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Holiday helpers are hard to find News item: Retail merchants report a shortage of skilled seasonal workers.


MEMO to all holiday sales help:

We've noticed that some of our younger Christmas help have limited experience in retail work. If this is your situation, we suggest that you take the time to learn some valuable retailing skills while you are working here. These skills may come in handy should you ever decide to actually work again, or if, God forbid, we get this desperate next year. Here are some pointers:

The people who come into the store every day during business hours are the customers. They're not just walking through on their way to somewhere else, unlike you. Your job is to help them find what they want.

A good way to start is to ask them: "May I help you?" Some of you have been using the shorter alternative "Yeah?" and its diminutive "Huh?" Even though these expressions save time, we'd prefer the longer version, in honor of the holiday spirit.

Part of your job, besides your breaks, is to provide information to the customers about our merchandise. By merchandise we mean "the stuff on the shelves," as someone put it the other day. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourselves with this, er . . . stuff. That way, when a customer asks you where something is, you'll know. See how this works? This is a real plus, knowing where the stuff is.

It is a custom in retailing that when people buy things from us they pay for them. With money. This rule applies not only to strangers but also to your relatives and friends.

Sometimes people forget to pay. If you see somebody leave the store with some of our stuff without paying for it, you should try to stop them or bring it to the attention of the management. But remember that this is what we call "real life." It is not like on television. Do not run after them or knock them down. Do not attempt to strangle them. If you happen to be carrying a gun, please do not use it.

We have pleasant Christmas music playing in the store. We even have some music of your generation. "Metallica Visits the Holy Land" is in the rotation. Therefore you really don't have any reason to wear your Walkman here.

Without it on, you might hear customers ask questions and be able to help them.

Let's all keep clean, just for Christmas. Haircuts, daily shaves, clean clothes and so on impress our customers.

Believe us, we know how hard you're all working. Why, just the other day we found someone who had fallen asleep in the stock room. Obviously, this person was working too hard. But remember, the Christmas season won't last forever. When the rush is over, you can all go home and sleep all you want. Or back to school and sleep even more.

We all look forward to that day. Merry Christmas.

Signed, the Management.

Jeff Danziger, a syndicated cartoonist, wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

Pub Date: 12/22/98

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