Black Friday On The Other Side.

3 AM. Lil Wayne’s How to Love breaks through the quiet. Snooze. 5 minutes later, Bruno Mars adds to the din. Snooze — Oh sh*t! Time to drive from SF to SJ at the crack of dawn…for work.

Today, I experienced my first and last Black Friday, on the other side of the retail freakfest. It was a nightmare.

3 45AM. My sweet boyfriend made me coffee and packed Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. Half dazed, I scrambled into my work outfit. I hugged him goodbye and dashed out to my car. 4 00AM. I drove down Highway 35. Not a soul in sight. 4 25AM. 100MPH on 280 S. 4 40AM. Engulfed in heavy fog. I literally could not see 2 feet ahead of me. 25 MPH…gaze intent ahead on the road.

4 50AM. I pulled into the designated employee parking lot 2.6 miles away from my destination, signed in, and hopped onto the shuttle. 5 00AM. Ready, set, go.

Noon. Why can’t time fly faster? Angry, impatient, and aggressive customers everywhere, wanting things pronto. Frazzled holiday hires. Grumpy tenured associates. Oh, the joy. 2 00 PM. Cheek muscles in severe spasms from over-smiling. 3 00PM. Meager lunch break. 4 00 PM Leg muscle spasms from running around too much dealing with customer issues, performing manager overrides, and coaching inexperienced associates. 4 30 PM Collapsed into mangled heap at the shuttle stop.

More than 12 hours later, I toppled into my bed — mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.

I’ve truly gleaned a newfound sense of serious respect for the service industry. The sales associate at the counter, the bell boy at the hotel, the waitress at your local diner, the security officer patrolling the facilities alone in the cold at 3 AM, the janitor that cleans up after everyone’s mess. They work to serve, and each and every one of them deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Retail and service workers, I salute you.

M

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