I walked out of the Bookstore shortly after 9:30 Thursday night, ending my last pre-Christmas work shift. Let me tell you this: I am so glad I’m not working tomorrow. I worked Christmas Eve last year, only for a few hours in the morning, and I literally spent each moment of it dashing to and fro looking for this, that, and the other thing.
We closed at 9:30 tonight. I keep saying tonight, but it’s early Friday morning, so technically it’s last night. You know what? I’m just going to keep writing “tonight”, and if you’ve got a problem with that, well, congratulations.
We closed at 9:30. Our posted hours — yes, even our posted holiday hours — show that we closed at nine. The first Christmas I was here (’08) we did some extreme holiday hours — opened at our regular time, but closed at 11pm every night, even Sunday. The first week, the store emptied out by 9pm, even without the benefit of our announcements. By the close of the second week, as we rounded the bend and accelerated towards Christmas, people started staying later. I don’t actually know if it was worth keeping that much staff on hand that late (payroll v sales), and I guess not, because last year they scrapped our holiday hours after the first night. I can’t actually remember if we started staying open later the day or two before the holiday, I think we probably did. In any case, this year, they told us, “No holiday hours!” They’ve been telling us this since early November.
And then Tuesday I walked in, and our Ops Manager yanked me into her office and said, “Hey, so you’re staying until 10:30 tonight, right?”
And I said, “?” and “!” because “wtf, dude?”
Let me tell you how Tuesday went: sure, it was busy until about 8pm, but then business dropped off to such a degree that at 8:55 our GM said, “Fuck it, we’re closing at nine.” He didn’t actually say “fuck it”, but he might as well have. Wednesday night I went in and was told, “Okay, tonight we’re really really actually staying open until ten.” It was so slow after 8pm, management, at 9:15pm, made the call to close at 9:30 and I still snagged my regular 9:45 L2 home. I went in tonight, expecting a clusterfuck of a night, Thursday being the last shopping day before Christmas Eve. I expected long lines, lots of customers, and a nice long six hour shift before I could even think of possibly getting up to the corner in time for my bus.
At first, it was like that. And it was crazy: an iPhone was stolen from a British guy visiting the U.S. with his wife and teen daughter. They seemed to take it in stride. We actually had the store detective, and both our loss prevention staff working — Christmas time might be all about cheer and giving and human kindness, but the real dregs of humanity make their appearances, too. Wednesday afternoon, a pickpocket snagged a woman’s wallet out of her purse. Just reminds you: keep an eye on your stuff, because bad stuff happens to good people who don’t deserve it.
But the line was killed pretty quickly. And while we were a little short on the floor, I think we did a good job finding stuff for the folks who asked for help. And then, it being a Thursday night, and with Christmas on the weekend, the 24th being the Federal holiday (even for those of us not Feds), and people wanting to get a head start on their vacationing, we got really, really, really …
Like … really, really, really slow.
And instead of being open until 10pm … we closed at 9:30.
Which was fine with me, because again: 9:45 L2. I really like catching that bus.
But … let me just say this. If you want to do holiday hours next year, Bookstore? I mean, assuming the company is still around. And, if we are assuming the company is still around, assuming I am still around, let me say this: if you want to do holiday hours, honestly? I’m cool with it. Not thrilled about it. But if you come to me with it in advance, if you work around my schedule, then I’ll work with you and we can make it work. But if you can’t give your staff advance notice, if you can’t then be consistent with it (Wednesday night, my closing announcement ended with, “…and for your two days until Christmas shopping panic, we will be open tomorrow from 8am until sometime between 9 and 10pm…”)
In any case, Christmas vacation is two days for me: tomorrow, and Saturday. Off to the grandmother’s house I go. I’m back to the Bookstore on Sunday, and back in my cube on Monday morning. Sunday’s as much a part of the Christmas rush as any day, what with so many people returning gifts. Seriously, folks? Gift receipts. They’re free: both in terms of cost, and hassle.
But the week after? New Year’s?
I leave my cube at 3pm on Thursday, and I don’t have to be at either employer until 7am Monday. Cannot wait.