As we prepare to enter the Christmas shopping season, keep in mind that a little civility goes a long way. It is a shorter shopping season than last year because Thanksgiving is later. That means there will be a lot of raw nerves and stressed out shoppers hitting the stores, restaurants, and malls real soon.

When people are stressed, it is often the retail and service employee who pays the price. Keep in mind also that these folks are under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure, too. Not only do they have their own family's holiday needs to attend to, but they have to put up with grumpy patrons while being on their feet for shifts that are often longer than normal, dealing with customers who are not always in the best of moods.

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As we saw recently with the turkey controversy involving the Wareham Shaw's, retail employees have rules to follow. You may not always understand or like the rules but don't take it out on the front line employees. They are doing their best to make your shopping or dining experience the best it can be. Should there be an issue, seek out a manager and calmly discuss ways to resolve your problem. That's what they are there for.

To say that some consumers can be pushy and demanding is an understatement. Some have mastered it and make it an art form. To be blunt, some seem to enjoy belittling service employees and can be real jerks about it.

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Before you launch into a tirade against a store clerk because the size you want is not available or the hot new toy is out of stock, think for a moment about the person you are about to lambast. When they tell you that they are not authorized to discount an item or accept a return without a receipt, they are simply following orders. Turn around and consider the folks in line behind you that you are inconveniencing while you have your little tantrum.

And put down the damn cell phone while you are interacting with busy service employees.

It has always amazed me how the season of giving can make so many people such a wretched mess. If giving makes you that miserable, you can scratch me off your list this year. I wouldn't want to do that to you.

Remember, 'tis the season to be jolly and not a Christmas ogre.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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