This hall of fame (or shame) may make you decide to stay home this year. But if you do brave the mall, be sure to take along a cash-back credit card, to make your shopping more rewarding.
The following stories have been edited for clarity and readability.
1. They thought it was Black Fry-day
I worked in a Best Buy for a few years. The one that definitely takes the cake was the time my general manager had to call the police and fire departments when a family became irate when he told them they couldn't deep-fry their Thanksgiving turkey in the parking lot.
They started threatening to torch cars and burn the store down.
2. She just didn't get it
I've worked for Best Buy for three and a half years now. One year I go in at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to prep for our midnight opening.
We hand out tickets at 9 for the doorbusters. A few of the people at the front of the line aren't there to keep the product, just sell it for profit. One lady sells her ticket to someone closer to the middle who didn't get one.
The "buyer" gives her $200 cash. When she gets inside to pick up her TV that was on sale for $200 she insists she paid for the TV already. She couldn't comprehend the fact that she bought a ticket from another customer, not a TV.
We spent about an hour with her before she left mad without her TV and $200 less in her pocket.
3. The woman who wasn't 'in the zone'
I used to work at Best Buy in college a few years ago. They had zones [that] us blue shirts couldn't move from. So I got zoned for Wii systems and games, not so bad.
One lady comes running up and asks if we have Christmas-themed baby music on CD. I say there is no way we have that, but I can't help since I'm zoned for gaming. She storms off like I had just become Scrooge to her Black Friday.
Probably two hours later she comes back pushing a CD [in] my face like she had bested me. All I said was congratulations for taking two hours to find it.
4. He didn't know what they say about karma
I had a rude/obnoxious customer refuse to leave the store after we closed (we were re-opening an hour later for a sale event), so I told him "OK" and just let him be.
Once we reopened I told him that he had to get at the end of the line before he would be allowed to purchase anything.
5. They tangled over a toaster
I was in a Walmart a couple of years ago when a guy got in a fight with a woman over a toaster. It got really heated and the woman took out a switchblade/pocketknife.
She started swinging all over the place trying to scare others away and she ended up slicing the guy down his arm. The guy sprinted to the front of the store, and the woman grabbed her toaster and sat down across the aisle.
An employee came by a few minutes later and mopped up the blood. She got the toaster.
6. Granny went gangsta
I worked at RadioShack for a year in college. During Black Friday, one of the sale items was a $10 calculator marked down to $5. Two sweet, elderly women came into the store looking for them.
When I told them there was only one left in the display, it was ON. It turned in to a geriatric version of roller derby without the skates.
I always imagined some little kid opening presents on Christmas morning and getting this stupid $5 calculator, not really wanting it and having no clue about the back story behind it, as his grandma, sipping her tea, looks on with a triumphant gleam in her eye.
7. Whatever floats your boat
I remember once when I used to manage a department in Walmart on Black Friday there was this plastic kayak for like a really low price with the oars and everything.
Some guy got in the kayak while scooting himself through aisle with the oars just tossing stuff onto it.
Was pretty funny. I didn't tell him anything cuz, well, it made me laugh.
8. Why not Wi-Fi?
I stood behind a lady at Target who was returning a newly bought iPad. She was livid because her iPad wasn't charging. She claimed that the tablet had [a] Wi-Fi connection to the store, and it wasn't charging like it was supposed to.
She was told that the cord [that] came with it was the only way to charge it.
She balked at the statement and adamantly said that since it's hooked up to Target's free Wi-Fi, it should be charging. Sadly, this is not the case ...
Sad to think she thought Wi-Fi charged her iPad.
9. The pain in the glass
One woman thought that it was a good idea to break the glass on the game display case to get to the games rather than asking for me to unlock them.
As she cradled her bloodied elbow and forearm, she yelled at me for not using tempered glass.
Sorry lady, [I] didn't realize that someone would be using their arm as a battering ram on my cabinets.
10. She wasn't ready to be 'paid forward'
A woman I was working with was at Best Buy waiting in line on Black Friday. There was a gentlemen in line, two people in front of her. He tells the cashier he will pay for the next two people in line's items.
The guy in front of her had like a big screen TV and a few other items. She only had a Celine Dion CD. Why only a Celine Dion CD? Who knows.
Turns out the person who said he would pay for the items was Chad Johnson. Former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver.
11. The man's microwave maneuver
On Black Friday at ASDA (British Walmart) there were these microwaves like 70% off, and the store ... was so busy you couldn't move.
There were empty shelves all along the aisle up to these microwaves, and a guy laid down on the shelf and army-crawled along the shelves, grabbed a microwave and army-crawled back with it.
12. Mother of the Year
[I] worked at Walmart and there weren't anymore shopping carts. [I] saw a man lift a car seat with a baby in it out of the shopping cart and leave said baby in the middle of the aisle while Mom was busy trying to get $5 DVDs.
I'm watching as this goes down, and I pick up the car seat with the baby and tell the mom what happened. Do I get a "thank you"? NO!! She proceeds to yell at me for touching her kid and letting the man steal her cart!
... I just walked away as she continued yelling and digging through the DVD bin.
13. Grandma's got game
[I] worked at Walmart during college a few years back. Because Walmart keeps the store open, unlike say Target or other stores, we are setting up the merchandise right in front of the customers, it's literally like setting up a buffet in front of hungry bears or something...
We opened up the display for the board games. This old lady, I'm talking maybe in her 80s, had two empty carts, and when we opened it up she grabbed as many as she could fit in the two baskets ...
14. Leapin' lizards!
A pet store near a store I used to work at caught a lady on Black Friday trying to smuggle a lizard out of the store by sticking it down her pants.
... I believe that this must be a common idiot's way of trying to steal stuff. In their pants.
15. The Black Friday blues
I worked at a Toys R Us. While I was walking around to find people that need help, I found this guy in a corner covering his face and crying his eyes out.
When I asked him if he needed help with something, he just kept saying "I just want to go home... I just want to go home..."
He looked to be about 50 years old.
16. Not a brewtiful time
I was working at a mall bookstore's cafe. I had the opening shift. Unfortunately, the late shift person called in sick, so I had two hours off before a 4 p.m. to close shift.
I actually had a customer who was stalking me and spent the ENTIRE day sitting in the cafe reading a book and occasionally coming up to order something new.
Any time I wasn't behind the counter or in the back room he followed me around, including during my two hour shift gap. Worst Black Friday ever.
Two weeks later he did approach me while I was working and asked if he could clip my fingernails as a keepsake. That was enough to get him banned from not only the store, but also the mall.
17. Total witchcraft
The worst moment for me came when a customer tried to buy a pack of scrapbook page protectors.
The customer was attempting to buy a pack of 25 but was convinced the price was wrong because she was looking at the sticker for the pack of 10. She screamed at me for a good five minutes while I calmly tried to explain the price.
Finally, it ended with the quote, "You're ruining my Thanksgiving, you stupid witch."
Trying not to scream back after that comment, I replied with "I'm sorry to hear that, but unfortunately, I cannot give you the lower price as it was not mislabeled."
She responded to that by throwing a punch, which I ducked. My manager saw the whole thing and the customer was escorted out and banned from our store.
18. Knife to meet you
I wasn't that great at my job, so they had me running people from the line they had set up to different registers and quickly answering questions from customers. No big deal.
At about 1 a.m. as I'm running customers back and forth we hear a commotion on the other side of the store and a few police officers come in.
Turns out some guy had broken a bit of plastic off one of the information plaques and tried to use the pointy bit to stab an employee in the neck. I never found out why he did it. People are crazy. I am so incredibly thankful not to be working retail anymore.
19. Stick-'em-up grandmas
Get to the store around 3 a.m. and there was a line around the building.
Usual busy as heck story up until I was asked to help some elderly ladies with a carryout. They smiled as we were walking out, but, as we passed through the doors, our alarms went off.
Our policy says we have to rescan or recheck the items and these ladies start to freak out. Saying our systems are screwed up, they didn't do anything, that I put something in their cart.
We open up their boxes and find several cartons of ammo. So at this point, we have to call the cops but they decide to (very slowly) book it but we're not allowed to follow them out so I see them make it to their van and drive away
20. You’ve got to be shipping me
It was the first year we did nation-wide online orders, and so I went to one of our shipping locations.
Turns out the computer system that communicates with our store server was down and we had no way of knowing.
We showed up at 1 a.m. to pull orders, and they trickled in, about three per hour — obviously, it felt like a waste — and at 5:30 a.m., we had 600 orders pop in to pull immediately.
Of course, since it was such a waste of time, the location manager sent the receiving team home at 5 a.m., and I had stuck around in protest. So I was the only one on hand to fulfill the orders. Rough day.
21. A bloody mess
One year while working at Kmart on Black Friday, I stood up too close to an end-cap, and ended up gashing the top of my head on a sharp shelving corner. The cut was just inside the hairline, and blood starts going everywhere.
Luckily, I thought, I'm near the back of the store, and I was only about 20 yards away from the "employees only" area. I got stopped three times by customers. With blood pouring down my face, in a span of about 50 paces.
Only one of them asked if I was okay (after I helped them with their shopping problem FIRST, of course), and they all gave me this dull look as they talked as though they were consciously trying to block the fact that, yes, they WERE talking to someone who needed medical attention, but they REALLY needed to find that $20 DVD player first.
22. A bear-y interesting experience
I went to a local Target and the store had already opened by the time I got there.
My friend and I were browsing some of the PS3 accessories and games on sale there and we heard a giant crash from the other isles. I kid you not, I heard a massive "ROOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR."
I peeked out of the aisle to see some guy dressed as a grizzly bear completely tearing up this store. He had techno music playing from every stereo system at Target.
I watched as he tackled shelves and other things in each aisle.
When the workers came to realize what was going on. I watched as they chased this bear throughout Target and it was the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. Eventually the bear got tackled by some security guards.
23. Shocking vigilante
One year at Best Buy, we had several complaints where just was someone would grab something they'd feel an incredible shock and fall down.
My manager was terrified that some wiring under the laptop display had come loose and the display was shocking people.
After a quick review of the tape I discovered the truth. Some guy was standing behind the first wall of people and had a small handheld taser. When the cops were taking him away he was commenting that he was only getting the jerks!
Sure enough he would wait until someone was shoving their way to the front or throwing elbows and would wait for them to grab whatever they wanted then zap them.
24. A smashing good time
One man tells me he drove over an hour to get to me, only to wait another hour in a line, to have the concierge say no appointments.
He gives me this huge sob story, blames the fact that he's pissed off due to waiting in line and wants me to comp him a new iPad for his troubles. I tell him I can't and it will be $320 to replace it.
The next bit happened like a flash. He flipped out and started smashing the iPad on the studio wall table. Threatening me with my life and job...
Glass was going all over the place, the store which was packed came to a halt to watch this dude flip out on me. My manager runs over and what I witnessed astounded me.
We comped him a replacement iPad and a case...really? Retail is the worst.
25. A tall order
One year I had to sit on top of a ladder because I was stuck on it once I got up there — the customers had managed to pull down a section of slat wall digging through some heavy items and I had to fix it in the middle of the madness.
I was just digging out sizes of merchandise at the top of the wall for customers all day while they screamed out sizes. The aisle was so packed, no associates could break through to even get to the wall for other customers.
So I was the last person standing in that area and had to shout out orders to other areas of the store and call down sizes at the same time.
It was surreal. I even had to talk an associate through the return process and give them my code because I myself couldn't get down off the ladder to get to a register.
26. Screeching nightmares
Circuit City. I worked 16 hours that day. Got in at 4 a.m., and there was a line wrapped around the store already. I worked in the back, so we handled all the larger items (TVs, stereos etc.).
Whenever an order is placed from a sales associate on the floor, it makes a loud screech noise once.
6 a.m. comes and everyone starts flooding in. Grabbing everything. We are all in the back observing this madness because it hasn't hit us yet.
Then the orders start. It's screech after screech for the next 14 hours that I'm there. It never stops. You'd think it would take a break for few minutes? Nope. That thing screeched non-stop.
By the time I left, I heard that screech noise in my sleep. In my dreams. When I woke up. For the next two weeks I couldn't get rid of that noise. It was awful.
27. Book it out of there
A lady actually beat me with one of the store advertisement books.
I was helping another customer find something and holding her booklet, when another lady grabbed it from me. I told her it wasn't mine to give, but I would find her one in a second.
She proceeded to beat me with it. It didn't hurt, but it was very demeaning. Instead of getting mad, I went and tracked down another advertisement book, found her and gave it to her.
The look of horror on her face that someone would be kind to her after that was better than anything. I made her feel like a bad person all while I remained a good person.
28. Merry freakin' Christmas
A lady came in, loaded up her cart with TVs that weren't on special and thought she could just walk right out with them.
Needless to say security tackled her at the door, and she punched the security girl right in the stomach. Big mistake! She got slammed HARD against the brick wall before being cuffed.
She was dragged back into the store kicking and screaming about how we were "ruining her children's Christmas."
As security dragged her in two young college boys in line started a slow clap for her that led to every guest in line clapping and shouting "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" It was glorious.
29. Not so much of a Swede-heart
First job after moving was at Fry's. Also the first real day of work was Black Friday.
Had a family come in. His kid starts screaming I want Xbox. So dad decided to buy one, unfortunately I had just sold the last one.
Dad and kid went into berserk mode screaming at me, I get knocked to the ground.
Could have stopped there but no Dad starts kicking me in the ribs, his kid decides its okay that daddy is beating me for not having an Xbox for his son so he starts kicking me too.
Ended up having to be rushed to the hospital. Several broken bones, nose and ribs.
After my brief stint in the hospital I decided I never wanted to go through that again so I moved to Sweden. Much safer here.
30. Sew much trim, sew little time
I work at a large fabric and craft store. To purchase fabric, you have to first take the bolt(s) to the cutting counter.
People bring their fabric to us [at the register] and expect us to cut it. When I tell them I can't do that, some of them understand. Some of them argue.
One man brings a basket of unmeasured trim to the front. Sent him back to the counter, guy flat out refused. Wouldn't listen to us, yelled over our explanations. Called us all idiots and some other colorful obscenities.
He keeps getting louder and more aggressive.
He turned and started chucking the spools of trim in the direction of the cutting counter. Took out a candy display and some other stuff.
It was kind of terrifying, this guy was out of control, for a second I thought he was going to actually assault one of us, but thankfully once he ran out of trim he stormed out of the store.