Society & Perspective


Most of us will spend Thanksgiving evening enjoying semi-accidental food fatigue alongside desperate dreams of elastic.

However, there will be, in fact, a specific group of individuals who are mentally bracing for the tempest to follow. That storm of materialistic proportions is what’s commonly referred to as Black Friday and as with any disaster, it too has its heroes.

Go to any large retail store during Black Friday and you’ll see how the path of least resistance is a knee-jerk choice for the human mind; it’s in our nature to avoid obstacles and minimize struggle. That’s why the average customer—when given a choice between straightening their own mess or leaving it for a hardworking brand minion to fix—will often look the other way and keep on truckin’. Guess who is left to clean up aisle 7? Yep, that’s right, the retail employee.

You see, retail employees are silent heroes. After John and Jane Customer plow through aisle after aisle, pawing at price tags and thug-handling random merch—thus treating the store like Times Square on New Year’s Eve—brand associates must swoop in and save the day. And if they look happy to do it, think again. On the inside, they’re most likely cursing or crying, and they’re dreaming of better days. They dream because for far too long, retail employees have gone without a proper deterrent against disrespect. Ideally, it would be an HR-endorsed mechanism: something structured to address wide-eyed store visitors who fancy irresponsible shopping that leads to thoughtlessly scattered products. Granted, I think we all know that deterrent will never come. But why? Because the customer’s “always right,” even when they exhibit a lack of afterthought for the wreckage left in their wake.

So this year, during Black Friday and beyond, let’s all give the gift that keeps on giving: respect.

If you decide you’re done inspecting an item, just return it to the appropriate shelf and arrange it with care. Furthermore, grab that balled-up Polo on your way out and fold it…simply because you own clothes and therefore know how to fold. Now imagine if everyone did that. I guarantee there would be some thoroughly frazzled employees who, at the end of their shifts, would notice their store wasn’t quite as messy as they expected it to be. And they’d smile…most likely on the inside, but a smile nonetheless.

That’s what I call a gift without a price tag. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

© 2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.