Seasonal Reminder

It’s November, which means two things in my house:

  1. It’s NaNoWriMo, meaning that the clock is ticking on finishing my weekend project and submitting before the December deluge.
  2. Christmas campaigns have officially started, which is probably more anticipation for the birth of Jesus than there was on the event itself. Yay capitalism!

(That is alongside the usual fears of getting my reading done and training for the half marathon, of course. Those go all year round.)

Since brands have seen fit to launch their Advent Calendars a whole month ahead of schedule, I see no reason why I shouldn’t put this seasonal disclaimer out:

Be nice to retail workers. 

Yes, I know – they can be rude sometimes. Yes, they can also push the hard sell on you a little too hard. Yes, shopping around this time can be a nightmare and you are right, you are the customer and you shouldn’t pay anyone for the privilege of making you feel bad.

That said:

Shops are swamped this time of year and can be understaffed. The retail workers can be very experienced, or they can be a seasonal hire to help. They get minimum wage, they get paid by commission, and they were most likely on their feet all day dealing with all sorts of customers. Maybe their manager is really chilled, or is pressuring them to meet a certain quota. Nobody is perfect.

“The customer is always right,” is the adage of customer service, but it means a little something for you, the customer, as well:

You have the power.

You can say yes or no to a sell.

You can be nice to a retail worker, or you can make their life an absolute hell.

When you are the customer, and the other person is a (most likely) minimum-wage seasonal worker, being a jerk to them isn’t righteous. It’s jerkish.

I get it, okay? We’ve all had an episode (mine was at a makeup counter in Selfridges) where we were made to feel like Julia Roberts in that first shop scene in Pretty Woman, and we all love the follow-up where she goes back in the store and rubs it in the assistant’s faces, but there is something incredibly sad about it, too. Vivian, who knows better than anyone what is like to rely on your customers for sustenance, says to the shop assistants: “You get paid by commission, right? Big mistake. Big.”

Girl, come on. We root for you, but you could have been more graceful about it.

(Do not ask me how many times I’ve seen that movie. And do not ask me to analyse it for how business is portrayed there, because we will be here until the New Year.)

You will lose nothing by being civil, if not nice to shop assistants. Even if they are rude to you, that’s no carte blanche to lose your temper. Inform the manager if you want, or write a letter of complaint, or blog about it, but don’t be a jerk. Walk away and remind yourself you did the right thing.

Be polite and specific when you’re asking for help.

Tip your baristas. Seriously. Tip your baristas.

And tip your waitress, especially if you sat down at Las Iguanas or some other restaurant with a “you have to pay us to work here” policy.

Remember folks: Christmas is supposed to be a time to be a time for love and goodwill towards everyone. Not just the people who are not behind the counter.


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