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Stay home on Black Friday

Kevin Noonan | Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving is a time for good food, loving family and friendly football. Or at least that’s what most assume. In reality, there is a deeper, darker side to this seemingly delightful holiday: Black Friday.

Black Friday, the day immediately following Thanksgiving, signifies the start of the Christmas shopping season. It is an unofficial national holiday for virtually everyone except bankers, retailers and high school and college-aged kids who work as waiters.

At one time very recently in my life, I unfortunately fell into this much-overlooked third category. And, I’ve got to say — Black Friday is aptly named. Black Friday is completely void of happiness for those in the customer service business.

Maybe it’s because everyone despises shopping for other people (that’s why I only shop for myself), maybe it’s the long lines (which is why I make a habit of cutting to the front) or maybe it’s because we all secretly hate large family gatherings (let’s be honest here, by Friday we’re all ready for them to just leave), but whatever miniscule amount of manners a customer might show on a normal day is completely chucked out the window on Black Friday.

Now, let’s just play the law of averages here. Odds are, either you are going to knock out your Christmas shopping on Black Friday or you know someone who will. It’s likely that at some point, you’re going to get hungry. Well don’t worry; this is America. There’s a fast food joint within 40 feet of you at all times. I only ask, on behalf of the food service industry (I’m the self-appointed spokesperson), that a few rules of courtesy are observed.

1. You might have to wait in line for 27 minutes, but I have to be here for seven more hours. I cannot tell you how often someone thinks it’s necessary to remind me that there is a line stretching to Mexico. Trust me, I’m aware. I have to serve all of them. So please, spare me the, “can’t you work any faster?” No, I can’t. And I just lost that guy’s order. Oops, should’ve kept his mouth shut.

2. Make up your mind before you order. Seriously, you’ve had 27 minutes to figure it out.

3. Leave the little ones at home. Or with a relative. Or standing in the cold. Anywhere else. This is for everyone’s benefit. You don’t have to drag little Johnny around all day, the other customers don’t have to listen to him scream and I don’t have to report you to child services when you slap him upside the head.

4. I don’t care how often you come here; I can’t put avocados on your salad if I don’t have any.

“Yes sir, I know you come here twice a week.” (No he doesn’t.)

“Yes sir, I know they did it for you last time.” (No they didn’t.)

“No sir, I’m sorry we’re out of avocados, so I can’t do it for you today, I’m very sorry.” (I’m not that sorry. You know what? I’m not sorry at all. We never have avocados.)

Moral of the story: I’m actually less likely to want to help someone if he or she drops the “They do this for me every time” line.

5. I don’t care. This is less a rule of etiquette than a reminder to remember who is taking your order. If you think you want to tell me something, think real hard about it, look into my eyes and ask yourself, “Does this guy care?” Answer is no.

I don’t think this is too much to ask. But hey, why am I complaining? I don’t have to deal with this ridiculousness this year. Side note: if you work in a restaurant, do not print this off and post it on your staff bulletin board. Your manager will not find it humorous.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. Contact Kevin Noonan at knoonan2@nd.edu