real life

Use a retail worker's name while you're Christmas shopping. It'll make their day.

Retail assistants make an effort to get to know you.

Are you shopping for a special occasion? 

Oh, it’s your son’s engagement party? 

Oh, you hate his fiance? And you’re hosting her whole family for Christmas dinner? 

A small smile. A nod of acknowledgement. No judgement. It’s the rule book of working in retail.

Yes, that looks great on you. No, I do not think you need the red sparkly shoes. I think you niece might prefer a clutch. Have you considered buying your son a gift voucher? 

Yes, retail workers are paid to do this. Yes, it’s part of their job description. But imagine how it might feel if they didn’t? And consider what you give them in return?

"Retail assistants make an effort to get to know you. Return the courtesy." Image: Universal Pictures

They do not benefit financially when you make a purchase. Most retail workers in Australia do not receive commission on sales. They don't get tips. There is no "team bonus" to be divvied up at the end of the month.

They rarely benefit in terms of promotion or recognition. Company officials are along way away from the store floor. In big buildings. Around big tables. On leather chairs. Not standing on unforgiving linoleum in plastic ballet flats greeting people as they bash their shopping bags through the just-arranged front table display.

So, as you stand in line at the shops this Christmas. Tapping your feet and thinking about the ham and wondering why the person in front of you insisted on having their gift wrapped... and why can't the shop assistant wrap faster? 

Just, stop.

The best passive aggressive Christmas presents on This Glorious Mess. Post continues below. 

Think about what you're offering to the pour soul behind the counter, wrapping themselves in sticky tape and cellophane.

Think about what you can give them.

Take a moment to look them in the eye. Offer a small smile in return. Glance at their name tag, and use their name when you say thank you.

(Saying thank you is also important).

They will look shocked when you use their name. No one ever does it. But it will make them smile.

For a moment, their feet won't hurt so much. The clock won't seem so impossibly slow. And they'll feel less like a robot-who-gift-wraps and more like a human.