Target Employee Shares Hard Truth: It's Moms Who Treat Retail Workers Worst During the Holidays

Whitney Fleming
Playdates on Fridays/Facebook

It can be stressful to get your shopping done with kids in tow. Who hasn't wanted to pull their hair out when trying to both push a shopping cart and wrangle a toddler away from the hot new Paw Patrol toys out on display? And that might mean that some of the best of us have unintentionally lost our cool, but that's no excuse to take it out on the innocent retail worker who happens to be there when stress levels get high. That is why blogger Whitney Fleming decided to write a stirring post to holiday shoppers, urging other mothers to have a little more sympathy and patience for retail workers this holiday season.

"We're the Moms," she wrote. "We should know better."

  • Like most profound experiences in life, this story takes place in a Target.

    As she wrote on her blog, Playdates on Fridays, Fleming was doing a quick Target run before a holiday party, "but of course by the time I made it to the register my cart was overflowing with holiday items, toiletries for my three teen daughters, and yes, even a 'Ho Ho Ho' throw pillow."

    "The store was on the quieter side, and I was relieved when I saw a teen boy standing outside his lane," she continued. "'I can take you here, ma'am,' he said."

    The two bonded over some hilarious Christmas pajamas Fleming had picked out for her dog, and Fleming sweetly told him that there was no need to bag her five-pack of holiday gift wrap.

    "He smiled and replied: 'I can always tell who are the nice and easy customers even before they get to my line,'" she recalled him saying. "'Really?' I laughed. 'Lots of old, crotchety ladies, huh?'"

    "Well, not really. It's often moms who are the hardest," he said.

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  • Fleming was shocked. Surely, he must have been joking.

    But unfortunately, his expression showed he was serious, and it was indeed the moms, often with their kids with them, that tend to treat him and his coworkers the worst.  

    "I get it," he told her. "I'm the oldest of five and my mom works and is pretty stressed, but I've never seen her be mean to a retail worker or waitress or anything. It's just hard when you've never worked before and people start yelling at you. This is my third job already, and it's the same at all of them."

    According to the cashier, he'd seen a slew of bad behavior from moms over the years.

    "He went on to tell me about a young mom who when her coupon wouldn't work she left all her items on the belt and walked out," Fleming wrote. 

    "Another yelled at him because the grocery store set up a Pokemon display near his register and she was mad that she had to tell her kids no every two minutes about buying the cards. Apparently, the worst was the mother who asked to speak to the manager about his job performance because he could not locate the toy her son wanted with his kids' meal."

  • And the writer had to admit, she too had been guilty of being short with retail staff.

    "At that moment, I realized, this Target cashier could one day be my daughter," she wrote. "It could be your son."

    "I don't know when we went off the rails as parents," she continued in the blog. "I don't know when we thought yelling or belittling or undermining young people just trying to do their jobs was okay. I don't know when we started screaming at 14-year-old soccer referees or 16-year-old grocery baggers or 18-year-old Target cashiers."

    And although Fleming wrote that she can understand why moms -- who spend more time trying to wrangle kids, work, or keep the house clean, and less time sleeping -- might not have the bandwidth to have patience with a cashier, she argues that's no excuse.

    "Maybe we need to remember that our babies will one day be entering the workforce, and how would we want them to be treated?" she wrote. "And what are our kids learning when they see us treat others this way?"

  • That is why the mom decided to pay kindness forward and is urging other moms to do so too.

    Before she paid, Fleming decided to add a $10 Target giftcard to her total. 

    "As the young man handed me my receipt, I handed over the gift card," she recalled. "'Have a Frappuccino on me. It's for dealing with all of us crazy, stressed-out moms.'"

    Even though the cashier was nervous about accepting the gift, Fleming told him that she really wanted him to have it.

    Fleming's post has since gone viral on Facebook, with over 10,000 shares online -- which means that many, many, people have heard her final thought on the issue.

    "We should always be kind when we can -- especially for those who have to work when all they want to do is be home with their families -- but maybe this season we can offer a little more grace to our youngest workers," she mused. "They are just starting out in this world, and I don't think we need to make it any harder.

    "Because we are the Moms," she added. "And we can change things for the better."