Monday, December 26, 2005


What a week.

Predicting when customers will shop is very difficult. Friday was one of the top ten busiest days EVER, in the existence of our store. After that we were gearing up for an incredible Christmas Eve, but were disappointed. We had 99% of our employees working, but ended up with an average Saturday. Granted, shorter hours with the same sales as a normal Saturday, but still--it's Christmas Eve--I expected a lot more people/sales.

Then surprise was INSANE. Quite a few returns, but most were exchanges where the customer ended up owing more money, so that was fine. People using gift cards, spending Christmas cash, enjoying the day off of work/school. We had a few more people than normal working (with the high school employees still on school vacation) but could have used some more help.

Most customers were civil; the others obviously needed a nap.

Toddler 1: We had one register closed to switch between cashiers. All of the other registers were open and running at full speed. A woman loudly complained, "Can't they open another register?!" when it was VERY CLEAR what we were doing. No one else was complaining, because they realized that no one can work 14 hours straight. The register must be closed between cashiers! It takes maybe 10 minutes. Deal with it.

Toddlers 2, 3, and 4: I was packaging items for a customer while THREE other parties stood nearby, staring at me, as if that would make me move faster. I took my time finishing with the first customer and by then two of the toddlers had found someone else to help them and the third wanted to know where the widgets were. "Yeah, right there," next to where you've been standing for the last ten minutes.

Toddler 5: Asking stupid questions, and I do mean STUPID. Then expecting me to walk her to each and every product that has to do with the issue and spend a half hour explaining each of them. Do you see any other customers in the store? How about do some of this research for yourself, then come back with some idea of what you want to buy. I don't get some people--anytime I spend that much money I have some idea of what I'm buying and what I need and how to keep it running well.

I can't think of any more examples right now because I'm too tired.

Oh, in employee news, an employee I've been having MULTIPLE problems with did a no call/no show on Christmas Eve. He had some kind of excuse, but he's lied so many times that I don't believe anything he says anymore. Boss is being entirely too lenient. A no call/no show deserves disciplinary action. If you can't come to work, you call. You're never that far away from a phone. If you're unconscious or dead, then I'll excuse you for not calling. Otherwise, I EXPECT TO HEAR FROM YOU.

And on Christmas Eve, a day we were expecting to be very busy, doubly so for something concrete to be done against him. But was he disciplined? No. I may go into more details about him later, or not. Eventually either he's going to leave or I am. His behavior is completely unacceptable, and Boss is letting him get away with it. I've considered taking it above Boss's head, but that would make things more difficult between Boss and me and probably not do much good. Long story, for another day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dirty Dumpsters

Today I got to handle a trash disposal issue. Whoever empties our dumpsters......and I'm still not entirely certain how this all works.....has been leaving trash all over the place and not putting the dumpsters back where they belong. So after talking with at least a dozen people at quite a few government offices and private companies I found out who it was (why can't they make it easy and put the name on the side of the dumpster?).

One of the phone calls was to our local government code-enforcement office, so after finishing my phone calls I went out with a couple of employees to clean up the mess behind our store so just in case anyone from code enforcement decides to stop by we won't get cited for any violations. (Not all of the chaos was due to the trashmen. Some of it was due to lazy employees.)

It was disgusting......rotting piles of garbage were everywhere. I felt a little bad asking the employees to tackle such a distasteful task, but they were glad to get away from customers for a while. The fact that I was helping, out in the cold and filth, may have contributed to their good attitudes, too.

Now it's nice and clean behind the store; the dumpsters have been moved to their proper locations; and only 4 more shopping (working) days until Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

There Was a Woman From !@#$%^&......

These holiday hours are killing me. Close late, open early.....where's the time to sleep?!

I had several good customers today. They actually remembered the polite phrases and behavior they learned in kindergarten! The other customers.....need to go back to kindergarten.

One customer from *a totally different area of the country with a totally different way of doing things* complained to my boss about me. A customer complaint?! On me?! OK, here's the situation.

The store was busy. No kidding, it's the week before Christmas. I was helping a customer figure out which product would solve her problem; it was a pretty in-depth thing. The rude customer from *the place that I've visited once and don't really care to visit again because of the attitudes of the people who live there* INTERRUPTED us to ask where something was. It was on the same aisle that we were on so I pointed it out to her, then continued with the CUSTOMER WHO WAS THERE FIRST.

Well, about a minute later the woman INTERRUPTED US AGAIN to ask an in-depth question about the product she was considering. I stayed totally calm and very politely told her that I'd be glad to help her when I was finished with the first customer. Is that so unreasonable??

The out-of-town woman responded, "Don't bother!" as she walked to the front and complained to my boss about how rude I was because I "refused" to help her. Then she asked, "Can't she walk and talk at the same time?" What?! Helping two customers with two very different yet complicated problems at the same time? That wouldn't be providing good service to either one of them. How would the first customer feel if I had stopped helping her to help the out-of-towner?

In response to the complaint, Boss did her "I'm so sorry, how can *I* help you?" spiel, made the sale, and got the woman OUT OF OUR STORE. Hopefully she'll go back to where she came from and never return. At the next lull in customers Boss related the story to me and we had a laugh about it. Boss knows I do my job, and knows that people from *place that's far away* are generally rude and selfish and overly demanding.

In my store, FIRST COME FIRST SERVED, as a general rule. Now Mrs. F. who's in every week spending $100~$300 or the lady with her monthly sprees often totalling $1000+, usually get slightly better/faster treatment than someone I've never seen before. That's fair. Mrs. S. doesn't spend a lot, but is always so pleasant to deal with. I'll go out of my way to be the one to help her. The middle-aged lady, quiet and withdrawn, is a new favorite as she starts to open up with me. Mr. "Greetings and Salutations" keeps me on my toes with his cryptic choice of words, but brings some laughter to the day.

You've got to **earn** special treatment, either by being nice or spending lots of money. You can't just walk in, throw down $10, and skip in front of everyone else.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Puzzle Pieces Fall Into Place?

What would you think if the shelves in your store stayed empty for weeks on end, shipments were irregular and smaller than normal, they stopped sending store supplies (toilet paper, paper towels, pens, paper clips, etc.), some vendors stopped delivering to the store altogether because they weren't getting paid…….

For a few weeks we excused it because of inclement weather and other extenuating circumstances. After the bills were paid deliveries started again and the shelves began to return to normal. However, a few weeks later the situation repeated itself. The office is also cracking down on when we're allowed to refund money. Our paychecks have arrived on time and in full so far, with the exception of the week-long power outage.

What do you think? Should I be worried?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Biting My Tongue

What is it with people asking if a product is "in the back" or if we "have it somewhere else" in the store??

I was in the store on my day off, doing some paperwork that had to be completed that day. Brilliant, right? I worked the day before and the day after, but I couldn't do it early or late. The manager on duty didn't have the authorization to do it, so I had to come in on my day off. And work. On my day off.

The young cashier saw me and passed on a question from a customer as to whether we had a particular item. When I told the customer that we were out of the product she was looking for, she threw a fit.

"I know more than you about your products. I should work here."

Whoa. Where did that come from?

"I'm sorry, but we're out of that item. We may have some more next week."

"You know, it's sad that I know more than you do about what you sell. You don't even know what you carry. There might be some in the back."

I bit down on my bottom lip, HARD, and tried not to roll my eyes. I repeated that we were out of the item, and there were none in the back. Then I walked off. I SO wanted to say more, and the fact that I wasn't in uniform made me so tempted, but........I've seen the lady before, must be a regular, and I'd still get in trouble. Bite and walk, the best course of action.

Does it make any sense, WHATSOEVER, to have empty shelves but lots of products in "the back?" Where is "the back," anyway? Our "back" is the size of my bedroom at home, if that. It contains a bathroom, a breakroom, store supplies, extra store fixtures and such, defective items, cleaning supplies, and yes, a FEW items that won't fit on the shelf. But when there's room on the shelf, we put the items out.

It's been my experience that items don't sell well when they're in "the back." It generally helps if customers can see them, touch them, carry them to the cashier to pay for them, etc. Customers have no brains. "The back" doesn't exist. If it's not on the shelf, we don't have any.

I know, you're terribly inconvenienced and we should give you a 500% discount and deliver the item to your door in person. But guess what? Retail doesn't work like that.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Latest

It's pretty sad that it's dark when I go to work and dark when I come home, too. I feel like I'm living in Alaska or something. Seeing the sun is nice every now and then!

The store is still busy, but because of the increased sales we have more employee hours to use so the sales floor is more adequately covered and I'm a little less stressed.

We put up some more Christmas decorations today. That's about as decorated as it's going to get. It sure takes a lot more time to put stuff up than to tear it down at the end of the season!

"Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays"

The whole "Merry Christmas" controversy is insane. People are choosing where to shop based on how the employees choose to acknowledge the holiday?! My store doesn't have an official position on it, while I don't care if my cashiers say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or "Have a great day" or simply, "Thank you." I continue with my normal year-round send-off because I'm just not in the holiday mood, at least not yet.

Some customers very pointedly say, "Merry Christmas!" and I usually respond, "You too." I mean, it's not Christmas yet. Christmas is on the 25th. My store isn't open then. Why should I say "Merry Christmas" now? Now with some of my regulars I'm more friendly. I heard how excited one lady is because she gets to visit her son; an older gentleman asked for his gift because he might not see me again before the holiday. He thinks I'm with it enough to have shopped already?

Anyway, the whole "Merry Christmas" thing.......while I consider Christmas a secular holiday, its roots are religious and I'm not into forcing religion on other people. If they ask or even seem interested, I'll certainly share. Never had the opportunity at work, but with friends we've had pretty deep conversations. Life, death, after death, God, which god, the difference between religion and church. If someone doesn't want to hear something, then trying to make them listen will only build a wall that's not easily torn down.

I've seen signs outside businesses that say something like, "We say 'Merry Christmas.'" Yeah? So? Do you provide good service? How about your prices? I don't care if you're politically correct. I care if you give me what I need.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I hate people.

My main cashier was on a break so I was filling in for her. A lady came in and demanded an item (didn't ask for it, but DEMANDED it). After I got it for her she wanted something else that was RIGHT behind her. I told her where it was but she seemed annoyed that I didn't come over to help her pick one out. Yeah, whatever—there are a zillion different types and I have other customers waiting to hand me money, pick one out for yourself!!

There was one register open. All of the other registers had their closed signs up. I was in the front cleaning a shelf within easy sight of the doors and registers. Yet people still had trouble figuring out which lane was open. "Where do you want me?" "Oh, all the lanes are closed, I guess it's free today! HA HA HA!" "Which one's open?" Is it that difficult?! I want you at the only register that doesn't have a rope across it!

18 days left. Will I have any hair left by then?

Friday, December 02, 2005


At this time of year we run out of stuff more than normal. It's because people are shopping more than normal. Is that a hard concept to grasp?

Sometimes our in-stock numbers get messed up too. We might be completely out of something but the computer thinks we have enough of it so the item is not reordered. When that happens I first have to notice the empty shelf and then research it.......did we just sell more than normal this week so we're out of it, or did someone forget to stock the shelf, or is our distributor having supply issues, or did the computer not order any of it because it thinks we still have some?

Yesterday I researched some bare spots on shelves and fixed the problems, including the items that the computer thought we had some of. Today I assisted a customer who was asking about one of those very items. He asked when we would get more of the item so I explained it might be a few weeks because of the computer error. He responded in a very domineering way, "Computers don't make mistakes; people do. I know someone on your board of directors." He said it as if it was MY mistake that we didn't have any of the item. I just FIXED the problem; I didn't CAUSE it!

Is that a threat? I think it's despicable when customers threaten me. I thought to myself, "Do we even have a board of directors?" Then I explained, AGAIN, that I was sorry for his inconvenience and the problem had been fixed but it might take a few weeks to get the product in again. After all, our computer talks to corporate computer, that computer talks to the people who make the product, those people send the product to corporate, corporate sends them to us.....that doesn't happen overnight.

The customer repeated his threat, "I know someone on {Big Competitor's} board of directors! I wouldn't say anything to him about this, but……..I expect you to compensate me for this."


I didn't point out to him that we aren't {Big Competitor} but that we're {Us}. After all, if he's mad enough to talk to someone higher up, let him talk to his friend {Big Competitor} to complain about our store and only then find out that they don't have a store in our area. If he knew who we were he might ask for our office's phone number and cause problems there.

I apologized again, knowing that I could make fun of him all I wanted once he left. I showed him the smaller size of the item he wanted and, after checking with my boss, offered him a rather significant discount on the larger size when it came in. It wasn't as much as he wanted, but what he wanted wasn't anywhere near reasonable. The boss said that was it, not a penny more. Take it, or shop someplace else. We went above and beyond to help you; there's no way you're getting us in trouble.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Impatient Customers

LAG screwed up. She closed the store by herself for the first time, but she obviously wasn't ready. Not only did she not close her cash register correctly, but she also did not close the credit card machines.....AT ALL. She's semi-management and can't handle a single cash register?! And the credits--managers get in trouble if it's not done EVERY day, WITHOUT FAIL. Semi-managers don't get in trouble, not really. Does she care that she screwed up? No. Does she apologize for making the managers look bad and costing us money? No.

And's been so busy lately and they're so impatient. If all the sales employees are busy, they'll come to the cashiers to ask where something is or for help getting a heavy item. The cashiers can't do anything! They have to stay at their posts to take care of you AFTER you collect the stuff you're going to buy. If you want to be shown to a specific item, you'll have to WAIT until someone is available to help you! Don't complain about the cashier "refusing to help" you! They'll be glad to help you....AFTER you get your stuff. Further, by taking me away from what I was doing so that you could complain, you in essence made the wait longer for everyone.

Only 24 shopping days left....can I survive?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Repeating, repeating, repeating, repeating, repeating....

So back to work.

Busy, busy, busy.

I'm so tired of repeating myself! Why are people so stupid?!

My cashiers got backed up so I had to open a register. The idiots flocked to my line. A woman asked me the same question TEN TIMES and then got mad at me when I got short with her. I'm serious......TEN TIMES.....the same question, the same answer. A line of people. Who wouldn't have lost patience? She gave me a lecture on how I'm there to help her and answer her questions. Of course I am. But not the SAME QUESTION AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN when there are other people waiting to check out!

Another woman asked a cashier if we were accepting donations for a local cause. The NEW cashier (been with us perhaps two weeks) wasn't familiar with the program so she asked me. I said yes only to get an earful from the lady that I should let my employees know because that's a very important cause and customers shouldn't have to ask about donating to it. I agree, that's why there's a sign at EVERY SINGLE REGISTER promoting the program.

A newish employee didn't show up for work and didn't call either. Usually that would mean an automatic termination, but he's friends with the SM's nephew so he got off without even a lecture. No way. That is not going to work for me. If it happens again I will protest. Strongly. Because if we let him get away with it then we have to let everyone do it and we can't run a store like that.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Today I am thankful.....

....that I don't have to work tomorrow!

....that my store is still closed on Thanksgiving, one of the few holidays that we do close.

....that my store doesn't have any crazy sales like the one at Best Buy. I passed by there on the way home and 10~15 people were waiting in line for the 5 AM opening. This was at 5 PM!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What do you want?

I called Friendly to ask about a product that we're currently out of. In the course of our conversation the possible employee transfer came up. Again. She said that the regional manager was going to talk with my SM about it. I told her that she might want to talk with the SM herself. She really didn't want to, not knowing the SM or anything, but she called back later and they discussed it. The SM repeated what I said….it's OK if Friendly takes the employee, but not right away. After their conversation the SM asked me if I had told Friendly to talk to her. Well……….yeah, so? The SM was even MORE upset. Mostly with Friendly, but I think a little with me, too. Sometimes I just can't figure her out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Being "Childish"

I mentioned Friendly's Request to the store manager. The SM agreed that we needed a little time before we could let the employee transfer stores, but she wasn't happy about how Friendly is doing things. The SM had already heard about the employee being fired (a story in and of itself) from another SM but had heard that the regional manager told Friendly to look OUTSIDE the company for a replacement. Interesting. {Yes, there's a lot of talking in my company. Since the office doesn't tell us much, we have to hear stuff from other stores. Knowing stuff before the office tells us is absolutely necessary, since they don't tell us stuff until too late to do much about it.}

Further, the SM thinks Friendly is being "childish" by calling to talk to me about it instead of the SM. I don't understand why the SM is upset. Besides the SM being off yesterday when Friendly called, Friendly knows and has worked with ME, not the store manager. She wasn't calling to officially ask for the employee; she was calling to inquire about the possibility of a transfer in the future. I didn't see it as childish. I could understand the SM being upset if Friendly was asking me in an official way or if we were trying to keep it a secret from the SM. But it was just an inquiry! Then again, we are quite a bit younger than the SM. Perhaps she's seeing something that we aren't. Anyone out there in internet land understand SM's perspective and care to explain it to me?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Friendly's Request

My friend the manager at a nearby store called today. Let's call her "Friendly." Friendly just fired one of her top people for misconduct and needs a replacement. Surprise, she was inquiring about the possibility of getting one of my employees. It would be a promotion for the employee and a significant pay increase as well. But we don't want to lose her!

We talked for quite a while. I made sure Friendly knew the employee's strengths and weaknesses so she knew what she was getting into and what kind of hassles to expect. The employee is good, but occasionally there are some interpersonal issues that need management intervention.

I told her I guess she can have my employee if she really needs her, but we need 2~4 weeks to train the replacement since we're down a person at that level anyway. Normal employees are one thing; semi-management employees are quite another.

Nothing's firm yet so I haven't told the employee involved. The last thing I want to happen is for it to fall through and the employee to be disappointed. Friendly doesn't know if her boss will make her get an outside person or if she can do a staff transfer. It would be lots easier on her to have my fully-trained and quite competent employee. We'll have to see how it plays out.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mental Issues

We have one regular customer with severe mental issues. I'm not just using that as an expression for someone I intensely dislike; she is really messed up.

On numerous occasions she's bought up to $300 worth of merchandise at a time. A few weeks/months later her husband returns it all, most opened, some partially used, but almost all of it a total loss. We can't resell it, but have to take it back anyway.

I had heard about the customer numerous times and recorded her returns as losses numerous times, but only met her recently. Not that you actually meet her, because she won't talk to anyone. She wears gloves (to protect her hands from germs??) yet still gingerly picks up items, holding them far away from her body. She always spends at least an hour in the store. She doesn't just shop or look around, she scrutinizes everything. Her husband stands nearby, saying nothing, only watching.

As I was cleaning up that evening, I came to a secluded area where she had spent a lot of time. There were several neat stacks of merchandise on the floor. She had pulled ALL of the items of that type off the shelf/peg where they were sitting/hanging to choose which one she wanted (when they're all the same anyway). The last thing I wanted to do when getting ready to close was put ALL of the items back on the shelf.

So the lady has a problem. That's too bad. But why doesn't she stay at home/get help for the problem? Why does she come into my store, make a mess, then return merchandise that we can't do anything with? It makes extra work for us and makes higher prices for other customers. I have to deal with enough "the customer is always right" types to have to deal with people with genuine psychological disorders, too. I feel bad for her husband, I really do. But how is letting her shop/buy a lot of stuff that he later has to return helping either of them? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


It was a SLOW day. Did we make enough money to even pay our employees?? The last 45 minutes we didn't have a single customer. Then at 3 minutes 'til close a couple came in and spent TWENTY minutes in the store. We were extremely attentive, but they were "just looking." We turned off half the lights, but they continued to look. We asked what they were paying with, and they acted like we weren't doing our jobs right. Whatever. We're closed. NOW LEAVE. Earlier in the evening I thought that I'd get to go home early. Guess not.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

No More Babysitting!

I've got this new employee. Not like that by itself is an unusual thing, but anyway. She was very enthusiastic and talkative in the interview so I hired her despite her youth and lack of experience. Usually the high school students, once we've trained them, work out fairly well because they don't mind the low pay and we offer flexible hours. They learn quickly, show appropriate respect to the older customers, and don't mind working weekends.

However, this employee acts like she's TWELVE. She's careless on register, is very flighty, and I have to tell her multiple times to do something. She has NO SENSE of time management. There's a list of closing tasks that must be started EARLY in order for us to leave at a decent hour. I should not have to continually remind her about these duties! And non-routine tasks, too: you've got to be constantly on her back for her to finish. She'll start something but then get distracted and never go back to the original task. (She reminds me of this former employee.)

On top of all that, when she's working the sales floor she can't do anything on her own. She must "assist" someone else. Talking, flirting, doing anything but working. It's driving everyone (managers and employees alike) crazy. We'll give her a little time to get her act together; otherwise she's out the door. I have a business to run. I don't have time for babysitting.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Power of a Compliment

The day started out fairly badly. I had a lot to do but I kept getting interrupted. There were a couple of difficult customers, employees had questions and issues, unexpected shipments arrived, I was very behind for the day. I had just gotten a good start on what I needed to do when I was called to do a return. Great.

I must have looked like I was having a bad day, or perhaps the older lady just likes being nice, but she really made my day. As I processed the return, she made small talk and then the shocker, "You have an AWESOME store!" Why thank you! Perhaps all of my hard work produces something!

After that my mood changed. I suddenly wasn't as tired, had more patience with stupid people, and didn't hate being at work. That woman probably has no idea how she improved my day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Phone Calls

{These are examples, I don't want to reveal the specialty area of my store.}

First phone caller: "Do you carry {computer viruses}?"

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Just because we're a {computer} store we're going to carry {computer viruses}?!

Second caller: "Do you have {computers}?

......... Yes.

Directionally impaired caller: "Where are you located?" (They think phrasing it like that makes them sound so intelligent.)

Our address is {123 Any Street}, which is just east of the intersection of {Major Highway A} and {Major Highway B}.

"Where's {Major Highway A}?

Where are you coming from?

{City 20+ miles away.}

Oh. (Why are you coming all the way to my store? I know we have a good reputation, but that's a long way to drive!) Well, how do you usually get to {my city}, because I have no idea where {your city} is. Any map of the area has {Highway A} on it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Get a life!

Without revealing the exact location of my store, shall I just say that we had some inclement weather recently. It was bad enough to have to temporarily close the store. Although only minor damage was done to the store, major damage occurred at several of our distribution centers. As a result we got virtually no deliveries this week, so our shelves are emptying. This, of course, is my fault. It's "bad business" to not have the products that my customers who spend "thousands of dollars" at my store, want to get.

Regionally: the roads are blocked. The power is off. A couple of our stores were destroyed. There is very limited gas to get any available merchandise to the stores. Curfews are still in effect in many places. Some employees haven't even been paid yet. But, it's my fault that we're out of certain popular items. Get a life, people. Major damage was done, and you're pissed because you can't get the brand that you usually get?!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Being Creative

Not much for me to do today, so I tackled a section of the store that's been driving me crazy for months. It looked cluttered and disorganized and some items we don't carry anymore so there were empty sections and new items were crammed in at weird points. In short, it looked BAD. I re-merchandised the entire section, made new price labels, and spot cleaned as needed. It took all day, but now it looks GREAT!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Do you have..........

Some people need to be a little more specific.

Today a woman came up to me and asked, "Do you have {LONG pause as she thought of what she wanted} applications?"

I came pretty close to responding, "What kind of applications?" After all, there are applications for skin, hair, eyes, teeth, many kinds of "applications" are there? Because of her long pause, I thought she was asking about a product. It then hit me that she was asking for a JOB application. No, actually, I don't have one. The company has some, though. They're in the front. Ask the cashier.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Interviewing isn't my favorite thing to do, but it can be interesting. A guy called in to check on the status of his application. Well, I couldn't find it. A few days before I had purged the old applications and the ones with NO CHANCE of being hired: criminal history for shoplifting, wanting $10/hour, availability 9-5 M-F (it's called "RETAIL," that means WEEKENDS!), etc. So anyway, this guy sounded OK on the phone so I told him I couldn't find his application but he could come in and fill out another one and we'd do an interview.

The minute he walked in the door I knew why I'd put his application in the "NO CHANCE" file. You could smell him from TEN FEET away and he had a very rough appearance that was unsuitable for our shop. Not a rough like "he's had a rough life and looks it" but a "he doesn't care what he looks like and will have trouble conforming to our dress code standards." It's a job interview! Comb your hair! Take a shower! Wear clean clothes!

I did a brief interview with him anyway: no retail experience, no {our specialty area} experience or knowledge WHATSOEVER, no verifiable references (since the garage he used to service cars in had closed), but he "really needed a job". Besides all that, I am 99% sure he was on some type of drug. He rarely made eye contact--his eyes were shifting around the entire interview; his hands were also very restless.

Bottom line, and most important in my opinion, is considering the safety of my employees and the security of our store. I would not feel comfortable being alone with him. Say, at closing or even in our break area. He wasn't huge but he was certainly stronger than me. Our cute little 16-year-old cashiers, the young junior manager and her tight pants............What if he didn't work out? He seemed like the type who wouldn't just walk away. Do we really want someone who might be on drugs to have access to tons of cash and know our security procedures? NO WAY.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The answer is...doesn't really want the job.

The girl I wrote about on Thursday called Friday morning to say that she was bringing in the new hire paperwork. Since she lives a 2-minute WALK away, we assumed she was coming in soon. We waited, and waited, and waited. Round about 4 PM she finally came in, but without the paperwork. She'd found a better paying job, but she'd brought her nephew with her since he needs a job.

Hmm..........after the way you just acted, you think your nephew has a chance with us?? First you commit to the job and promise you'll bring the paperwork back the next day. Then you drop off the face of the earth. Then you call and say you're bringing in the paperwork. Then you say you don't want the job after all.

I gave her nephew an application and went back to what I was doing, which was within sight of where he was filling it out. He needed help to fill out the application--lots of help. Nope, don't want you here. If you can't fill out a job application on your own, then you can't understand our subject area and use our expensive equipment correctly so as not to cause damage.

Interviewed a teenager too. Not good, not bad, just someone if we can't find anyone else, then would be an option.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Staffing Updates

One of our junior managers applied to work somewhere else, in a vastly different field, because "it's too far to drive" to our store and she doesn't get respect from the employees. Oh please! The respect issue is a two-way street: if she treats her employees like slaves, then why should they respect her? She still hasn't quite gotten over the power trip. (This isn't the new manager, but one who's had her position for a bit.)

We have an employee transferring in from another store. Finally, a new employee that I don't have to train………he already knows what he's doing! He's a REALLY hard worker, good with customers, OK as cashier, friendly with co-workers. Since he's coming from a store in a different region, our stores do things slightly differently, but nothing that he can't adjust to.

The store manager interviewed a new girl (normally my job, but it was my day off). The next day the girl came in for the new hire paperwork and I didn't get a real positive vibe from her. But that point, it was too late--she was already hired. Well, she was supposed to bring back the paperwork the next day, but she didn't show. What does that mean? That she's busy, or that she doesn't really want the job?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Choose for Yourself!

I've only recently understood that some people want to be told what to buy. They have absolutely no brain cells to be able to decide for themselves. I can explain the differences between several items and the benefits of each until I'm blue in the face, but they still want me to tell them what to buy. Fine. Buy this one. It might not be what's best for your particular situation, but since I don't know everything about your situation, given what I do know, buy this one.

People ask which is better, the $9.99 or the $14.99 one. OK, let's think about this for a minute…….besides being a bigger paycheck for me, the higher priced item means higher sales, means more employee hours, means same amount of items handled with more employee hours, means less work for me………..oh, the $14.99 one is MUCH better. There's a reason some items are more expensive than others. They're better products, or the company is more reputable, or SOME reason. We don't just randomly pick prices.

Other people ask for my recommendation and then it's like they're purposely choosing the other one. It usually happens like that when I have a STRONG preference for one product over another, and it has nothing to do with price. Some companies have bad reputations or some products don't work well. Yeah, we're here to make money, but in general I recommend products that I know are good, regardless of price.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

QUAL Returns

The regional manager came for a visit, and our score keeps getting better. If we were in elementary school it would be A++++. The store looks great. Sales are up. The only thing that needs improvement is some of our junior managers still need to work on customer service. Of course, it's not easy when we have customers like we have.

The Queen of the Universe and All Time came in again…….to return the $5 item she bought. The only item, to my knowledge, that she has EVER bought from us. Surprise, she had the receipt, so I had to give her the cash back. She took up another 20 minutes of my time asking stupid questions, then left without buying anything. It's customers like her that make costs higher for everyone else, besides putting us in bad moods.

Friday, October 14, 2005

An Arrest

The excitement never ends.

I was in the front doing a return, and before I knew it a man was being placed in handcuffs by plainclothes policemen, IN MY STORE.


It was done very quietly, such that there wasn't a big scene or anything, but still! The policemen took the man outside and another policeman asked us where the man had been in the store. I don't know! I was helping other customers! What's going on?

The policeman went on to explain that there had been a shooting at a nearby hotel and the man matched the description of one of the suspects. He may have hidden the gun in my store.


Hey, we have lots of weird customers and kids running around unattended and you're telling me that there may be a gun around here somewhere?!

The employees looked everywhere that we'd seen the man go. I tried to think like a criminal.........where would I hide a gun if I didn't have much time?

I had to ask the store manager about something else anyway, so I called her and filled her in on the situation. We discussed how weird it is that so many things are happening lately.

The policeman came back in and told us that there was another suspect in the shooting so the suspect they arrested in my store might not have been the one with the gun, but that we should give them a call if we find the gun. Oh, and don't touch it. Yeah, no problem. Fine with me.

For the rest of the evening we were talking back and forth with neighboring stores, comparing what different people had heard and seen, trying to get more details.

The "victim" in the shooting ran away from the police, too, so it was presumably drug related.

What is up with this neighborhood lately?!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Break-in Follow-up

Nothing much has happened related to the break-in besides exchanging a few phone calls with the police. Them asking if we remembered anything else that might help them; us asking when we can have the things back that they took as evidence; stuff like that. They'll never catch the people who did it. No fingerprints, no witnesses, despite lots of people around at the time. The night of the break-in I saw several areas where the police could have been more thorough. But as far as their office procedures, I am impressed by their follow-through. They actually return calls! Wow! I'm used to people using their voice-mail as a trashcan.

I've refused to close by myself since it happened. If I'm not through with the paperwork when my employees are done with their duties, too bad. At least one other employee WILL wait for me to finish before we leave. I really don't care if that employee sits there and does absolutely nothing, on the clock, as long as I'm not there alone. The other night I asked one of my high school students if she would mind staying late. Hey, extra money! I put her to work putting up signs for the sale that began the next day while I hurried to finish my paperwork so we could leave at a decent hour and wouldn't violate child labor laws.

Nothing has been said from the upper beings in my company regarding my tiny least not yet. I don't know what I was expecting....a phone call the next day saying, "You're fired!" or a surprise visit and a nasty yelling fit from the prick himself, maybe. Nope. Nothing. I'm hoping the police will perhaps leave out that tiny detail so that nothing more will come of it. It's possible. After all, my immediate boss knows all about it and didn't do anything in the way of disciplinary action, not even an informal lecture, because IT DIDN'T CONTRIBUTE TO the break-in in any way. But Mr. Prick being as he is.........

Sunday, October 09, 2005

LAG forgets how to work

Even though she hasn't been in charge yet, Loud Attitude Girl is becoming overly confident and is getting less and less done each shift. Just because you're part of management now DOES NOT MEAN that you can STAND AROUND AND DO NOTHING while telling everyone else what needs to be done. Yes, you must direct your employees to the tasks that need doing. Yes, you must supervise your employees to make sure they're doing the tasks correctly and not goofing off. Yes, there is paperwork for you to do. But you must also work!

As I've been learning to manage, I've learned that the best way to lead is BY EXAMPLE. I started off as a tyrant and no one liked me much so they did tasks to the minimum standard required only after a lot of threats from me. Now that I'm more comfortable in the role of manager I've backed off and allow my employees some choice in what tasks they do and how they choose to do them. They'd better stay busy, sure, but there's more freedom.

By working alongside of them I show them the proper way to do things and let them get to know me. They see the high standard that I hold myself to and the pride I take in a well-run store and well-trained employees. They know that I'm proud of them and the way they work and the things they do. They do high quality work and do the routine tasks without reminders because they want to please me, not because they're scared of me or worried about keeping their job.

No one likes to be bossed around. Until LAG learns this, she won't be a very effective manager. I realize that she has to learn this lesson for herself. HOWEVER, when the other junior manager got promoted I lost several good employees because they couldn't put up with the BS. I don't want that to happen again, and I don't want the store to go downhill, either.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

LAG fails the mystery shopper

Loud Attitude Girl got a bad service evaluation--again. She needs to lose the attitude! Again, she had tons of excuses: "My shift was over, I don't remember helping that customer, why didn't someone else help him...."

It doesn't matter that your shift was over, you must still be polite and enthusiastically help the customer or FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO HELP HER. That would have been fine. When I'm on my way out with something to do, I still ask customers if they need help. If they say yes, I say someone will be right with them. Then I IMMEDIATELY get another employee to help them and continue on my way out the door.

You don't remember helping that person?! That doesn't matter, either. How many customers do you help each week? Do you remember ALL of them?! I know I don't! What, do you think the person picked a name out of a hat and just happened to put your name on the evaluation?

Why didn't someone else help him? Because you helped him!! Or didn't help him, as the evaluation showed. Again, if you needed to leave, GET SOMEONE ELSE TO HELP THE CUSTOMER.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Peope who think they're special

I was opening this morning with the store manager. We were getting a delivery when a woman walked in with the "I know you're not open yet, but I just need one thing" speech. The store manager hesitated, explaining that the registers weren't even open and there wasn't any money in them yet. Then she let the woman in. Wimp!

Of course, the "one thing" turned into FOUR things, one of which the customer needed my help with, as I was in the middle of doing tasks that MUST be completed before we open.

When will customers get it through their heads that they are not special?! I don't care that you "drove all the way across town" just to shop at our store. Come on! What stores of our type are open at that time of morning?! Had it been only me opening the store, you would have been WAITING OUTSIDE for the 30 minutes. I don't care about any of your sob stories. I have stuff to do and our hours are STANDARD and POSTED ON THE DOOR!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I don't have an answer, either!

Today I had a customer who was displeased by the service I gave. You see, this customer was having a problem, had consulted a professional, and the professional said that nothing could be done. So the customer came to me, a retail manager, and wanted me to give him a solution. Hello! The professional, with tons of education, training, and experience, has declared the case hopeless. If the professional doesn't know, then how should I?! Of course, the customer gave me an attitude like I'm not doing my job because I wouldn't contradict what the professional said.

Helping customers was hard all day. I feel like why should I be so nice to them, especially when they treat me like trash, when I may be risking my safety to be here. Even now the would-be-robber may be watching, gauging our business, planning the best time to try again. This time he may have better tools, or come while we're still open, or turn to violence. Why should I put up with such crap all the time?

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Break-In

The weekend sucked. Big time. My store was broken into. Nothing was taken, but nevertheless there was stress and a mess to clean up and lots of people to call.

Worse, as closing manager the night that the break-in occurred, I did one itsy bitsy tiny thing wrong. Something that we OFTEN do, but apparently are not supposed to do. While that thing did not at all lead to the break-in or make it better or worse in any way WHATSOEVER, if the police include certain details in their report then the higher beings in my company will ask questions. If they ask questions, I have two choices. I can tell the truth and most likely get fired, or I can lie and hope that the other managers and I coordinate our stories well enough.

The police never directly asked me about the itsy bitsy tiny thing, but they did ask my boss. In an attempt to make things look OK and/or protect me, my boss played dumb/was intentionally vague/basically-but-not-quite-lied-to-the-police. I stood by and said nothing.

It appears to be an inside job. Several of our stores have had break-ins with very similar details lately. I'm really paranoid, and I totally don't want to go to work. They know where everything is now. They know how long it takes the police to respond. And apparently, they were waiting for me to leave before they entered the building. Less than a half hour after I left and the alarm was going off. Coincidence? It scares the shit out of me to think that they might have been preparing to enter the store even as I was finishing out the closing paperwork in the darkened store, all alone. The fact that I was talking to someone on my cell phone as I locked the front door and got in my car might have stopped them from attacking me.

The day after the break-in we instituted some changes for improved safety of our employees and better visibility of certain areas of the store. The damage couldn't be completely hidden, even after all the managers' late-night repair-what-we-can-and-get-maintenance-in-first-thing-Monday-morning. Employees were told to attribute the damage to an "accident," if any customers asked. If the break-in was discussed within earshot of customers, employees would be disciplined. It's a safety issue. We don't want it to be widespread knowledge that we're an easy target so the whole area tries to rob us.

We were unable to contact our regional manager until about 12 hours after it happened. We had to go through another manager to get approval for the late-night, expensive repairs. The other regional manager was PISSED. Not that he got a late night phone call or that he had to help us; he didn't mind that. He was pissed that our regional manager wasn't doing her job by being available for this type of thing.

A new employee (lasted a whole 3 days) quit the day after the break-in. Poor timing. I don't think the employee would have done it, but right now I suspect everyone. It could be her. Or maybe the disgruntled employee's husband. That one customer has been coming in a lot recently. Why is that guy so interested in if we've had good business lately? That guy is straining his neck awfully hard to see inside my cashier's drawer. Why is that woman just standing there while I count the change in the safe?

My first night closing since the break-in……… dad came up and stayed with me until I finished all my paperwork. Then he helped me make sure all the doors were secure, as we're doing a temporary fix on one of them. I must have checked the safe 10 times; each door was quadruple-checked. I am paranoid!

I haven't had much sleep and the sleep I have had is full of "Did I lock the safe? Is the alarm set? Is the side door bolted? How about the back door? Was someone hiding in the bathrooms waiting until we left? What if……………………." Will I ever feel at ease again?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Have I pissed you off?

I had one particularly bad customer today. We were EXTREMELY short-handed while at the same time EXTREMELY busy--a bad combination.

I was helping the lady, probably 40 or 50 years old. Not old enough to be senile, but old enough to be able to look around and see that there were other people who needed help so she should ask her questions QUICKLY and let me help other people. Of course she wouldn't do that! She was indecisive and continued to ask me which item she should buy. Well, that all depends on what you want to do. She never adequately explained what she wanted the item for, so I couldn't very well recommend which of the 50+ items would work best for her. Finally I just picked one, not caring if it did what she wanted or not.

Then she had another stupid question. Then another. When she got to the cashier she questioned the price of EVERYTHING (our prices are very clearly marked) so I ended up cashing her out. She continued talking, asking questions totally unrelated to the merchandise, and even filling me in on her life story. I stopped responding to her comments so that she would pay attention and finish writing her check. {THIS IS THE 21st CENTURY.....IT'S CALLED A DEBIT CARD.}

As we were finishing she asked, "Have I pissed you off?"

I hesitated, {OF COURSE YOU'VE PISSED ME OFF! YOU'RE STUPID AND HAVE NO CONSIDERATION FOR OTHER PEOPLE! I don't need to know that you almost died twice from heart failure and your husband doesn't think you should get another dog because you have too many pets and you're thinking about changing brands of toothpaste but you've had the one kind for so long that you're just not sure yet. There are other customers in the store who need my help! I need to use my key to unlock an expensive item for that woman; that man needs something from the top shelf; the kid over there wants a job application; the old lady needs someone to carry the heavy item to her car; the cashier needs change; another cashier needs a void; there's a spill that needs to be cleaned up NOW............} "No ma'am, it's just that there are a lot of other people who need help."

"You should have told me you were busy so I could have gotten someone else to help me."

"There is NO ONE ELSE."

"Oh. Is _____ still the manager?"

"Yes." {Is that supposed to be a THREAT?}

If she knows the manager, then the manager likely knows her and how ANNOYINGLY STUPID she is.

After we finished the transaction she looked around a little more, continuing to make stupid comments and take up the time of no less than 3 employees. Before she left she commented to another employee about "how rude" I was. Yeah. Whatever. I warned the store manager that the lady might call her to complain about me. The manager had no idea who the lady was, even when I described the way she looked and acted in great detail. I explained the situation, how busy it was, how much time she was taking up, and exactly what I did and said. I'm rude because I won't listen to her? I don't think so. Anyway, if the lady calls to complain, the manager will listen sympathetically, explain how busy it was, apologize, promise that I'll be beaten, etc., and then do nothing further about it.

On a good note, our office called with approval to hire THREE employees. : ) Perhaps we'll be back to normal and fully staffed soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hiring; LAG gets the promotion

We were short-handed all morning (damn the tattletale!) so I ended up cashiering for several hours. It took all day to finish what I usually do in a half-day or less. Then in the afternoon I conducted interviews. Of 3 interviews I hired 2 people. One was GREAT, while the other was OK. The OK one worked at one of our competitors for a few months so I wasn't too keen on hiring her (that store has a bad reputation) but I REALLY needed someone to work mornings so I took the chance. They're both really outgoing and enthusiastic and I think they'll fit into our work environment really well. Hooray!

LAG did pass the background check, but so far she's listening and has a teachable attitude. As I explained things, she accepted my explanation that some things are stupid but they must be done a special certain way or the office freaks out and starts taking money away from the managers. The store manager is letting LAG learn things very slowly… will be a while before she's left in charge without another manager nearby. As long as she remembers that being a junior manager doesn't mean she's a real manager (like, as long as she still listens to me!) and continues to work on her attitude with other employees and customers, maybe it'll be OK.

I must say, it is nice to have another member of management in the building. Now if I want to run to the corner store for coffee or need to pick up store supplies mid-shift, I can do so myself instead of sending one of my employees for me. Especially for personal stuff (not foreseeable stuff, but like getting cough drops to soothe a sore throat or something), I hated sending employees because it's obviously not their job to run errands for me. But at the same time, a member of management must always be in the building. Now if I need to leave for 10~15 minutes, I can, with my cell phone close by in case LAG needs help.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


More drama in the store. I swear we could make a soap opera about our employees. One of the newer but not very new employees quit. Surprise, surprise, right? Well it's not the fact that she quit that's the surprise. It's HOW she quit.

The current managers didn't want to hire her in the first place, telling the then-manager that we had a bad feeling about her. But the then-store manager didn't care what anyone else thought so hired her anyway. (That manager is now at another store.)

She never fit in with our other employees, was always concerned with when her next break was; she was slow and made lots of mistakes and didn't do her share of the work. I showed her the same thing 5+ times and she STILL couldn't do it correctly. My friend's 11-year-old could have done the same thing after 2 or 3 demonstrations, no exaggeration! That's just some of the MANY, MANY problems we had with her. Had she not quit, she would have been fired within the next month or so anyway. I went into her further in Problem Employees.

So, on to HOW she quit: this employee called the REGIONAL manager, a close personal friend of hers, to quit. She told a lot of lies about the store and how it's run………we let regular employees do returns and voids, the managers don't work their scheduled hours, we treated her badly, etc. etc. Of course, no notice was given, so we're even more short-handed. Luckily, despite the relationship between the regional manager and the employee, the regional manager realized that we wouldn't be stupid enough to do the things that the employee said we did. So, bullet dodged, we're not getting into trouble or getting extra scrutiny.

A couple of things she said are sometimes true in special circumstances. Case in point: if I'm dealing with a difficult customer and another customer has a simple exchange, no money changing hands, I'll toss my keys to a long-term employee whom I trust and let her do the exchange. This lets me continue resolving the difficult situation without making the good customer wait. Officially against company policy, but keeping with the spirit of customer service. Another example: yes, I am sometimes late to work. But considering all the extra time I put in at night fixing that particular cashier's screw-ups, helping a customer when I'm on my way out the door, etc., I work my hours PLUS some.

We suspect that the employee thought she could tattletale, "quit," and then have the regional manager come in and give us all a good thrashing and give her the job back. Nope. Had that happened, we would have found ways to make her life a living hell, while following company rules to a "T." {sinister laugh}

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fine, don't listen to me.

I am SO MAD at the store manager right now. I thought I had her talked out of promoting Loud Attitude Girl. She decided to go ahead and put in the paperwork anyway, to see if she'll pass the background check. But if she passes the check, then she'll be a junior manager. Do you remember the problems I discussed with you?! I SO hope she doesn't pass the check. (It's basically to check if there's a criminal history or if you have a lot of unpaid debts or something—if you can't handle your own money, the company doesn't want you to have access to large amounts of cash.)

The very day that I found this out, the closing paperwork didn't add up right. What do you know, LAG undercharged a customer by a hundred bucks. I caught it so I could charge LAG for the mistake. Had I not caught it, I would have been charged. Again, she can't handle simple transactions on one cash register, yet we're going to let her handle the paperwork for the WHOLE STORE?!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Still Hiring

I called two people to come in for interviews but had to leave messages; they never called back. In the meantime two people walked in, filled out applications, and had decent interviews. One of them had cashier experience, and as my best cashier is wanting fewer hours and threatening to quit, I hoped that she would work out. I had to discuss it with the store manager before I officially hired her, though. So later in the day I called the girl to have her come in to fill out all the paperwork the next day. She said sure, no problem, she'd be there.

After I left for the day the girl called back and said she "couldn't come in" to do the paperwork until four days later. She didn't say why it had been OK at first but then it wasn't OK. The thing is, I told her in the interview that I need people NOW so she obviously doesn't want the job that badly. I was if-fy about hiring her to start with.

When I called her the next day to tell her that if she couldn't come in that day then don't bother coming in at all, she had a LOT of excuses….she couldn't get off from her current job (which she had NOT mentioned on her application or in the interview, she said that she used to work drive-thru and in her school cafeteria, but NO MENTION of a current job was made), she had no transportation to get to our store, there was no one to watch her son, etc. Could I give her a couple of days? Uh, no. I can only expect that you'll have the same problems with getting to the store and finding childcare when it comes time to actually work.

Was she ever angry! Something about already giving notice at her current job or something or other. Well it's not my fault that she changed her mind about when she was available to do the new hire paperwork. She marked on her application that she could start immediately, yet didn't mention her current job……????

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Way to go employees!

We got a LOT done today and the store looks FANTASTIC. We had satisfied customers who mostly took care of themselves while spending a lot of money, the technology did what it was supposed to.........I love it when things go smoothly!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Loud Attitude Girl

The store manager is freaking out that we're short a manager. It's no big deal—we have plenty of managers to cover the shifts. The junior managers will just be in charge more often. That's OK; they're competent. The day after the sort-of manager quit, the store manager talked with an employee (Loud Attitude Girl) about promoting her. She had this talk before mentioning it to the current managers. Initially LAG wasn't that interested, but I guess the idea grew on her. Before long, she was telling everyone, even while not sure that she would pass the background check.

LAG wouldn't be much better than the sort-of manager who just left. When she's in a bad mood, watch out! She shares way too much with customers…..her perceptions of other employees not doing their jobs, her frustrations at the workload, etc. Customers don't want to hear all that! She has been verbally reprimanded several times for inappropriate conversations with customers. And sales figures do not need to be discussed outside of the office. That is confidential company information. She's "always" right; even when proven wrong, she won't admit it. She frequently argues with other employees……..that's not the kind of person we want as a manager!

Further, LAG also frequently questions company policies. Yes, I know several of them are not well thought-out and some are downright stupid, but nevertheless, we have no power to change them. As managers, we must follow them, support the company, and as far as our employees are concerned, we think the rules are the greatest thing ever and we wouldn't even think about not following them.

The latest mystery shopper report was BAD. And guess who it was on? Yep. LAG. Not even demonstrating basic customer service, and we want to make her a manager?! Great example for the rest of the employees! Provide bad service, and you'll get promoted!

I discussed my worries with the store manager, who agreed with my points yet still is very concerned about filling the open position. I showed her how we'd be just fine with our current managers. The manager who just quit was an example of an employee promoted too quickly because there wasn't any other choice at the time. LAG might, and I mean MIGHT, eventually make an OK manager, but not right now. We don't want to make the same mistake of promoting LAG too quickly. Let's try it for a few weeks like it is and if we feel like another manager is needed, pursue the promotion then. We don't need a manager who's going to make all the employees quit because of her attitude. We have enough employees quitting because of the hard work and low pay.

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Can you order.......?"

I'm really tired of people who think that I control what items we carry. Considering the variety of items we sell, we're short on space. We can't have a huge selection in a huge quantity of everything ever made. If I were in control of ordering, there are several items that I would order a ton of because I know we would sell them all right away. If we're out of an item, our distributor might not have any to send to us. Most of our ordering is done automatically through the computer. The few things that I get to order myself is me choosing how many to order based on how many I think we'll sell that week; I don't get to pick what to order. But all day, every day, I get to hear complaints about what we don't carry and what we're out of. It's NOT MY FAULT. I can't do anything about it!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Goodbye, but we won't miss you.

This post is about the sort-of manager (I have more authority than her but if there are no other managers in the building then she's in charge). This is the same girl who thinks she should have my job and we've had problems with each other ever since I was promoted.

She came in yesterday really upset….her long-term boyfriend broke up with her. I offered to let her go home, even though I really needed her to work. She declined because given the circumstances she needed the money even more than normal. You see, she both lives in her boyfriend's house and drives her boyfriend's car. Now that they're no longer together, she has to find a place to live and transportation. She's already not the greatest money manager in the world. She complains about not having money, yet buys snacks at the corner store (not the cheapest place) practically every day. I was on the verge of sending her home several times throughout the day but she got herself together enough to do a little work.

I felt really bad for her situation, but she always makes things so dramatic. "There's no reason to live. What am I going to do?" ALL DAY LONG. It was incredibly depressing. I tried to think of ways to help. If it came down to a place to live, she could stay with me TEMPORARILY. Or I could ask around and see if anyone needed a roommate. If she stuck with a strict budget and got a second job she could buy a cheap car. She has options.

By the end of her shift she had decided to quit, so called the store manager to give her two weeks notice. I felt bad for her that she felt that was her only option, but at the same time, I couldn't help but feel somewhat happy that she (and her moodiness) were leaving. All of her second-guessing me and giving me attitude and forgetting to do important things and leaving important faxes where they're least likely to be seen……….all of that is gone.

Today she called the store to say she couldn't finish up the two weeks and she wouldn't be back. This is a girl who had a chance of moving up in the company (a small chance with her attitude and low productivity, but a chance, someday). But to quit without notice like she did, we'll never rehire her. Never. And none of our other stores will ever hire her, either.

She's screwing herself over. She did not think this out. At all. She's taking what she sees as the easy way out in the short-term, but not thinking about the big picture. She supposedly has some rich aunt that she's going to go live with and not have to work but just go to college. She wants to go into the medical profession. Watch out, sick people! She can't even remember to lock the safe at night. She's going to be trusted to give you the right medicine?! "Oops, I forgot. Ha ha ha." I hope she finds the right place for her to be in life, but medicine isn't it.

I get along with all of the remaining managers WELL. We have occasional moments, but for the most part it's friendly disagreements and sarcasm. I like input from my employees, but the remaining managers realize that I have the final say. They listen to me and do what I say and aren't constantly questioning my authority. Things will be much better at work without the sort-of manager. I wish her luck, yet I'm glad she's gone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Our Field Trip

On my day off I went on a "field trip" with another manager from my store. We drove to a nearby city to visit one of our company's stores. We had multiple reasons for doing so. The main reason was to pick up some items for a long-term customer who is just the sweetest lady and ever so nice. (We weren't getting paid for our time or the gas, so it was completely our choice to go.) Another customer wanted several of an expensive item that we usually only keep 1~2 in stock of. He was rather NOT so nice, but while we were over there, might as well pick up that item as well.

But ultimately (and the reason I got the help of the other manager) was because we hadn't seen our friend, the manager of the other store, for a while. We had a great visit with her and got some ideas for things to do in our store by looking at how she had her store set up and her stock displayed. The drive to and from was fun, and we didn't even get lost!

While there we saw a few other items that she had a sufficient quantity of but we were out of. In order for us to take those items, she MADE us take some other items that she had a zillion of but we didn't need. One of the items she had tons of we were low on, but the other............I didn't ask the store manager for permission on that one, as we already had too much of it ourselves.

When we arrived back at our store closing time was approaching. We grabbed a couple of employees and quickly unloaded everything, sneaking in the items that the store manager probably didn't want any more of. I went into the computer system and did everything there and filed all the paperwork away. Only then did I go and say hello to the store manager and let her know that the items were waiting for the customers to pick up. I didn't tell her about the other items. After all, we will sell them, eventually. In the meantime they're taking up room, sure, but she doesn't need to know where they came from!

Monday, September 19, 2005


Yes, I do have other things to do than wait on you hand and foot: cleaning, stocking shelves, preparing for an important visitor.

"How much is this? How much is that?"

I answer, as I point to the shelf label.

"Where are the _______?"

Right behind you.

"Can you carry this to my car? I don't know what I'll do when I get home—I have to carry it up stairs!"

Big deal. It weighs like 10 pounds.

"What should I buy?" (asked after I've explained the merits of EVERY ITEM of that type).

It all depends on you........they do slightly different things, and you haven't told me what you want exactly. If you ever decide what you want the item to do for you, then I'll tell you what item you should buy.

Fat people need to lose some weight so they can carry things for themselves and pick things up and stoop to see prices. Old people need to get better glasses so I don't have to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS to them. People in general need to stop with the "I deserve everything for a discount just because I'm me" mentality. What happened to courtesy and respect and self-sufficiency?!

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I let other people's moods affect me way too much. One of the other managers is up and down and all around all day long. One minute she can be bright and cherry and the next down in the dumps and saying life sucks. Refusing to be dragged along on her rollercoaster of emotions, I'm learning to be more independent of my surroundings. Today she was EXTREMELY moody so I just stayed away from her for most of the day. When I left I was just as cheery as when I'd arrived at work.

The manager messed up on our mystery shopper evaluation. It wasn't a bad one, but it wasn't good, either. Between her and the other employees on the report, they left out a few key parts of our service. She felt really bad and kept apologizing. It's cool, just do better next time. Yes it'll affect my pay slightly next month, but we all mess up. Thousands of customers a month—you can't do everything right with all of them. I tried to cheer her up, but she was still disappointed in herself.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Do You Work Here?

The day was fine, but there were lots of weird customers everywhere. I got asked "Do you work here?" a half-dozen times. I came SO close to saying, "No. I like dressing like this and I wear the nametag because I like everyone to remember my name." Or simply, "No," and walking off. Instead, I paused for a LONG time before answering with raised eyebrows and a "Are you stupid?" expression on my face, "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. Can I help you?"

I mean, how difficult is it? I'll be sweeping the floor or merchandising new products or STANDING BEHIND THE CASH COUNTER and people will still come up to me and ask if I work there. HELLO! Do YOU usually clean the store when you go shopping?? Do stores YOU shop at let non-employees stand anywhere near the cash??

Is "Do you work here?" the way they ask for help? If so, they should say, "Excuse me, can you help me, please?" Oh, but that contains two polite phrases that they're too good to use with me, their lowly slave. Or is "Do you work here?" their way of saying that I'm not working hard enough? Well, first of all it's really none of their business how hard I'm working, but secondly, most of the time I'm working myself to death doing a dozen things at once. Or if they're confused because occasionally vendors or other people are around that are connected TO the store but not employees OF the store, then they can ask, "Can you help me?" Then if they're asking a vendor that, the vendor can say, "No, but I can get you someone who can."

How do you respond when asked that question? Got any responses that make the point that the person asking the question is stupid but without being offensive enough to get in trouble for?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I had a pretty good day, nothing out of the ordinary. Then I went grocery shopping and got an interesting phone call from work.

The manager on duty was on the phone and wanted my advice on how to take care of a problem. The cell reception was poor and I missed part of the problem. I thought she said there was a mess on the floor and how should she clean it up. You had to call me for this?! No big deal, we deal with messes all the time.

Me: "Just pick up the mess and put it in the trash!"

Her: "But I don't want to touch it!"

Me: "Use a paper towel if you don't want to touch it!"

Her: "Yuck! That's disgusting! It's the size of the phone! I can't believe this could have come out of a person. I don't know how they walked out of here after doing that."

Confused, I asked, "Uh……what was your problem again?"

I walked a couple of aisles over to a place with better reception and asked her to change to a better phone and speak up. She explained for a second time, "There's a HUGE turd in the toilet. It's the size of the phone receiver! The toilet won't flush because the handle's broken. How do I get rid of it?"

I started laughing. No wonder she didn't want to touch it!

I continued laughing, not necessarily about the situation, but at her response to it. She pretended to be put out by my inconsideration for her dilemma. She complained, "It happened on your shift! I just happened to walk in and find it!"

I continued to laugh. When I finally stopped I explained how to flush the toilet by pulling the thing inside the back.

"What if it overflows?"

"Then you turn off the water and do something else to fix it. Am I going to have to start checking the bathrooms as part of our 'changing of the guard' rituals?!"

I made fun of her for several days afterwards, asking her if she'd checked the bathrooms recently. Others joined in on the fun. We had our own little code words so customers who overheard wouldn't know what we were talking about. They looked at us with curiosity, wondering what we were laughing about. We shared the joke with our regulars, the ones we knew wouldn't be offended but would laugh along with us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A "Little" Late

My employee who called in sick Monday night was supposed to open with me Tuesday morning, be my right-hand person for some of the important stuff. I was a little concerned about whether she'd be better or not, as she only calls in if she's REALLY sick. Well, she showed up yesterday. A little shaky on her feet and rather pale, but capable of working.

However, the new employee called in. I had to wonder if it was on purpose. She knew the other girl had been very sick, and I made her mad by giving her my "we don't pay you to stand around and do nothing" lecture. She SAID an in-law was in the hospital and she was waiting for someone from a distant state to DRIVE here before she came to work. I was mentally calculating how long it would take before she could come in, and told her not to worry about it. I called a long-term employee who doesn't mind a little overtime to come in instead.

Because the new girl has called in twice in two weeks, the store manager scheduled her fewer hours and less desirable shifts next week as a form of punishment. When she asked why the schedule was done like that, the manager explained that when you call in so much, you obviously don't want to work very much. The new girl then said that she told me she was going to be a "little" late but I told her don't bother coming in. Four (4) hours is hardly a "little" late! Fifteen minutes, thirty, in rare cases maybe an hour. But four hours late? Don't bother coming in!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Why the Staff Turnover is So High

Argos_Employee asked...

How come you manage to employ all the worst type of employees? It seems you must be employing and firing employees everyday!
I didn't realize how much I was talking about our staffing issues. Most of the employees I've been complaining about are newcomers who won't be in the store for long. The thing is, the work is fairly hard, between the physical labor and the knowledge needed to do the job well. The pay is also lower than average for retail jobs in this area of the country. In addition, the unemployment rate in this area is low. To get an employee with both brains and brawn that can live off the pay isn't always the easiest.

The thing that keeps the good employees from finding a job that's easier with higher pay is the way we all get along. There are a lot of friendships among the staff and we even do things outside of work together. We work as a cohesive team. Whether it's stocking a shelf or carrying out a heavy item to a customer's car or painting a co-worker's house or going to the movies or visiting a sick co-worker in the hospital, we actually like each other.

It seems that a lot of people have trouble adjusting to the job and the quantity of work required and the high stress levels of how busy the store is and how demanding the customers are. New employees have a lot to learn about our specialty area. If they make it past the first month, then usually they'll be a good long-term employee.

Right now the turnover rate for employees is high, but that's because of the new employees. Work a day and disappear off the face of the earth. Work a week and quit. Work three weeks and fired for too many tardies/absences in that time period. Work two weeks, and find a job with better pay. I have a pretty good feel for people--after working one shift with a new employee I generally know whether they're going to last or not. Unfortunately, it's so hard to know if someone's good or not in a short job interview. I can weed out plenty of the bad ones, but some still slip through. Calling references is pointless because very few employers will risk saying much about a former employee.

In the last 3 months we've hired the equivalent of 25% of our workforce only to have most of them quit, while a few were fired. (Not all at once, but say we need 100 employees to be fully staffed. Over the last 3 months we've had 25 employees come and go, while 75 employees are happily productive and long-term. At this very moment, we're working with 80 employees, struggling to get everything done.) Our long-term employees stay, and stay, and stay. Not because the company or job is great, but because the work environment is FANTASTIC (with the exception of those darn customers!).

Monday, September 12, 2005

It's Monday.

Today was DEFINITELY a Monday.

When I came into work they had barely begun to unload the latest shipment. What were they doing all morning?!

Later in the day a customer brought in her register receipt and a copy of her latest bank activity on her debit card. On her receipt it showed we'd charged her $39.56 but on her bank statement it showed $395.60. Whoa! Big difference! It had just happened today and she was apparently paying bills online and noticed the discrepancy. At first I thought the computers had had a meltdown and we'd have lots of angry customers. But then I looked at the amount again. Hmmm…..the original amount, with an additional number added to the end. Then I looked at which cashier rang the transaction. Yep, her mistake. I looked in her drawer and found the corresponding receipt that said $395.60. OK, so it's our (the stupid cashier's) mistake, so now how do we fix it? The machines won't let us do a refund on debit cards; we can't refund that much cash, either. But, since it's our mistake, we need to make it right IMMEDIATELY.

Luckily the lady was patient while I made a few phone calls and got authorization to refund the cash. Another lucky break was that her checking account had enough money in it that she wasn't risking being overdrawn by having more money taken out than she had authorized. That cashier needs to go. Attitude sucks, she's slow (as a cashier), makes frequent mistakes, and doesn't do tasks thoroughly. Sure she does them quickly (tasks like stocking and cleaning), but she'd never pass quality control. Haste makes waste. BIG waste, in her case.

I had an employee out sick so we had to do her work plus our own.

Then at the end of the night we had more money than we were supposed to have, so I had to figure out what went wrong. It didn't take too long to find that when the computers crashed earlier in the day, several sales were lost. Fixed that, did all the paperwork again, and finally got to go home.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How NOT to Interview

I interviewed a guy who looked so-so on paper. My first impression of him was also only OK. I started with the "tell me about yourself" question to see what he thought was important about himself, how outgoing he was, how well-spoken he was, etc. He didn't tell me much about himself, although he very vocally told me lots about how the people at his last job "shafted" him and how he was supposed to become a manager but instead they promoted someone else and cut his hours, etc.

I wanted to stop the interview right then and there, but decided to press on with an abbreviated interview. The rest of it went OK. He obviously had a lot of experience in customer service. But when I tried to imagine him fitting in with and getting along with our current employees, it just wasn’t there.

Further, he wanted more hours than I can guarantee and a higher rate of pay than I could justify paying a new employee, considering he had little knowledge of our specialty area. Sure he could learn, but while he was learning he wouldn’t be of much use to us. I'd rather start the newcomers out lower and let them EARN the higher pay.

Anyway, my quest for quality employees continues. I really need someone, but not him.

Advice: don't criticize your last job or boss on a job interview!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Company Meeting

We had a nearly-company-wide meeting. I got to meet all the important people that I'd only ever heard about and see other people that I don't often see. Most of the regional managers were there. It was interesting to see how everyone interacted. They were really scraping the bottom of the barrel for a few of the managers, though.

During the actual meeting part I sat with a friend who's a manager at another store and her friend who's a manager at yet another store. The company VP came over to chat and was quite personable, but directed most of his comments to the guy and ignored me and my female friend. ?!!

At lunchtime I sat with yet another friend and one of her co-workers, both quite fun ladies. Someone THEY knew also sat with us. We were trying to save seats for the other two, but the company President came and asked if she could sit with us…….we couldn't exactly say no, could we? We were all a little nervous, afraid we'd say the wrong thing. One girl didn't care, and started talking about why she didn't like her job. Uh, hello!! The COMPANY PREZ is AT OUR TABLE!!

I learned a good deal, they fed us lots of good food, and it was fairly interesting. Some of the stuff was predictable—how to prevent/handle sexual harassment, signs of drug/alcohol abuse, how to sell more stuff, how to make the displays look better. The regional manager's boss tried to be funny, and failed, MISERABLY. We laughed politely, while rolling our eyes at his corny jokes.

At the end it got REALLY boring. The Q & A part sucked. Things got out of hand, with stupid questions that should not have been addressed company-wide.

  • "Ms. Prez, our fire extinguishers need to be charged. Who do I need to contact about that?"
  • "Mr. VP, I have an employee with bad breath. How should I handle it?"
  • "We haven't had any widgets in three months. Can you tell me what's wrong?"

HELLO! Talk to your store manager and/or regional manager! Don't waste our time with your insignificant issues!

All in all it was a good day, and a nice break from a normal workday. I left feeling invigorated and excited about doing my job even better than before.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Still Short-handed

Remember how I said I'm working with a skeleton crew? Well, that's still true. So when someone calls in sick…….we're up the creek without a paddle, shit out of luck, SCREWED. Thank God for employees willing to work a double. That's right, work open to close, with plenty of breaks, but nevertheless a LONG, difficult, exhausting day. THANK YOU.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Duh Boy's Progress

I'm going to have to think of a new nickname for "Duh Boy." He's gotten so much better that you wouldn't believe it's the same person! Nothing really has happened to change his behavior, but it seems like it's happened really quickly. He knows what to do and does it, he stays busy without me having to be on his back all the time, and he actually produces a quality product.

The other day I noticed the time and was on my way to check the schedule—I was sure he should have been at work already. Before I got to the schedule I passed him, where he was already immersed in a project. He had clocked in, checked my to do list, and gotten started, all without being told! A couple of months ago he would have just been standing around doing nothing, waiting for someone to say, "HEY YOU! This needs to be done."

So he got off to a rough start and had a lot to learn about how to be a good employee. But now he is GREAT! WOW.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What are you wearing?

This is a true story.

My new cashier called me to the front to tell me about a very interesting phone call we received. At first I thought she was making it up. But she wasn't.

The first thing out of the customer's mouth was, "What are you wearing?"
Now I don't know how I would have answered that question, but my rather innocent cashier responded, "My work uniform." (I swear this really happened!)

The person then went on to ask if we carried a certain item. Yes, we do. Now this particular item has a normal use but it can also be used in a sexually deviant way. The next question was how much they were. Then the customer asked what colors we had. The cashier, by that time busy with customers in the store, told the person that she would check and asked if she could call back in a few minutes.

"OK! I'll call back in TWO MINUTES."

EXACTLY two minutes later she called back and the cashier told her the colors we sold.

"OK. Thank you."

The cashier had just finished telling me and another cashier the story when the phone rang again. We all looked at each other, and the other cashier (even younger than the first) answered.

Yes, it was the same lady. She was confirming that we sold the product, and again wanted to know what colors and SIZES that we had. The second cashier took the phone with her to the product, and told the lady everything about every variety of the product. Then the lady wanted to know how many of the item we had in stock. The cashier estimated, "About a hundred." "OK. Thank you."

The second cashier told us about that phone conversation, and we started feeling really weird.

Then the phone rang again, and both cashiers refused to answer. I was still a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but I answered. It was the lady. Again.

"You sell _________, right?"


"How much is it for ALL of the _________?"

The tone of voice and what the other cashiers had already told me about her and the fact that this was the 4th phone call within a half hour led me to be extremely blunt: "Listen, you need to stop calling here." {as I hung up} She had the price and how many of the item that we have. Could she not do the multiplication to find out how much ALL of them would be?!

After I hung up I waited for the phone to ring, but she didn't call back. So was it a prank call, or was she just seriously screwed up? The whole night we were on edge, worried that the lady might come to the store and want to buy all of the items. Or worse, use some of the items in the store. I told the young cashiers, "If that lady comes in here or you feel weird about someone or anyone does anything at all that they're not supposed to do, GET ME AT ONCE and/or CALL THE POLICE if needed.

I scrutinized each woman who entered the store: is that her? Or maybe THAT'S her. How will I know if it's her? Will she walk up to me and ask me what I'm wearing (under my "work uniform")? What if she does something perverted in the store? What would I do???

All that worry for nothing. She didn't show up. I don't think we sold any of that product all night. And as far as I know, she's never called back, either. Relief, yet a little disappointment: had she shown up and/or bought a ton of the product, it would have made an even better story!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day

Holidays are INSANE. Today we had the rudest and most demanding customers EVER. Kids were running wild and the adults weren't any better. The phone was ringing off the hook all day:

"Are you open?"

Uh, no, I just like to hang out at work and answer the phones.

"Wow! You're open!"

Yeah, like most other retail stores who care about making money.

"What time do you close?"

Please, please, please, please don't wait until 10 minutes before close to come! If you and the other thousand people who've called to ask that question all come that late, then we'll never get to leave!

Then I had to deal with all the normal stuff that customers always complain about:

  • It's MY fault that we've run out of the close-out item that's been on sale at a fantastic price FOR A MONTH.
  • The cashiers aren't fast enough.
  • The employees on the sales floor don't know EVERYTHING about EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT.
  • Our prices are too high.
  • The packages are too small.
  • We're not open early/late enough.
  • We don't carry the item they saw on the home shopping network 20 years ago when they lived in the Himalayan Mountains.
  • Further, we don't have any idea what item they're talking about, since we didn't watch the home shopping network 20 years ago in the Himalayas.
  • Even more despicable, we CAN'T TELL THEM WHERE TO FIND the item from the home shopping network. After all, we should be familiar with EVERY PRODUCT EVER MADE ON EVERY PLANET IN EVERY UNIVERSE. Anything short of that and we're not doing our jobs and they have a "duty" to report us to the company office.

Find out about Labor Day in the USA.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sign Language

We have some deaf customers that shop with us frequently. The other employees tend to treat them like they're from another planet. I have a little experience with deaf people in my personal life, so I usually help them. They apparently feel comfortable with me; I feel pretty comfortable with miming, writing notes back and forth, and lip-reading to communicate. It takes a little longer than with other customers, but it works. They're nice and I help them to the best of my ability. I know some sign language, but I'm uncomfortable using it, so I've never tried.

The other day a customer saw us communicating in our somewhat un-normal manner and rushed in, "I know sign language! I'll help!"

"Sure, OK." It wasn't like it was necessary, but it might be a chance to fully understand each other.

It was soon evident that this person did NOT know sign language. I watched her attempts…….some strange gestures and mumbling and such………she didn't even speak clearly so that lip-reading was possible. She signed over-enthusiastically so that the signs were distorted; she also skipped every other word. She signed unimportant words like "the," yet skipped the big words like VERBS. The old lady was patient, but then signed that she couldn't understand any of the sign language, but could only understand a little from lip-reading.

The "helper" couldn't understand that, though, so I translated for her. Then I had to explain how I knew what I knew. They were surprised, so I expect in the future I'll have to try out the sign language more.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Needed: Attitude Adjustment (Yes, Another One)

It was a busy weekend day and my main cashier for the day started out by asking in a whiny voice, "Do I have to be cashier all day?" {Uh, yeah, you've worked here how long and you STILL don't know that when you're assigned to be cashier, you're cashier ALL DAY?}

After the long pause while I was thinking that, I said simply, "Yes." The cashier got all huffy and didn't talk to me for the next hour or so. Fine. Be a baby.

In the middle part of the day she recovered and started acting like an adult again, but later in the day she again got snippy and short-tempered because of all the customers and stress and I wouldn't allow her to take as many smoke breaks as she wanted because it was too busy.

I stayed away from her for most of the day, cleaning everything and helping customers as needed. The other employees were great and got a lot done.

That cashier has got to go. When you're already thinking about when you get a break and it's only a half hour into your shift, then you need to change your attitude or get a new job. If you don't want to be here, then I don't want you here. You're of little help to the customers, give me a headache, and make your co-workers' jobs more difficult. Go away. We don't want you here.

I'd fire her in a heartbeat. Trouble is, I have a skeleton crew as it is and I'm not interviewing any decent people. (Yes, I know I can be a tough boss. I like to think that I just have high standards. However, the real issue I can't get any good people is the low pay.) I need competent employees who can work independently, get tasks done, and help customers, all with a positive attitude. The second I can find a replacement with those qualities, this girl is gone.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wait a Minute!

I have one employee that I have multiple problems with. Most of the problems stem from her attitude. She's always right, always knows the best way to do things (no one else can possibly have a good way to do anything), and is extremely impatient.

Her impatient-ness shows itself best when she calls me to the front for a return or when she needs someone to open a register. If we don't come IMMEDIATELY when we're called, she gets upset and starts complaining to the customers about how we never come when she calls us and we're probably in the back taking another break, etc. In reality, we're often helping customers or in the middle of a task that requires a minute or two to put on hold before coming to the front.

For example, if I'm merchandising a shelf with items spread out in the aisle, then I have to push the stuff out of the way before going to the front so that no one trips. Or if I'm pouring concrete, I can't exactly stop halfway through to come at the very second that she calls. Instead I have to quickly smooth out the concrete, hang out the "wet concrete" sign, and then go to the front.

When I arrive in the front, the employee always has some sort of smartass comment to criticize how long it took for me to come. I have explained to her, MULTIPLE TIMES, how I try to come as quickly as possible but that sometimes things keep me from coming right away. Be assured, I am coming, so BE PATIENT.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

An Exciting Day

Today when I got to work I was pulled to the back by a really excited employee. What I saw excited me, too. It's the best thing that's happened in a month—we got a new VACUUM!

Yeah, big deal, you're probably thinking. But our old vacuum cleaner is straight out of the 1950s and had gotten to the point that it shot more dust out into the air than it actually cleaned off of the floor. Because of that, our floor hadn't been vacuumed in 6 months. Yes, SIX MONTHS of using a broom and dustpan for the big stuff and carpet sweeper for the rest. Those were our only methods of cleaning the carpet.

Tonight I volunteered to vacuum, concerned that my employees might not empty the vacuum often enough (given how much dirt and hair is embedded in the carpet). Every 2~3 aisles I stopped to empty the vacuum. The amount of nastiness was incredible. WOW. It will probably continue to be like that for several days.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Exceptional Customers

A woman called and asked for the store manager (SM). SM wasn't in, so I TRIED to help the woman. In a nutshell, the woman forgot her coupon when she was in last week and wanted to use it after the expiration date. (It was a little more complicated than that, but I don't want to go into detail about our store and its programs/policies.)

The customer INSISTED that she had talked with the SM and the SM was making an exception for her. Yeah. I explained how our system worked and how the SM couldn't make an exception for her. I tried THREE TIMES, but the woman did not understand. "The SM said that she was making an exception just for me." Uh huh. I'm so sure.

I called the SM, at HOME, on her DAY OFF, to check. She remembered talking with the lady, but DID NOT say that she'd make an exception. The lady is crazy.

I called the lady back and explained the situation for the FOURTH time. The lady still didn't sound very satisfied, so I told her when the SM would be in. The SM called me shortly after to get an update. I said I'd tried my best, but she might still have to deal with the customer herself. Lucky for her, she has a little more patience with stupid people than I do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Not Good Business

This morning I was going about my normal pre-opening duties and another key-holder (who was scheduled to start work at the same time we opened) let herself into the store a few minutes early. An elderly man was waiting by the door, and was angry that she wouldn't let him in (several minutes early).

When our clock struck opening hour, I unlocked the doors. The man came in and immediately asked for a manager. "I'm the manager," I answered, knowing what he would say.

"You are?" he asked in a shocked tone of voice. "Well, it's not good business to leave customers waiting outside for 30 minutes."

"Sir, we opened on time."

"Not by my watch."

"I'm sorry, but that's what time our computers say. We have morning chores to get done before we open." {Our computers tend to run a little slow. We're constantly fixing the time to the correct time. It might have been a minute off of regular time.}

"Why couldn't she {pointing at the key-holder} let me in?"

"We were still getting ready to open."

"It's still not good business." He said this as if he, with his many years of experience, knew all about how to run a business and we young folk needed to be taught a thing or two.

I half expected him to ask for the main office phone number to complain about me not letting him in. I would have been glad to give it to him--I did nothing wrong. But he smugly got what he needed, paid, and left.

The other key-holder and I looked at each other in disbelief at the man's comments. We watched him drive off and then burst out laughing. He was the first conversation topic of the day. Or, rather, the first customer we made fun of for the day.

We're open quite a long time each day, and our hours are clearly posted. Certain tasks CAN NOT be done when customers are in the store. Among them are mopping the floors (liability), and messy tasks that require hand washing before handling anything else (like money or helping customers with products). In the morning we've got to get the computers ready to open, count the cash, go to the bank, take down old sale flyers/coupons and put up new ones, ETCETERA!!

Not good business? Please! He has no idea what's involved with running a business like mine.