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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: How I survived working Black Friday

By Kayli Lovell/Missourian reader
November 26, 2012 | 11:57 a.m. CST

Kayli Lovell is a senior at MU studying social work. This year was her third year working Black Friday as an associate at Kohl's.

My shift as a customer service associate at Kohl's started at 11:29 p.m. on Thanksgiving and I worked until 10:30 a.m. on Black Friday.

I'm a senior at Mizzou and THAT was my first all-nighter of the year.

I pulled up to the store around 11:15 and struggled even then to find a parking spot. The associate parking lot was taken over by customers waiting for the store to open. The line to get in was already wrapped around the building even though the doors didn't open until midnight. I was surprised that I wasn't accused of being a line jumper as I passed everyone to go inside.

As I walked into the store I was greeted by a sea of associates that were all dressed alike. All associates were required to wear red shirts and black dress pants. Since this was my third Black Friday, I decided to be a rebel and wear a black shirt with red pants.

Because it was my third Black Friday, they didn't fire me.

As midnight was approaching, the cashiers, or as I like to call them "Santa's little helpers," gathered around for a quick pep talk from our brave store managers. As I was mentally preparing for the large amount of customers about to stampede into the store, I was reminded that the customers do come first and that today was all about pleasing the public.

At this point I made sure to have a stash of caffeine hidden away. I was not going to share.

At the strike of midnight, actually it was more like 11:57, the doors opened and customers burst through. I was safely watching from the closed in space of the customer service counter. Even though I wasn't on the front lines, I still had my fair share of dealing with patrons.

"Can I use this coupon?"

"No, sir. It expired 12 days ago."

"C'mon. It's only a matter of a few days!"

"Yeah, 12 days," ...all the while I kept a smile on my face. 

This guy wasn't even too bad to deal with — he was one of the nice ones. I didn't end up in tears this Black Friday. That actually happened three days prior when a customer used a few choice cuss words in the presence of her young children to describe how she felt about my customer service.

Anyway, Kohl's was packed the rest of the morning into Friday night. The lines died down between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. because the rest of Columbia woke up and so did the other stores. We had sales until the afternoon, but that didn't stop people from shopping with us. Actually, as long as there is a coupon, nothing stops people from shopping at Kohl's.

Despite the gallons of caffeine everybody consumed that night, some customers still wanted more energy juice.

"Are you guys brewing coffee back there?"

"Yes."

"Can I have some?"

"Are you an associate?"

"No."

"Then no. Coffee is for associates only."

When 10:30 a.m. rolled around, I immediately clocked out, grabbed my stuff, and didn't look back even to see the line still wrapped around the building. I drove home like a zombie and couldn't wait to get to bed.

Being away from my family on Thanksgiving was really hard. But in a way, dealing with the greedy customer, the mean customer and the impatient customer was a good reminder that this season should be about family and holiday cheer — not the amount you spend on material things or the money you save on Black Friday and throughout the rest of the season.

And even though I was tired, sick of dealing with coupon and sale-crazed customers, and hungry — I survived working Black Friday.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.