Thursday, June 30, 2005


What not to do in my store:

Call out, "EXCUSE ME!" across half the store like you're calling your dog. You could obviously see me, it wasn't like you couldn't find anyone. How about coming to within 6 feet of me to calmly and quietly say, "Excuse me, I need some help."

I thought the "EXCUSE ME!" lady was bad, but I had an even worse customer after that (not the same day). This customer wasn't just rude, she was also old and had the "I'm a queen" complex. "Hey lady!" I turned towards the voice as I continued walking to the front. "Yeah, you! Come over here right now! I need some help!" I replied, "I'll be with you in a minute once I see what my cashier needs!" Luckily another employee heard her (actually, EVERYONE in the store must have heard her) and the other employee helped her before I finished in the front. Good thing, too--I don't know how polite I would have been to someone who shouts at me like that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Comedians (Yeah Right)

If you feel the need to crack jokes with store employees, don't. They've heard them all before. Yes, even yours. ALL of them. You're not original. You're not funny. Pretending to laugh with the oh-so-not-funny guy is not part of my job. Say what you need to say, ask questions, answer questions, whatever, but NO JOKES.

Examples of everyday stupidity:

"If it doesn't have a price on it then is it free?" No, genius, what store do you know that gives away merchandise? Besides, most of the time the price is right in front of you, you're just too blind to see it!!

In reply to my "Can I help you?" the "I'm so funny" guy (99% of the time it's a guy) says (I swear all of these have been said to me before):

  • "Yeah, you can give me a million dollars." Hahaha I'm so amused.
  • "Yes. Do you know a good psychiatrist?" No, but you definitely need one.
  • "Mentally?" No, with the products in the store. Duh.
  • "No, I'm beyond help." Obviously.
  • "Yes, I'm looking for my wife." Can't help you there.
  • "Help me with what?" Guess.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Drug test

A girl came in, the manager interviewed her and sent her for a drug test. This is the manager whose record of hiring wackos is pretty good. Another manager and I said NO WAY can she work here; something about her is not right. Over the next few days she called twice and came in once to see what was next in the hiring process. Well our office called and said she didn't pass the drug test, so the manager called her to say we couldn't hire her. She insisted that it must have been some medication she was on. The manager said no, if that was the case then they would have asked for a copy of the prescription. Of course the job applicant swore that she wasn't on any illegal drugs, but she hasn't been in the store since!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Cheap People

People are so cheap. On a regular basis people come in and spend 10~15 minutes of my time asking questions, and then don't buy anything. Sometimes I hear them telling their spouse, "We can get it cheaper at Wal-mart." If I hear that, I'm very honest with them—"You might be able to get something SIMILAR at Wal-mart, but it will NOT be the same quality and it will break or not work as well, making your life more difficult." They know the Wal-mart people don't know anything (if you can even find an employee to help you), so they come and ask us the questions and then buy the stuff there. The funny part: people have started coming back in and telling me that I was right—the latch broke, or the mechanical part was really loud, or whatever. I TOLD YOU SO!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hours are Posted on the Door!

To the lady who started knocking on the door with her keys a full 5 minutes before we opened: you're an idiot who can't tell time. I don't care if you have to be somewhere. I have things to do before we open or otherwise I'll never get them done. (The same reason we don't answer the phone before we're officially open. We could answer the phone 24 hours a day. It's not like we're open different hours than most other stores in the area.) You're not more important than the other customers waiting, and no matter how long or hard you bang on the door, I'm not opening it for you until the appointed hour comes. And if you damage my door I WILL call the police and you're paying for it!

The funny thing is, after all of that knocking (and subsequent complaining after you came inside) you spent a good 10~15 minutes browsing. What happened to the hurry you were in? Oh yeah, the hurry returned when it was time to pay for your items. The cashier couldn't do anything to please you. Customers like you can mess up our attitudes for the whole day.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

You're Closed?

Then how about the people who have no concept of time whatsoever. They're the last people left in the store, 5 minutes after close, but they don't notice. My employee approaches them and asks if they need help. "No, we're just looking." I turn off 25% of the lights, but they don't notice. I approach them and ask if I can help. "No," in an exasperated voice, "he already asked us if we needed help. We're just looking." I reply, "Well, can I ask what you'll be paying with?" (So I can start counting the other tenders.) At that point, one of two things happen.

1. The halfway considerate ones reply with a shocked expression, "What time do you close?" "We closed 15 minutes ago." "Really??" (Like 95% of the stores in the area don't close at the same time.) Then they either hurry to the register to buy their item(s), or apologize and leave.

2. One person looks at the other with a disgusted look like "how dare she ask us such a question." That type of person usually quickly leaves, too, but never apologizes and sometimes complains about me treating a customer like that and they'll never return to our store. Well, since they didn't buy anything they're not actually a customer, are they? (Before you say they might have bought something if I'd given them more time, that type of customer usually comes on the weekends to kill time before meeting friends or going to a movie or until curfew or whatever. They rarely buy anything; if they do it's $5 or something that doesn't even cover the cost of the electricity to stay open.) Besides the fact that the employees might have weekend plans to get to after closing the store!

Our office allocates our hours expecting that we'll be able to start close-out the SECOND that we close. For every minute that a customer stays late, that's another minute that we stay in the store, pushing payroll over budget.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Inconsiderate Customers

Do NOT wait until one minute before we close to come into my store and expect me to wait patiently while you browse and then don't buy anything. I can't shut down the registers or the credit card machines or anything until after everyone is gone. While my employees are hourly, I'm not, so it doesn't benefit me to stay open 20 extra minutes for you to buy your $10 item. Now if it's $500, I might be slightly more patient since that counts toward our monthly sales goal, but we've been open all day, couldn't you have come earlier?!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Oprah and Time

The Oprah incident is ridiculous. She feels discriminated against because a store wouldn't let her in 15 minutes after they closed?! I don't care what color someone is, if we're closed, we're closed! I want to go home; my employees have floors to mop and returns to return; I have cash to count; furthermore, if the store has no customers in it, it's a BIG security risk to let in just one customer--then there are no witnesses if that one customer decides to rob and kill all of the employees. Again, race is not an issue. Most stores are open a long time. Come when they're open!

The next posts will be about inconsiderate customers I've encountered and their cluelessness about how to tell time.

No Choices

I saw a lady looking confused so I approached her and asked if I could help. She said, "Don't you have any more ____?" My jaw dropped. "No ma'am, we don't. That's it." Now if we'd only had a few choices of the item, I might have understood. But we had an entire aisle of the item—all in all, probably five hundred different kinds!! Sorry we couldn't carry every one of the item ever made!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


What's with writing "See ID" or the ever-so-incorrect, "C I D" on the backs of your credit cards? Half the time you leave your ID in the car but then act offended when we ask for it. The other half the time you act like it's too much trouble to get it out of your wallet. Without a signature to compare it to, how do I know it's you? "I'm in here all the time" doesn't cut it. I have 300 customers a day; unless you're in several times a week or either exceptionally nice or really rude I won't remember you.

The people who don't write ANYTHING on the back of your card—you're REALLY stupid. I ask for your ID, explaining that your card's not signed. "Oh, I don't sign it so people will ask for my ID." So what happens if you lose your card and someone signs your name on it and then buys something in a store—the signature will be a perfect match! Ever thought of that?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Credit Cards and Paranoid People

To the paranoid person who scratched out her credit card number on the sales slip that she signed and we keep: without that number we can't charge you for the items. My cashiers are trustworthy, and even if they weren't, there's not too much they can do without getting caught. Besides, you're not responsible for unauthorized charges!

At the end of the night when I saw the defaced receipt, I had to go back into the computer, find the transaction, and reprint your receipt so our office will have the account number. After a long day I don't need anything more to do. The extra trouble makes me want to put your credit card number here so everyone can use it as they desire. But I won't. I'm too nice.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Put the Boxes on the Shelf

Back to the "Duh" boy again. (He's the one who needed help cleaning the shelves.) I have a feeling that he'll be providing lots of stories for me!

We were getting ready to close and he had "finished" all of his closing duties. Really? I walked him around the store and pointed out some things that still needed to be done. Later I pulled a couple of boxes off the top shelf that needed to be opened and the items stocked on the shelf. I simply set them on the floor (as I had other things to finish and it was the boy's job to do it anyway), then told the boy that there were some boxes in aisle 4 that needed to be put on the shelf before he left.

After everyone was gone and I was making a walk-through to make sure everything was ready for the next day, I walked down that aisle and saw that the boy had done, literally, what I said—he put the boxes back on the shelf—the top shelf where I had pulled the boxes down from!! The lower shelves where the product should have been stocked remained conspicuously empty, but the boxes were on the shelf!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Good Customer

I'm going to make a conscious effort to write about GOOD customers at least twice a month. The bad ones are so much more memorable, while the average ones don't ask too many stupid questions and generally clean up after themselves. But occasionally I'll get a really nice customer who makes my day brighter. Sometimes it's by recognizing the hard work I do, sometimes it's just by using common courtesies that everyone else has forgotten.

Anyway, not too long ago I had the greatest customer. I was ringing an older gentleman up (OK, he was old, really old) and I explained our procedure for handling checks, as many customers are unfamiliar with it and are understandably worried about the security of their personal information. He listened, understood some of it, then said, "Things are getting too modern. It's time for me to kick the bucket." How do I reply to that? He wrote the check, I did what I needed to do with it, we exchanged some nice conversation, and, wonder of wonders, he treated me like a human being. He hasn't been back since. I hope he didn't 'kick the bucket.' My city needs more human beings.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Am I a Babysitter?

I'm a retail manager. Is there anything about that job title that is unclear? Am I a childcare worker? Does "babysit stray children" appear on my job duties list?

Some people need to be sterilized. Who would let a 5-year-old wander a store by himself?! He could pull large items onto himself, drink poison, get cut, get stuck going places he shouldn't, get abducted, WRECK MY STORE, etc. Or the 13-year-old mentally disabled boy who used his arm as a rake to clear merchandise off entire shelves, while his mother was in an entirely different area of the store. I asked the kid to stop and he went crazy and I though he was going to attack me. What was his mother thinking when she left him unsupervised?

Our store is in an OK neighborhood, but near several major highways. A kid could disappear awfully fast. (Besides the fact that some regular customers are registered child sex offenders. I know. I looked at our county sheriff's website.)

What annoys me even more is when I tell a kid who's using a shelf as a ladder to stop and his mother hears me and replies, "I think that's my job" or "You can't tell him that." Well, do your job then, lady! I'm just doing mine! Part of my job is to keep the store safe and clean (and I'd also like to avoid filling out accident report forms).

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cell Phones

I hate it when a customer can't stop talking on his cell phone for the 60 seconds it takes me to ring him up and take his money. Or the one who took a call on the sales floor while I was in the middle of explaining how to solve his problem. He just answered his phone and walked away from me without excusing himself or anything! Then when he was through with his call he acted like it was a huge effort on his part to find me to resume our conversation. I had better things to do than to stand there waiting for him to finish talking!

One regular customer talks on a hands-free phone. She enters the store talking on it and continues talking while shopping and checking out. She doesn't say two words to anyone the whole time she's in the store. If the cashier interrupts her to tell her the total she gets angry and shouts, "Can't you see I'm on the phone!" Well, can't YOU see that you're in a store and the cashier and the people in line behind you are waiting to pay?!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ask a Pharmacist!

While we are a specialty store with knowledgeable and well-trained employees, some people expect us to know too much.

Would you ask a Walgreens cashier which medicine won't interfere with your heart condition? Would you ask a Home Depot clerk how to build your house from the ground up? Would you ask a bank teller to write your will? No. You'd ask a pharmacist, an engineer, and a lawyer. (That is, unless you're one of those cheap people.) Some things are best left to people with years and years of school and/or training.

So if you call me or come into my store with an issue that I should not be addressing, I'm going to refer you to the person with the appropriate degree. Yes, it's going to cost you some money. TOO BAD. Don't act like I'm not doing my job because I won't tell you that it's okay to do what you want to do. I'm not opening myself and my company up to a lawsuit if I tell you the wrong thing. After all, I'm not a pharmacist, an engineer, or a lawyer. I'm a retail manager! I know my products, merchandising, paperwork, and a lot of other things, but I'm not qualified to answer certain questions!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

In Training

New employees. I don't mind training people if they have half a brain. But these high school kids who have to have everything spelled out for them……it's like babysitting!

Assignment: clean the shelves.

Kid: I don't know how.

Me: Well, first get your supplies, then take everything off of the shelves, then clean them, then put everything back on the shelves.

Kid: What do I need?

Me: Paper towels and cleaning spray should work nicely.

Kid: Where are they?

Me: The same place they were yesterday when you cleaned the bathroom mirrors.

{Kid goes to get supplies, gets sidetracked flirting with a coworker, takes a smoke break (yes, he's under 18), and finally gets the supplies. Half an hour later I find him wandering aimlessly about the store.}

Me: have you cleaned the shelves yet?

Kid: I don't know how. I've been looking for you.
(Like the store's that big.)

{Take the kid by the hand and lead him back to the area.}

Me: OK, these are paper towels {hold up paper towels} and this is your cleaning spray {hold up spray}. You're going to take the products off the shelves, then spray the cleaning spray on the paper towels…..

Kid interrupts: How many paper towels do I use?

Me: Use as many as you need to get the job done, but don't waste them.

Kid: So how many does that mean?

Me: Take a wild guess.

Kid: I don't know. I don't want to get in trouble.

Me: {Oh my, this kid really is something. I take some deep breaths and counts to ten.} Two should be good. When those are dirty, get two more.

Kid: How can I tell when they're dirty?

Me: Do you ever clean your house?

Kid: No, my mom does it.

Me: {Then your mom's an idiot too.} When they're gray, they're dirty. Now when the shelves are clean, put the products back on the shelves neatly and come and find me.

Kid: OK

Ten flirtations, five smoke breaks, seven bathroom trips, and two personal phone calls later:

Kid: I'm finished.

Me: Good. {Finally!} Let's see how you did.

{Walk to shelves, see paper towel roll and cleaner still there, with wadded up paper towels littering the floor.}

Me: The shelves look good, but now you need to clean up your mess.

Kid: How do I do that?

Me: Put the paper towels and cleaner back where you found them, and throw away the dirty paper towels. {I hope this kid doesn't work on my shifts any more!}

The next week:

Kid: Hey, why do I only have 10 hours this week?

Me: Hey yourself, you're in training so our employees who know what they're doing can get more done with the same number of payroll hours.

Kid: What's that mean?

Me: It means you'll get more hours when you get better at your job or someone quits and an even more clueless person is hired.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Job Application (part 3)

Miscellaneous tips to help you out:

Spelling. If you can't spell "cashier" correctly, then how can I believe that you were a very good "caier" at your last job?!

Handwriting. It does matter. No cutesy stuff—when I need an employee, I need one NOW and I won't find it cute. Dot the "i"s with dots, not hearts. No smiley faces. Write neatly—I don't have the time nor the patience to decipher chicken scratch. Your application WILL end up in the "no" file. Pink or other odd colors of ink—your chances are also slim. Blue or black, maybe green. Those are your choices.

An incomplete application also means a "no." If you can't even fill out a job application correctly, then I can only expect you to do an incomplete job for me if I hire you.

Another hint: when you bring in your application, be polite to the cashier. She has a lot of power in my first impression of you. If she tells me that you interrupted her helping a customer to throw the paper at her, then you obviously don't care about customers (or potential co-workers) and won't do well in this workplace. At busy times, *I* might even be that cashier, helping serve customers faster. And if you come in visibly stoned, we don't even read the application. What part of "drug-free workplace" did you not understand?

There is a difference between follow through and being annoying. It's sometimes a fine line, but still….if you call every day and insist on talking with me, even after I've told you that any hiring decisions won't be made until next week, you obviously don't value my time and the other things I have to do. If it's been a week or two since you turned in your application and you haven't heard anything, then it's perfectly fine to call and ask if I received it and had a chance to look at it. If I say we're not hiring, then monthly calls to find out when we will be hiring again are sufficient. DON'T BUG ME.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Job Application (part 2)

The next part of the application tests whether you have a brain.

Qualifications—OK, today I work at a washing machine store. SO MANY applicants write, "I have a washing machine" as a qualification. Well, good for you, but having one and being able to sell one are very different things! Do you know how to use it properly, or do you shove 2 weeks' worth of clothes, light and dark, into the machine and expect them to come out sweet-smelling and perfectly folded?

The "reason for leaving your last job" section is often the funniest part of the application.

  • People who write "didn't like boss" or "didn't like job" are probably not going to like me or this job, either.
  • "Personal" or "will explain in interview"—Oh? You're way too dramatic to be working here. We don't even need to interview you.
  • "Needed more money"—we don't pay that much here, either. If you're hired you'll probably leave in a month.
  • "Got fired"—at least he's honest, but come on! Do I really want to hire him? What did he get fired for?

The hours you can work is also a funny part.

  • "8-5, M-F"—Yeah right, this isn't an office, it's a store!
  • "Weekends negotiable" or "one Saturday a month"—I have enough other things to do without negotiating with my employees, and you MUST work AT LEAST one weekend day. Fact is, new employees get the worst shifts. You have to work up to the better schedules.
  • "2-4, MWF"--It's not worth the paperwork to hire you if you can only work 6 hours a week. And it'll take 6 months before you learn enough to be able to do a decent job. No way.

Smokers need not apply because you don't get 20 breaks a day because "I'm getting jittery, I need a cigarette." "That customer really stressed me out, I'm going to smoke." Company policy: smokers don't get any more breaks than a normal employee.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Job Application (part 1)

Now that the characters are introduced, this is the application one has to fill out to work in my store. For the first part, the easy stuff. Name, contact info, yes or no questions.

(Weird how there are so many laws against discrimination, yet they still haven't figured out how to keep your name from giving away your gender and the date you finished school just shouts your age.)

If you have a criminal history, don't bother applying. We're not hiring you.

If you're a woman, you'd better have some muscles because we don't need any more wimps. (Wimpy guys need not apply, either.)

If you're under 18, your chances are slim. Complying with child labor laws is too annoying.

If you're over 30, do you really want to work here? In rare instances it's okay, but for the most part younger employees work out best in our fast-paced workplace. Older people are too uptight and don't like having a manager younger than them. They're always questioning procedures and think they know everything about retail, our products, and how the store should be run just because they're older/have kids/used to be a manager/whatever. Besides, you couldn't survive on the starting pay.

If you're handicapped, old, have back problems, are pregnant, can't walk long distances, are obese, etc., we can't hire you. This is not discrimination, but facts. It is "an essential job function" to be healthy enough to carry heavy things since many of our customers can't. (I often wonder what they do when they get home. I'm not there to carry it for them then!) You also must be able to climb a ladder, reach, stoop, sit, stand, and a few other things I can't remember right now.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

My Employees

To give you an idea of where I work, let me introduce you to some of my employees:

  • "Princess"--avoids doing any of the dirty jobs and works only as something to do, she doesn't really need the money.
  • "I should be manager and not you"--yeah, in what lifetime?
  • "Ditz"--EVER so blonde.
  • "Mr. Polite"--you've never met anyone so nice and friendly and great with customers! If I had a hundred of him (heck, even ten) my store would be #1 in the chain, in the country, in the world!
  • "Incompetent"--can't sweep the floor without messing it up.
  • "Smoker"--needs a smoke break every hour and if she doesn't get it, watch out!
  • "Duh boy"--really doesn't get anything.
  • "Mood swing girl"--needs to be on some kind of medication, or maybe to stop taking the drugs she's already on. But you can only send someone on so many "random" drug tests before they get suspicious.
  • "Miss Bitch"--other employees' description, not mine.
  • "If I say five words tonight I might injure my tongue"--what a personality to be working in retail!

So you get the picture, right? Quite an interesting mix of characters.