Today was the big Black Friday festivities. For anyone living outside the US, yesterday was Thanksgiving, which always falls on a Thursday. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it is the traditional kick-off to the Christmas/holiday shopping. They were predicting that the credit card system would be very slow today, because they were expecting 217,000,000,000 credit card 'hits' in the United States today. Billion. 217 of 'em. Yikes. This is why I have only gone shopping on Black Friday twice in my life. I'd rather eat grasshoppers than deal with that kind of crowd. The one time that we did go, we went specifically to get a computer that was on sale. I took the kids. It was darn scary. There were so many people and all of them impatient and cross and aggressive. People yelling at each other and grabbing stuff out of each others hands. Yeah. Pass the grasshoppers, please.
Our store was set to open two hours early, at 6 AM. There are two registers, and usually, only one of them needs to be run, but because we had some great sales going on, there were two cashiers opening this morning, and we were supposed to be there at 5:30. I got there a few minutes early, and much to my surprise, there was a line outside. I went to the front of the line, and knocked to be let in. Jeremy opened up and let me in. "We're opening up early," he said, "Hurry." Yikes. I ran. The doors opened and it began.
We worked non-stop, ringing up one customer after another, two cashiers, lines stretched back to the service desk in the middle of the store. It stayed that way all day long. Credit cards transactions got slower and slower. At 9, the West Coast was starting their "Black Friday" shopping, and the credit card approval system slowed to a snail's pace. A card would need to be reprocessed a dozen times or more before it actually went through. For the most part, customers were patient. One customer told me, "I just made up my mind that today is not a day for hurrying." And so we went through the customers one after another, after another. Some customers thought that it was our store with the problem. "No," I explained. "It's the national system. Everything was fine until California woke up and started shopping. Somebody want to call California and tell them to go back to bed?" I also tried to remind them of the season. "George Bailey said 'every time that you pay in cash, an angel gets his wings.'" One woman looked at me, with a wrinked brow. "George Bailey said that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." I grinned at her, and said, "Trust me. It's when you pay in cash," and the woman said, "Noooo," and her acquaintance said, "She's being funny. The credit card machine is not working..."and the woman looked at me and said, "Oh. I gotcha now." And everyone laughed. So we laughed our way through the day, and it was okay. It went by very quickly.
We had a few grumpy butts (really, I think that I could have counted them on one hand) but like I said, most of the customers were good natured and patient, laughing and joking in line. Carts were in short supply, but customers shared, even going out of their way to help other customers. I liked that. Our customers really are the salt of the earth, and even on Black Friday, I was happy to be working at Tractor Supply.