Steve’s Ramblings: My experience in retail on Black Friday

By Steve Dunford 

I have stood in very few long lines to make the retail score on Black Friday.  Yes, I have went to pick up a lot of things cheap from time to time.  I only had one guy get nasty.  He thought I was trying to steal stuff out of his cart, when I was

I am going to share the other side of the coin, working on Black Friday.

I worked at Walmart in Mount Vernon for five years.  You might think I am crazy, but this was my favorite day of the year to work.

The majority of the time I spent as a cashier.  The 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. shift was always the quickest nine hours I spent in my life.  We were well fed that day.  By the time people would get to the front of the store, they were in a good mood.   The fighting was over.  I would always here about everyone’s shopping scores.

The biggest struggle was getting from the time clock to the front of the store.

One of the most memorable conversations that I had with a customer.  He was a doctor that was in Mt. Vernon visiting relatives.  He was telling his nurses and office staff, please don’t tell your patients or even, but I am doing some research on how he feels that digital cameras can be harmful to your health.  Please don’t buy one.

Digital cameras were in their inception then.  This was about ten years ago.  The reason he was telling his staff this?  He was going to buy each of them one for Christmas.  They were around two hundred bucks each,   The tab was between $5k and $6k.  He paid cash.  I remember I wanted the cash out of my drawer.

I could tell story after story but I am going to tell a few.  There was this lady that came to the front of the store to check out.  Putting it mildly, she was either an airhead, sleep deprived, or drank several Red Bulls.

She was talking 1,000 mph. talking about her scores.  She slaps four or five of the latest Barbie’s on the belt.  She told me that she had boys at home and all nephews. She said she wanted to just beat that and a few expletives about some woman who gave her a dirty look.

I was thinking to myself this chick is either really dingy, has a serious hoarding problem, has more money than sense, or she was going to sell these for triple and her conscience was bothering her.

To get a place to park, you had to get there at by 3:30 a.m.  One year Jack Bullock was sitting in the truck with me.  He was a fellow “checkout girl” with me.  There would be times that some employees would make fun of me for being one.  I would tell them I make two bucks more an hour than you do.  They would shut up immediately.

For those of you that don’t know, Jack has a website called A Baseline View, which covers high school basketball from Springfield to Cairo.

With the opening of the season that week, I think you could guess what the conversation was about.

Overnight, we we received an inch or two of snow.  We were cracking up of everyone coming in the store in matching wind-suits or pajama pants.  We were calling them their “shopping outfits.”

ABV Jack and I, were talking about how the fundamentals of basketball has slipped.  I was on a tirade about missed free throws and players not boxing out.

There was this gang of women that had on their solid white wind suits.  As I call them, “buggies” were getting scarce.  The woman with the biggest back side of them, “boxed out” a woman to get the last one.

She was in a near sprint toward the store.    She slipped on the ice.  Jack and I were jumping out of my truck to see if she was OK.  When she was, well the gal she shoved out of the way stole her cart.  When that happened, I had me a good laugh.  Icing on the cake was the one who swiped the cart, was wearing slush and salt on her pearl white “shopping suit.”  I do not like the word karma, but poetic justice was served.

Black Friday was fun to work.  I hated to work the Saturday before Christmas.  I despised working on Christmas Eve.  People were very grouchy on both days.

I am going to share one story on the Saturday before Christmas.  There was one lady that came through my line, and had some toys in her cart.  I rang it up and it was around $70.00 I believe.  She pulls out a coffee can and dumps a mound of change that consists of pennies, dimes, and nickels.

I began to choke up.  I cry way to easy for a guy.  I have a very soft heart.  I feel like people look at me and say turn in your man card.   I was thinking this was some little grandma that saved up all year to buy her kids Christmas.

I began to reach for my wallet.  The CSM Trish Ferarro (who was found dead in her apartment a few months ago in what they thought was a heart attack, I loved her dearly) said “don’t you even dare.”  I was going put my tithe money toward the toys.

Well she was about $10 short.  She pulls a wad of $100 bills out her bra, and says can you break a hundred?  The long line behind her came unglued,  I was afraid I was going to have to go get stitches in my tongue, and Trish started the conversation with this lady saying,  “there is no kids in earshot so”, and gave her a good cussing.

Trish then told me in her words “that old hag pulls that stunt every year”.  She always gets the next person in line pick up her tab.

The second was on Christmas Eve.  It was the first year Walmart was open until 8:00 p.m.  It was dead as a door nail.  There was a guy that came in right at 7:55 p.m. griping the donuts were not fresh.

He then asked if we were open in the morning.  I said no.  He just moved to Mt. Vernon and said it was his tradition to serve fresh pastries on Christmas morning.

I took him to the freezer, and I said the Rich’s frozen donuts came from the same company we get ours.  I also told him that Grand’s cinnamon rolls were very good.

When I walking back to the register to check him out, he was grumbling,  saying  “I did not realize Illinois was in the Bible Belt

There were several that used to ask whether we were open tomorrow.  It used to annoy me because I would think, Can you get this today?  Now, I realize the people were lonely, and needed a place to hide their pain.

Today is the kickoff, of a special time of year.  It is the time of year to commemorate the son of man becoming flesh, being born in a manger.  Thirty three years later, he went to a cruel rugged cross to die for all of our sins.

Keep in mind when things are out of stock, it is not the employees fault.  Most are struggling to by Christmas for their families.  Yes, I like the lights, tinsel, trees, and some of the greatest joys in my life was being Santa Claus for kids.  Seeing their eyes light up and telling me what they wanted for Christmas, was just precious moments.

As we enter into this season, from me you will not hear Happy Holidays.  You will hear me tell a lot of people over this next month Merry Christmas.







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