Nov 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow will be a rather exhausting holiday as I'll be getting off work in the morning, sleeping for a few hours, going to my cousins for an early dinner, then back to work. God I can't wait till I'm back on days.

Regardless I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving, cept those damn Black Friday shoppers. I used to work retail and that day was a frightful one indeed. Shoppers were lined up early in the morning well before the store opened. Walking past them was similar to strolling past sweaty toothed madmen locked in cells. Their eyes piercing me almost begging me to open the store early. The looks on their faces said it all. They were there to save money and they would kill indiscriminately to preserve their entitlement to low cost products.

I would stand at the camera counter (I sold camera products for a department store) before the store opened dreading the minute the doors were unlocked. 15 minutes before that horrific experience the staff was lined up in the back of the store, chain smoking and contemplating new career aspirations. Cigarettes were then put out, uniforms were straightened, and we walked to our respective stations expecting the worst.

The doors would then open. Customers would file in walking at a brisk pace, eyeballing each other, then matching pace with a faster person till they were almost in a dead sprint. It was like watching animals being released into the wild.

One Black Friday was quite memorable. Polaroid at one time sold actual 35mm film, but decided to discontinue it after poor sales. Someone in that company decided to sell the product on that day for a dollar a role. First customer I helped bought every single roll we had, which equated to around $200.

This did not please everyone else looking for it. I stood there for the next few hours fielding questions like:

"What do you mean your sold out?"
"What do you mean they stopped making them?"
"What do you mean you won't be carrying anymore?"
"What do you mean someone bought the whole stock?"

This of course led to my favorite conversation that day. I had the bright idea that putting a sign over the Polaroid film bid stating 'sold out' might deflect some people from asking questions they already knew the answers to. This did little if any to keep people from bothering me and other co-workers. One particular gentleman didn't like the what the sign had to tell him.

"I see the sign says 'sold out'," he said in a gruff voice.

"Yes sir," I said. "Someone bought our entire stock of film when the store opened."

"Well can I get a rain check on that?" he asked. A reasonable request I thought.

"Sorry sir," I replied. "Polaroid has stopped production on 35mm film."

"Soooooo," he said shaking his head at me.

"So since they stopped making them we won't be carrying it," I said trying not to sound condescending.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked. I wonder what answer he was looking for, but I have a feeling that whatever I told him wouldn't suffice.

"I mean sir," I replied. "That we won't be carrying the product as it will no longer exist." The look on his face made it obvious that wasn't what he wanted to hear.

"Is there anyway I can buy this as YOU advertised? I mean you did say you were going to sell this and since you're sold out I deserve something. I have the ad right here."

"Sorry there's nothing I can do. We simply can't sell a product that we can't possibly carry."

"Yeah but it says here on the ad that you're selling it."

"And we did sir."

"So it's your job to provide it to me."

"Sir as the ad states we only have a limited supply," I said as he was searching for the words on the page. He was hoping to catch me in a lie.

"That's bullshit," he yelled.

"Sorry sir."

"I don't appreciate your tone."

"I'm sorry you don't appreciate my tone sir." I still don't know what he was referring to.

"I'm going to talk to your manager," he said all threatening like.

"Okay sir," I said. "Her name is Michelle. You can find her up at the 1 hour photo. I can call her and ask her to come here if you like?" About that time I gave up on appearances and decided to let it be known that I couldn't give a damn.

"No," he said pointing his finger at me. "I'll go up there."

"Very good sir," I said turning away to help someone else who probably had a 'what do you mean' question.

"Oh fuck you," he yelled.


"I'll be outside when you get off work," he threatened. I looked behind him and saw his wife holding an infant. Maybe the kid's his, maybe not. I don't know what possessed the man to pick a fight with me in front of his family as he didn't look like the sort of person who could handle himself in a brawl, but I first thought it best to use decorum.

"Sir I don't think that's necessary and I'm sorry I made you angry. If you're upset with my service I suggest you speak with my manager."

"Nah I'll be awaiting for you outside punk," he promised.

That did it for me.

"Great," I said. "I get off at 3pm."

His jaw dropped. He stood in silence for a few seconds thinking of his next words. You could sense the wheels in his head were turning.

"Well...uhh...I don't think you understand. I'll be out there waiting for ya."

"I understand," I said maintaining my 'don't give a shit' attitude. "I'll be off at 3pm. I'm parked near the Chinese restaurant."

"Uhh...well...good. See ya then pal," he replied. He took his wife by the arm and walked away. I could hear his wife berating him for being an asshole as they mozied down an aisle.

Of course he never showed up at 3pm. I would like to sit here and make you think I was this fearless youngin who never backed down from a fight, but truth be told I was nervous this guy would come back with a gun. He didn't seem all that stable.

The day wore on with me reiterating the phrase "sorry were sold out" more times than I care to remember. Other events happened that day such as two guys getting into a fistfight over the last bread maker, numerous threats of a lawsuit, and various obscenities being hurled by customers who were late in receiving the privilege of a low cost item.

As I drove away from the store after my shift I sat and thought about how ironic it is that millions of Americans gourde themselves giving thanks for the many luxuries our society provides them and yet the next day they turn into those who feel entitled to everything. So quickly have they forgotten that they could live in a third world country or be the victims of violent crime. All it takes to turn people from civilized human beings to raging psychos is a sale.

I think all genocidal leaders have once worked retail in their lives.

So with that I ask you this Thanksgiving to truly understand the blessed lives you lead and to not forget it as you wander about in public. I have many things I'm grateful for. My family, my friend, my health (physically at least), and most of all the Pretty Girl.

Happy Thanksgiving from the folks at Erik's Ramblings.

"Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves." - Henry Ward Beecher


Scott said...

I went to the U.S once on Black Friday, it absolutely blew my mind what was going on in the stores. I just sat back and watched, could not handle the actual shopping.


Mattbear said...

Amen, brother. I came back from India a day or two before Thanksgiving in 2003. Nothing has ever made me more thankful for where I was born and what I have than seeing the beggars in the street over there.

Here, I'm comfortably middle class. But I know that in 80% of the rest of the world, I am unbelievably wealthy. I have been given many gifts in this life, and I appreciate you reminding me of it today.