It is the one day per year which all who work in retail dread. Its infamy is so domineering that its duration now lasts longer than the one-day tradition once originally stood for, yet its destructive influence continues to persevere, unfettered. Once the prices drop, the inner beast of the holiday shopper is unleashed, leaving the retailer to be its unwilling tamer. Several retail workers faced the beast on Black Friday and lived to share the tale on Reddit. Read and learn from them for they could save a life this year. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I worked in home theater at a Best Buy in Southern California in 2006. We had this really poor quality Pioneer home theater in a box that retailed normally for $200. It was on sale for $150. We had, literally, 500 in stock. They were freaking everywhere - in every aisle of home theater, in the overstock, warehouse, floor shelves, overhead storage, everywhere. We had a few pallets on the race track that we would keep stocked as best we could throughout the day.
As would happen on Black Friday, we got busy and the pile dwindled. There was only one on the pallets. Never mind that anyone with eyes could see that we had hundreds more around. The only one on the pallet must be the last one in the store.
A lady grabbed it and put it in her cart. Some guy was clearly moving for it but was beat. The lady was oblivious. She turned down a movie aisle and proceeded to look through one of the bins filled with random $2.99 DVDs. The dude snuck up behind her, lifted the home theater in a box off her cart, and started to walk off. He got about 10 feet before this very large older man in his early 50s, I'd guess, said, 'No you don't.'
He then delivered the guy a square punch, more of a jab really, in the jaw. The would-be thief fell into one of the DVD shelves and dropped the home theater in a box. The older guy then picked it up, put it back on the still oblivious lady's cart, and walked away.
As the thief, who was clearly shocked and confused more than injured, stood up, he saw me and my coworker. We stared at him bewildered, each holding more of the home theater in a box units he was trying to steal in our arms as we were just restocking the pallet. The guy stood up, walked over, grabbed one, and walked away without saying a word.
That was about the best I have ever seen. I worked four Black Fridays in all and never saw anything more bizarre and outrageous than that."
"Where I work, we're open at 9 pm Thanksgiving Day and do not close until 11 pm on Black Friday. I was a line director, which meant that I directed people to the end of the line and let people go to the register when it was empty. We only have on register in electronics. A woman stood behind the person at the register and my line was already 200-people long.
'If you're ready to check out, our electronics line actually starts back here,' I told the woman.
'So?' she replied, 'I want to check out now.'
Me: 'I understand, ma'am. Everyone else here wants to check out as well and the people you would be cutting in front of have been waiting for an hour-plus.'
Her: 'Open more registers then!'
Me: 'All of our registers are open, including our pharmacy. There are over 1,500 people in the store right now and we are moving as fast as we can.'
This continued for a good five minutes until she rammed her cart into my stomach and stormed out. People are so stupid."
"I was working in a Best Buy at a large Midwestern mall a few years ago. There was a sale on 32" flat panel TVs for $199, which was extremely cheap at the time. The store was mobbed and the checkout lines were insanely long. Not only that, but the server for the credit card verification was having trouble and it was taking a long time to run cards. I estimate that it was taking more than a hour and a half to check out.
A very obese woman, wearing nothing but a T-shirt, red tights, and heels, was waiting in line with one of the TV sets in her cart. She was by herself. The people standing near her began to curse and back off. Some even left the line.
It turned out that she had to take a huge dump, but refused to leave the line, so she let it go in her red tights.
The smell was beyond imagination. It could make you gag and vomit in your mouth. You could see the feces lumped around her rear end in the tights with no underwear. Liquid dripped out onto the floor. She refused to leave the line. Finally, the manager walked her to the front (which made him turn green), let her pay, and she left the store. The stench lingered for days."
"In my store, we had a line set-up in which where you entered the store, you entered the line, which began near the entrance. Then this line would span all over the store, so you would be able to pick up any item without leaving the line.
A woman stormed into the shop with an empty shopping cart and her two small children. She pushed through the line with the huge cart, elbowing everyone to the side so she and her children could get past. She went to the electronics section and picked up about 50 DVDs. Then, she pushed to the last register (which was quite hard to reach, since you had to push through eight different lines), and then just stood there and waited. She waited until someone was not paying enough attention and then quickly just took the spot and put her stuff on the register.
We had a 16-year-old boy at said register. He had to tell her that this was not the way things worked. She demanded to talk to a manager. One of our managers came over and explained to her what she did wrong. She explained that she thought the line was too long, so she took the spot because the guy behind her was not paying enough attention and she didn't want to wait in the line.
Our manager told her to either get back in the line or out of the store. Then, she slapped him.
Yes, she openhandedly slapped him.
I got a little angry even hearing this, but then, he retaliated and slapped her back. She screamed and called for security. The security laughed at her after the members of the line backed our manager up. She and her kids were taken out of the store. It took quite some physical force to actually get this woman out of the store.
She tried coming back in doing the same thing at another register twice."
"I was working at a mall on Black Friday as a teenager. My store manager scheduled two people to man the store until 11 am. I came in and wondered why the store was a mess with a line wrapped around the store. My co-worker stood on the counter, pointed at the manager, and announced to the store that this man was the genius who only scheduled two people because, in his words, 'Black Friday is just media hype.'
We were also robbed blind having not been able to leave the registers.
Also, the manager was not employed much longer. None of us were. They replaced him with a manager from a nearby store. The new manager brought most of his staff with him and fired the rest of us."
"I worked in a smaller retail store that only had four registers. Black Friday came and lines for the registers were to the back of the store. One woman in line complained that the lines were too long and we needed to do something. I told her that all registers were open. She called me a liar and got out of line to prove I was wrong.
She walked to the front and saw all registers open. Then, she wanted to get back in line. I informed her that she left the line and would have to go to the back.
It was my own little Black Friday victory."
"Some people don't understand what it's like working retail. You essentially witness some of the worst of society first hand. If you're sold out of a new video game or DVD, you get, 'What do you mean you're sold out?!' It is as if people cannot comprehend that something they want is something a lot of other people also wanted.
Several years ago, I worked at a Best Buy while in college. It was Black Friday and one of our door crasher deals was a crummy DVD player that was going for dirt cheap. DVD players were still fairly expensive at the time.
A man in a wheelchair got one and tried to navigate to the massive checkout line. Some imbecile came up to him, grabbed the DVD player off his lap, did a bit of a football side shuffle type of thing (as if he was shuffling his feet trying to determine his best course of escape), and just bolted it for the checkout line, cutting in somewhere in hopes of blending in.
I saw the whole thing go down and was just shocked. I quickly went to 'the back' and found one of the DVD players that a buddy of mine had stashed to buy at the end of his shift. I told my friend the story later and he was more than happy to give the DVD player to this dude. I gave it to the guy and he was very thankful. I also made sure he got to the front of the line to check out."
"I do not work in retail, but I used to work at a local pizza place that is pretty well known around my city. The training at that restaurant was very straightforward. You went in, talked to the manager for a few minutes, and, if you had previous serving experience, you were just told to go learn the computer system for ringing food in.
Then, you were told, 'Here we have one simple rule: the customer is always right... UNLESS the customer is wrong. Now, if the customer is wrong, and I mean very wrong, you have my permission to tell the customer to eff off.'
It was easily my favorite job I ever had, just because it was the only restaurant job I ever had at which the management truly had my back. Come to think of it, my career-oriented jobs haven't been any better in that regard.
Once, when I worked there on Black Friday, a lady came in for lunch, exhausted from having been at the stores and completely incapable of going more than five seconds without telling anyone within earshot how dedicated to shopping she was and how much money she was saving. She then asked me what our Black Friday specials were.
Well, we were a pizza shop. We did have a lunch special every day, so I told her what it was. That was. apparently, too much for her to handle.
She proceeded to lose her freaking mind, shrieking at me about how she had been up since before dawn and that everyone else in America had a Black Friday special, so why did we not?
'I thought I was in America! I am still in America, right?' she ended her rant with.
She was the second customer I ever dropped the F-bomb on while working at that establishment. It was also the thousandth time I realized that, while working in restaurants can be awful, at least I wasn't working retail."
"When I was 19, I was working for Walmart on the particular Black Friday that marked the beginning of the wild banshee craze that is so prevalent nowadays.
I got pulled into the back only to find pallets of goods ready to hit the floor. The manager who pulled me in gave me the second pallet from the door. It was full of 27" tube TVs.
'Son,' he said, looking me right in the eyes, 'Something is not right about them people out there. Just pull the pallet, drop it, and run!'
He proceeded to kick the swinging doors like a superhero. I followed him into the zombie horde known as 'the customers.' The pallet was so heavy. I was at a 45-degree angle to the floor and struggling to get it going. I was 20 feet into the crowd when my pallet crashed into my heels.
I turned around only to find all of my 27" tube TV had been ripped off of my pallet. It was done so fast that I didn't even feel the weight change. It just crashed into my heels and cut both of my ankles.
My boss stopped and jumped on top of his pallet of goods.
'Look here you pathetic morons,' he yelled out to the customers, 'IF ANY OF YOU TRY THAT STUFF AGAIN, WE'LL SHUT DOWN THE STORE AND NONE OF YOU WELFARE HOGS ARE GOING TO HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!'
Everyone backed away as he calmly proceeded to his drop point. It was nuts. Afterward, he pulled me out back and gave me a smoke while we got our story straight about what he 'really' said. He was a good guy."
"I worked my first retail job during my freshman year of college at Sports Authority when Heelys were becoming popular. They were shoes with wheels in the heels. Our store offered an extended warranty option for them. This was the product that was easiest to pitch the warranty on because it was extremely cheap and the company had us claim that we would replace the shoe if anything ever went wrong.
My job, for ten hours, was to stand at this single shoe rack and sell these warranties. All associates would receive a commission on any warranties sold for any products. A large gift card prize was to be given to the associate who sold the most. I thought I had this thing in the bag. I was going to make a decent commission even if I did not win overall just because of the sheer number of the stupid shoes people buy.
When Black Friday came, I sold the heck out of those things. I gave every customer a brochure on the warranty and talked everyone I could into getting it. Most people thought it was a great idea since it was only a few dollars and we would replace the shoes if they broke (HA!). Toward the end of the shift, the general manager let me know we had sold a ton of warranties for the shoes. I went home thinking I was going to make a good bonus. It looked like I might even win.
I came in next week to find out a rude cashier won.
Whatever. Still getting a bonus. Only earned $5 commission?! What the heck?
It turned out that the cashier ignored my name on all those warranty brochures and when people told him who had helped them, he just counted the warranties as his own. He made about $150 extra from my work and won the contest.
Well played sir. I can't even be mad."
"I was working a 12-hour shift on Black Friday from midnight to noon at Toys 'R' Us. Unfortunately, sometime around 9 am, I was stuck in the customer service desk while another employee took their lunch. At that point, the customer service desk was just another register for the 1,200 customers we still had pouring in since 7 pm the previous day.
A little boy cut to the front of the line to ask if we had a particular toy. I noticed that behind him was a strange woman crouched slightly behind a pillar, watching the little boy. When I told him that we had sold out of that particular toy already right after the store opened, he asked if I could check at our other store. I told him that that store had most likely sold out of it as well. It was a pop-up store, so they had about half the inventory we had.
At that point, the woman 'hiding' spoke up.
'Well, can't you call them and check?' she asked.
'Ma'am, I do not have time to call the other store,' I told her, 'but I can give you their number.' I had, myself, been yelled at by my manager for even answering our store phone while simultaneously checking people out, but I was trying to be nice just the same.
She then came out of her hiding spot and demanded to see my manager. I told her that I did not have time to summon my manager and that I had to check out paying customers. She had no merchandise, she was just lurking, trying to see if her son would get a better response than she would. She left, or so I thought.
She came back a few minutes later with the manager. My manager was a stickler for customer service and making every customer happy. I was expecting a royal chew out from him. But, for the first and last time in three years, he took my side.
'My employees don't have time for that,' he told the woman.
'This is the worst customer service I have ever seen!' she replied. 'I'm never shopping here ever again.'
My manager replied, 'I would appreciate that very much.'"
"Even though I worked at Walmart for almost 11 years, I somehow avoided the worst of the Black Friday crowds. But, I do have a few highlights:
There has been cart stealing every darn year. Never put a doorbuster item in your cart and turn your back. I've had cops arrest someone for the stealing a cart with a woman's purse in it.
We had layaway lines that stretched almost three-quarters of the perimeter of the store. People would try to sneak into line and nearly get beaten by the people behind them.
Customers would ask electronics associates if they would watch their kids so they can shop. It happened more than once.
I have seen multiple workers reduced to tears by customers literally screaming at them, including a poor 18-year-old girl who was called an ignorant hussy because the store ran out of Game Boys. More than one of these people were thrown out of the store.
There was a guy who bought two Tickle-Me Elmo dolls, then waited until the store was sold out. Then, he stood in the parking lot trying to sell it for about $300. His 10 or 11-year-old stood just behind him holding a bat, 'just in case.'
By far the best was three grandmothers who got into a literal fistfight over the last Furby. It was a full-on brawl, rolling around on the floor, kicking and punching. Nobody knew what to do. It took two women and a manager to pull them apart. It was the most messed up thing I have ever seen."
"This is both my best and worst Black Friday story.
At about 3 am, I saw two little boys, about 7 years old, fighting over a 32GB Wii U while their parents cheered them on. I do not know if there was a previous arrangement for the fight to determine who would receive the Wii U, or what. Before security got there, a middle-aged man broke the fight up and then took the Wii.
The parents of the fighting children were outraged but didn't say a word because the guy who broke up the fight was a 6'4", extremely intimidating black man. When he got to my line with the Wii, he literally said, 'White people...' and shook his head.
We would have broken up the fight, but our store was so packed with people that we couldn't even move.
I work at GameStop. This was not even at Walmart."
"Some years ago, I worked a second job at a local Radio Shack during the holiday season. Black Friday was an all-hands-on-deck sort of day in which everyone had to work. The deal at the time was on these tiny remote-controlled thingies.
Anyone who has been in a Radio Shack could picture the inside of this one: a tiny, boutique sort of place with crummy electronics all over the walls mashed in a strip mall between a Babies 'R' Us and a nail salon.
On this particular Black Friday, the crowds packed this tiny store until a person could not even move. The mobile phones were all locked in a cage in the back. Retrieving them for a sale became a huge chore because we just could not get through. The store was packed solid with people.
After a few hours of that madness, the crowds finally left, leaving the store as it usually was: empty and sad. It was then when we noticed that somebody stole the crummy demo computer tower from of the end caps directly in front of the register. The crowds were so thick, they took a lot of stuff on the bottom two rows of shelves, helping themselves without anyone speaking up or any of us noticing.
It was kind of amazing."
"I had never actually heard of Black Friday until I worked retail.
We had an Epson printer that was not selling very well. We put it on sale a few weeks before Black Friday for something like $50 off. It would have been a $50 printer. No real big bite.
Our chain store put the same printer in a Black Friday advertisement as $20 off with a $30 mail-in rebate. People lined up in the store for a couple of days for that and a 50-pack spindle of CDs. We opened the doors. People knocked each other over for these printers, which was a worse deal than the two weeks prior. Yet, gullible customers knew that THIS was a good deal now.
I worked the following Monday and saw a lot of the same people returning the junk that they just had to have. This is why I don't like people, at all. People are stupid. I now wonder how many of these people are 'anti big business' when they go shopping on Black Fridays.
As a side note, because it was busy and people were mad, I made the most of it by going slower than usual and pretending I didn't understand the sales. I dislike customers."