Black Thursday: The Thanksgiving Evening of a Retail Worker

Sarah Lemley, staff reporter

Faster than a stampede of wild horses, customers began shuffling into the now-opened store. As I stand in awe, these eager individuals began plunging their way into the many stacks of sweatshirts and jeans on the tables.

As I witnessed the dozens of feet shovel around me, I felt like Mufasa as he’s trampled to death by wildebeests in The Lion King. But alas, I was not in an Oscar-winning movie, I was in American Eagle at approximately 6:00 pm on a Thursday.

Not just any Thursday, a Thursday that just happened to be Thanksgiving. A time when people should be “thankful,” but instead are trampling each other to get to the latest trends.

I, for one, was shocked as our first hundred customers bustled into the crowded store within minutes, all receiving a $10 gift card to spend on whatever they please. Just before the store opened, dozens lined up waiting to get their hands on the discounted clothing.

I stood in the first “room” in the store, folding the once beautiful and organized flannels that lay in a pile. What was before a spotless store now appeared as though a tornado had touched down and destroyed everything in its path.

“Can you tell me how much this would be?” one 5’6″, middle-aged woman asked politely. Before I could even reply, another slightly-balding older gentleman interrupted, not caring to think about his obnoxiousness or that I was in fact, in the middle of helping another shopper.

“If it doesn’t have a price tag, does it mean it’s free?” he asks, thinking his comment was clever and witty. Not only is this customer rude, but he also enjoys cracking obvious jokes on our busiest day of the year! After answering, I quickly return to the kind woman standing before me, who states (with relief, I might add) that she isn’t associated with the man.

After experiencing this charade, I anticipated that this would not be the only odd and somewhat obnoxious customer that I would encounter that night.

As the night went on, I not only began feeling like my legs were about to give out, but also felt depreciated and somewhat taken advantage of by some of the customers that had walked into the store that night. Not only would I be a witness to many overly used and annoying pick up lines, but I would also be the recipient of some grabby and over-friendly customers.

Soon enough, a lanky and tall blonde tries on a puffer coat and realizes how short it is on him.

“Would you like to try a bigger size?” I ask.

He then tries a bigger size, and after minutes attempting to look attractive in the oversized coat, he decides that it is too large on him. Instead of letting me know, he begins holding my small hands (that looked doll-like compared to his ape paws) and places them at his waist so I could “grab a feel.” He then tells me that the coat is too big in his thick European accent, and then struts out of the store like a rooster without buying any item of clothing.

I quickly run to the back, and laugh to my co-workers about the somewhat disturbing encounter I had while biting down on the delicious chocolate chip cookie from the buffet of food we had in the back.

Then, after begging probably hundreds of men to purchase the aluminum foil like puffer coats I was assigned to sell, I finally get a couple of buyers and ended the night on a somewhat positive note at 10:00 pm, only to return exhausted the next morning.