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The Soapbox: ‘Tis the Season … to be nice to retail workers

Writer D’Arcy Closs says the Christmas season brings out the worst in some shoppers, so have a care for the folks in the stores who are helping you find that perfect gift

The Christmas season is upon us and during this particular shopping season, I think we should all be a little kinder to the poor, beleaguered retail workers of the world, most of whom are making near the minimum wage, are virtually all part-time employees, and are still being squeezed out of their hours by some heinous corporate algorithm that determines these things.

And now they brace themselves for the onslaught of more shoppers, but not just any kind of shopper, for the Christmas season brings out society’s very worst shoppers — those who seldom shop — and it brings them all out at the same time.

The rest of the year, it’s only the occasional non-shopper you encounter. At Christmas, it’s like there’s an entire battalion of these kinds of shoppers in every store, where they monopolize the time of available sales help before holding up the cash-out lines owing to some unfamiliarity with modernity.

They are the reluctant shoppers of the land being forced to shop, and they are as much pleasure to be around as a congregation of non-singers being forced to sing. 

For whatever reason, they take no pleasure from shopping and go about their in-store journey with the look of somebody trying to find something small they’ve forgotten in the backyard in the very last light of day: They’re perplexed as to the store’s layout; frustrated with their inability to find that obscure-and-in-all-likelihood-obsolete item; are poor describers of said obsolete item yet become quickly exasperated with even the slightest bit of confusion on the part of the retail clerk and are, of course, dumbfounded by the price of everything.  

They will also wonder aloud where the Starbucks in the mall went, even though they pulled up stakes and left three years ago.

These are the balls of folly we’re about to merrily inundate the retail stores of the land with over the Christmas season, so maybe keep that in mind and a smile on your lips when you finally get to the check-out, but keep the chit-chat to a minimum, some of us got more shopping to do.

D’Arcy Closs lives in Greater Sudbury. A rotating stable of community members share their thoughts on anything and everything, the only criteria being that it be thought-provoking. Got something on your mind to share with readers in Greater Sudbury? Climb aboard our Soapbox and have your say. Send material or pitches to