It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless you work in retail, in which case it’s a living hell.
Christmas Eve is traditionally a day to spend with family, relaxing, frantically wrapping presents you forgot about and having the cosiest of times as you prepare for the copious amounts of food to be consumed the following day.
But spare a thought for those who have to work in the nightmarish environment that is a shop during this ‘wonderful’ day.
From the moment the shop opens there are already a small group of ravenous vultures anxiously peering through the windows.
It’s an unnerving sight but is nothing compared to what’ll have transpired by midday.
Opening hours will see hordes of people enter and exit, leaving you little time to breathe, let alone gather your thoughts.
Everyone’s in a rush to get what they need and leave. You’re pressured to get what they need sold.
It’s not for the fainthearted.
And when said punters burst through those doors – whether it’s dot-on 9am or three minutes before closing – they will be furious.
No one really knows quite why.
Perhaps it’s an internal self-loathing they feel for leaving that vital pressie until the last possible second.
Don’t be naive enough to assume this only occurs as a Christmas movie cliche – it actually happens in real-life.
There will be queues
With the last-minute brigade comes long lines of tutting, disgruntled, hot, sweaty customers.
As you can imagine, the smell is nauseating.
The atmosphere is similarly repugnant, with virtually every customer hating their very existence until they’ve nabbed that all-important gift.
Meanwhile, every staff member wishes they were dead so a joyous atmosphere abounds.
People, I’ve noticed, also tend to be ruder on Christmas Eve.
But this notion doesn’t apply to everyone – plenty of customers are perfectly nice and polite… yet an increasing number are in a massive huff.
Despite the last-minute insanity, it’s somehow your fault as the sales assistant.
You made them come out on Christmas Eve. You caused this stress of not getting their child’s present until the day before it’s needed.
And it’s most definitely you that’s to blame for the inconvenience of how busy the shop is.
As early as 10am you may experience the rare sight of The Steamer.
And by that I mean a person who is steaming drunk.
Clearly the stress of present shopping hours before deadline is too much and they’ve resorted to wasting precious time at the pub.
This is more problematic than the average annoying customer because 1) they reek of stale Carling and 2) they’re a lot louder and more aggressive.
Regardless of weeks and months of opportunities to prepare, the influx of perspiring parents leads to certain products selling out.
So if you’re after that sought-after games console, gadget, or toy, chances are 500 other hapless types in the area are after the exact same thing.
Chaos and further anger ensues.
Glass case of emotion
Working Christmas Eve will certainly cause you to experience polar opposites on the emotional spectrum.
You’ll begin the day optimistic that there’s just one more sleep until Christmas.
I don’t care how old you are, there’s always reason to be a little bit excited about Christmas Day.
But as your day quickly turns to mush and you realise you’re in work and sacrificing that Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas double bill, those positive feelings will turn to utter despair and resentment towards your fellow man.
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