Early bird shoppers try to stay warm as they wait in line to shop at Kohl’s in Plano, Texas, Friday, Nov. 2010. (Source: Tribune News Service)

Shopping on Black Friday is like gazing at the Christmas lights on a house. You can appreciate the experience, but you can’t always see the work that goes into it.

On Nov. 26 a customer told me that she had a blast on Black Friday, and she wouldn’t have wanted to spend it doing anything else.

I just smiled and told her I was glad.

See, I worked on black Friday at the Kohl’s in Layton, and I woke up the following morning with bruises all over my body. I could barely open my eyes, and it was difficult to put pressure on one of my feet. I didn’t fight anyone over an item. Rather, I fought to give customers what they wanted.

When we were about to open, my manager gathered together all of the associates who were working the floor and piled us outside. We grabbed each other’s hands and formed a line around the line that had been waiting to get in. This was to prevent people from cutting as they raced to get in the line.

Initially, I found this crazy as I stood outside in the cold, but then I saw the people racing to get in line, just seconds before we opened. A line of people wrapped around the building, and they cheered as we came out, ready to race in to retrieve their goods.

For the first little bit, we had to run around and grab all the items people had stuffed in odd places — a doomed attempt by customers to hide things so that they could come back to them later. I came across slippers hidden beneath robes, drones slipped behind a pile of purses and toys stuffed under blankets.

Once people realized stashing items wasn’t going to work, I spent a good four hours taking pillows in boxes that reached my shoulders down from a shelf taller than me and carrying them to the front of the store, only to have shoppers take the pillows out of the boxes as I was taking them off my cart.

After this, I had to refold pajama sets that people ripped apart in order to keep things tidy, all while helping customers try to locate what they were looking for.

The walkie-talkie in my ear continued to buzz, as associates were trying to contact other associates looking for items that customers wanted as shoppers came expecting our hot items to still be available.

One customer came in Friday afternoon, looking for a $1000 camera on sale for $400 that had sold out within an hour Thursday night. When I told them we didn’t have any, they looked at me like I was an idiot. As they turned away, they couldn’t believe that we didn’t have more cameras because on Black Friday, the store had been open for 14 hours, and we should still have a camera for that price.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but it’s important for people to remember that associates are people, too. We are people who had to leave their families early from Thanksgiving dinner and had to work so hard they can hardly stand up the next morning.

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