There is something about the holidays that brings out the worst in consumers. They don't listen, they don't pay attention, and worst of all, they don't care how they treat people when they're trying to get their way. With a total disregard for their fellow shoppers, they storm through the holiday season, blowing over everyone in sight.
What's worse, however, is the way they treat the scores of retail workers they come across in their tireless crusade for the cheapest this and latest that, even if those "retail workers" aren't actually employees. To these furious folks, everyone's a worker and everyone can get yelled at. The people in the following stories know that feeling all too well as they were subjected to the verbal, and sometimes physical abuse by the crazed consumers during the cheeriest of seasons.
Content has been edited for clarity.
"Early this morning, around 8:00 am, I headed off to the local big box store to pick up some stuff for our traditional Christmas Eve chili. I wanted to get things done early so I didn’t have to fight everyone through the checkout and because I want to cook this chili for at least six hours in the slow cooker.
I was wearing ripped jeans, slide on shoes decorated with the poop emoji, a gray hoodie, and an obnoxious pair of huge teal and orange headphones that block out all noise near me. I obviously didn't look like I work there.
On top of all that, this is the first holiday season I have a real 9 to 5, Monday through Friday office job. I haven’t had to deal with a customer all season. I haven’t had to pretend to be nice once. It has been so amazing.
I rounded the corner to the aisle with the beans, and a lady nearly slammed into me with her buggy. She glared at me, but I smiled. Since she hit me, AND it was her fault, I was not going to apologize. I saw her out of the corner of my eye as she waved her hand.
As I was standing there, trying to decide which beans go in my chili, I suddenly felt a sharp yank against my head and my podcast stopped playing. She was beside me and ripped the wires out of my headphones.
Now, my headphones were designed to breakaway, but seriously, she didn't know that. She just ripped the wires out of them. I turn toward her.
'Can I help you, lady?' I’m not normally this rude, but she was rude, broke my headphones, and I hadn't had coffee yet.
'It’s about time you paid attention to me, you almost hit me when I tried to stop you a moment ago. I need to know where...'
'Lady, I don’t work here. And if you put your hands on an employee like that, you better be prepared to draw back a nub. You can’t just go putting your hands on people or their things.'
'Well...' she sneered, 'You just have a merry Christmas.'
As I snapped the wires back in my headphones, I looked at her and said, 'To you too, lady. I hope you get exactly what you deserve.'"
"Last Christmas, I decided to hit the day after sales at Walmart like I always do. I had luckily found the most delightful ugly Christmas sweater a couple days before and so was wearing that. It is pastel pink with garland that spells out 'Meowy Christmas, Ho Ho Ho' on it, and an actual cat stuffed animal wearing a Santa hat in a pocket on it too.
Walmart's employees now have yellow or blue vests which they wear over their shirts and blue jeans or khakis. I was in jeans, but I didn't have anything vest-like on, nor did I have a radio, lanyard, box cutter, etc. that might make me look like a worker; not even my keys clipped to my pants or anything!
I had a cart full of holiday goodies and was perusing some tablecloths merrily at a leisurely pace.
Suddenly, Karen ran up to me like she was on fire and yelled out, 'DO YOU WORK HERE?!'
I was so surprised that I didn't even get to respond. I just stood up from the lower shelf and turned and looked at her with my eyes wide. Before I could open my mouth she yelled 'Oh...' with a bit of stank on it, pursed her lips back up in her constipation expression and raced off.
Not even a 'sorry' out of her, but mostly I'm confused as to how 'person with cart o' stuff' automatically equals 'worker' to her."
"Last Christmas, I found myself alone, but I still wanted to go have a traditional Christmas dinner. One of the local resort hotels has a deal where you can pay in advance $15 a person for a huge buffet. Everything I heard about the food suggested it was worth the price. Another bonus was this wasn't some over the top fancy restaurant - no ties or suits required, although several people did show up dressed in their best clothes.
I was in faded jeans, brown leather shoes, and a gray sweater over a white dress shirt. Everyone working at the resort wore black shoes, black pants, white shirts, and they all had on an apron that has the resort name and logo. Not a sweater to be seen on any employee.
The buffet was huge - it took up three walls of this large room. The customers were seated at different sized tables in this room and several other adjoining rooms. If you've ever been to a large conference hall where they can move around the walls to make rooms bigger, smaller, or remove them all completely, that is what this place was like. Hundreds of people. I grabbed a small two-top table in the back.
Now the buffet had one flaw - it was very deep. I think it was designed to be used in the middle of a room and not against a wall. If you were short, you were not going to reach the items in the back no matter what ladle, spoon, or tongs were provided. I'm over 6'2 so I could reach anything, but I saw some other people struggling.
I was in the line and I reached in the back for some blue cheese crumbles and spooned them on my plate. I heard a soft voice from my right say, 'Excuse me young man, could you help me with that blue cheese?'
I turned and there was this sweet old lady smiling– she was around 4'9, so no way she was reaching anything back there without crawling on the buffet. I gladly obliged, and she smiled with a 'Thank you young man.'
I proceeded to ask her as we went down the line if she wanted any more help and grab things for her as needed. At the end of the buffet was the highlight of the meal for me: cut to order prime rib. There was usually a guy there carving out exactly what you want; thin slices, a thin steak, etc. But when we got there, he had stepped away. The carving knife and tongs were there, so I decided to help myself and this dear old lady. I cut myself a big hunk of meat, then used the knife to make thin slices for my new friend. When I finished, she said 'Thank you and Merry Christmas!' and walked away to her table.
As I was putting the knife and tongs back, I felt eyes burning a hole in my head from my left. I thought for sure it was somebody with the resort who was mad I'd served myself, and I was prepared to apologize. Enter 'Cranky Woman.'
Cranky Woman: 'When you are done making plates for her party, you can bring over eight plates to our table.'
Me: 'But I don't...'
CW: 'Don't interrupt! I'm not finished telling you what I want! And you can grab some fresh prime rib from the back, we're not eating this, it is undercooked.' (For the record the meat was perfect).
She blathered on for five minutes giving me her 'order' and I only spoke again after she was done. Other people walked by as she continued talking and sort of rolled their eyes.
Me: 'Yes ma'am, someone will be at your table right away.'
At that, she smiled that satisfied smile, turned, and walked away. I picked up my plate and headed to my table to eat my dinner in private. As I left, I passed though another one of the rooms and saw the Cranky Woman and her table still sitting there waiting to be 'served.' Her mouth fell open as I waved and walked out the front doors."
"Two years ago I worked at my local mall's version of the Dollar Store, it was three days before Christmas and if you've ever worked retail you know what a nightmare that is. In the mall, there is this cute little café which I sometimes like to get my lunch at. It's a bit on the pricey side, so it's a rare treat for myself.
I was dressed in my shop's uniform which was black dress trousers, a black polo, black leather dress shoes, and a name tag with hair tied up if long. It very closely resembles the café's uniform except for the fact my name tag clearly said the stores name on it and they wore shirts not polos. The times I've been there for lunch before I have sometimes been mistaken for staff, but people are generally very good about it when I explain but this day that was not the case.
On this day, the café was of course quite busy, I mean the Christmas rush are as eager to eat as I was. I got a table and sat down waiting for my order when I felt a woman tapping my shoulder quite roughly. I actually ended up with a bruise from this.
'Do you really think you should be taking up a table when people are waiting to be served?'
I explained to her that I was on my lunch break and didn't actually work there, but in the shop across the mall. Of course, she didn't believe me and insisted I was lying. I pointed to my name tag and then asked that she leave me alone.
This, it seems, was the wrong thing to do as she then dragged me out of my seat by my arm. I'm a tiny girl, so moving me was easy for her. Then she started to scream for a manager while dragging me from my seat. By now, everyone was staring at us and I told her, 'I don't work here, I'm here for my lunch. Let go of me or I'm calling the police.'
Soon after this, the manager ran over and shouted at her to let go of me. She started to scream about how the servers were lazy and how I was taking up a table that should go to a customer. He just looked at me then her told her I was a customer and did not work for his café.
In the end, mall security threw her out and I was asked if I wanted to press charges. I didn't as I didn't think it worth the hassle. As an apology, I got free lunch that day from the café...so thanks for the free lunch, crazy woman who can't read a name tag."
"The other day, my mother wanted my siblings and I to do Christmas card photos. She had a nice list of what she wanted, and while it annoyed us, it always does make her happy when we pose for these photos as a nice family. This year she wanted us to dress like elves, well the 'kids' anyways.
So I got into my elf costume and head to the mall. I am late. I rushed up and look for the directory to see if I could find the photo place on it. Yeah, I should have been on time. I was trying to figure out the location when I heard someone clearing their throat. I shuffled over a bit. Maybe I was blocking the view. Then the throat clearing again. Maybe the person was sick? I reached into my coat pocket.
'Need a cough drop?' I asked as I turned holding up a cough drop.
There was a rather annoyed looking woman.
'About time. Where is Santa?' demanded the woman.
'Excuse me?' I replied confused.
'Where is Santa!' snapped the woman.
'Uh. The North Pole? Downstairs? Out to lunch? On a date with Mrs. Clause? How should I know?' I said as I listed random things as I thought of them.
The woman crossed her arms. 'Seriously? Are you just trying to mess with me?' growled the woman.
That was when I noticed the small little girl dressed to the nines next to her.
'No, I am...' I started
'An elf! You should know where Santa is! He isn't downstairs, and we are in a hurry. Call him. My daughter wants to see him,' growled the woman.
I looked at this woman and to the little girl. I didn't want to burst the little girl's bubble, but I didn't have time to deal with this.
'Oh, Sorry miss, You got the wrong division of elf! I am not part of appearances or guard duty, Miss. So I don't deal with Santa. I am in charge of the reindeer! Vixen is picky, and I was gonna pick her up a treat, so I was trying to find the store on here for reindeer. Ya know this place isn't very reindeer friendly.'
I started and began to yammer on about reindeer as I shuffled around the sign. 'Well, I would love to stay and chat, but if I slouch off Mrs. Clause will have my hide. Toodles!'
I could hear her yell after me, but I didn't look back.
After a bit I found the photo studio, and we took the photos. I told my siblings about the whole thing. My bro said, 'It's your own dumb fault for dressing like an elf.'"
"I used to be a mail carrier, but as a rural carrier (never mind the fact that most of my delivery area wasn't actually 'rural'), I didn't have to wear a uniform.
One day, my boss sent me to the UPS store to pick up the outgoing mail and packages. Since it was around Christmas time, there was quite a bit, so I borrowed a dolly from the store to help load everything onto my truck.
After I unloaded my first load onto the truck, a random customer saw my empty dolly and asked if he could use it. I tried explaining that, no, it was not my personal dolly and was not mine to give away since I did not work there. Plus, I didn't want to be on the hook in case he ran off with it, and didn't want to stand around waiting for him to return it... not to mention I still needed it. He did not accept that answer and kept arguing with me when I tried to explain several time that it wasn't mine to give away.
He started following me into the store and yelling about how I was prejudiced for not letting him use the dolly, right in front of staff and other customers. The staff at the store didn't say a word, which kind of ticked me off.
When I got back to the office, I filled out an official incident report just to cover myself in case he tried reporting me for something stupid. My boss, who was the same race as the angry man, asked me what had happened, and I explained. She just said, 'People are stupid.'"
"My boss wanted to do some big Christmas displays for our store, which meant one of us had to go down to the nearest crafts and homeware store to pick up the balloons he'd ordered and a few other things. We were drawing straws because no one liked running errands to this place, it was basically walking into the lion's den of Ladies Who Insist You Work There. A large number of the customers are either senior citizens or entitled soccer moms. Their uniform is similar to ours in that we both wear black pants and steel caps and they never have enough staff on and the queues at the till are long no matter when you go. You cannot walk in there looking even vaguely like you may work in retail or you're going to get hassled. As you can guess, I drew the short straw.
I took off my uniform shirt, picked up my backpack, put in my headphones hoping that this would protect me somewhat, and walked into the store which was already shoulder-to-shoulder, and as usual, they only had a couple of tills open with lines snaking around the store. Great.
I breezed through that store, avoiding eye contact with everyone. My headphones were in, but off so I could hear what was going on. I was still having loads of people try to catch my eye and wave me down. By the time I got what I needed, I had already had to point to my headphones about 15 times because people are just coming up to me and asking me for help. I took my place at the end of the massive line, I had a big trolley of stuff and a huge bunch of helium balloons. There was a group of about four older women behind me complaining about how long the line was. I noticed that one woman was talking louder, raising her voice saying something like 'they MUST open another till....whatever happened to customer service.' She was occasionally clearing her throat and I got the impression she thought I was an employee and wanted me to overhear. I was not wrong. After a couple more minutes of this, and very little movement, there was a tap on my shoulder.
Lady: 'Are you going to open a-'
Me: 'I don't work here.' I shoved my headphone back in.
A few more minutes went by and the lady was still whinging. Another shoulder tap.
Lady: 'Can't you just-'
Me: 'No.' Headphone back in. I was hoping my bluntness had gotten through to her.
More whinging, more minutes. Another tap:
Lady: 'The line is just very long and we're in a hu-'
Me: 'So go get on a till then.'
I'd really had enough of her act by now.
Lady looked like I just told her Wheel of Fortune reruns were cancelled: 'Excuse me? I just want to-'
Me: 'Yeah I'm in a hurry too, so why don't YOU open a till?'
Lady: '....I don't work here, I'm a cust-'
Me: 'Neither do I and I'm a customer too, but apparently that doesn't matter to you, so on you go! Open a till! We're waiting!'
The look of shock on the face of her and her friends was incredible. We kind of stared at each other for a second or two while she registered that I wasn't kidding around, then I turned back. They went back to their muttering. I didn't get another shoulder tap after that. I hope she learned a lesson that day."
"I used to work at this Christmas wreathe place. I was in charge of cutting down trees and throwing them in the back of a pickup truck in -20 degree Fahrenheit Wisconsin. The work was fine but obviously that meant wearing like three sweaters, gloves, boots, the whole getup.
One day when I was driving to work, I decided to stop by this one store I liked to go to. They had really good off-brand Red Bulls and I was going on about 30 minutes worth of sleep. As I'm walking over, sleep deprived and angry, a woman in her 40s cut me off looking equally annoyed.
Woman: 'Where are the graham cookies?'
I stared at her dumbfounded, and said, 'I don't know.'
Woman: 'Well can you get me someone who does?'
And that set her OFF. She looked like the red boohbah from that kids show in the early 2000s. That was, and still is, the absolute fastest I have ever ticked someone off. She told me about how she's been here for over half an hour and how her kids were waiting at home starving (really?) and how much of an idiot I was and how she wanted to speak to my manager. This is when I realized, this crazy hag thought I worked there.
At that point, people were staring, and I was just done with all this so as soon as she stopped for breath I interrupt her.
Me: 'Woman, I don't freaking work here.'
And suddenly her entire demeanor changes, she stutters and looks at me all confused.
Woman: 'Oh, I just thought- aren't you going to the freezer?'
Me: 'What? I'm just trying to buy some drinks and go to work.'
She immediately looks embarrassed, which I gotta say, was pretty satisfying.
Woman: 'Well, you look like one of the people who work in the freezer, so I thought you were an employee.'
Me: 'Jesus Christ.'
And that was it, I just kept walking. It still made me mad how she literally switched personalities as soon as she realized I wasn't an employee she could yell at with no repercussions."
"I was shopping at Walmart for some art supplies I needed for a school project and decided to stop over and look at some Christmas sweaters that were on sale.
While looking, a woman in her 40s comes up to me tells me she is looking for zip up hoodies. I literally in no way shape or form looked like I worked there– I had on a hat and my winter jacket and my hands were full of the things I wanted to buy.
As the polite person I am, I looked around and said sorry I don’t know where they are. She started to explain to me that she needed a zip up hoodie and said, 'You know, a hoodie with a zipper, it zips up.'
She continued to explain to me what a zip up hoodie was after that. I once again said I didn't know and try to keep shopping. She then got angry and said to me, 'What do you mean you don’t know? You work here?!'
I didn’t even say anything. I just walked away and could still hear her yelling about how I should know.
I bet she left a complaint about an 'employee' in a winter hat and jacket who refused to help her. I literally don’t even work here, lady."
"The scene opens on a hectic craft store. Halloween decor has been marked down to 70% off, Christmas is everywhere, all three of the employees wearing red vests are currently stationed at the long checkout lines. Enter me, the tired teacher who is wearing a bright blue shirt that says 'We Scare Because We Care' and black work pants, fresh off of a Monster's Inc. themed day in my class. All I needed was a pair of googly eyes.
I ambled through the Christmas decor, seeing if anything caught my eye before I tried to continue to make my way to the back of the store where I knew my googly eyes were. I had to squeeze past a mom and her two daughters, one of which was in the cart playing with a toy. She made eye contact with me and I gave her a smile back as I brushed past. This prompted her to ask me as I walked away, at a voice no louder than a mouse, if we had any more of the elf clothes in the back room. I shook my head and shrugged, pressing forward on my mission for googly eyes.
Once the eyes were acquired, I took a detour through the sticker aisle (I'm such a sucker for a good sticker pack). While perusing the options, a voice caught my attention.
Being a teacher, my automatic reaction to a youngin's voice being polite is to turn and say, 'Yes?'
'Do you have any printer paper?'
I'm pretty sure my helpful face melted right off. 'I'm sorry, I don't work here.'
The teenager was pretty embarrassed and mumbled a hasty apology before dashing off to find her mom in the sea of holiday decor.
Within five minutes of being in the store I had been mistaken as an employee twice, and I was ready to go. I took my googly eyes and began to high-tail it to the registers. Unfortunately, I had the quick realization that I did not have anything to wear in my hair for my costume, so I took another route through the clearance aisle to see if there was anything that would work for me. While holding my googly eyes and a heavily discounted notebook that I definitely don't need, a Karen waltzed up to me.
'Hi, do you work here? Where can I find-'
I interrupted her spiel with a smile. 'Sorry, I don't work here.'
She huffed. 'Does anybody?' she snarked as she stomped away.
With that, I promptly jumped into line."