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6 Horrors of a Holiday Job in Retail

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Working in retail can be hard enough on a regular day, but when Christmas season hits, with all its joy and stress, the misery and mayhem of the job can increase tenfold, as the following ho-ho-horrors illustrate. Here are some true nightmares you’ll experience working retail during the holidays.

Listening to a customer tell you why everyone working in your store — including you — is incompetent

Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall

You may not have invented holiday shopping, but that doesn’t mean it’s not your fault when the system breaks down. So as the store crowd swells, the checkout lines lengthen, the stock dwindles, and fuses shorten within a millimeter of nuclear Armageddon, people are bound to lash out on anyone wearing a name-tag. You’ll hear how you completely failed at managing a store, even as you explain that your job was, up until a few weeks ago, mostly about stopping kids from making the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures look like they’re having an orgy.

Being asked to check for an item in the back as if it were the Room of Requirement

let me stop you right there gif

Sure, there are no Snow Glow Elsa dolls on the shelves. Yes, if there were more Snow Glow Elsa dolls they would surely be on the shelf, since stores want to turn a profit. But that still won’t stop a desperate shopper from asking you to check the back for that doll, as if it were a mysterious place that magically contained all of one’s truest wishes. So you go to the stock room, sneak a quick break by sitting on a cardboard box as you fight the urge to scream through your eyes, and return 20 minutes later to say the doll could not be found.

Having your day constantly alternate between dead silence and the Battle of Helm’s Deep

Taylor Swift breathe

When you work retail during the holidays, you can never find a rhythm. Every so often, things will suddenly go dead, allowing you finally to take a moment to sob from exhaustion behind the Lalaloopsy display. But then, without warning, the barricade between contemplative silence and mass hysteria will shatter as people seem to apparate into your store. Then, once more, you’ll be overwhelmed and feel like, if one more person rushes through that front door, you’ll escape through the bathroom window.

Dealing with the one customer at checkout who doesn’t care the line is getting longer and the tension is getting thicker

oh my God screaming gif

Some people see the checkout counter as a time for a prolonged one-on-one with the cashier. They will question every time an item doesn’t ring up with its holiday sale price, even when the item is clearly not on sale. They will choose this moment to question every gift they got in mid-checkout and say, “I’ll be right back” as they redo their entire shopping list. And they will go on and on and on about how much time they wasted in the store as everyone behind them in line rolls their eyes, cracks their knuckles, and engages in a free-for-all fistfight.

Having your eight-hour shift turn into an eight-day shift

about to have a nervous breakdown gif

When you’re working retail during the holidays, your sense of time constantly shifts as your lunch break is changed to 11:00 pm and your hours are instantly expanded when someone doesn’t show up. Usually these changes will be made at the most inopportune times, like two minutes before you’re about to leave, one minute after you’ve screeched out of the mall parking lot, or thirty seconds after you’ve gone hiding in the storage room and taken off your pants.

Fearing you will never hear anything but Christmas music ever again

Krysten Ritter bored

But remember, come December 26th, the still never-ending loop of Christmas music in your head that continues to negate your ability to feel will be the one thing to help you survive the onslaught of post-holiday sale shoppers … and the return of 98% of the gifts you sold before Christmas.


Which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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