calendar there actually is for shopping. You grab a few minutes during lunch hour, squeeze in a couple more after work. It’s time that’s at a premium. That’s why people get so impatient. Ngawangchodron, I hope you get through the season with a minimum of lip from your customers. Thanks for the comment. And by the way, I found another ASTK stencil.

  7. Lotus Johnson December 14, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    I didn’t mean to infer that I don’t love the customers, and I hope that I am as helpful as possible..I can see why people are impatient, however my thinking is that they are dealing with a situation which is not unexpected, so why not just enjoy the ritual of lining up and crowding with other people as a joyful group experience!!
    Meanwhile, my idea of relaxing is taking photos, and the silly weather lately has been pretty poor for photography..However..
    I found an ASTK wall graffiti:
    and an ASTK tag from years ago (ASTK says):
    I have some more stencil photos also (Emily Hayes), but they are not downloaded into the computer yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s