The question of how to keep the holiday spirit, especially while working in retail, has been a subject around my dinner table frequently the last few weeks. Operating a strictly online business sort of insulates you from the brunt of the fray. But I have a strong retail background. I have been in “the trenches”.
Normally I love working retail. You meet so many people from so many walks of life. As my mom used to tell me, “Everyone has a story– if only you take the time to listen”. You can learn a lot or you can learn a little. But believe me, you learn…
You learn that especially during the holidays, many people can forget about the reason for the season. They are so busy hurrying from place to place. So busy with their “to do” lists; so busy buying just the right gifts for all the right people. But sometimes well meaning folks just get caught up in all the frenzy. They forget. They forget the reason for all the celebrating. They forget that the folks on the other side of the counter are people too—and most likely have the same “to do” lists to do as well.
Although the holidays are just coming to a close, I am still compelled to write this.
Each year, around the start of the holiday season in the United States, we normally look forward to kicking it all off with Thanksgiving. A time to join with family and friends; take time to enjoy each other’s company; catch up on life and, well, eat. Eat a lot! Over the last few years, in our consumer driven society, this has now morphed into a big weekend to shop. Black Friday now spills over into our day of “giving thanks”. It is all about the deals. It’s all about the specials. It’s all about the money—whether you are spending it or saving it or trying to do both.
For families trying to plan and enjoy a dinner together and if someone you love is working in the retail sector, all I can say is “Good Luck”. The hours the stores require their employees to work usually start right around when most of us are just to sitting down to enjoy some turkey. Now this might not be so bad if most people you encountered when you got to your job were in a giving sort of spirit. This is not usually the case. I have a family member that works at one of the big box electronic stores. People camp out for days before the big sale. I want to say to many of them, “don’t you have a life somewhere? A job? Something to do more productive than to camp out to save some money on a tv? “ I do really think this. Hey, I love a good deal like the next person, but to take days out of my life to do that—the math just doesn’t add up in my book.
I want to give a big shout out of thanks to those big corporate giants that have taken what seems like an economic hit to allow their employees to enjoy their holiday and have kept their doors closed for just a few more hours than some others. I personally make a note of those retailers and start my shopping with them as a way of thanking them. I hope they are paid back by many others doing the same and that it affects their bottom line in a positive way.
For some careers, holidays are just another day-they have to be.
Of course we all know some jobs do not become an option, no matter what day it is. People in medical fields, law enforcement, border control, airline employees to name but a few; all know going into their professions that holidays come at a “price”. The issue I am referring to it for those working for companies that can make a choice and choose to push for profits at the expense of those that help them make those profits. Maybe the CEO’s that appear on the TV show “Undercover Boss” should try a stint during the holidays–that would REALLY open up their eyes!
My point is that the holidays to many working in retail are not something to celebrate anymore. They become something you dread. Something you only look forward to being over.
I am not writing this to anger anyone, but just in light of the comments within my own circle of family and friends, to just remind everyone, whatever side of the retail counter you are on to please pack a little patience into your day.
Smile—it really will get you more than an attitude.
Much more. Plus, they are free AND contagious. They are one of those wonderful gifts that keeps giving. And they keep the happy-and the “spirit”- in all of our holidays! So as you are standing in line to make those returns, take a deep breath, remember this chaos is almost over (for a while) and smile.
Happy New Year!!!