a PSA for my Friends


It’s not secret that Matthew used to work for EBGames, and he still has friends who work in there in his home town. Today, Matthew talks about the store, and begs for your compassion this season.

American Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday has come and gone. It is the 7th of December, and Christmas Shopping is now in full swing.

I used to work at the EBGames in the mall here in my home town. It was a blast. I loved being around when shipment came in and we had the newest, hottest titles sitting in the back waiting for release day.

I can still vividly remember there being no room in the break room for us to sit because of all the copies of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and again for Wrath of the Lich King. The midnight launches for those. Oh, that was fun too. And that’s not sarcasm.

You know what’s not fun? Grumpy, self-entitled customers.

With that in mind, I will relate to you two anecdotes from my time at EB. Both happened on two separate Christmas occasions.

The first one was my second year there. My boss had told me that, during Christmas, the store can see up to 300 people an hour on a regular day and more on the weekends. Not everyone makes a purchase, please understand, but there are that many people cycling through, if you take my meaning.

On the last Saturday before Christmas it was all hands on deck, the Wii Fit had just come out, along with some other titles, and we were bracing for the storm, and yet for an hour and a half, I was no-where to be seen.


Because I had been pinned by the queue of customers up against a wall of PS3 games, and no one would let me out. Every time I tried to move, I was snarled at, sworn at or shoved back against the wall but some self-entitled jerk who was insisting that I was trying to cut in line.

Never mind that I was wearing dress slacks, a dress shirt and had a tag that clearly said “STAFF: Matthew” on it with an EB lanyard. I was actually accused of concocting a brilliant holiday scheme to get to the front of the line, as if the employees wouldn’t recognize that I wasn’t one of them. Apparently, I was Danny Ocean to these people.

The second story happened the previous year.

Some type of carnival-creation game (along the lines of Roller Coaster Tycoon) had been released on the PS2. I can’t for the life of me remember what the game is, this should tell you how amazing it was but, for some reason, it was the must-have at our store.

A gentleman game in on the 23rd of December asking if we had a copy. I searched the computer database, and told him that, no, we didn’t. Our last copy had been sold earlier that day, I doubted we would get any in later that day on our last shipment.

He thanked me for my trouble, said it was his fault for leaving it so late anyways, as his son had been asking for it since November. I suggested he try either Toys R Us or HMV next door. He said he would and he left.

About three hours later, (around 1pm) our shipment arrived. It had, on its manifest, one copy of said carnival game, and just as quickly as I could unpack it, it sold.

Now, it must be distinctly understood that I didn’t sell it. My boss did.

However, it just so happens that this gentleman from earlier was back in the store when the sale was made. Let me assure you, he rounded on me with the burning, fiery fury of 10,000 suns.

This time, my boss intervened, and told him not to treat the employees that way, and asked the gentleman to leave the store. Which he did. In a huff.

After Christmas the man came back and apologized. Which stunned me like a team of oxen. I couldn’t believe he would do that, let alone remember two weeks after the fact. But I was touched nonetheless.

So, why am I telling you these things?

Well, I assume you’re gearing up for the holidays yourself. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus. Please, just remember that the folks at EBGames, or any other retailer, are just that. Folks. They are people like you and me who are doing a job, and trying to do it under exceptionally hectic circumstances.

Remember that if a product is sold out, it’s not their fault. They shouldn’t have “ordered more”, that’s not how retail works. At EB we don’t tell the warehouse how many we need. They ship us an allotment.

No-one as instant recall of their entire inventory, especially when it is literally thousands of items.

Understand that these people are on their feet for 8 – 10 hours a day, and, unless you do that regularly, it’s a long time. I’m a chef, believe me.

Computer systems and debit systems can be slow, especially when handling thousands of transactions at at time which isn’t, you know, out of the question in a mall.

And lastly, everyone is human. Mistakes are going to be made and, unless you can go consistently at work without going “oh shoot” now and then, or even in your non-work time, I don’t want to see anyone haranguing these friends of mine for the trivial mistakes. And that’s what they are. Trivial.

Little Johnny won’t die if you have to wait 5 minutes more to complete a transaction.

Let’s show these guys some compassion this year.

Thanks and take care

– Matthew

a PSA for my Friends

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