Black Friday. We have a bit of a love-hate relationship.
I admit, as Black Friday loomed closer this year, I tried to come up with a blog post that would top last year’s. And then I realized that nothing was really ever going to top last year. So I kinda forgot about it.
Well. This year was kinda different. It seemed calmer and yet it wasn’t. I didn’t feel as prepared and yet I think I kinda was.
I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Forgive this if it seems a little wandering. I am still exhausted.
It all began a few weeks ago when one of my managers thought aloud that she needed to start working on the schedule for Friday. I was a little shocked that she hadn’t completed it yet. But I used the fact that she hadn’t completed it yet to my advantage and asked if I could work the same shifts with one of my friends–we had worked the same shifts last year and it was actually pretty fun. She agreed and told me that I wouldn’t have to worry. A few days later, she texted me and my friend and asked if 1230 am-930 am would be okay. We were both fine with it.
So. That was my shift. I thought it was going to my only one. I was wrong.
Then last week came. I received my schedule in my email and saw that I was working 1230 am-930 am as I had known, but I was also working 630 pm-1 am Saturday.
What? Misery. Closing Black Friday. Again. Ugh.
This week began and I could tell that everyone at school was just kinda done with the week. It was only Monday. Then Thursday rolled around. I celebrated Thanksgiving with my sisters, brother-in-law, and cousins (and aunt and uncle) at my grandparent’s house. It was good. After dinner and after the kitchen was clean (and naps had been taken), there was a game of Monopoly started. It was about 6 pm at this point. I knew that I needed to sleep or else I wasn’t going to make it to 930 am. I quietly went upstairs and went to sleep. 2 cold hours later (the heat was not on upstairs), I went back downstairs to find the Monopoly game ending. After the game ended, everyone decided they wanted to go home. That was fine by me. I made everyone eat some pie because I had spent 5 hours making pies and I didn’t want all my effort to go for naught. After pie, we all left. When I got home, I immediately went to bed. Well. I put sweats on first. And brushed my teeth. Then I laid down for a nap. It was 1030. I had to be at work at 1230. I set a bunch of alarms for between 1130 and 12 so that I would get up. I did. And then I went back to sleep. I woke up at 1225 and panicked because I was going to be late. I was. I clocked in at 1233. Oops.
As I walked to the front of the store to take up my post if you will, a customer stopped me and said, “Excuse me, I was wondering if you could get that mannequin down. I want the skirt she is wearing.” I looked up. The mannequin was about 6.5 feet off the ground. I looked at the customer and assumed that she had already looked for the skirt on the floor where they were hanging. (Silly Mary. Assuming.) I then looked at the mannequin and in my still half asleep annoyance, sighed and said, “Yeah. Lemme go find a ladder.” I then continued walking towards the front of the store, looking for a ladder. I couldn’t find one. I did find a manager though. I asked her if she could come help me get the mannequin down. She followed me over to the customer who then said, “Oh! Never mind! We found them, down here behind the other skirts.”
I then walked up to the cash registers and found out what I was to be doing for the next 9 hours. Cashier. Alright. My friend (who’s name is Hailey. It would make it easier to give her a name. haha) who I had requested to (well, begged to would kinda be more appropriate) work with me was also assigned to be at the cash wrap.
5 minutes later, the same customer who wanted the skirt off the mannequin walked up to the cash wrap and told an associate that she couldn’t find her phone wallet thingy and asked if anyone had found it. The associate said that no one had, asked for a description, and told the customer she would help look for it. Then the customer asked if we could turn off the music so she could hear the phone ring.
WARNING. HERE IS WHERE I GET KINDA REALLY ANNOYED.
I heard the customer ask this question. The associate turned to face me to ask for help in how to say no. I quickly closed the gap between me and the customer and said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, company policy states that we only turn off the music in the case of a missing child.” The customer looked annoyed, rather than understanding. Then she had the audacity to ask, with a bit of bite, “Well, can you just do it for me for just a second?”
I looked her in the eye, very very annoyed. “Absolutely not,” I spat out. The customer looked at me, and said in an exasperated tone, “Well, can you at least turn it down?” By this point, I was more surprised than anything. Surprised that she would ask me to break one of the most seriously followed company policies. “Fine,” I replied. But I was not happy about it. I turned down the music one click.
Now. this whole exchange made me absolutely livid for a few different reasons. I shall put them in a list.
- It was 1245 in the morning. Who needs to be out shopping at that time? Furthermore, could this customer not understand that it was so early in the morning/late at night that maybe she should calm a bit?
- I had explained the company policy to her. And although I was maybe a little more curt about it than I should have been, I was still kind about it and we were offering to help her look for it. We try to be as accommodating at Old Navy as we can be, but Code Adams are taken very very seriously and I was not about to break that rule for a phone.
- I was beyond shocked that this lady wanted us to essentially drop everything and help her in that immediate moment.
- As I stated before, Code Adams are one thing that we are completely serious about at Old Navy. We have very strict procedures to follow when a child goes missing. The first thing we do is turn off the music so the child can hear his/her parent and the parent can hear if the child begins to cry. We are all so trained in them that as soon as the music stops playing, we all go into weird ‘look-for-the-child’ mode. When that music cuts out in the middle of the day, it is a gut wrenching moment of fear and worry that strikes me. Not fear or worry for me or my own safety, but the safety of the child and the mindset of the parent. I have been the missing child before (I just got lost) and it is so scary that I wouldn’t ever wish that on any child or any parent. [SORRY FOR THE LONG TANGENT] Procedures surrounding Code Adams are so serious that we are not to touch the music unless there is a child missing. Which is why I was so shocked that this customer tried to reason with me over the music being on or off.
- I think that the thing that made me so angry was this customer’s attitude. She was so miffed that her phone was missing. It was almost an accusatory tone. Why would any of us take it? She was just so annoyed and that’s what made me annoyed.
- I was also still in nap mode, so I was just annoyed by really everything.
Soon after this, someone found the phone and returned it. I was still kinda annoyed about the whole thing. Then I overheard the customer checking out. She was stating some annoyance about our brand credit card (which she has) to the girl who was ringing her up. I then decided that it wasn’t me or the skirt or the phone missing that was making this lady annoyed. That’s apparently just who she was. Oh well. I’d like to think that people are not actually that annoyed/angry in real life. Apparently I am way way wrong.
A few more hours went by. I felt better and calmer by the time I had been there for about an hour. It was kinda really slow. Hailey and I did a lot standing around. We had a pretty good system. Whenever someone brought something up that they didn’t actually want, I would put it on the side of the bin where go backs go, and Hailey would put it back out on the floor. Thanks Hailey! ha. This meant that we had no go backs up at the registers, which is very good news. When it was really really slow and we had no go backs, we organized the candy. It was one of those instances where anything anyone says is completely hilarious. We did a lot of giggling.
We went on a 15 minute break at the same time. It was like 215 in the morning. Remember last year when I said that I had never appreciated Diet Coke more? Well I lied. I swear. From about 2-5, Diet Coke was all that was keeping me awake. Thanks Diet Coke. You rock.
I rang up a girl named Mary sometime during the night. I don’t remember when it was. She looked down at my name tag and said, “Oh, my name is Mary too! You don’t meet many Marys.” I tried to be clever and replied, “Oh that’s cool! Yeah, well there can only be one of us so we are going to have to fight.”
I thought it was hilarious. The other Mary did not. Boo.
Time passed. SO MANY PEOPLE asked me if it was busy when we first opened or had looks of sympathy for me–for my plight of working in the middle of the night or Black Friday or the fact that we were going to be open for 32 straight hours (which I admit I only stated to get shocked looks from customers because it is hilarious). But the thing is that I didn’t care or want their sympathy. I was already awake, I was being paid to be there, I was hanging out doing a bit of nothing with Hailey (Hailey and I really are friends, I promise.). I mean, yeah it kinda sucked that I was there and that it was 5 in the morning and that I had had too much Diet Coke and not enough real food, but I had anticipated all of that. It’s not like people go into working on Black Friday and expect it to be easy. We don’t. Which is probably why I didn’t care for people’s sympathy and probably why it kinda annoyed me. Either that or I was just really really tired.
Between like 345 and 5 am, the associates were the only ones in the store. That’s the curious thing about Black Friday. Opening is crazy and so is when the sun is up, but in the weird middle of the night times, there isn’t anyone in the store. At all. So we folded the women’s denim wall. It was a mess. There were 3 of us, all at varying degrees of exhaustion. We tried to sort the skinny denim from the bootcut denim, which just resulted in a lot of flying denim (hilarious). At one point, I had to count how many pairs I had in one color. There were 8. I could see that there were 8. I tried to count them out loud and I just, well, couldn’t. I would start, “1…2….3…5…no that’s not right. I’ll try again. 1…2…3…5..no! That’s not right! 1…2…3…5…6..7…no! What am I missing?!? Oh! 4! I’m missing 4!!” Yes that all happened out loud. It resulted in tears from the other two who were folding denim.
Black Friday delirium will never get old. That’s for sure.
The rest of my shift was kinda uneventful. It really started to pick up as I was leaving.
I went home. Showered. Talked to my mom. And slept. For 4 hours. It was not enough. At all. I went back to work in the exact same outfit, but with different shoes.
Same shirt. Different day. But it wasn’t a different day. I didn’t even know what day it was.
Closing was really just long. It was kinda busy, but kinda not. It was again full of people asking if it had been busy all day, or people leaving their sympathy for us. One lady literally left her sympathy with us and bought a thing of mints for all the cashiers to share…actually when I stop to think about that, it is a little rude. Apparently, we look unkempt at the cash wrap. Haha!
I was ringing up a stream of customers when one woman approached me. She placed her items on the counter and greeted me. I asked her if she found everything alright and then proceeded to ring up her items. She looked down at my name tag, gasped, and threw both of her hands over her mouth. She exclaimed, “Your name is Mary, too?! Oh my goodness! That’s so great! You don’t meet ANY Marys who aren’t younger than 80!” She was so excited. I didn’t know what to do. I managed a quick glance at Hailey, who was just not sure of the whole interaction at all, and had the expression to match. That made me laugh pretty hard. I finished the transaction, trying to be as enthused as the Mary standing before me. I don’t think I succeeded. Oh well. I told her it was nice to meet her and told her to have a nice evening. So, if you were wondering, yup, I’m still really awkward.
We closed at midnight. It was really weird because at 1230, the shipment team came into to take a 3 am truck. It was just bizarre to see that the next day’s crew was already getting started and we were still there. We were meant to recover the entire store, but at 1 am, the closing manager came out of the manager’s office, and told us she was just done so we could go. It was so nice.
As I walked home, I started to wonder how I was walking. I had just worked for 6.5 hours and had done 8 the previous night. I had residual tiredness from Thursday and I didn’t really know what day it was. All I knew is that I needed to get home and get some sleep so I could come back today from 130 pm-6 pm. Don’t worry. Today’s shift was a breeze.
So that’s it. I think because I was stuck at the cash wrap all day, I didn’t really experience the hysteria of last year. Or the feeling of helplessness of a messy store. I also didn’t really work nearly as many hours. I think last year was 24 hours in a 48 hour period. This year was only 19 in a 48 hour period. Cake. Ha.
Black Friday 2014. You came, I conquered. You put up a good fight though.