Ben Wenzl’s Poem About Working Retail During the Holiday Season Is All of Us
If you have ever held a job in retail during the holidays, you’re aware of the mind-numbing absurdity of topical capitalism. This is perhaps best captured in Omaha, Nebraska comedian and slam poet Ben Wenzl’s “Working Retail During the Holiday Season,” spoken-word poem, which could be alternately titled “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Oh My Effing God Are You Effing Kidding Me,” which functions as a foul-mouthed homage to the collective toils of anyone who’s ever endured this unfortunate but inevitable season. Wenzl's performance is relevant, impassioned, and candid as he spits the holiday hatred felt by all of us who've worked at the Gap or similar spots over Christmas break.
If you are not a person who’s had the soul-crushing privilege of working end-of-year customer service, allow me to break down some of the more insufferable highlights: a maximum number of three holiday albums cycle through one after another on your employer’s PA, every day, incessantly, for the duration of a three-month period; also of note, people are commercially coaxed to buy far more than they can reasonably afford, leading to a high influx of returned merchandise and subsequent cuts to your commission (if you’re fortunate enough to make it); and let us not forget the annual reel of holiday sale brawls (which, by the way, are not as hilarious as you may think).
So this, dear reader, is why Ben Wenzl is all of us. “If that customer returns one more goddamn item,” Wenzl says, “I swear to you I’m gonna break every candle in this goddamn f*cking store, and then roll around on the shards of glass covering the entire surface area until this store floor is a bloody Jackson Pollock.” We hear you, dude.
Stoke your holiday vitriol fire by watching the video below.