Having to work during the holidays isn't easy, especially when you have to deal with difficult customers and get into unfortunate situations.
"I used to work at Starbucks, and my location was open every day of the year.
A couple stories from last year's Christmas:
1) A friend of mine was visiting for the holidays from the navy. He came into my Starbucks, on Christmas, and instantly saw me and asked: 'What are you doing working on Christmas?' To which I replied with: 'What are you doing coming to Starbucks on Christmas?'
2) Towards the end of my shift, around 7 or 8 p.m., some guy was giving me a hard time about the whole 'first come, first serve' thing. His order was about eight drinks down the line. He went on to tell me how he was late for a Christmas party and was getting angry. I tried to not lose my cool, but ended up saying to him something along the lines of: 'Look, man, I've been here since 9 a.m., missing the entire day with my family, so you're going to have to wait like everyone else.' He gave dirty looks to not only me but to everyone I handed out drinks to."
"I had mono and was recovering from pneumonia. I woke up Christmas Eve feeling like absolute death, with a sore throat that felt like shards of glass. But I was working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I couldn't back out without being a prick, or so I was lead to believe by management.
Went to work in the ER and grabbed a mask. The doctor I was working with took one look at me and did a rapid strep and pulled some strings to do a culture; the rapid is negative but he wrote me a prescription for penicillin anyways and told me to get some tea on my way to the hospital's apothecary. I finish the day out and see my boss on the way out who asks if I'm coming in the next day because he didn't want to cover. He was a prick in the interaction and I nearly started to cry.
I had mono, pneumonia and (culture was positive) strep. I called in for Christmas day, then had my tonsils removed a couple weeks later for obstructing my airway. I left that job less than a year later because they couldn't get over why I would call in and make them cover my Christmas shift."
"I worked graveyard shift on New Year's Eve at Waffle House one year.
Some wasted lady came in and started complaining to a waitress, Michelle, that her pork chops were too done or undercooked or something, I don't remember which. But instead of asking Michelle to fix the pork chops, this lady tried screaming in her face and arguing that she wanted the entire meal comped. Big mistake. What this lady didn't know was that Michelle didn't take crap from anyone and she was a human tank, and if you set her off she would black out and go psycho on everything in her path. The lady threw her hot coffee on Michelle. Michelle grabbed a glass of water, threw it at the lady, then proceeded to jump on this lady and repeatedly punch her in the face until she begged for mercy from Michelle's wrath. One of the cooks had to physically restrain Michelle, and he took a few good hits to stop this from getting any worse than it was.
Michelle was fired the next day."
"I worked in the call center of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, one of Australia's four large and vastly wealthy banks. They did not pay any public holiday loading, they just gave you time-in-lieu. For example, if you worked on Australia Day, you would be given the time that you could use to take a different day off without using your normal holiday leave.
Not for Christmas though. Instead of being rostered to work a full day, I was rostered to work a half day and that 'paid' for you to have the other half of the shift off. So I worked on Christmas day for four hours, spoke to the worst customers I have ever had to deal with, and got nothing for it.
They were the worst. I got there at 9 a.m. and the person that started an hour earlier had already had two calls that ended in tears. That usually only happened maybe once a week.
I had a guy complaining about monthly account fees, that he just noticed.
I had a lady ring up for an account balance and then say how horrible it was that they made us work on Christmas and miss out on family time. I was so over it by then that I told her that the only reason I had to work was that of people like her calling up to do what she could have done through self-service or online banking. The few nice people apologized for calling and said things like, 'Well, at least you are getting double or triple time today.'"
"I worked at Walmart for years and was stuck working every holiday. But the worst one was easily Black Friday 2009
For some stupid reason, management had thought it was a great idea to have a coworker and me (both shorter than five feet five inches) work the toy line. This wasn't actually a line -- it was a bunch of people milling about, waiting for us to pull the plastic wrapping off of a particular pallet stack at a set time. Our job consisted of pulling the plastic wrap and get out of the way before we got trampled by people. This would go on all night, with us watching for the signal, pulling the plastic, and running. This particular incident was with some stupid doll that you could feed and change, and it would talk to you.
My coworker and I are standing there nervously, watching as this line gets larger and larger. People started to glare at us, and then the rumbling started. Why hadn't we pulled the plastic yet? What were we waiting for? We were just 'minimum wage idiots playing the parts of angels, over real people who worked.'
Finally, the manager gives the signal, and we pull the plastic. Instantly, the crowd surges forward, like something out of a zombie movie. A coworker gets up on an end cap shelf to try and get out of the insanity, while I managed to move back out of the madness.
People were clawing, and punching each other. I watched one full grown adult male slap a little girl in the face, and take her doll, darting towards the registers. Two women ended up rolling on the ground, pulling at each other's hair, insisting that the other had 'stolen their' doll.
The real kicker? This dumb doll cost $40 the week leading up to Black Friday, when it was marked down to $30. The next week? It was marked to $35."
"I used to work at Toys-R-Us, and just so happened to get scheduled to work on Black Friday.
I used to live down the road from the store, so I tended to walk there, and that night the line went all the way around the inside of the plaza and down the road a bit. I get in, help with some of the last minute stuff then open the doors to let people in.
Less than 30 seconds after the doors opened, people start to follow the line, and a fight breaks out between two women. One of them only wanted one item from the store and tried to jump out of the line. As these two women are flailing and yanking hair, my co-worker Geoffrey appears.
Geoffrey is at least seven feet tall and built like a mountain that enjoys his cheeseburgers. I don't know how, but somehow, he just appears right next to these women as they're fighting and just roars out 'LADIES!' so loud his voice echoed through the store. Their catfight immediately stopped, and when one tried to explain what the other was trying to do, he just raises a finger, and says, 'I don't care what she did or tried to do, I have a long day ahead of me and don't have the time to deal with calling the police to handle this. If either of you so much as looks at the other wrong through the store, I won't hesitate to chuck you both out of the store like the petty children you are. Now, shut up, get back in line, or get out of my store.'
They did exactly as he told them, and the rest of that 15-hour shift went smoothly, all except a woman who almost got me fired because some toy wasn't in stock, and she'd told the management that I'd promised her they'd reserve one for her."
"I was in the Coast Guard, stationed in Texas. We were on patrol one December in the Gulf of Mexico. We had been out almost three weeks. Our port call had been planned to be at home port for Christmas so we could be with our families. We were an hour away from the port, just about to set special sea detail when a mayday comes in. Four hours away. We were the closest unit.
We turn around and head out at flank speed. We get on scene and send our corpsman over. Turns out a shrimp boat crewman had an accident, his arm got caught in the tackle and was ripped out of its socket. It took them over an hour to get a response to their calls as the crew only spoke Spanish. So we call in a Coast Guard helicopter from Houston and it takes them an hour to get on scene. While we waited, we had to transport the victim to our ship. He's secured onto a stokes litter and lowered into our small boat, then brought to the ship. But the seas are too rough to lift him out safely. So they unstrap him and on his own power, climbs the rope ladder one armed to the main deck. The wardroom is the impromptu infirmary as the doctor's office is just too small. He is put on the table to be stabilized until the helicopter gets on deck. When the helicopter arrives, this huge guy walks out and climbs aboard. His arm had been saved, placed in a plastic bag, and put on ice. When he got to the hospital, they were able to reattach his arm. Last I heard, he had regained 70-percent function.
So what started off as a horrible Christmas at sea, turned into one of the best rescue stories while I was stationed aboard. We were on a schedule and had to lose a day in port so we could be on patrol again on time, but it was worth it."
"The only places I worked on a holiday were convenience stores, and I didn't mind that. Time and a half, and it was usually dead. I do have one story, though.
It was my first New Year's Eve/Day overnight shift at a convenience store, and this year it was insanely busy with everyone trying to buy drinks. It was just after midnight, and the other cashier and I had a line to the coolers ( about 40 feet ), and we're going as fast as we can to clear them out. This one guy comes up, and he is wasted and slurring his words, bloodshot eyes, the whole nine yards, wanting to buy drinks. Naturally, I told him, no, and he got mad, of course. Threatens to hurt me, tells me I can't do that. I said: 'I sure can! Deal with it.'
He storms off into a white van, just as a cop car pulled into the lot. The line disappeared pretty fast after we got everyone handled, and with the wasted guy still in the van, I ran out to talk to the cop to tell her about what happened. She said she'd keep an eye on him. I went back in, he followed and apologized, and then asked to buy drinks again. I told him to pound sand, so he left again and drove off. He was pulled over almost immediately, and I found out later he was arrested on the spot.
So while dealing with the guy was stressful, the end result was hilarious."
"In college, I had a part-time job at an Eddie Bauer Outlet store in my hometown. I'd work there a day or two a month or during holidays when I'd come home to visit.
One year, corporate decided this clothing store was going to join the Black Friday festivities and open at midnight. A manager, two other associates, and I were chosen to work the midnight to 7 a.m. shift.
This store was located at the opposite end of an outdoor shopping complex from both a Target and a Best Buy. If any shoppers even knew we were open, they certainly weren't going to come to a moderately priced seller of middle aged-targetted outdoorsy inspired clothing. We had three customers in seven hours. It was the most boring shift of my life, and I don't think I even got time and a half holiday pay since technically it wasn't Thanksgiving day.
So I ate an early Thanksgiving dinner with my family and went to bed to try to get some sleep so I could go waste seven hours in an empty Eddie Bauer.
Our big Black Friday promo included a small handheld lantern for '70% off with each purchase.' So those three customers we had? They were three grumpy middle-aged lady friends who came in together who saw the sign and thought 'Cheap lantern with each purchase? Obviously, that means I can buy each of my items in a separate transaction and get multiple cheap lanterns.' The fact there was no stipulation saying only one lantern per customer coupled with Eddie Bauer's very iconic 'customer is always right' policy meant that these ladies got at least ten lanterns.
It was just a waste of my night."
"I used to do odd jobs for a wealthy family. It was an older couple who had five fully grown kids, with families of their own.
The mother would sometimes ask me to help one of her kids with various tasks. She asked me not to talk to her about it if it was involving this one daughter.
A few weeks before December, I got a request from said daughter, who I had done housekeeping for a few times, and was utterly rude and disrespectful to me. She would be there every time I cleaned, as she was a stay at home mother of two school-aged kids, and didn't trust me to be in her home alone. She wouldn't look at me when she talked to me and called me 'the help' in front of other people as if I wasn't there. I also had to bring my own water as I wasn't allowed to dirty a glass. She would also go and dirty a room right after I'd finished cleaning it and get upset it wasn't clean when I finished the house, telling me to clean it again. In short, she was a stuck up brat.
Her request was that I help with her New Years Party and help serve the guests food and drink, as I'd done it before for her mother. I said I wasn't available as I already had plans for the holidays, skiing/staying at a cabin about eight hours from the area we lived in.
She went on to tell me that if I didn't do it, she would find other help for all her needs, and that she would tell her mother and siblings not to use my services. Even at 17 years old, I was a full in 'fight me, I dare you,' mode with this lady. I gracefully declined and told her I was sorry she felt that way. I hung up and moved on with my life knowing full well if she did do those things I had plenty of other work I could take on to fill the time and money, plus I hated working for her.
No one had contacted me to cancel any upcoming work I had booked them. So I went to her mother's several weeks later and did work, and went through the garage like instructed. The mother comes in and looks angry and says, 'Did my daughter threaten to fire you for our family if you didn't cancel your family ski trip, so you could serve at her horrible yearly New Years event?'
'Yes, and unfortunately I had to turn her down.'
You should have seen this lady's face. She was so mad. She slams the garage door as she hurried back inside. She comes out 45 minutes later, hands me my check, with an extra $150, and said, 'I bet you're happy you don't have to work for her anymore, but I don't want to hear about it,' clearly quite disappointed and embarrassed. And then tells me her son would love some extra help with some work later that week to fill the time slot her daughter used to take up and it would be an extra $5 an hour."
"I worked the register and phones at a pizza place, but I didn't work weekends. That year, Halloween was on a Saturday, so I made plans to go to my friend's school in Washington, D.C. for the weekend.
There was a sign on the scheduling board for two weeks prior to Halloween saying: 'No requesting off on Halloween.' -- Alright cool. I don't work on Saturdays, so I won't need to request off on a day I don't work, or so I thought.
My boss calls me the day before Halloween and says my coworker mentioned I was going to DC this weekend and he was surprised because I have to work. And didn't I see the board says 'no requesting off?'
I ask why would I need to request off on a day I don't work. He says that's not what that meant and that I should have known. (I had only been there since August so there were no holidays between my start date and Halloween for me to know).
I said if he meant that everyone has to work on holidays, he should have written that on the board and I wouldn't have made plans, but I'm not canceling plans the night before because he wasn't clear.
He told me that if I didn't come in, he clearly couldn't trust me and that he would have to take me off the schedule for now.(At this point I was working 35 hours/week in addition to being a full-time student, even though when he hired me I said no more than 20 hours/week. I covered peoples' shifts, came in early to do inventory on the truck. I was the best employee and the only one who came in on time. I was so worn out from working there, some days working from 10:30 am to 1 am, unable to sit down except my two 30-minute breaks. I would come home to my apartment and barely be able to walk up the 5 flights of stairs because my legs were in such pain).
I was livid that he was pulling the 'can't trust me' card, so I told him to take me off the schedule for good because I don't work for people who threaten my job when they don't get their way.
He was shocked and started back peddling saying: 'Are you sure?' and that he still values me and if I want to come back ever he'd be happy to have me and that he didn't mean that I was fired. We were severely understaffed, so losing me was a huge deal. Plus, all his other employees were career pizza delivery guys who needed that job, so he wasn't expecting me to be okay with not having an income.
Yeah, forget that. I was making minimum wage. And I didn't even need the job. I did it for drink money. I had worked in pizza for nearly four years before and loved it, but that place broke me. I drive past it every now and then and shiver."
"When I was 16, I was a hostess at a popular 'Mexican' restaurant that had about 300 tables. We usually had between four and ten girls working at the host stand, with various different jobs within the group.
There was a board runner, who assigned all the tables to the servers' sections, the greeter who would take down names for the waiting list, and the runners who would take tables to sit down. I had worked there for about six months and wanted to move up to be the greeter, so I asked my manager if I could. She agreed and after a few training shifts, I was assigned to work by myself as a greeter for Christmas Eve.
I was still in high school, missing out on my family dinner that I always loved as my favorite tradition, and it was my first shift after training. We were on about a two-hour wait, which was short compared to usual.
A table of ten walks in and asks me what the wait is, so I let them know we are on approximately two hours of waiting, but since they were a larger party it could be a little longer. The dad says ok cool, no problem and they join the other masses of people huddling around waiting for a table.
About an hour goes by, and the dad comes back up to ask me how long. I let him know we were now about an hour away from seating them. For whatever reason, in front of all of his children and his wife, he decides to SCREAM at a 16-year-old girl about how I was ruining their Christmas, calls me a stupid witch, and actually grabs my clipboard of names and throws it across the waiting area.
My manager had to kick their party out, while he screamed the whole time. I was shaking and on the verge of tears, and no one batted an eye about what had happened. When I got home that night, I told my parents and they demanded I quit, but I continued to work there until I left for college."
"I got called out at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It was a two-hour drive to a facility to change a seal (I work on deep well pumps on river barges). The product was caustic and I had long sleeves on.
The product got under my left sleeve and started to burn. I rolled up the tight sleeve of the shirt and it still burns. My arm finally stops burning just before my armpit.
Having a lot of trouble with the seal (I have tattoos on my right arm, full sleeve) product goes through plastic cover, burns me in two spots.
I couldn't leave or undress because we were stuck on the barge with no boat as it was moving other barges while we worked. I sat in the cold with my arms burning, and it ended up being a 14-hour job before I clocked out. Went to the doctor after Christmas and had second-degree burns."