Forty Percent Off Your Life

I had a rather harrowing experience this past Friday, which was Black Friday, to be specific.

Black Friday is always hellish when it comes to retail. Since I was working in a mall, I expected much more traffic. It was a bit more stressful than at my previous job, where there were never Black Friday sales to begin with, but I was managing to deal with it.

What I did not expect was to almost lose my life that night.

There was a shooting at the mall in a store on the lower level. A huge crowd suddenly stampeded into our store in a panic, and all of my co-workers ran toward the back. I don’t recall if I heard gunshots or not. I assume the immense fear and anxiety is to blame for the unclear memory. But I will never forget hiding in our backroom, scared for my life, wondering if we’ll get out, wondering if we’ll get home.

We hid for around twenty to thirty minutes. Some of my braver co-workers peeked outside the door every so often. The store’s shutters were down, so no one could enter. Eventually, police came and led us to one of the mall’s emergency exits, which was luckily right across from our store. We all ran. I got as far away from the mall as I could and call a relative to pick me up.

Minus the one person who was shot, no one in the mall was hurt and the mall was shut down for the night. The victim wasn’t critically injured, so he/she will hopefully have a speedy recovery.

It goes without saying I was shaken up, as were a lot of my co-workers, especially those of us who hadn’t worked in in the mall prior to this holiday season. One of my co-workers who’d been there for a few years tried to comfort me by saying that mall has a shooting every year (a few minutes of Google searching proved her correct). I have no idea how that’s supposed to be comforting. The mall was up and running the next day like normal, but most of the mall’s workers did not come in the next day. Neither did I. Some people can handle, but some can’t, and I don’t believe violence, and the risk of losing your life, should be part of a retail job, of all things. We didn’t sign up for that. Personally, if I’d known that mall has a shooting annually, I would never have applied. I’ve done active shooter drills at school, and I was still in no way prepared for that.

The bigger question to me, however, is why any sale is worth violence, let alone the loss of someone’s life. I’ve read about Black Friday violence. I know about the crazy crowds that trample each other, that fight to get what’s on sale before it runs with no regard for who they hurt. I know it’s been going on for decades now, but that only makes it worse. The USA is supposed to be the greatest country, correct? How are we the greatest when all it takes to reduce us to the behavior of savage animals is a discount for things we most likely don’t need? Why are workers expected to deal with the resulting violence, that could potentially spell the end of someone’s life in some cases, such as mine recently? Why is this just accepted by us?

I do not care how preachy I sound when I say this: No sale is worth someone’s well-being! No sale is worth their life!

It’s no wonder to me now why retail has such a high turnover rate. Note that outside of pharmacies and grocery stores, retail is not exactly an essential service. Yes, we need clothes, but we can by without spending $25 on a shirt. Seriously. I’ve bought very pretty and long-lasting clothes for cheaper. That’s not to say I don’t think people should be able to indulge themselves, but you won’t die without them. For the fact it’s not an essential and it’s, for the most part, an easy one to learn, I do understand why it pays so little (I’m not of the opinion minimum wage workers don’t deserve a livable wage because no one deserves to go hungry, but that’s another topic that’s been beaten to death), but if risking your well-being and possibly your life is going to be part of the job, it needs to start paying a lot more. And no, “time and a half” doesn’t cover it, and not stores give that anyway.

Though I may not have a choice, if I can help it, I will not work at the mall again. Yes, a shooting can happen anywhere, but that mall’s an annual target and all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If that were to happen to me, everyone would cry I shouldn’t have been there (in fact, my boss at my other did put the blame for the shooting on me for that very reason). I don’t think I’m paranoid for wanting to avoid it, knowing its history of previous shootings. Just because businesses are willing to trade lives for sales doesn’t mean I am.

Off my soapbox I go.

My First Valentine!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I had a wonderful day!

My boyfriend and I agreed to get together for today. Admittedly, the weather wasn’t favorable, but when is winter ever favorable for outing plans unless you’re doing winter sports?

The plan was only to go a buffet and, later, a bakery, but we filled in the time between with a bit of shopping. The buffet was great, although it was busy! The wait staff didn’t get a moment’s peace! I guess that’s standard for Valentine’s Day. I only had two plates, but he had five! And he still finished before I did, although his plates weren’t as full as mine after the first.

We were in the buffet for an hour. After that, we went around, looking for belts and razors for me, and a pair of gloves of him (because I’ll be darned if anyone’s hands freeze on my watch!). The belts were easy to find, but it took a few more stores to find the razors and gloves we were after. We also window-shopped around a game store for a little while. Just to see if there was anything new.

The bakery was great! We each had a slice of chocolate mousse and it was one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever tasted in my life! I took my time eating mine because it was so good! He took some jello for later in the evening. Apparently, jello can spoil within an hour if it’s not refrigerated. I didn’t know that.

We got the gloves for him after the visit to the bakery and that was it. It was time to go home. I waited with him until the train came, we kissed goodbye when it did, and we left. Honestly, as much as I wanted to get out of the cold, I was still kind of sad we had to split ways. It’s the same way I feel every time we have to go home.

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays because it’s supposed to be a day about love, but this one will probably always be my favorite for being my first one where I had a valentine. The year is still very early, but I’m going to consider this as one of my favorite days of this year.

Wishful Wednesday: Hurry Out, February!

Usually, I’m in no rush for even a day to end unless it’s a bad one, but for this Wednesday, my wish is for February to hurry up and get out!

The reason is there are some things I have planned for March, when spring arrives and the weather begins to become warm. My plans probably won’t start at the very beginning of March, but I think they’ll start fairly early.

I mentioned him already, but Emmi is a part of those plans. I said I wanted to meet up when temperature rises because it’s just too cold right now.

I’m planning to do a little clothes shopping, but online instead of in a store. I found some pretty, floral, one-shoulder shirts on eBay. I’ve never been able to find one-shoulder shirts. Never seen them in any store I ever went to.

Finally, there’s a special gift I’m planning to buy. In fact, that’s the first thing I want to do. I won’t say what it is, but I am so excited about it, especially because I’m paying for it entirely. No one is helping me, so no one can complain.

I am so excited for March to come, I feel ready to burst! Honestly, I really feel like this year will be a good one. Hurry up, March!