Oh, Come All Ye Sweaters

by admin on December 12, 2012

This one isn’t awful enough for Holiday Hell, but if you’d like to open a sub-category called Holiday Heck, this would fit right in. Christmas is my favorite time of year, not least because it affords me so many opportunities to shop with my daughter, a busy young mother whose career doesn’t often leave a lot of time for socializing. We took a whole day last weekend, had breakfast together, and started our rounds.

We ended up just before lunch in a wonderful gift shop and nursery where you can purchase everything from woolen scarves to wooden dwarves and every whimsical thing in between. Their outdoor nursery area featured Christmas trees, garland, bows and baubles, and a genuine jolly St. Nick. They were making a marvelous production of the whole thing, and we were enjoying watching the children as they danced up and down waiting for their turns to talk to Santa.

As we were watching, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. One of the seasonal sales assistants beamed at me.
“Come on!” she trilled. “You’re just in time for the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest!”

I looked down. I was wearing my most handsome Christmas sweater, red fleece with several green gingham trees appliqued across the front, neither sequined nor gaudy, and hand made by the very busy daughter standing beside me.

“I don’t think so”, I replied. “I wait all year to wear this sweater. It’s my favorite, and I think it’s beautiful.”

“Oh, come on! Don’t you want to be immortalized on Facebook?!”

“Thank you, no.” I said, and turned to leave. Horror of horrors, she put her hands on my shoulders, turned me sideways, and attempted to steer me into the nursery.

“Come on!” she insisted. “It’ll just take a few minutes!”

“No thank you!”, I said, possibly a little louder than strictly required. “We were just leaving!”

“Well, you’re no fun!” she pouted, and as we turned to go out the door I could see her gazing around, looking for another draftee. You know those “Please Do Not Touch The Merchandise” signs you see in gift stores? This shop needed one that said “Please Do Not Touch The Customers”! 1206-12

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimstu December 12, 2012 at 6:09 am

Oh YIKES. How completely gauche and unmannerly, and what a pity that the chirpy salescreature didn’t even seem to have a clue about how gauche and unmannerly she was being!

And to forestall the soft-hearted tut-tutters who will cluck that the poor girl doubtless meant well and didn’t realize that her behavior might be considered objectionable: yes, I get that. But the fact remains that she ended up unwittingly but grossly insulting both the LW and her daughter about the appearance of what sounds like a very cute sweater. She also committed the further rudenesses of initiating physical contact with an unwilling stranger (and no, that’s still not a polite thing to do, no matter how much you want to show what a loving caring huggy person you are) and then jokingly reprimanding her victim as “no fun” when she objected.

The cherry on the cupcake for me here is the fact that all this ham-handed impertinence was being committed ON BEHALF OF A COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT as part of an attempt TO APPEAL TO CUSTOMERS. In addition to being graceless and rude in itself, it was sabotaging the business’s legitimate efforts to make money!

Sure, maybe some customers enjoy that sort of thing—the ones who deliberately go out in public wearing holiday sweaters they consider tacky and ugly in the hopes that it will lead to getting their pictures all over the internet and being patted by store clerks, I guess. (Doesn’t sound like a huge market-share demographic, but what do I know?) Still, that hardly makes it worthwhile to alienate the customers that DON’T enjoy it.

I really hope that the LW will take the time at some point to get in touch with the store manager and—in a polite and understanding way, of course—alert them to the fact that some of their seasonal sales assistants could use a little sanding and polishing when it comes to customer interactions.

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Cherry December 12, 2012 at 6:11 am

One of the things I hate more than anything in the world is people suddenly touching my shoulders or upper arms. It INSTANTLY puts me on the defensive and in a bad mood, and that’s when friends or family do it.

This woman would have gotten the coldest glare I could muster and the words “Get your hands off of me.”

What is it with some salespeople? If I’ve said no, annoying me isn’t likely to change my mind!

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Sazerac December 12, 2012 at 6:16 am

As soon as she placed her hands on you, this ceased to be an etiquette issue and turned into a potentially legal one. No one, but NO one, has the right to lay hands on anyone else without their permission unless it is a legal authority (police). Congratulations to you for having a polite spine and handling the situation firmly but politely, asserting your boundaries.

What a clod this salesperson is! I hope you later called and made a complaint against her-her actions could have potentially cost that business.

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Merrilee December 12, 2012 at 6:58 am

Time for a chat with the manager, I say.

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Just call me J December 12, 2012 at 7:12 am

“Do not touch the customers” should be a given, especially during cold-and-flu season…

You were a lot more polite than I would have been after being forcibly touched (twice!) by a stranger who only moments earlier had insulted you. The second verbal “No” you gave her should have been sufficient.

There are a lot of good reasons why someone might not want their picture plastered all over the internet, especially with a derogatory remark attached to it. Personal preference being the least of them, and more than an acceptable excuse.

If they were concerned about not having enough people at their contest, then they should have advertised its existence better.

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Dominic December 12, 2012 at 7:54 am

I say this one absolutely qualifies for Holiday Hell! The employee was somewhat rude for intruding on your shopping experience, quite rude for touching you unexpectedly, and very rude for suggesting that your sweater was ugly. When you politely declined her “invitation,” her utter rudeness was cemented when she again laid hands on you and tried to push you to do something you’d clearly and nicely stated you did not wish to. She was lucky you didn’t complain to management–I would have! Not nearly as rude, but some years ago I was with my partner and in-laws in a Christmas store shopping after Thanksgiving (late November). A similarly perky sales associate popped up in front of us and shrieked, “Do you know the story of the pickle?!?” Dumbfounded, we stood and listened as she told us about the German custom of hiding a glass pickle ornament on the tree, and the first child to find it on Christmas morning receiving an extra gift. We were too much in shock to move on and continue our shopping, and instead let ourselves be badgered into buying a pickle ornament. It’s a funny moment now, especially every year as we decorate the tree and the pickle ornament appears out of its wrappings. In unison, we all yell, “Do you know the story of the pickle?” and have a great laugh.

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Mandi December 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

Ugh. People who invade other people’s personal space like that make me want to carry a danger whistle to blow in their face when they start getting handsy. I can’t imagine how people with social anxiety disorders feel in those situations.

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Michele K. December 12, 2012 at 8:01 am

The second time she touched me, I would have been speaking to the manager.

The first time she touched your shoulder to apparently get your attention. Not a professional way to get a customer’s attention, but not completely outrageous.

The second time she physically tried to move you in the direction she wanted you to go after you told her no. That constitutes unwarranted touching and trying to manipulate a customer.

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Lo December 12, 2012 at 8:32 am

I absolutely love ugly Chrstimas sweaters and the whole idea of wearing tacky things for fun, but this woman was horrible.

I think people seem to forget that every “ugly” Christmas sweater was knit or manufactured with a happy customer in mind and that our definition of fashion changes with the season. So even if someone is wearing some ridiculous sequined neon green and red thing with blinking ornaments one never assumes that they are wearing it ironically. Perhaps they simply love it, and who are we to judge another person’s taste?

Sadly, I think that the “ugly Christmas sweater” fascination has spread to encompass all Christmas sweaters, as though it is tacky to celebrate the season with themed clothing. Which is the only reason I can see this woman would call your sweater ugly (it sounds charming and beautiful). She just looked around for target, saw a Christmas theme, and went for it.

And then of course there’s the touching. I strongly agree with everyone who says that no one is to ever lay a hand on our person without our permission. I once had a man lay his hand on my bare shoulder (I was wearing a tank top) in a store to get my attention when he was standing in line behind me when all he needed to do was speak up with “Excuse me” to get my attention. I whirled around in shock and had to fight the urge to lash out at him verbally. He then told me that I was next in line. Apparently I had not moved quickly enough to the cashier for his liking. There was no need to be poked or grabbed or prodded in the situation so I assume he was just a pervert.

Grabbing customers in a store is DEFINITELY crossing the line.

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Carol December 12, 2012 at 8:33 am

Everything else aside, assuming someone is there for the ‘ugly sweater’ contest is akin to assuming someone is pregnant. One person’s ugly is another person’s treasured possession. I would think it would be safest to let people volunteer for such an event!

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Psyche December 12, 2012 at 8:35 am

At least it was meant in good-natured fun. I once had a horrifying experience where I nearly got kidnapped while walking from a convenience store.

You see, said store had a deal where you could buy a jumbo soda and for a few pennies you could come back for unlimited refills. It wasn’t too far a walk away from my house, but my dad had leg problems so I’d get the cup, fill it up, and come back.

As I was walking home, this creepy-looking Hispanic man tried to chat me up even though I tried everything in the book to discourage him, to no avail. Then he starts putting his arm around me and *immediately* my instincts went into overdrive. He tries to lead me into his car and I struggle as he’s trying to yank me into the car. After realizing I’m not going willingly, he gives up and I run. I was a few feet away from the house. The police were called and I gave a description of the man. Needless to say, from that point onward dad got his own refills!

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DaDancingPsych December 12, 2012 at 8:40 am

It sounds to me like the store was running this contest and no one showed up either out of lack of interest or poor advertising. Rather than cutting their loses and focusing on the celebration ideas that were successful, they were simply searching for victims… um… contestants. It’s one thing for someone to show up with their ugly sweater excited to be in the contest; it’s an entirely different one to determine that someone’s clothing is ugly enough to be drafted to participate. (And I agree the sweater does sound cute.) It’s a shame because a marketing idea meant to get people in the door may actually turn people sour to the entire store!

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WildIrishRose December 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

Nothing like rude salescreatures (thank you, Kimstu, for that one!) to ruin holiday shopping. I would have told this woman in the coldest voice possible that my daughter MADE that sweater for me and I love it and think it’s one of the most beautiful things I have. My DH was on an elevator once with some people he worked with. He was carrying his lunch in a bag that had a picture of Patrick Star on it. One of his co-workers snickered and sarcastically asked him if he liked Spongebob. DH replied: “No, but I do like my daughter [age about 5 at the time] and she gave it to me.” That shut the idiot up. People just don’t think! OP, you continue to wear that sweater with pride and holiday joy!

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Helen December 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

The offensive touching actually opens the store to potential civil liability. The management should actively discourage such contact with customers.

Beyond that, wow, you very politely told her she was being boorish and her actions were unappreciated, and she blamed you for it! I’m with the OP. Having a favorite sweater called ugly, being physically dragged against stated wishes would have made me leave, but unlike the OP, I probably wouldn’t return!

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Justin December 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

This just seems like a bad idea for a retail promotion, you are more likely to insult people than make them feel good. A better contest would be ‘most festive sweater’ instead of insulting shoppers you offer a positive.

When I worked retail physical contact was not initiated by the associate, you never knew how people would feel. If the customer initiated a handshake that was the extent of it for me.

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Cat December 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

Somehow the holiday season seems to bring out both the best and the worst in people. When she grabbed you, the quick response would have been, “Take your hands off me!” in your best, no-nonsense tone.
My local Publix store is having a Christmas contest. It has a series of jars full of pennies with a photo of each department manager pasted on front of the jar. The one with the most pennies gets a pie in the face.
As a Christian, I doubt this is an appropriate way to celebrate God made incarnate. Even for those who simply enjoy it as a winter holiday, humiliating a man for no purpose seems a poor way to celebrate the season. I would have even voted for an ugly sweater or tie contest over that.

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The Elf December 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

I love Ugly Sweater Contests. They’re a blast, but they really work as private affairs, among people who view Christmas with a bit of cynicism and dark humor anyway.

But in a store? Especially one with such a strong Christmas theme? That’s out of place.

Then you get the real etiquette problems – the insisting, assuming the “ugly” sweater is worn for the contest, placing hands on a customer, the “you’re no fun” zinger. This salesclerk was just plain rude. I wouldn’t put it past the management to have insisted the salespeople drag in some more people due to poor participation in the event, but still. OP was perfectly right to feel insulted and walk away. You’d be within your rights to bring this up to management, both as against the idea of an Ugly Sweater Contest in store and because the salesclerk really crossed a line when she touched you.

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DGS December 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

What the what??? Who does that sort of thing? Rude, rude, rude…She had no right to lay her hands on you (I’d hesitate to do that even to an unsuspecting close friend or family member if I were to run into one of them in a public space), and certainly, commenting on your choice of clothing was unbelievably rude. I’d have spoken to the manager.

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Erin December 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

As soon as OP declined the invitation, especially when she said she loved her sweater, the sales associate should have apologized and backed off. I can see making a mistake when there’s an actual event relating to sweaters going on, but if I’d been the sales associate I would have felt like melting into the floor in shame as soon as the mistake was realized.

Carol is right – let the potential contestants volunteer!

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M December 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

For OP, that must have been very embarrassing to endure. I have worked in retail for 5 years and it is NEVER OK to touch a customer or force them, or anyone in general, to do something like that. I believe that OP should have made a complaint to the manager regarding that and this salesperson needs a lesson on “personal space”.

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Nikki December 12, 2012 at 10:16 am

I agree that assuming that a wearer of a particular themed holiday sweater might automatically fall into the “tacky” category is wrong. I have seen many “tacky Christmas sweater” photos online and in print that I actually thought were charming, if not pretty. Obviously, I don’t like them all, but I would be highly offended if someone automatically assumed that I was wearing a particular item of clothing for the sole purpose of being judged for its distastefulness.
As for touching – having worked in the customer service realm for a number of years, I can tell you that touching like that is a big NO-NO. You simply don’t do it. Not only is it rude to touch someone without permission, there are also those who are ill, those with phobias about being touched, and those who will respond with even greater rudeness (and force).
This was definitely “E-Hell worthy.”

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Allie December 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

I don’t even like salespeople trying to sell me things, let alone touching and insulting me. This salesperson was WAY out of line. I’ve been in customer service and it’s essential to gauge the personality of your customer and tailor your manner accordingly. Although I still think it would be rude to approach the poster and advise her about the “ugly” sweater contest, that’s the absolute most the salesperson should have done, and without any physical contact. Once she got the first no thank you, move on. Period. Sorry, but it’s straight to e-holiday-hell for this salesperson.
On a related but more e-heckish note, I was in a chocolate shop the other day doing my annual big purchase of gifts for co-workers/acquaintances and a few to have on hand for those moments when you’d like to have something on hand for an unexpected gift, visitor or invitation. I was approached at least 4 times in 5 minutes by 2 or 3 different salespeople offering help and pointing out their doorcrasher stocking stuffer special. After the third ‘no thank you’ I responded to the 5th ‘are you looking for anything in particular’ with a rather chilly ‘I’ll know it when I see it’. Salespeople: one time and one time only is sufficient to approach the customer. If someone says ‘no thank you; I’m just looking’ it means ‘I like to browse on my own and I want to be left alone’. Keep yourself visible so I can find you if I need you, but do not continue to pester me. The kicker: when I’d selected my purchases and went to pay, it took them quite some time to come and check me out. They were all on the floor busily harrassing the browsers.

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Andie December 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

Okay, so you can send an employee a basket full of bargain soap with a note reading that you’ll tell them how to use it and everyone wants to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s a joke, laugh it off.

But call someone’s Christmas sweater ugly and it’s ‘STONE HER!’

I thought this story was mortifying for the LW but kind of funny. The woman shouldn’t have touched you, but come on, I’ve never seen a holiday sweater that’s anything but tacky good fun.

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lilbearzmom December 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

I find it interesting that you are more concerned with the fact that she touched you than that she basically told you your sweater was ugly.

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Pixie December 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

After the second no you should have asked to speak to a manager.

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Shalamar December 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

I love Christmas sweaters. LOVE them. Be they pretty, ugly , tacky, classy, I adore them all. OP, yours sounds both pretty and classy, and it’s extra-special because your daughter made it. Wear it with pride!

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Huh December 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

I had kind of the opposite happen to me. A woman that works in another branch of my office came through my section of the building the week before Christmas. She was wearing a very festive looking sweater with a big Christmas tree on it. I thought it was cute for a holiday sweater and said as she passed by saying hi to everyone, “I like your sweater.” She gave me an odd look and said, “I’m going to an Ugly Christmas Sweater party after work so I just wore it here.” So I guess according to her I have bad taste. But why would you wear something you think is ugly all day at work?

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MinnieMouse December 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

This definitely belongs in Holiday Hell, she was extremely rude as well as inappropriate. It definitely warrants a letter or phone call to management.

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DowagerDutchess December 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

@Psyche- what on earth does this have to do with the story and why does it matter that he was Hispanic?

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Stacey Frith-Smith December 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

In your best kindergarten teacher voice. “No, no! We must keep our hands to ourselves! Remember that you are a big girl now!” Problem solved.

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Ashley December 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

I don’t like people getting in my little bubble of personal space, so this story already bothers me, then I think about the fact that it’s cold and flu season and I’m bothered even more.

The salesperson should have known NOT to touch you at all, and to back off the first time you said no. I worked retail for 3 years and the only time I EVER touched a customer was if I bumped into them by accident, and then I apologized profusely

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Cat Whisperer December 12, 2012 at 11:28 am

If this had happened at a place where alcohol was being served, there might be an explanation– but not an excuse– for the employee’s behavior.

But since it happened at a shop that presumably didn’t have a liquor license, I guess we’ll just have to go with sheer stupidity, won’t we?

This incident gives the same cautionary lesson that yesterday’s posting does, if you assume that yesterday’s eHell transgressor was trying to make a feeble attempt at humor. I’m sure the sales assistant who attempted to strong-arm the OP thought she was being funny, that her actions were all in seasonal good fun, and that everyone would perceive them that way.

Once again, the lesson to be drawn: unless you absolutely, positively know the person on the receiving end of your “joke” will “get” your humor and will appreciate it, you’re better off not trying for laughs.

If the sales assistant had made a general announcement that the shop was hosting a “Holiday sweater contest, with prizes for funniest sweaters; entry is free, if you want to enter or watch, please come to the nursery area at [whatever time],” there would probably have been smiles and a good time would have been had by all.

But to single out a specific customer, call her sweater ugly, attempt to physically force her to participate, and then scold her for not being “fun” when she declines to participate– ye gods and little fishes, if the sales assistant wasn’t drunk, then she must have either the IQ of a house plant or the sensitivity of a toilet seat. Or both.

Side note: it is never, and I mean NEVER okay for a sales person of any kind to lay hands on a customer for any reason except an emergency in which the customer requires physical assistance, unless the contact is required by the job and the customer has consented to the contact and expects it. Doing anything else invites misunderstandings and lawsuits.

Just for example, I have fibromyalgia and severe arthritis in my knees. I have good days and bad days. On a bad day, if a sales person put her hands on my shoulders, turned me sideways, and attempted to steer me in any particular direction, I would be crying out in pain and would probably be screaming at the employee to let me go because she was hurting me.

Also, it’s worth noting that in crowded shops and malls during the holiday season, pickpockets are all over the place; and one of the things pickpockets do to distract their victims is put hands on them to draw their attention away from their purse or handbag.

If OP didn’t complain to the shop’s manager on the spot, I sure think that a phone call or letter of complaint after the fact, describing the situation and objecting to the sales person’s actions, would be in order.

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Library Diva December 12, 2012 at 11:29 am

This was pretty rude. Nothing’s more of a drag than people who try to force you into ‘fun’ activities. “Immortalized on Facebook,” what a joke, as if nearly everyone isn’t already in this day and age. This kind of reminds me of the “onesie sweatshop” submission a while back, where a baby shower party game was transformed into forced labor and piecework by a humorless host who took it way too seriously. The store employee should have taken no for an answer and was way out of line in trying to force the OP into this.

I don’t think the *concept* of an ugly sweater contest is a horrible one for a store, but I think they went about it the wrong way. The clerk referenced Facebook — this would have been better as an online-only contest. That way, the people running it would have known that the submitters intended to enter, no one would be embarrassed into it, and if the whole thing flopped, the public wouldn’t have noticed as much. Maybe everyone who entered could win a $5 gift certificate, or people could vote for the most outrageous one online and have the winner get a larger prize.

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Missy December 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

I’ll admit it – I wear ugly clothes to go shopping. I like to be able to change quickly so I’m normally in yoga pants and a baggy T-shirt. It has the added bonus that I don’t look like a great bonus sale so sales people don’t mob me. I know I look dowdy and I’m sure the spiffy, stylish sales associates know it too.

But I have never been told that my clothes were ugly and would be surprised if a sales person said that. The touching – especially after you asked to be left alone – is just beyond OK.

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KJ December 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I’m sorry, I know that it is not OK to counter rude with rude, but the second time she put her hands on me she would have got touched back. First time, I can overlook, especially if it is accompanied by a “pardon/excuse me”. The second time, no way.

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Psyche December 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm

@DowagerDutchess: I was pointing out that the OP was lucky that the retail drone didn’t have any ill intentions by trying to grab her, unlike my would-be kidnapper. And you’re right, the ethnicity of the creep had nothing to do with the story. I was just painting a picture of the guy. My apologies.

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--Lia December 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I’m even more irritable than the LW. I can’t even stand it when a salesperson continues TALKING to me after I’ve made it clear that I want to look at the merchandise. When they continue TOUCHING me, well, I don’t suppose I would have called the police, but I certainly walk out of the store. I’ve gone so far as to storm out of the store the 2nd time a salesperson interrupts me when lost in my own thoughts and trying to look around.

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Kat December 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

@lilbearzmom – I would MUCH rather be told my clothes were ugly than touched without my permission by a stranger.

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The Elf December 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Andie, it’s because the last one was a gift. Receiving a gift demands graciousness and thankfullness, even if the gift is at best a joke poorly delivered and at worst an insult. The gift receiver’s options are limited. In this scenario, the poster is a customer in a store. Their options for polite behavior are much greater.

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Ellen December 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

The phrase “I beg your pardon?” was invented for just such a situation. It has so many, many shades of intonation …..

The phrase, “unhand me!” also springs to mind – so useful, and yet so little used.

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spartiechic December 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I hope you reported her to the manager. What if you had a phobia about being touched? Or you had a shoulder injury? Or were autistic? I worked retail for 5 years and would never have dreamed about touching someone unless it were an emergency.

I’ll admit that, if they were having a “tacky sweater contest,” she committed a small breach of etiquette by assuming you were there for it. When told that you were not, she should have apologized immediately and moved on. Trying to drag you there and further insulting you goes beyond plain rude and into boorishness.

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Barbarian December 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I am all the way with Mandy/Cherri/Cat/Cat Whisperer-retail store employees have no business touching customers unless they are doing something dangerous like walking into the path of a forklift truck or a display is about to fall on them. I am hypersensitive and have plenty of physical space issues. If dept store perfume testers pursue me or mall kiosk vendors run after me trying to get me to buy one of those manicure kits, I have learned to stop dead in my tracks, stare them down like they are attacking dogs and say in a cold steely tone: “Get away from me right now”. Once a panhandler kept walking beside me in a parking lot at night telling me some story about how a car break down stranded him away from home with no money. I had to hit the panic button on my car alarm to get rid of him-threats to call security did not even deter him! Last night at a church service, a man behind me tapped me on the shoulder and told me to kneel like everybody else. He, too, got the cold stare and my answer- “My doctor said no kneeling” before I turned back around. Since it was a church, he did not get the full monty of my usual approach to strangers touching me.

Seriously, OP ought to send a written complaint to the store owner or manager who may not have known about the clerk’s behavior. It could help both them and this hapless clerk. In this day, people have no problem at all punching out strangers who annoy them unintentionally.

I also wanted to add a comment to the poster who complained about another poster’s comment about a Hispanic intruder. I live in Texas. If you are in a predominantly Hispanic area, there is at least a 60% chance that you will be approached by a Hispanic person for either good or bad purposes. It’s not a race issue-it’s just a factual observation.

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LadyPhoenix December 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I don’t mind a tap on the shoulder, especially if the person couldn’t get your attention through their voice, or if you dropped something. A simply tap on the shoulder is not a big deal to me.

However, the moment she GRABBED you and tried to physically lead you to where you didn’t want to go — I would fire that woman in a second. You should NEVER grab a stranger and try to lead them. That’s harassment. You should have reported her to management in an instant

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C December 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

How dare that person invade your personal space like that. I would have assumed it was assault and reacted accordingly to remove the clerk’s hands from my shoulders and defend myself.

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Emmy December 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

This is horrendously rude. If they want to run a contest like that, they should ask for volunteers. This type of contest doesn’t appeal to everybody and it should be assumed that if people don’t volunteer, they are not interested. Drafting people runs a huge risk of insulting people because most people do not dress in a way they think is ugly. This was a very bad idea on the store’s part and I imagine they probably insulted other customers as well looking for participants. Even if somebody was wearing a sweater they thought was gaudy, not everybody would feel comfortable being in a contest in front of a group of people and having the pictures posted online.

Besides the initial insult to the OP and her daughter about the ‘ugly’ sweater, the clerk didn’t apologize about her comment when she realized it was the OP’s favorite sweater, and repeatedly tried to force the OP to go to the contest. If a stranger that already insulted me and didn’t respect my first ‘no’, then tried to grab me by the shoulders and steer me, I would probably squirm out of their grip. Trying to push the OP towards the contest was way over the top.

I think the OP’s sweater sounds lovely, but even if she wore something with sequins, bells that jingled, and flashing lights, that would not give anybody a right to make a rude comment about her sweater.

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Redblues December 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm

As a small woman, I am *extremely* sensitive to any invasion of personal space. It is stunningly rude and presumtive. I am also an EMT who regularly touches strangers as part of my work. I bend over backward to avoid being intrusive in any way. Any stranger touching, or worse, attempting to *drag* me anywhere would be immediately be embarassed by my loudly shouting ‘TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME! NOW!’ I would also report such a person to the manager.

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Calli Arcale December 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Y’know, it never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople seem to think that insulting customers directly to their faces is a good business practice. The majority I’ve encountered are good people, but every now and again, you run into one who is either oblivious to the impact of their words (like this one) or just plain doesn’t care or even outright enjoys belittling others. I always wonder how they stay employed.

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nk December 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

In a situation like that, the incident should immediately be reported to the store manager. The employee’s rudeness was bad enough, but physically grabbing customers and trying to force them into the store against their will?? That reflects so poorly on the store (not to mention opening it up to potential lawsuits) that I’m sure the manager would want to know about it so he/she could put a stop to the employee’s behavior right away before she drives away more potential customers. I just can’t imagine an employee not getting fired for pulling something like that.

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Jen December 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I worked in retail in a couple places, including a theme park, and we had strict rules on touching. Grabbing a customer like that would absolutely not have been okay at any place I’ve worked.

If that ever happens again, I think reporting to the manager would be a good idea. Technically, any unwanted touching is battery.

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Angel December 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I would report her to the manager and I wouldn’t be shopping in that store again. And I would tell the manager exactly why.

Ugly sweater contest in a retail store is just asking for trouble IMO. Last year I went to an Ugly Christmas sweater party–but we knew what it was beforehand and everyone deliberately wore the tackiest sweaters we could find. Some people even pinned actual ornaments to themselves LOL.

Never would I approach a total stranger and ask her to pose for an ugly sweater picture. That’s just rude. And a sure fire way to keep customers away!

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