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.