Repetitive playing of Christmas carols in department stores constitutes “psycho-terrorism” against sales people, says an Austrian union.

From morning to night, for weeks before Christmas, there was the same Christmas music in department stores over and over again, said Gottfried Rieser of the Union of Private Employees.

“Many staff in the retail sector suffer psychologically from it. They get aggressions and aversions against Christmas music. On Christmas Eve with their families, they can’t stand Silent Night or Jingle Bells any more,” he said.

It’s all the fault of George W. Bush and the Zionists, of course.

About Joanne


  1. nobody important says:

    There is a simple solution for these employees: find another job.

  2. speedwell says:

    Is it really that simple, N.I.? Go ahead… demonstrate. I dare you. Put your money where your mouth is. Quit and find another job… simply.

    Can’t/won’t do it? Then shut up.

  3. speedwell says:

    I say the above as a music major who was in choirs every year from the third grade up to the age of 25, diligently practicing Christmas music daily from September through the end of the year… and as a craft store assistant manager who ordered the year’s Christmas merchandise around the PREVIOUS Christmas and started putting out the stock around June.

    I don’t sympathize with the government-can-solve-everything crowd. I think they’re wrong to sue. But I also think it’s miserable for a let-them-eat-cake-spouting kook to blithely recommend that low-wage, low-skill workers just quit and find something else to support themselves with. If he owned a business, he’d refuse to hire people who did that. So yeah, I’m angry.

  4. Richard Cook says:

    It’s also a tremendous source of earworms. “Siiiilent niiiiiiiiight, Hoooooooly niiiiight…..”

  5. Joanne,

    You left out the Christian Fudamentalist Right and the Boy Scouts…

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I jerked sodas the summer of 1946. The popular tune on the juke box was “Jack, Jack, Jack, cucachugera” [or words to that effect]. It played almost continuously.
    It was indeed madening, but jobs were hard to get in 1946.

  7. Speedwell,
    There’s a difference between finding piped music irritating, which I suspect most clerks do, and callling it psycho-terror.

    Every job has its irritations, but for those people who really think Xmas music is psycho-terror, I think it’s best that they quit, or maybe see a shrink, for everyone’s sake.

  8. Pfft. Austrians are wimps. A long, long time ago I worked at a Chuck E. Cheese. You just haven’t experienced psycho-terrorism until you’ve worn the rat suit during a birthday party while the show was on in full sonic glory, accompanied by the happy beeps and clicks of video games and skee-ball machines, while somewhere in the background the Vegas-dressed mechanical Elvis-dog sings, for about the fiftieth time that day, its catalog of Elvis’ five most-loved songs.

    Psycho-terrorism indeed. I’m still scarred. I just wanted to win this war, major! Why couldn’t we win this war?! He shouldn’t have pushed me!!

    Woah! Sorry – started channeling Rambo for a second. See how much I suffer?

    Who can I sue?

  9. ccwbass,

    How about the gun manufacturers of the fast-food companies? (Tobacco companies are about tapped-out)

  10. It’s not that I think the music is psycho-terrorism. It’s not that I think the government should do anything about it – it shouldn’t.

    It’s a simple fact though, that Xmas music 8-10 hours a day, over and over and over and over is enough to drive one insane. I worked at an Eddie Bauer through Xmas several years ago, and I seriously considered wearing earplugs to work so that I wouldn’t have to hear “Santa Baby” again. Our Xmas CD (which we were supposed to sell, so we had to play it) repeated every 35 minutes; I usually worked 10 hour shifts… argh…

  11. OK, in the euro-wimps’ defense, there is some pretty bad stuff out there. For example, yesterday I bought the Nat King Cole Christmas album expecting to hear Nat and his small group. No such luck – it was Nat, past his prime, singing against horrible commercial orchestra arrangements.

    I ask you – why? Why do that to Christmas? So, I dunno, maybe the baby-whiny-girlie Austrians have a small, barely discernable point.

    Speedwell: Check it out, homie. Last night I sang the part of Melchior in an ABBREVIATED version of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Amazingly, the music is so beautiful it still held up even as it was chopped down to 20 minutes and performed with an Amahl who spoke his lines (the kid couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but was a cool eight-year-old who really enjoyed his first “acting” gig) reading directly from the book.

    Now THAT’s good Christmas music. I’d recommend it to the Austrians, but someone who would be offended by the overt religiousness of the thing.

  12. Richard Brandshaft says:

    As for “psycho-terrorism” — when I was in Australia, 20-odd years ago, one politician referred for another as “reminiscent of Adolph Hitler.” And that was a minor squabble. It stuck in my mind because it WASN’T a faux pas; there were no repercussions.

    Maybe rhetoric is just more extreme over there.

  13. My daughter was invited to a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party when she was three. The noise, the lights, the worst pizza I’ve ever tried to eat and a giant rat circulating through the crowd . . . I won’t say “psycho-terror.” But I, personally, was traumatized for life.

    On the other hand, my grandmother lived opposite the elementary school, which offered outdoor skating all winter long. They played six skating tunes over and over every afternoon and evening and all day on weekends, all winter long. The first week my grandmother nearly went crazy. After that, she lost the ability to hear the Skater’s Waltz.

  14. Joanne,

    If I was at all involved in your Chuck E Cheese torture, I apologize. On the other hand, if you were the 20-ish yuppie (this would have been 17 or 18 years ago) celebrating her birthday who grabbed the crotch of my rat suit believing there was a girl inside instead of a guy with a, um, package, then you were right to be very surprised when you heard the rat say “Hey!” in a loud, deep voice. True story.

  15. The Australians are mistranslating the Austrians. The German word “Psychoterror,” especially in the Austrian idiom, is better translated as “mental torture” or “Chinese water torture.”

    It is safe to blame “Silent Night” on Austria, though.

  16. hey, ccwbass, was wearing the rat costume a punishment? You know, “Late again, Johnson, well we’ll see about that–you’re Chuck E Cheese for the day. 3 parties–and one of them’s the Hyperactive Boys Choir’s annual chocolate and sugar field trip. HAHAHA!

    I’ve always wondered…

  17. Jack:

    It could be a punishment, particularly if I had to wear it after one of my sweat-prone high-school staff had worn it. On the other hand, sometimes I’d come out and the little birthday whelps, suddenly confronted with a giant, talking purple rat, would positively freak out. So sometimes it was cool, too.

    And, yes, I did once or twice dish it out as actual punishment, but only if the bathrooms were already clean.

  18. Does anyone actually enjoy having nothing but Christmas music playing in stores, every day between the end of November and Christmas (and sometimes later)? I don’t know of anyone who does, which makes me wonder why this trend hasn’t died yet. Can’t the marketplace do better than this?

  19. I like Christmas music, but by the time Christmas gets here I am heartily tired of it.

    I don’t know why the stores and malls do it. I think they think they have to.

    (Santa Baby … hurry down the chimney tonight. Hee hee.)

  20. !!!

    You are so mean! Heh.

  21. I didn’t realize that George W. Bush and the Zionists had a new album out. Is it Christmas music? Can I find it at Tower Records?

  22. nobody important says:

    If some aspect of my job became unbearable, then yes, I would quit and find another job. Actually, I’d find another job, then quit. And what does low-wage, low-skill have to do with it? Aren’t the high-wage, high-skill management also subjected to this “psycho-terror”? And why the visceral reaction and “kook” label?

  23. So,one might ask,where are the mentally terrorized Disney workers from the “Small word” ride?Hmm?

  24. stoned!

  25. jeff wright says:

    From the silver lining department: great excuse not to accompany the wife in the December slog through the malls.

  26. I spent five years in retail (w/ the same retail chain and store) while in college and worked 5 christmas’. Until you have listened to holiday music from 8am to 10pm 6 days a week for 4 weeks straight, don’t you dare call anyone a wimp or suggest they find another job. It’s not pyscho-terror, it’s darn aggrevating. And yes, it does get to you after a while, along with whining customers and no breaks during the day, except for 10 minutes to eat lunch and 10 minutes for dinner.

  27. Two words:

    Online shopping.

  28. Whit,

    You want whining? Go into teaching. You’ll get whining kids, whining parents, a whining public, and even whining colleagues.

    At least in retail, you get thanked.

  29. Jack Tanner says:

    Stop whining

  30. Only if you whine and dine me, Jack.

  31. Whit: I did one Christmas stint in retail. The music nearly drove me insane — especially the smarmy song the store was using in its advertising. Don’t listen to SuzyQ — teaching is much more fun than retail :).