CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 06, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How to Survive Working as a Cashier in a Shopping Mall During Christmas Holidays

So you got lumbered with the shift during Christmas (continuous hysterical laughter). I’m sorry (‘sniff’ while wiping a tear away) I almost passed out there for a second, man you must’ve really pissed someone off to get stuck working on the worst days of the year (for retail that is, everyone else is home eating, drinking and watching football). How will you survive the throngs of rabid shoppers, demanding last minute shoppers and returners? Don’t despair, I’m here for you, right after I put on my comfy slippers and pour myself a drink, I’m on vacation unlike you…Much better. OK, so this is how to survive working as a Cashier at a Shopping Mall during the Christmas Holidays.

When soccer moms attack

Soccer moms are an active bunch. Between book clubs, running their kids to activities, volunteering and drinking their weight in Starbucks products, they’re also pretty tightly wound. Guess who gets to be the recipient of all their pent up passive aggression? That’s you my lucky fellow! They will definitely want to return something they are not supposed to, try to get a discount on something they can’t and break something they won’t pay for. The way to approach and pacify these people can be easier than you think. First, offer them a complimentary espresso (its fine if you don’t have it just use yesterday’s burnt coffee in the break room and put it in a little cup) it will smooth out any caffeine withdrawal symptoms which are probably making them edgy. Attentively listen to their demands no matter how ridiculous, interjecting, “I understand you completely” often. Compliment them on how their velour track suit color matches their running shoes. Finally, explain to them that it’s company policy and it could get you fired, even though you’d love to oblige their (ridiculous) request. In most cases they will say: “Oh I would never want a sweet person like you to get fired.”

Grandmas, Grandpas and Aunties

First, let me designate the difference between and ‘Aunt’ and an ‘Auntie’. An Aunt is your mother’s sister. An ‘Auntie’ could be that too, but, it has elements of a cheek pinching Grandma mixed in. Usually slightly off kilt and eccentric Aunties can bring a cash register line to a complete halt. They will talk to you about the weather, their dog and their nephews and nieces. This will also happen with Grannies, Nanas, Mamaws and Grans. The best way to deal with these situations is to distract: “Look, that shirt has the cartoon character all the kids love this year!” They will have the tendency to move deeper and deeper into the clothing sections out of confusion as a result of Sponge Bob Square Pants, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and over-sexualized Barbie clothes for pre-teens (“Where are the rest of these shorts?” “Why aren’t there any Howdy Dowdy clothes?”). Grandpas are no threat to the smooth operating of your check-out lane, they usually just shuffle slightly stooped behind aforementioned Grannies or Aunties.

The (Last) Minute Men

Easily to identify, the L.M.M. (Last Minute Men) will enter the store with sweat rolling down their brow (even though its -10 degrees outside) looking around in utter panicked befuddlement. These are the only type of Christmas shoppers you should approach head on and quickly. Just like you, they want to be out of their as soon as possible so no one figures out that they forgot a present. Quickly ask them who they are buying for and if they have any idea what said person might like. If they have no idea what they might like offer the safest most generic gift for the gender, age and relation to L.M.M. possible. It’s a wife? Jewelry. Young Daughter? Nintendo Wii U. Old Daughter? Gift Card. Young Son? Latest Video Game. Old Son? Latest Video Game. Not going cheap might also score a few points with the boss. The L.M.M. will pay too, they messed up and they know it’s going to cost them one way or another.

The Dilly Dalliers

These are the people that are trying to burn sometime between breakfast, lunch and dinner. They will walk around confidently and slowly, occasionally touching or picking at various merchandise. More often than not they will be jovial, laugh and joke around as they have none of the pressure of buying gifts anymore. If it is during normal hours they shouldn’t be a problem, but, if they come around closing time, evasive maneuvers may be warranted. Organize a multi-person “May I help you?” squadron and disperse your team within the area the D.D.s are walking. If they are asked enough times if someone can help them, most likely they’ll be annoyed and go to a different store.

Have you worked as a cashier during the Christmas Holidays in a Shopping Mall?  What measures did you take to stay sane? Let us know in the comment section  below.

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