Shoppers, a little patience please

Ican’t see it, but my friend says her eyelid is tapping out an irritating non-stop beat.

Ican’t see it, but my friend says her eyelid is tapping out an irritating non-stop beat.

“Did you see that? My eye just twitched,” she says, pointing at the irksome spot just above the upper eyelid of her right eye. “Sometimes I’m talking and I feel like people can see it.”

The twitchiness, which she says is likely a sign of stress, arrived Dec. 1.

It’s no coincidence her eyelid began jumping on the very day that many retail sales associates, including my friend, will tell you signals shoppers to pick up the present-buying pace before Christmas Day arrives.

“Everyone’s in a rush. Everyone’s trying to get that perfect gift. Everyone’s trying to get the last one,” she says.

In a way, my friend wants to be added to everyone’s gift-giving list, her name pencilled in between Aunt Dorothy and Cousin Bob.

But she doesn’t want a gift-wrapped package that holds a shiny and expensive item, one that would likely be forgotten long before next Christmas anyway.

The trinket she treasures most is patience, with a dollop of kindness thrown in for good measure.

As a customer service representative working in retail she’s on the front lines helping the crush of stampeding shoppers purchase their heart’s desire.

She’s talented at what she does, regardless of the pressures she will continue to face in the midst of the Christmas rush, and even when customers come back to her store to return some of the items they purchased.

Through it all, she treats customers with kindness, sharing her smile and being as courteous as her work shift is long, even after standing for hours on end.

But with Christmas around the corner, it seems the festive season has skewed our knowledge of basic manners — all those things we repeat like broken records to our children.

Strangers, whether it’s the store greeter or the associate behind the counter gift-wrapping the present you just bought, should not bear the brunt of our busy lives.

Many of us are in a hurry to the extent where patiently waiting our turn, and a quick, ‘Hi, how are you?’ have become too time-consuming to manage.

Take the other day when my friend was on shift. She was speaking with a customer out on the floor when another customer walked up and, without even an ‘excuse me’ interrupted with a question, eventually followed by snarkiness.

Unfortunately, she’s not the exception this holiday shopping season.

It seems working in sales is like being a bomb disposal expert, with the bomb as the customer.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, things can derail pretty quick, taking the “merry” out of merry Christmas and reinforcing the “humbug” in bah humbug.

“(The situation is) like a zit waiting to pop,” my friend says. This year seems to be the season of relentless rudeness, she says.

Given all the people on our Christmas shopping lists, is it really that difficult to add a few extra people — even if we don’t know them?

No matter how long the lines are or how many people I want to buy gifts for, I’ll make it a priority to wait patiently in line for my turn at the cash register, offer my retail sales associate a smile and wish them a happy holiday.

“It doesn’t have to be anything big,” my friend adds.

It’s an opportunity to ensure the holiday eye twitching doesn’t spread. It’s also a way to pay the holiday spirit forward, and it doesn’t cost anything at all.

—Erin McCracken is a reporter with the Victoria News.