A Note For Retail & Restaurant Workers Over The Holiday Season – AND To Those Who Abuse Them

Slightly off topic I know, but this is a subject close to my heart. I’ve done my time working retail both as an entry level worker, and a manager. Neither of those jobs are pretty, and at certain times of year, they get U G L Y.

People think that retail workers are akin to doormats, that they can be awful to them, demanding, rude, and even threaten and/or assault them. I speak from experience. I have been threatened with physical violence, the most horrendous was the threat of rape because I wasn’t able to give someone what they wanted. Being terrorised at work by a group of young men who felt they were allowed to come back into the shop and harass me because the police couldn’t do anything, was genuinely one of the most terrifying times of my life. I’ve also been assaulted by a boss, and subjected to workplace sexual harassment, all during my time working retail.

We get it, you don’t want to be crammed into shopping centres and the like, most likely full of equally irate and sweaty people because someone turned the heat up too high to make everyone miserable. You don’t want to have to queue for hours, or arrive later than usual and miss the item you desperately wanted because it sold out so fast, but you know not getting it will result in the biggest tantrum you have ever witnessed from your eight year old. You promised them. You stupidly promised them because you thought you’d be able to find wherever it is you’re looking for, except that this was the last one, it’s sold out online and it’s too close to Christmas to find more stock. Folks who for their early are selling on eBay at grossly inflated prices because people are horrible shitbags and do that sort of thing now.

You will probably go home and bid on it, hating yourself the whole time whilst sobbing into a glass of your evil MIL’s mulled wine, but not before doing one last thing to let off steam because you will be damned if someone doesn’t feel your wrath.

The poor entry level retail worker just trying to do their low paid and thankless job the best they can, at the busiest time of year; they’re frazzled, tired, probably hungry because nobody had time for a break today, and are full of their own worries from that of a low income and an expensive time of year. You zone in on them, and demand that they check in the back shop to see if there are any left hidden away. They calmly explain that there aren’t, because they have checked for the millionth time today, but you hiss at them to do it anyway. You huff as they walk off to do exactly that and grow ever more impatient as they don’t appear again within thirty seconds. When they come back empty handed, your R A G E peaks and you start screaming at them about how you promised your child, how you’ve been trapped at work all day, how you couldn’t find it online, how you will now have to battle others online via eBay, and you do this at a piercing shriek of volume that could break even bullet proof glass.

You aim this, full throttle at the poor entry level, low paid, exhausted and frankly entirely done worker. They need the job. They can’t afford to just walk away. They have been so polite and helpful all day, and every single day since they worked there, but today you broke them.

Since they cannot magically produce the item you want, you jab viciously at them in other ways. Tell them how fucking useless they are, how their shop is shit and their stock is low quality and useless. You pick apart their appearance. You tell them they look like shit. You keep up this attack until you see their face crumple into tears. You don’t stop, you can’t stop because your own pressure valve is well and truly open, and you couldn’t stop even if you wanted to. You demand to speak to a manager as if that’s going to make a shit of difference. The person you reduced to tears goes off to get them, if they aren’t already there from the godawful commotion you just created. That manager is just as stressed and beaten down, and will either be one of two people, a bastard that takes that out on his employees, or one that recognises customers can be fucking arseholes and don’t deserve a drop of kindness. To be real, most managers fall into the first category, sad but true. The kind ones are the type that walk up and throw a customer out immediately.

The entry level worker is sent away to wipe their face and get on with the other aspects of their job, except that this happens repeatedly over the holidays, because people are horrible and think taking their frustrations out on them is fair. They will go home every day or night, a little more broken than the last, until they can’t cope with it anymore but have to carry on regardless. When they’re not being berated by unhappy customers, they’re being shit on by bosses who have been shit on by THEIR bosses, and the same customers that wanted to scream at them too.

They aren’t paid enough for this level of abuse, nobody is.

It’s worse for women. People are vicious when they don’t get what they want. They say the nastiest things, and the nastiest things you can say to a woman are things like you hope they get raped, or how you’ll be waiting for them after work because you couldn’t get what you wanted. I lost count of how many times I heard stuff like that during my time in retail. I don’t know how, but one of them got my personal details and called me at home with rape threats. It was fucking awful.

When I was assaulted, it was by another manager in the shop I was working in, I was the floor manager, and he was the general manager. He hit me in full view of the other staff because he was so angry. He also hit a customer and threw her out. This was rage because we weren’t there for his sexual harassment bullshit.

There will be countless horror stories from retail workers over the holidays, and they will not all be about customers, some of them will be about their managers or supervisors.

When you walk into a shop, please remember that the person there to help you is a human being. Remember that they are going to be as tired and frustrated as you are, and that if they could, they would probably give you what you wanted because it would mean you’d be happy, and they might actually have someone be nice to them for a change. Please be kind. They have to go home and do their own Christmas, and organise things for their own families if they have them, and they have to grit their teeth and take a deep breath to start again the next day, working the most antisocial and antifamily hours whilst you drink a gallon of mulled wine after your scene in the shop earlier, and the fact that you didn’t win the eBay auction for the toy you promised your child.

People working customer facing jobs deserve to do so in a non threatening environment, they don’t deserve the wrath of shitty customers, and they don’t deserve shitty bosses, but we all know the truth is that they will have to endure.

If you’re working retail, whether in a chain store, a one off store, a fast food establishment, a coffee shop, or indeed anywhere that has to serve customers face to face, I wish you all the strength in the world. I wish you all the patience, fortitude, and ability to brush these monstrous fucktoads off your back, and if you are the victim of physical threats, sexual or otherwise, I wish you the strength to be able to involve the relevant authorities, although we all know that’s another painful and exhausting fight on its own. You are wonderful, patient, and stellar people who deserve everything you need and want.

If you are indeed one of those customers or managers that makes retail workers lives hell because you’re basically a piece of reconstituted BATWANK, I hope you one day wake up and realise that you need to change your actions and stop being shit human beings, but until that day comes, may all your seasonal fare, gifts, and frivolities turn to ash.

Your Christmas unless you change your nasty ways.

Fat Cakes for Birds! 🐦

Apparently I decided 03:00AM was the time to do this. It’s getting colder and colder, and you can help feed wildlife by making fat cakes for them to chomp on.

FAAAAAAAAAAAT

Shit you’ll need:

  • Lard or coconut oil, melted.
  • 1cup of Polenta.
  • 1cup of cooked pasta, sliced up into small pieces.
  • 1cup of mixed seeds.

You can also add peanut butter, preferably smooth, currants, sultanas, uncooked oats, and cheese. Melt your fat source down, and add the rest of your ingredients. I don’t actually have anything ball shaped I can use for this right now, so I’ve put it in tubs to set, and I’ll cut it into cubes to put outside.

I know they don’t look fantastic, but the birds will luuuurve you.

Don’t use any animal fat for this, especially not turkey fat. It coats feathers in the wrong way and stops tweeters from flying, as well as spreading disease. Lard or coconut oil are absolutely your best options.

You can leave them to set in a cool place like your fridge, or in my case my kitchen windowsill because it’s cold on there.

Apricot & Stilton Biscuits

My brain is a very weird place. I dream very vividly, always have. During one of my more bizarre headfuck dreams last night, I apparently found the desire to bake apricot and Stilton biscuits. The British kind, not the odd American kind that seem to be scones under another name. This was a total guess experiment, and I love combining sweet with savoury so here’s what happened.

There were six, but I ate one so then there were five.

Shit you’ll need:

  • 1cup plain flour.
  • 1tsp salt.
  • 1tsp cracked black pepper.
  • 1tsp garlic powder.
  • Half tsp bicarbonate of soda or baking powder.
  • 1 large egg or equivalent in egg replacer (I used egg replacer).
  • 3/4cup of oil – I used 50/50 olive oil and vegetable oil.
  • One massive dollop of apricot jam about 2tblspns.
  • 100g Stilton cheese, crumbled.

Combine all your dry ingredients, making sure they’re properly mingled otherwise everything will be upset. We simply cannot have improperly mingled dry ingredients. Drizzle your oil in a bit at a time until the mixture starts to stick and go a bit breadcrumb-y. If you’re using an egg and not egg replacer, add it now.

Dump your dollop of apricot jam into the mix, and crumbled Stilton. I used to fork to mash it all together until it turned into a stiff (childish laughter) dough.

Six on me well used baking tray.

Scoop and press lumps of dough into a lined baking tray, making sure you use a bit of oil to grease. Bake for fifteen to eighteen minutes until golden brown, in the centre of an oven on a medium heat. Mine were ready in fifteen because I have one of those fan assisted contraptions.

They’re great for just shoving in yer gob, or eating with soup or stew instead of bread. This will yield twelve, but I only have a small baking tray so I had to bake them in two batches.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies 🍪

This is not my recipe, it’s one I’ve slightly altered for my own tastes. The original recipe is HERE.

I used egg replacer, and substituted the packed brown sugar for muscovado sugar, and the standard sugar for icing sugar. If you want a dairy free option, try using coconut oil or vegetable oil in place of the butter, either will work. Using a high cocoa content dark chocolate will be fine to keep any milk out of the process. I’ve said before that I keep egg replacer in my cupboards because it’s very economical to do so for the price.

It was so bloody hard NOT to just scoff allllll the dough.

The first six.

My kitchen smelled fucking amazing with these baking. The last photo is a pile of eleven, because obviously I had to scoff a warm cookie when they were ready, duh.

Soooooo chewy.

DIY Toilet Fizzbombs 🚽

There’s a fair amount of clean loo products out there, but apparently one of the things of the now, are things that fizz and give off fragrance. Fair dos, I mean who wants a nasty shitbox?

If you look at the ingredients, the tablets are essentially similar to bath bombs, except yer chucking them down the loo. I use coconut oil in my bath bombs, but you shouldn’t do that with this unless you want a blocked and slimy bog. These substances are safe to mix, and there is no bleach involved.

Shit you’ll need:

  • Moulds of some description, something with small sections. Silicone chocolate moulds or ice cube trays are good ideas. If you only have larger moulds, then you can cut the tablets to size after.
  • 1cup of bicarbonate of soda.
  • Half a cup of Epsom salts.
  • Half a cup of citric acid crystals.
  • A BASIC liquid surfactant, such as washing up liquid, an anti bacterial one is a good idea.
  • This is OPTIONAL, but if you want them to be fragrant then you’ll need to add either fragrances suitable for use in soaps etc, or your favourite essential oils. Ten drops of oil or the equivalent in fragrances.

This will make a large amount of fizzies, because this combination puffs up like fuck. That’s kind of the point. You combine all the dry ingredients, and slowly drizzle your chosen liquid soap in SMALL AMOUNTS until it fluffs up. When you have finished with the soap, add your chosen scents if you’re adding any.

Yes it might LOOK like meringue, but please don’t eat it because you’ll be quite sick, and you’ll also look a bit silly.

It will shrink down when you mix it, but left to sit it swells again. It is for that reason that you only need to put a very small amount in your moulds as it will end up like this if you overfill:

You can also cover the tray with waxed paper and weight if you find it just won’t stop mutating.

Fill a box with water to act as a weight if needs be.

Ideally you’ll leave the mixture overnight to set properly. Once they are set, throw one down the loo and watch it fizz it’s arse off. They’re also great for shoving down plug holes as a freshener.

I pressed them with a spoon, but they puffed up a bit more.

…aaaaand here they are in action down the bog:

I s’pose if you wanted to you could add food colouring if you want colour in your fizzy shitbox, but that’s up to you.

Mushroom Coriander & Lime Soup 🍄 🌿 🥣

You can use fresh or bottled ingredients for this, you work with what you’ve got. You can also substitute lime for lemon if you’d like.

Shit you’ll need:

  • 300g chopped mushrooms or equivalent in canned or frozen.
  • 2tblspns lime or lemon juice. You can also include the zest if you’re using fresh fruit.
  • 2tsp dried coriander, or equivalent.
  • 500ML vegetable stock.
  • 1tsp salt.
  • 1tsp powdered garlic.
  • A chopped onion.
  • 2tsps cracked black pepper.
  • 2tblspns olive oil.
  • 1tblspn of Worcester sauce.

You can either either enjoy this soup blended or chunky. Everything can go in all at once into your slow cooker for around ninety minutes on auto. It also works well served over rice if you choose not to whizz the fuck out of it, or enjoyed from a large mug if you do.

If you want a creamier soup, add a can of coconut milk, or your desired equivalent.

Potato & Cheddar Cheese Soup 🥔 🧀 🥣

This is pure comfort food, cheese and carbs.

Shit you’ll need:

  • Some spuds, or instant mash flakes. Use two large potatoes per person. I leave the skins on.
  • A chopped onion.
  • 750ML vegetable stock.
  • 1tsp cracked black pepper.
  • 1tsp garlic.
  • 1tsp English mustard.
  • 1.5 cups of medium to mature cheddar cheese.
  • 2tblspns of olive oil.
  • Optional: mixed herbs.

If you’re using instant mash this will take less time. If you’re using raw potatoes, you’ll need to cut them into small chunks, and shove them in your slow cooker with the stock first of all. I don’t feel you need to add salt to this recipe because the cheese will have plenty of salt in, as will the vegetable stock.

If you’re working with raw potatoes, add everything but the cheese and cook on auto for as long as they need to soften. If you want to keep the soup chunky, just add the cheese and allow to melt for a further half an hour. If you want a smoother soup, whizz the fuck out of the soup in a food processor before returning it to your slow cooker and adding the cheese.

If you choose to add herbs, add them with the vegetable stock, or you can sprinkle them on top of the soup when you serve it.