Holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but unfortunately, that is rarely the case if you work retail. We asked the BuzzFeed Community for their worst stories of working retail during the holidays, and boy, oh boy, did they deliver:
1. "It was Black Friday and 15 minutes before my shift ended when a woman walked into the dressing rooms and asked me to watch her daughter while she tried on jeans. She was not in there long, and when she exited, she grabbed her kid, jeans in hand, and ran. I walked into the room to clear it and found a puddle of piss. She peed in the dressing room and used the jeans to wipe. We found the jeans stuffed in a clearance rack near the elevators three days later. Soooooooo gross!"
2. "It's been a long time, but I'm a veteran of three Christmases at Target, right around the time flat-screen TVs were starting to get affordable for the average person. One Black Friday, we had a $800+ TV that was on sale for less than $300, with a limit of two per customer. This guy comes in with (I'm assuming his) FIVE kids, and each of them grabs two TVs. Our last 12. Some lady who had been waiting outside since the wee hours saw them all lined up and took issue with it. She comes to complain to me, and I tell her as long as they're paying separately, there's nothing I can do. She doesn't like my response and goes and starts a verbal altercation with the man, which escalates to a physical altercation, which then starts to include other people. She ends up destroying four of the TVs by stomping on the boxes. He ends up knocking out her tooth. Both of them and another guy get hauled off by the cops. The kids get hauled off by family services."
"It's a warm memory that stirs my holiday spirit."
3. "I used to be a grocery store cashier! I had a woman try to steal during the Christmas season by shoving a whole honeybaked ham down her pants. I was walking by the meat case and saw her. When I asked her, 'What are you doing with that ham?' she took it out of her pants, threw it down by her feet, and then started crying about how I threw a ham at her! My manager had to take me into the break room while he looked at the security footage to see what happened because she was wailing about suing us if she didn't get the ham for free! She did NOT get the ham for free."
4. "Once when on my hands and knees picking up clothes from under the sales rails, a woman stood on my hair and fingers and didn't move until she found her size."
5. "I had a teenage girl buy a pair of jeans and wear them out of the store for her date. I was surprised to see her a few hours later returning them. She told me they were really uncomfortable and wanted to exchange them for another pair she had liked. Being Nordstrom and not having a return policy, this was annoying but allowable. It wasn’t until later when I went to process them out to our donation center that I noticed a stain. In the crotch. She had gotten her period, and instead of taking them home and washing/tossing them, she returned them. Still warm."
6. "I worked at the Disney Store on Black Friday the year Frozen came out. I've seen grown men fighting over Elsa dolls."
7. "In college, I made the mistake of signing up to work the children’s section of a large department store on tax-free weekend and was assigned the task of rehanging/folding clothes. Went into a dressing room, and there was a hill of clothes easily 3 feet tall. I audibly gasped and started to pick up the clothes. Then, I heard a small, annoyed voice behind me: 'What are you doing? Those are my clothes!' I turned to face a maybe-9-year-old kid. 'All of these are your clothes?' I asked in a confused voice as she was literally wearing one of the outfits I was holding. 'Yes, they’re all mine,' the 9-year-old snapped back at me. About that time, her mom showed up behind her. 'What’s going on here? Why are you taking our clothes?' I responded something like, 'I’m sorry. I didn’t know this dressing room was still in use, and we try to keep a five-item limit.' Mom snapped back, 'There's no sign saying that, and we aren’t done.'"
"I stand there for a beat, not quite sure what to do, and then kinda let the clothes I’m still holding fall back onto the pile gently and walk away embarrassed. I go into another dressing room, gather clothes, and am on the floor re-racking them when I feel an urgent tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see the mom. 'I just wanted to get your name on your badge so I could report you,' she says before storming off. OK? Never got talked to about it, so whatever."
8. "Worked seasonal for the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble one year. On Christmas Eve, there were so many last-minute shoppers, and the later it got, the crankier people got. We had a line about 30 deep with three people working."
"I was on hot bar making drinks as fast as I could, and for the most part, they were all the same since many people saw us suffering and just ordered the same holiday drinks, hot chocolates, and coffees, nothing special."
"Until this one woman who wanted every alteration known to man, and that kind of slowed me down. I followed every direction down to the extra half-caf shot, but it wasn't good enough, and she demanded I remake her drink FOUR TIMES, cussing me out every time. Finally, a dude who got a hot chocolate told her to 'shut the hell up and take the last drink — can't you see they are stressed/busy? Pipe down and drink your fucking drink, lady.' Slams a $20 on the counter for me and wishes me Happy Holidays. The lady was stunned into silence and just shuffled off. Thanks, dude!"
9. "The most WTF thing I saw was two grown women fist-fighting over the Rae Dunn holiday line, and then another grown woman sending a child in between the fighting to grab leftovers. The height of the Rae Dunn craze was a bizarre time."
10. "I worked at the Disney store over the Christmas period. I had a father come in almost at closing time asking for a Cinderella dress in a 5- to 6-year-old size. After checking the back and checking our store room, I told him sadly we had none left in stock. He then completely flipped out on me and started screaming that I had ruined his kid's Christmas. Um sir, maybe don't do your shopping the night before Christmas!"
11. "I worked at a popular bath and body store for MANY years. One year, I had a woman who was angry that we didn't have the one particular candle she wanted, so she threw her shopping bag filled with about 10 other candles on the tile floor (breaking every single one in the bag) and screamed at us how she was never coming back and would never shop with us again."
12. "I worked at a toy store, and during Purim, we had an annual sale of all things costume-y. It was absolute chaos. People fought over cheap plastic wands, no one put anything back on the rack, and people would even dress their toddlers in costume right at the store! (There were no changing booths.) Usually at least one employee quits after that."
13. "I was working at a pop-up toy store in a mall, and there was a store with the same name outside the mall. We would frequently get calls for the other store. On Christmas Eve, I was the only manager working and the only person working in the store at this point as it was almost time to close. I answered the phone, and there was a man that was yelling at me because I was making his daughter work late on Christmas Eve. I tried to suggest multiple times that the man wanted the store outside the mall, but he continued to yell at me. Finally I had to yell back at the man that I was the only one working and I am not his daughter. Then gave him the number for the other store and hung up."
14. "Worked at Best Buy for Thanksgiving through the new year in college. I watched people literally shove others to the ground for a TV. Customers were cursing at me because the line wasn’t fast enough; meanwhile, we had hundreds of people just trying to get in the door! People were actually physically fighting in the parking lot for spots! I will NEVER work another holiday again."
15. "I worked at a women’s clothing store, and the week before Christmas, we were slammed. Like, line all the way to the door and every fitting room with a 15-minute wait. A woman asked to use the restroom, and we told her it would be a few minutes as we were all busy helping other customers, cashing people out, etc. (we had to stay in the back with the customer per store protocol). A few minutes go by, and I try to find her to take her back, but she’s disappeared. I moved on, went back to helping other customers until a woman came up to the counter and proceeded to tell us a woman matching the description of the woman I had spoken with just came out a fitting room and left a 'mess.' She had snuck in an empty fitting room and PEED on a huge pile of clothes and all over the floor. We had to lock the door and send someone to buy a carpet shampooer when we finally slowed down a bit. We never saw her again."
16. "During Black Friday, I was put in the clearance section by myself at the clothing store I worked at. There were so many people, and I tried my best to greet everyone that came into my section. People knocked clothes off the racks and didn't pick them up, so I literally had a mountain of clothing that I was also trying to put back. I radioed multiple times begging for help, but my manager said to handle it. Turns out they had a secret shopper who I didn't greet. I got written up for not greeting them and not keeping up with my section."
17. "I worked at Hot Topic during the holiday season. The minimum amount of hours they could work you was four hours a week. That's exactly what they did for the whole month. They also made every employee work a mandatory 12-hour shift for Thanksgiving/Black Friday because the mall was going to be open for 24 hours that night. During the Black Friday sale, employees were encouraged to wear dresses/shirts/etc. from the store to try and sell. We were told that if the item was sold out, we had to sell the piece we were wearing to the customer. The Monday after Black Friday, we were all fired."
18. "I worked in Selfridges in London over the holidays when I was on a gap year after high school. I worked on Boxing Day, and it was the most terrifying experience of my life. It was like a stampede. Clothes being thrown on the floor, people packed in, so much shouting and arguing. The stock room was on the other side of the floor, and normally it took a couple minutes to walk there. That day, it took 15 minutes just to get to the other side of the floor! I hid in the stock room for 30 minutes because I was so scared!"
19. And finally: "My very first day of work at American Eagle was on Black Friday, starting at 5 a.m. I had a cast for a broken hand, and I spent the entire 10-hour shift re-folding clothes. I had never worked retail before and wasn't sure how breaks worked. So I stood at the front of the store for the first eight hours without a single break before the manager came to check on me. She said she forgot I was there and finally let me eat lunch and go pee! Needless to say, I didn't work there for very long after that and certainly never in retail again."
Have another holiday retail horror story? Tell us about it in the comments!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.