I walked into Pier 1 Imports at the start of my afternoon shift expecting that no one would be shopping for furniture and household decorations, only to discover a mob of customers. The rest of the day was a blur of bargain-craving consumers, cash registers ringing infinitely, and the same 50 shitty Christmas songs played on the PA. The holiday season had just begun, and I was already saying, “Bah, humbug!”
Customers rely so heavily on buying expensive gifts in order to prove their love to family members that if you don’t have what they want, they blame you for ruining Christmas. Even when the customers were nice, they came in so many droves day by day that I hardly had time to restock the shelves. I’d sit down on the floor, cut open a new delivery of Christmas ornaments, and then a customer would ask for help. After that, there was another customer who needed me to help them put a new chair into their minivan. Then there would be an old lady standing helplessly at the register that had been waiting for someone to ring her up for 10 minutes. By the time my shift ended, the box of ornaments sat on the floor unemptied and the manager yelled at me for helping customers instead of stocking shelves.
The worst part was the Christmas music. A great way for pop stars to make more money is to release an album full of the same 10 Christmas songs revamped to make them even more annoying, along with a few original songs that aim to be the next “All I Want for Christmas is You” but nobody remembers. Not all Christmas music is bad; I love “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” “This Christmas,” and David Bowie’s duet with Bing Crosby. Unfortunately, retail stores hardly play any of the good stuff, and that was the case at Pier 1 Imports. After hearing “Snow for Johnny” by Burl Ives for the millionth time, I wished I could pee all over Johnny’s stupid little snowman.
One day everything hit at once. Not only did our cash registers not work, but everyone in town decided to shop at our store at the same time. Every time we rang up a customer’s items, the register displayed a mysterious message claiming that it needed a special code in order to proceed. Nobody could figure out what the code was, but we didn’t need to because I soon discovered that we could type in any random assortment of numbers and letters—I typed “Fuck this” on one transaction—and the register would accept it. On top of that, none of the registers automatically calculated sales tax so I had to do the math on a piece of paper. Meanwhile, the lines grew longer, customers got angrier, and my muscles got tighter.
I slammed my fists on the register trying to destroy it. The manager yelled, “Stop it!” I looked around and saw the entire store filled with wide eyes and gaping mouths. The manager told me to go to the back room and chill out, which I did, but not without slicing up my arm with a boxcutter for penance. I was fired the next day.