Friday, November 25, 2011
At one time, I worked for a large retail store. I won't mention which other than to say the name began with a "T" and their logo resembled a bullseye. Anyway; when I started working for them, I was in the receiving department. A pretty low stress job. We would get there several hours before the store opened to unload merchandise from trucks, push it out to the floor, then store the excess in the back warehouse. The store would open for the day and we would go home. Not exactly an exciting job, but I've had worse and I enjoyed the crew of people I worked with every morning.
Then I got a chance to work during that particular cultural phenomenon called Black Friday, which is basically a national holiday devoted to buying stuff. I had never really experienced shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. This was primarily because I was poor and couldn't buy anything no matter how big of a sale was going on. Oh, I would watch the news reports and see all the mobs climbing over each other to grab crap that they normally wouldn't want...but since it was 25% off....gotta have it, gotta have it right now. I usually sneered at people being stupid and wandered back into the kitchen for another sliver of Thanksgiving pie. I had worked for the retail store for a few months and people warned me about Black Friday, but I mostly just brushed them off. What did I care? I didn't interact with customers and I would be gone by the time the store opened. Just another work day.
I arrived at the store at the usual time. We were told to go around to the loading dock to enter since there might be some customers waiting at the front. The store would open an hour early...this was before all retail stores started competing on who would open first on this day. I drove up and had to park on the perimeter of the lot because of all the cars and noticed a loooong line at the front of the store. There was no truck to unload that morning and all we did was push the merchandise out to the floor in preparation for the big sale. I had just finished the last of my stocking when the intercom announced that the doors were being opened. I immediately heard a low rumble. I looked up and a wall of people were literally running down the aisle straight toward me. I freaked and ran to the back stock room and my supervisor told me to save myself, go upstairs to the employee lounge, clock out, and go home. I was about to do so when the store manager grabbed my shoulders and with a wild look in his eyes yelled "I gotta have a cashier up front immediately!".
"I don't know how to do that", I told him.
"No problem, I'll train you" the manager said and proceeded to drag me through the mob to the front of the store, sticking me in front a cash register giving me a two-minute crash course in what to do over the the bedlam of customers waiting to check out.
For the next six hours I was at the cash register. No break. Not even a minute to catch my breath or yell out that I needed to go to the bathroom or I was going to wet my pants. Worse day of my working life. The upside to the whole thing is that I impressed the store manager; he thought I was a genius for learning what to do on the spot, so I received a promotion later on. It has confirmed for me that I can always do a great deal more when under pressure.
Still have nightmares about it though.