How to Shop for the Holidays the Civilized Way

KRISTIN ELSEN
The Easterner Online
Eastern Washington University

The holidays are here and you know what that means: turkey, time with loved ones, longer nights and of course, people generally acting like idiots at the local malls.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally referred to as “Black Friday.” Now, economists will have you believe that this is because it’s the day businesses finally turn profit (that is, they go from red ink to black ink). Don’t believe this for a minute! It’s bopkis. It’s actually called “Black Friday” because this is the day retail employees go into mourning for the loss of civility in the shopping districts. We would all don black from head-to-toe, but that goes against holiday store policy.

With visions of horror stories and personal experiences dancing in my head, I’ve taken it upon myself to present to you, the non-retail-working readers, the Holiday Shopping Etiquette Guide.

The parking lot: Yes, I understand you need to find the absolute best parking spot as close to the mall entrance as possible because you don’t want to walk more than is necessary. However, just because the parking lot is full, it does not give you an excuse to drive like an absolute jerk. Hang up your cell phone — you can arrange the rendezvous with your shopping buddy when your vehicle is parked and disengaged. Give pedestrians a chance to get across the row before speeding up, running them over and continuing with your fruitless search. Also, driving fast just to get to the holiest of holy parking spots will more-than-likely land you in an accident. Who’s going to do your Christmas shopping then? Santa? Ha, right, try again.

Inside the store: Be gentle on the merchandise. Can’t find that sweater in your desired size? Ask for help from a floor attendant before you tear apart the entire display. The employees on the floor are paid to help you. However, they are not your slaves, so do not grab one and drag them around the store as your personal shopping assistant. If you want that, it will cost an additional $20 at the register. Additionally, leave your children at home with the hubby. Your 6-year-old hellion does not need to be dragged around all day while you pick through whatever hasn’t already been ravaged.

The fitting room: Do NOT leave all 50 billion of your items in the room for the fitting room attendants to clean up. It is their job to get you a room, maybe get an item in a different size for you, but they are not your maids. Bring the items to the attendant desk when finished. If you’re feeling generous, put the clothes back on the hangers. It will keep traffic flowing smoothly and waiting in line down to a minimum.

The register: Yes, the lines are long. Yes, it’s taking the cashier a long time to ring up the lady at the front of your line. This is because the lady has a hundred different items and is contesting the price of each item. Do not take out your frustration on the cashier. They have been on their feet longer than you. Be kind, and when (not if) you say “Thank you,” at the end, mean it sincerely. The employee has sacrificed their personal time with their family during the holidays so that they could earn a few extra dollars for school or gifts, not because they actually want to be dealing with thousands of irritating customers for eight hours straight. Do not make a scene about the price of a t-shirt. Yes, we know that $20 is a lot for a shirt. We do not determine the price of the item; we simply ring it up and bag it for you in exchange for your $20-plus-tax. Thank you, have a nice day, NEXT please.

Charity workers in front of the store: Drop a quarter in, you tightwads. Drop a quarter in at every station you see. Drop a dollar if you’re feeling charitable. Every bit helps, so stop being so stingy and embrace the Holiday Spirit already.

At the restaurant: During the holiday season, restaurants get busy. If you have a big group coming in, do the restaurant a favor and call ahead so they can adequately prepare for your group’s arrival. Ten minutes for a group of 20 during peak dining hours is not adequate. If you get your food to go (a la fast food or coffee shop), do not leave your empty food containers in the retail stores, hidden amongst the shirts and pants. Find a garbage can and throw it away yourself. Employees do not appreciate finding a once-full cup of espresso coffee spilled on a table of white shirts. Coffee is hard to get out, darn it!

Remember, readers, that this is just a guideline. Feel free to embellish on these a bit, too, and add your own twist to this Happy-Holidays-guaranteed instruction set. Read these rules, learn them, and keep them close to heart (and maybe a copy in your wallet, too). The life you save from the hands of a disgruntled retail employee may very well be your own.