Sunday, November 20, 2011

Attention Shoppers!

So, have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Five weeks from today is Christmas. Yup, it is THAT soon! Malls and stores are getting crowded.

People tend to get cranky while holiday shopping. It’s hard to manoeuvre in crowds. Line-ups are long. Stock can run out early. Customers aren’t happy and neither are the staff that has to deal with it all. Civility often gets left out in the cold.

Personally, I avoid malls like the plague around the holiday season. I don’t even like going to any stores when there is a crowd. Most of my gifts are homemade baking and I buy my supplies a couple months in advance. I pick up other gifts throughout the year and finish it off at the Christmas Craft Sale at the Winnipeg Convention Centre in mid to late November, so my holiday shopping is done.

Last year, however, I had a crowded store experience that I’d like to tell you about. A new Zeller’s (similar to Target) had opened in downtown Winnipeg in early December. I avoided going the first couple of days, as I knew the place would be insane. I only decided to go when I did, because there was some items on sale in the produce section that I needed. The store was quite busy when I got there but I spent some time wandering around, checking out various items before picking up my produce and heading for the checkout about 12:10.

There were at least 6 checkouts open but there were also at least 20 people in each line! As we waited, we heard that the reason for the delay, was that the new cash registers weren’t scanning grocery items properly so things had to be entered via a code entered from a print list. The cashiers were working as fast as they could but it sure didn’t stop people from complaining!

I heard many people griping about waiting in line on their lunch hour and being late to get back to work. They didn’t see why they should have to wait when they were on the clock. The woman behind me grumbled loudly several times about how angry her boss would be when she was late.

I suppose I could have let her in front of me – and I probably would have had she explained and asked politely, but I wasn’t feeling well. I was just starting to get past a really nasty cold. I was exhausted and wanted to go home, but I needed the fresh produce. Almost every person in front of me, also had grocery items in their baskets so letting the whiny one in front of me wouldn’t have saved her more than a couple of minutes. It took almost 40 minutes to get through the checkout.

When I got to the cashier I greeted her with a smile and said I was sorry that so many people were being rude when the staff were doing the best they could with the equipment they had. She smiled and thanked me for understanding.

Later, I shared a bit of a rant with some of my friends.

Attention Shoppers - If you work and want to shop on your lunch hour that is fine BUT if you go to a new store during the first week of the opening or shop during the holiday rush then you get to stand in line with everyone else and risk getting back to work late. You knew the place would be a zoo but you came anyway. So stop complaining and suck it up or all you will be getting is coal in your stocking!!

None of us WANT to stand in line for 20-40 minutes but we live in a society that loves to get a deal. Getting a deal can often result in line-ups - if you can't afford the extra time on your breaks then shop somewhere else or at a different time of day. The world DOES NOT revolve around your schedule! Stop bitching/whining about how long you've been there and how angry your boss is going to be when you are late. Unless you are using a cane or a walker you aren't getting in front of me!

Downtown workers "expecting" to be allowed to go ahead of seniors or other shoppers just because they were on the clock! Get real people! You can wait like everyone else!

Oh, and don't take it out on the cashiers either! They are doing the best they can as fast as they can! It isn't there fault the items aren't scanning properly! A kind word or a simple thank you can go a long way to make the day a little easier for the staff and the other shoppers.

The amount and tone of grumbling I heard was just uncalled for. Why can't people be thankful that we live in a society with so much opportunity and choice to get the things they want or need? It is so sad that people can't be more appreciative of things - even to stand in a line-up to pay for something on sale!

A friend added this: ”If people are rushed because of their own schedule or lack of organization, they shouldn't take it out on the sales staff who are likely working their butts off already with the holiday season - or on the other customers. If someone is trying to shop on her lunch hour, and is somehow surprised to find a line-up at this time of year, she should realize how fortunate she is to have the good health and finances to be doing so....this is supposed to be a season of peace and goodwill and it's too over-populated with pushy, demanding, materialistic people expecting the world to revolve around themselves.” EXACTLY!

So here is the deal folks. It’s only five weeks till Christmas. Stores are getting crowded and lines are getting long. You don’t know what kind of day the staff have had and they don’t know what your day has been like. Patience, civility, a smile and a thank you can go a long way. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to make the shopping choices you do. So many people in this world don’t have even a fraction of what you have.

Okay, rant is over. I sincerely hope holiday shopping is an enjoyable experience for you and the staff.


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