'Twas the Saturday before Christmas...

The Saturday before Christmas in a department store. 4pm to 12:30, closed at midnight. Not as bad as it might have been if Xmas was Monday or Tuesday, but still no day at the beach.

—Yes we have a coupon. Carryout to homestore, please! Yes we have a coupon. No, this one only works if you’re a cardholder. No, that sign just means you get 10% off if you signed up for the card today or yesterday. Go through china and crystal, all the way back where it says “exit”. Look, you can’t get cash back because you paid for it with a gift certificate. Carryout to homestore please! No, that is the 40% off. It was originally 49.99. Go through china and crystal, all the way back where it says “exit”. Yes, that’s also where the elevator is. Carryout to homestore…please! You guys better not be toking up unless you’re willing to share! Go through china and crystal, all the way back where it says “exit”. Yes, the bathroom, the elevator and giftwrap: they’re all back there. Yes, people do re-emerge; it’s not the gateway to another dimension. I’m sorry; we don’t have any more of the handle bags. Yes, I’m printing your gift receipt right now. Go through china and crystal, all the way back…

—I don’t care what Manny says; it is a waste of money and a waste of space to throw hangers away. I think the store has to pay for them, and y’know, even half a cent can add up. And even if that’s not true, you can only put three or four of them in the wastebasket before they start to jut above the rim, and even then, it’s hard to fit paper garbage around them.

—“Josh” is not so bad to work with! I thought he was trying to pull rank on me, but it turns out that he just takes the job very seriously. As do I. It’s good to close with someone who’s not always trying to cut corners or goof off.

—But why the hell did they schedule only two people from 7:30 on?

—Got Mr. Rilch’s big present. Yay!

—Also got someone to open a charge account. That oughta satisfy the top brass.

—I clocked out at 12:45, but I’m not positive that the computer made note of that fact. Must tell Jenny tomorrow, so she can verify. I don’t mind staying the extra 15 minutes, but I damn sure will if I don’t get paid for them.

—Never got away from cashwrap, except for my short break, from 7:30 to 11. Cashwrap became piled perilously high with returns and rejects. Again, we needed a third person.

—Devoted myself, as much as possible, during that last hour to putting stuff away and tidying up. Realized that tidying up the selling floor was a completely lost cause, but wanted to leave a nice, neat working area for tomorrow’s openers. Almost accomplished this, except for a small heap of stuff (bath mats and an egg poacher) that mysteriously appeared next to the counter just as I was leaving. But had already clocked out, or tried to, so let it be. Other than that, cashwrap looks good as new: bags all in their place, floor bare, no coils of return stickers snaking around.

—I still don’t mind the Christmas music. What I mind is that bloody infernal “relaxation machine” and its tropical bird sounds every minute. That’s supposed to make a person relaxed?!?!?

—Again with the pushing. Look, if you have an armload of clothes, just put them on the counter and let me sort them out. Do not hold on to them and push them at me one by one. That’s really annoying.

—And I can wrap these plates perfectly well by myself. No, I don’t need another set of hands reaching in there. If it’ll make you feel better, you can wrap one or two mugs by yourself, but I can almost predict that I’ll be faster than you even then. No, I’ve got it. Really. Please!

—No, we do not have scanners! Does this look like Wal-Mart to you? Yes, I know the line is long. It’s Christmas! If I have a spare second, I can scan it and tell you the price, but I can’t ring you up out of turn. If you were in line and I rang up someone else, you’d raise holy hell, so just get in line and shuddup!

—And stop that crying. I know you’re faking. Real crying is not harmonic.

—Have an outstanding day. I mean, evening. I mean, rest of the night…Have an outstanding holiday!

And thank you, and store personnel like you, for making the shopping that much easier!

It means a lot.

It helps, of course, once you learn to use niceness as weapon against the unreasonable!

umm, where is the bathroom?

Ooh, ooh, I have a scanner!!
I’m not sure why. I think it’s my dad’s, actually.

Okay, so you’re in the market for a duvet cover, or a quilt, or a set of sheets. I understand that you want to get the right size. But, if I may be so bold, I shall kindly direct your attention to the outside of the package, where the size (Twin, Full, Full/Queen, Queen, King or Cal King) is printed, along with the dimensions (80in by 46in or whatever).

You know why that information is printed on the package? So you can tell how big the duvet cover/quilt/sheet is WITHOUT taking the entire thing out of the package, unfolding it, and LEAVING IT THERE, SPREAD ACROSS THE TABLE.

Or crumpled up on the ground. You knew when you opened it that you wouldn’t be able to fold it up again.

Didn’t you.


You just pulled it apart and left it there. I mean, who cares, right? It’s somebody else’s problem, right? It’ll only take me five minutes to fold it up again. Yes, five minutes IS a long time, when you have 5,308 other things to do.

And that’s not counting the amount of time it was lying there for other customers to see before I or any other employee spotted it. And some of them, we can’t fold them tight enough by hand to get them back in the package: only the machine in the factory can do that.

I just hope you know that someone would have bought one of those king-size duvet covers this morning, IF they hadn’t been untangled and out of the packages. That’s plural. You had to take apart TWO of them. And leave them there. And those were the only kings we had, and she wasn’t going to buy one that wasn’t in the package, so we lost the sale.

Thank you so VERY much.

What does your house look like? Where is your house? Can I visit you? And tear your stuff all apart and leave your house looking like a herd of elephants have been through it?

WHY do you have to take it entirely out of the package, anyway? Oh, so you’ll know if it’s big enough for your bed? How are you gonna know that, just from eyeballing it?! And you don’t need to make a visual inspection anyway! Queen size is queen size! We don’t have some special, exclusive queen size that’s different from those found in every other store in America! If you always get queen size, then you’re good to go with our queen size!

Yes, you can unzip or unfasten the package and stick your hand in to feel the material. But if you so much as pluck at a fold with your fingertips, you’re not gonna see that hand again.

What’s that? Snippy? How am I snippy? What did I say? Oh, it was just the way I looked. Why don’t you take a look at the way this selling floor looks after people have been strip-mining it. Then ask yourself if you might not be “snippy” yourself, if you were responsible for cleaning up after people like you.

I’m serious, y’know. I don’t mind reshelving stuff, or folding towels, or straightening the beds (although I really would appreciate if you’d stop doing those face plants). But I draw the line at pulling stuff out of the package. In six months, I think there’s been one time, ONE, when someone brought an unpackaged item to cashwrap and said, “I’ll take this”. The rest of the time, you either buy a packaged item and let the ravaged one fall where it may, or you don’t buy it at all. That’s what really kills me: it’s so important for you to thoroughly inspect something that you’re not gonna buy.

:::Rilchiam draws hard on her cigarette, grinds it out, and heads for the door:::