Forecaster Forum: Maybe they should call it Black & Blue Friday

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The holiday shopping season is inevitable and unavoidable; some call it “the most wonderful time of the year.”

But those of us who work in retail would probably not agree.

It is a time that those of us behind the cash registers both relish and dread; a time when we make the most money, but also have the most headaches.

Pulling into the Maine Mall parking lot on Black Friday, one must prepare to fight, not only with the other cars, but with pedestrians, blinded by the deals, who do not use their eyes. This year was no exception.

Trolling the lot, I became increasingly frustrated, realizing that, not unexpectedly, I was going to park miles from the entrance. During the holidays people believe they can create their own parking spots; I saw cars parked in fire lanes and on top of snowbanks.

Once inside, I navigated the maze of people and entered the store where I work. The typically neat tables looked like bombs had dropped on them; associates scrambled around, trying to find the objects of shoppers’ desires, while others were trapped at the registers with unending lines of customers.

I have worked other Black Fridays over the past eight years, but this was unlike anything I have seen. After clocking in, my manager told me to try to straighten things up and stay off the register because once I got on, I would be stuck.

But her directions proved hard to follow.

Trying to organize a store when it is filled to the brim with customers in search of the perfect gift is a futile effort. It doesn’t matter how many times you fold something and make it look nice – someone inevitably comes along, finds their desired item at the bottom of the pile, and recreates the mess you just cleared.

Not only are people more inconsiderate when they look through items on Black Friday, but they are cranky, especially later in the day. A note to shoppers: we understand it’s frustrating when stores don’t have what you want, but there is nothing short of calling other stores or ordering online that we can do, and it frustrates us as much as it does you.

I understand most aspects of Black Friday, but I do not think I will ever get used to it, or believe that all of the hype is necessary. Most stores offer their deals all weekend, so why race to find that item when everyone else will be, too?

But despite the shortage of parking, cranky customers, messy stores, and headaches caused by Black Friday, most of the stores in the Maine Mall, including mine, had record-breaking days.

So thanks, customers, and keep shopping.

Amber Cronin is The Forecaster news assistant and a part-time retail sales clerk. She can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net.

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