- Black Friday can bring out the worst in some people.
- Retail workers Business Insider surveyed shared some of their most cringe-worthy stories.
- We also scoured Reddit for workers’ horrifying accounts of Black Friday mayhem.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
If you ask the people who work in retail, Black Friday is rarely described in the most flattering of ways.
“Being retired now, Black Friday is a nightmare of the past,” a former retail worker told Business Insider. “In my many years in retail, each one seemed to get worse.”
This isn’t to say all Black Friday shoppers are horrible people.
As one retail worker told Business Insider, “For the most part, people have always been very nice and patient. They can see it’s busy and I’m doing my best to get everybody taken care of.” They said it’s usually the customers who are never satisfied – “we can spot them a mile away” – that are more likely to make a scene.
In honour of the “wild and hectic” day when everyone is “tired and cranky” – their words – Business Insider asked more than 40 Black Friday workers to share some of the most outrageous things they have seen working Black Friday.
We also scoured Reddit for horror stories told by former Black Friday workers.
“Black Friday is like Hunger Games. The tributes are released, and everyone thinks they are extra special, so they should be allowed to just open pallets and take whatever they want well before the sale.”
“I once saw a fight between strangers because someone changed lines. They did not cut in line, they just got behind the other line. And someone in front of that person — so no way they were being affected — decided to verbally attack this person …
“… the person fought back. Nasty things were said, and both these individuals had kids with them to witness this.'”
“One year when I had just begun my shift a customer with a broken leg tried to hit me with one of his crutches because I didn’t know where we were keeping a particular item.”
“One year I got trapped behind the door when we opened, and I had to wait until the mad rush slowed down so I could climb under the cart rail and escape.”
“I’ve had a woman pour her coffee on the ground because we wouldn’t give her an extra discount. She maintained eye contact while pouring the coffee.”
“People sometimes fight over items that aren’t even that discounted. Is $US5 off really worth a black eye?”
“I’ve seen shoppers take merchandise from other customers’ shopping carts.”
“I had someone follow me into the stock room to see if I was lying about being out of something.”
“An employee once pre-shopped and hid stuff under a counter. I put them back out for sale.”
“One of the most cringe-worthy things I saw was when a shopper lifted up their toddler’s garments and changed the crappy diaper on top of the merchandise in the department, leaving the used diaper in the parking lot.”
“Some people have untied and unwrapped pajama sets to check them out, and then they want you to go get them one in the same size and pattern from the stockroom that has not been opened.”
“I had a woman get angry with me for not having a doorbuster in stock almost 10 hours after the doors opened.”
“One of the craziest things you see is people driving a two-seat sports car and wanting you to help them load an eight-foot Christmas tree in there.”
“There was a man looking at jewellery armoires and two older ladies next to him looking at them, too. They had zeroed in on a certain style and he realised, apparently, that he liked that one the best, too. There was only one left, but the ladies couldn’t lift the box and decided to go find an associate to load it in their cart. As soon as they were gone, he grabbed it and ran to the checkout.”
“I once had a lady try to snatch something out of another customer’s hand, but before I could do anything about it, a couple of ladies in line who had been talking to the assaulted customer grabbed it back and chastised her to the point that she ran out of the store cussing about telling management.”
“Back in my poor college days when I worked at Walmart, we had a fight break out over a bike. Fists were thrown, and there was some blood. Eventually, one guy got ahold of it and managed to get away from the crowd. He rode the bike out of the store to flee his pursuers (without paying).”
“Someone punched a security guard in the face because he thought he was a customer skipping to the front of the line. He was just walking in the door to start his shift.”
“I have witnessed two people fist fight … over a toaster.”
“When I worked at Sam’s Club, during the madness one Black Friday morning, we caught a woman stuffing the inside of her pants with frozen lobster tail. She would unpackage them and throw the trash in a stack of tires that were on display.”
“I was a Gamestop Worker when the Wii came out. The second we unlocked the doors, it was a riot. People were fighting one-another, swearing, crying, just about everything. People were so desperate, when people managed to get one, somebody would throw the other person to the ground and buy it.”
“A Guy tried to shove a Panasonic Blu-ray player into the front of his jeans. He was a rather large man, but, dude, its a Blu-ray player … seriously.”
“Back when I worked retail we had people lining up at the doors. We hadn’t finished setting up the signs yet, so we were running late. At about a minute after midnight, the people outside started pushing on the door and cursing at my manager …
“… The door was cheap, so even though it was locked, they were able to push it inward. Problem was, it never actually opened, but the people at the back of the crowd thought it did, so they started pushing and the people at the front started being crushed against the door …
“… When my manager saw this she immediately opened it up, and about five people at the front spilled onto the floor, and the rest of the people behind them started trampling over them. They were OK, though, and I saw them shopping a few minutes later.”
“People have thrown things at me, ripped product intended for other customers out of my hands, stolen and broken things, relieved themselves in fitting rooms, puked, and fainted while in stores I have worked in. On the bright side, I always wear a pedometer, and I can easily walk eight to 10 miles on Black Friday, so I feel a little more justified when I have six servings of stuffing the day before.”
Reddit sources are anonymous, and these stories were not independently verified by Business Insider. Some entries have been edited for clarity.
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