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I started my first job in retail a few weeks ago, and even in those first days on the job I started to try and mentally prepare myself for the biggest shopping day of the year. When that fateful Friday finally arrived, my hopes that the day would not be as bad as I thought dimmed before I even made it into the store.
The parking lot was complete and total madness. There was not one spot open, which left the thirty cars circling the lot (including mine) two options: park in another lot, or stalk. It took at least fifteen minutes of circling before I was able to follow someone to their spot and prevent someone else from taking it.
Once I was inside, the situation only got worse. As I stepped out of the elevator to start my shift, I was immediately thrust into a whirlwind of chaos. The noise is what hit me first: there were hundreds and hundreds of voices that altogether combined to create a sound so loud that the Christmas carol music playing in the background could only be faintly heard. And if the noise wasn’t overwhelming enough, the sight was atrocious. Lines of thirty and forty people or more clogged up aisles around the store, shoe boxes and boots were scattered every which way, and the clothes that, when I last saw them, were neatly folded, had been thrown and crumpled into an indistinguishable mess.
Luckily, Manual’s halls had already taught me the skill of weaving in and out of large crowds, and I was able duck and dodge my way to the cash registers somewhat easily. This is when the fun really began.
The flow of customers was literally endless for the entire eight hours I was there; it was only during my half hour lunch that I was able to get away. People came with stacks upon stacks of items armed with coupons. My favorite customers were the ones who brought our Black Friday catalogues up with them so they could check and double check (taking their time, of course) each individual item price as the line of people waiting continued to grow.
When the price did ring up differently than the price listed in the catalogue, seemingly content, nice customers sometimes turned into belligerent monsters. It was as if I had personally tried to cheat them in some way. Ironically, most of the time in those instances the mixup was actually due to the customer not reading the fine print, not some error in the store’s computer system.
(I must say, those unfortunate instances seemed to be—luckily—few and far between. I was fortunate enough to get a lot of the kindly-grandmother type of customers at my register.)
By the time the day was done, I was sick of the constant beeping of the scanner and my knees ached—but I was proud to have survived my first Black Friday.
Dakota Sherek is a senior at duPont Manual High School and is in the communications magnet. She is the multimedia editor for manualredeye.com.