The only vow I’ll ever keep is to NEVER set foot in a store on Black Friday.

For the first time in 12 years I’m not working Black Friday.  This is not because my Corporate Overlords gave me the day off.  It’s because they filed bankruptcy and I lost my job.    I wrote this piece years ago and nothing has changed except I’m not there to share in all the fun.

There are seventeen shopping days until Christmas. As manager of a book store, my perspective is a bit different from that of customers.

For me, this means nearly three more weeks with no time for lunch or smoke breaks, a full bladder and a fear of sneezing. I get to look forward to aching feet, a throbbing head and thoughts of violence with no blunt instrument within reach.

To make your experience more efficient and pleasurable this year, I’ve compiled some helpful shopping tips which might prevent a skull fracture and trip to the emergency room for you and a lengthy stay in prison for me.

When asking for a specific book, I don’t need to know why you want it, who it’s for, or how it changed your life. Give me the title of the book and/or the name of the author. In a perfect world, consider supplying the ISBN. Then shut up so I can find your damn book. You’re not the only customer in the store. Please don’t come in looking for a book without the above information. Mentioning you heard about it on the radio guarantees you’ll be going home empty-handed. If you happen to remember the name Jesus is in the title, consider prayer. This might be difficult to believe, but there have been more than a couple of books written about the man. Telling me a book has a white cover and is a certain size isn’t helpful, but feel free to roam the aisles in your quest for the Moby Dick of books. Don’t monopolize my time.

When looking for a Bible as a gift, quit expecting me to pull out every single one on the shelf and show it to you. I’m not a game show hostess. Why are you asking the atheist anyway?

Suggestive selling doesn’t bother me. If you’re looking for a book for a forty-year-old single woman, I’ll be happy to direct you to self-help books. If you’re searching for a gift for a forty-year-old single man living in your basement, I’ll point to the shelves filled with porn and then run to wash my hands. If you’re wanting something for a teenage boy who reads at a fifth grade level, I’ll give you the phone number of a tutor and a box of condoms. But if you’re a grown man and you come in expressing interest in a Hannah Montana book for your daughter, I’ll roll my eyes and mutter under my breath, “Pervert.”

Do not attempt to con me with shocked outrage when you come in on December 24th and we’re sold out of the book you wanted. It’s Christmas Eve. Shopping instead of spending time with your family indicates you’re either an idiot or an allergic reaction to Aunt Minnie. No matter which, do me a favor and find someone else to bother.

At all times, and especially during the holidays, I try my hardest to find what you want in the least amount of time with the pitiful clues you’ve given me. I do it with a smile on my lips, eyes that died on Black Friday, and murder in my heart. I’m not Hercule Poirot, damnit! The least you can do in return is work up the energy to say please and thank you for my efforts.

Don’t demand to speak to my supervisor when you see me rip off my official corporate t-shirt and replace it with one that says HO! HO! HO! GET YOUR SHIT AND GO! She’s already wearing hers.


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