Not Quite Almost Christmas Time

This used to be my Most Dreaded Time of Year. It was back when I managed customer support and a SWAT team for online commerce.

SWAT stood for Specialized Wonder-kids who Analyze & Troubleshoot dead-in-the-water computer systems. For ten months of the year no one remembered them but at this time, they were gods. All because of Cyber Monday.

As everyone in the US (and now Canada too) knows, the Christmas shopping season kicks off on the Friday after US Thanksgiving. Thousands of people flock to the malls for Black Friday sales and newscasters show crazy crowds and line-ups of determined bargain hunters.

Back in the early 2000’s Canadians would watch the TV news in awe. Such deals! Such crowds! We had to wait until Boxing Day – the day after Christmas – before we could see bargains like that. It was terribly unfair. That is until savvy marketeers caught on. So what if Canadians didn’t have Thanksgiving in November? We could have Black Friday sales too.

But I digress. My Most Dreaded Time of Year had nothing to do with Black Friday.

It had to do with the Monday following Black Friday when everyone went back to work. Specifically, back to offices with faster high-speed internet connections. More specifically, at lunch time when all the office workers started browsing websites and buying all the things they’d seen on the week-end.

“The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.”

Michael Barbaro (November 11, 2005). “Online sales take off on ‘Cyber Monday'”The New York Times.

On Cyber Monday, retailers who hadn’t prepared for the volumes, would be crying murder when their servers went down, shoppers were abandoning shop carts and they were losing sales.

I would be locked into round-the-clock conference calls, running interference for my SWAT team (so that they could actually do work rather than report status), while escalating levels of executives (unhelpfully) told me of the millions of dollars they were losing for each minute of down-time.

Suffice to say that websites that were ‘saved’ on Cyber Monday would still be on remedial support throughout the Christmas season. Back then this was my most stressful, most hectic, busiest time of the year.

A lot of things have changed since.

1. Online retailing is much more prevalent now. More so since the pandemic. Retailers have learnt how to manage their computer systems for web traffic volumes.

2. Everyone has high-speed internet connection. Everyone, everywhere and all of the time. At home, at work and on their phone. My guess is that Cyber Monday and Black Friday volumes are now rolled into one. Maybe even one week earlier.

3. Best of all … I am retired from working and I don’t have to deal with any of it. Today is Cyber Monday but I don’t care. This is no longer my Most Dreaded Time of Year.

Instead, I can browse the Black Friday sales, watch the latest Netflix movies and enjoy this Not Quite Almost Christmas Time of Year 😉

22 Comments

  1. Glad you don’t have to deal with that stress these days. What you say of Canada is equally true of the UK:
    So what if BRITS didn’t have Thanksgiving in November? We could have Black Friday sales too.
    And boy do we have them!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When I was a kid the sales happened in the New Year. Then they started creeping forwards and Boxing Day sales became a really big thing here. Some shops still have them, but increasingly they are starting their sales before Christmas in an effort to entice shoppers.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting. In Canada, Boxing Day sales are like Black Friday sales in the US. People start lining up at 6am to be first in line when the stores open early at 8am. Kind of nuts. Especially since this being Canada, winter can be negative Celcius outside. Of course, none of that’s been happening the last couple years. It’ll be interesting to see what’s up this year.

          Liked by 1 person

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