Friday, November 24, 2006

Goodbye Party

About half the employees showed up to my goodbye party......the ones who liked me and I liked them. The person hosting the party may have even *forgotten* to invite a couple of employees who should have been fired weeks ago (if Boss had any kind of backbone).

We talked, joked, ate, drank (non-alcoholic drinks only, as the party was IN the store), and generally just had fun together. It's a tradition to do a late-night party for good employees when they leave. It's also a tradition to do bad things to the cars of aforementioned employees. Guess where I parked? RIGHT IN FRONT of the store where a quick glance outside could confirm that my car was SAFE and not being filled with packing peanuts or wrapped in saran wrap or having goofy things written on the windows or being wrapped in streamers or any of the other things that have been done in the past.

Everyone behaved inside the store, too. WOW! We had fun while still being grown-up! No water balloon fights or shaving cream explosions or ice down the shirt or anything along those lines. A nice goodbye. Bittersweet, but nice. Some really creative/cute stuff was written in the card and I received several funny gifts. A hug from Duh Boy, who will be leaving as soon as he confirms another job. We had some good times together.

I can't help thinking that it's Black Friday and they're all working with neurotic customers while I'm enjoying a Th-F paid holiday from New Job. I considered going out in the madness to shop, but my cozy home is so much nicer!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Customers

My last few days on the job were pretty smooth. However, as always, there were some customer issues.

One customer was upset because I wouldn't refund an item. The item was visibly used but the customer claimed she hadn't even taken it out of the package. Sure. I offered a store credit anyway. She didn't have a receipt and the packaging was over a year old, so I COULD NOT give a refund. That was unacceptable to the woman. Anything other than cash was "disgusting. Isn't there a manager around?" I'm a manager. "Well, then you should be able to refund my money NOW." Not without a receipt. "Who keeps receipts? That's ridiculous. I want to call someone RIGHT NOW!!" I gave her the corporate number and she wanted to use the store phone. I refused. That line is for INCOMING calls. Not letting her use my phone was "disgusting," too.

Another manager with her high maturity level threw something at an employee and it bounced off the employee and grazed a customer. Brilliant. I was next to her when she did it so the woman demanded both of our names. Great....that'll sound real good. "I'm outraged! Your employee THREW SOMETHING AT ME! It HIT ME!" What's the employee's name? "There were two girls, A and B." It just happened to be A's last day....maybe she was getting back at the customer.....let's not ever hire her again. Not that I'm planning on working for them again, but the door is/was open for that, and it's so stupid if the lady lumps me together with the immature manager.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


A woman stormed up to where I was straightening a shelf and whined, "Can't you open another register?" I glanced at the front and the lines were growing so I went to the front to open the register. The woman jumped in front of a couple of people who had been waiting for longer but they weren't paying attention so I went ahead and rang her. She had only one item, which she had a coupon to get free. She failed to read the small print that said "customer is responsible for sales tax." She had NO money on her so had to return to her vehicle and hold up the line still further.

Another woman was on hold for far longer than she should have been… was busy, an employee was on break, the nephew's friend was AWOL, and when I finally got around to the phone call (after attending to the customers IN THE STORE first), the woman complained about the wait and then asked her question, "How much are the {mumble mumble mumble}?" The what? "The e-nun-ci-ate eve-ry syl-la-ble. NEVER MIND" {click} So, why did she stay on hold for so long, then?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not My Problem

With one week left before starting my new job, I still arrive and leave on time, take my normal lunch break, and do my normal hard work, yet I don't want to start any involved projects or expend any extra effort. Even the routine tasks……I want to leave them in good shape so that my replacement doesn't have extra work, yet I have a strong feeling (having worked with her before) that she won't stay on top of things like I have. Why leave things in A condition if she'll keep them in C- condition?

My mindset towards problems has also changed. Things that used to annoy me and make me want to tear my hair out don't have the same effect because I know that before long I'll have a different set of things to deal with but with a more enlightened boss/company.

Customer upset because we've gone 8 consecutive weeks without a popular item, despite all manner of begging on our part to the vendor rep, corporate, and anyone else who will listen to try to get some of the item?

No longer my problem.

Vendor Rep G comes in and throws a fit about Product G not having the same amount of shelf space as the more popular Products A, B, C, D, E, F, and Q through Z and apparently because of some obscure contract language we have to give them equal space, yet that contract doesn't change the fact that we DON'T HAVE ANY space to give to them?

Not my problem.

Corporate institutes REALLY STUPID new way of doing necessary task?

Also not my problem. If they cared about their employees the way they say they do, they wouldn't even think of doing it this way. It will take about 3~4 times as long and be a ROYAL PITA this way. What were they thinking?!

Fat Girl gets progressively stinkier while also doing less and less each shift, but we can't get rid of her (Boss says) because she's cheap to pay and at least she shows up for her shifts?

Not my problem. (Unless I suffocate from the fumes in the next week. That's a possibility. But my breath-holding skills are up to a record high, so maybe I'll survive.)

New guy quits without notice and a junior manager is talking about leaving and there are NO decent applications AT ALL?

DEFINITELY not my problem!! I've been telling Boss for WEEKS that we need to hire people, primarily to get rid of Fat Girl and have some backup if someone gets sick or, what do you know, it's retail, QUITS WITHOUT NOTICE!!

Nephew's friend CANNOT tell time if his life depended on it, while discipline problems continue because he knows he's untouchable?

Not my problem.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

LAG Returns

I am trying REALLY HARD to be positive during my last two weeks on the job. But in the 1.4 seconds that it took for the news of my departure to spread, other dissatisfied employees flocked to me.

One of the junior managers (formally known as "Duh Boy") thinks it will be "weird" with me gone and is thinking about leaving the store himself. He often knocks heads with another of the senior-level managers (my level) who is well-known for being a hypocritical bitch.......I've had to intervene on several occasions because I was afraid things were going to come to physical blows. With me gone, it might be full-out war between the two.

Another employee came to me with a problem about how the shelves are being stocked. "Have you heard that I'm leaving soon?" Yes. "OK, so tell Boss because I can't do anything about it." Which is how it's been all along, essentially a shift manager I can only do so much while I'm working. If Boss doesn't care and doesn't do anything about sub-standard work on ALL shifts, then trying to change standards on just my shift is pointless.

LAG is returning to the store to fill my position. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA She originally left the store because she couldn't get along with the hypocritical bitch manager (HBM). LAG and I had our difficulties, but we acted like adults and took problems into the office and rationally discussed them until we came up with a solution. Sometimes the peace was tenuous, but we acted professionally most of the time.

LAG has a very strong personality that I GUARANTEE will rub lots of people, both customers and employees, the wrong way. How Boss thinks LAG and HBM will function as equals when Boss provides no leadership......I see a total staff change coming soon. And I don't think staffing will become stable again until either LAG or HBM leaves, or Boss leaves and a stronger or more involved manager comes to run the store. This should be very interesting……I'm glad I won't be around to witness it firsthand!! I'll have my spies update me on the progress of the war. : )

Friday, November 03, 2006

My New Job

Continued from Why I Quit

I gave 2 weeks notice to a very surprised Boss. Under normal circumstances I would have given a month, considering my management position, but two weeks is expected and perfectly adequate and I'm ready to be gone. The first thing out of her mouth was, "Was it something I did?" Oh, how I wished I could say everything I wrote in the previous post. But don't burn bridges and all that. So I replied, "No, it's just time for a change and there have been a lot of little things lately and I think I could be more effective somewhere else." OK, so I got a little dig in. I wasn't sure if she'd accept the 2 weeks notice… our store usually employees are allowed to work the 2 weeks, but in another region there are rumors of managers being shown the door upon resignation.

What I wrote yesterday is what I've been considering for the last couple of weeks since a very appealing job opportunity fell into my lap. I wasn't looking for another job and hadn't seriously considered leaving, despite the escalating problems. But when a family member recommended me for a job in a completely different field but one that I've worked in and enjoyed before, making more money than I'm making now, with a different kind of stress (perhaps less?), more vacation days, paid holidays, more respect, more input into important decisions, better (although similar number of) hours, almost no physical strain/danger of throwing out your back/cutting off a finger/falling off a ladder/etc........I had to apply. (Downside: longer commute.)

After reviewing the rules for cover letters and resumes, I sent my info in. First came the phone interview, then the real interview, which lasted nearly 90 minutes. Then the tour of the facilities, and finally the background check, credit check, criminal record check, driver's record check, contact of references, confirmation of former employers, blood type, mother's maiden name, kindergarten teacher's fingerprints, and whatever else I signed they were allowed to do. FINALLY I got the call for a "lunch meeting." That's code talk for "salary negotiations." Fifty applicants, and I got the offer. When I want to sell something, I sell it.

It's a start-up business so there will be a lot of work involved, but I'm up for the challenge. There's also some risk that it could go under, but after examining the business model and meeting the owner and director, I don't think so. I'll be working with educated people instead of just the warm bodies that I'm sometimes forced to employ in retail. I'll go through an actual training program (in another, very-cool, near a good friend's house, state) instead of a guessing game as to how the higher-ups want things done. The owner would be on the premises much of the time, seeing how things work day-to-day, working and sweating side-by-side with the employees and thus not instituting impossible standards.

I feel the slightest bit guilty about leaving my store just before the holiday season starts. Not necessarily because of loyalty to the company, for it's been neglecting its employees for some time now. But because of leaving my good employees at the most stressful time of the year without me, one of the most productive and competent employees. (Am I vain? Maybe, but also truthful.)

I hadn't told ANYONE at work about ANYTHING leading up to this. It was hard not to share my excitement at each step towards getting the new job, but I knew it wasn't appropriate to share until I had the new job. Then I made sure Boss knew first. Another manager saw me leaving the office with Boss and asked what was up so we told her. By tomorrow everyone will know.

Why I Quit

I've been getting really fed up with Boss. She is WAY too hands-off. She lets employees get away with everything--calling in "sick" whenever they feel like it, salaried employees coming in late and leaving early, people not doing their jobs yet there are no consequences. By not enforcing standards, managers are left to do a lot of the work that WE SHOULD NOT BE DOING. With proper training and standards, we wouldn't have to re-do a lot of the routine-anyone-can-do-them tasks instead of doing the tasks we get paid to do, like optimizing inventory numbers, increasing sales, merchandising more effectively, and SUPERVISING.

Employees' friends hang out at the store, personal cell phones are used on the sales floor for chit chat, etc. Boss apparently thinks that I'm too rough on employees. But I'm not…I just want them to do the jobs they're being paid to do! Further, she's hired another of the nephew's friends. Just two weeks, and there have already been problems. (And that's not counting the borderline sexual harassment or rumors of drugs. In a drug-free workplace. Right.)

Boss told me that she might be leaving next year. That would give me a good chance of being promoted and doubling my salary for very little extra work, especially since Boss is so disorganized and inefficient that I already do a lot of her work for her. Then she goes over the payroll budget by a MILE so I don't get a full bonus. If the employees weren't goofing off all day, then we could easily stay within budget. But that would require action on her part……to punish and perhaps fire the slackers. That would mean she would be unpopular…..that would be terrible. If I were to get the store, I could clean it up in 3 months, tops. Then again, they could bring someone in from another store or someone from outside the company. Possibly someone even worse than her. There are no guarantees.

Several stores in the chain have closed lately. The employees received NO NOTICE and no severance or anything. We're expected to give notice when we quit yet they can let everyone go whenever they feel like it? It doesn't show much respect for the employees. I do realize why they're doing it like that (to prevent the employees from stealing everything), but what about those with mortgages or whatever........NO notice?!

Further, the company's new customer service campaign is SO STUPID. It would work if we were some high-end store with entry restricted to only those who could afford to pay. But we're a store where lots of people browse, even more parents bring their kids as a form of entertainment, let the kids wreck the store and break things, take up lots of our time, and then leave without buying a SINGLE THING. Providing that level of service to every person who walks in the door is unreasonable.

Then I worked the whole weekend short-handed. One guy misread the schedule and I wasn't able to contact him, another guy called in "sick" (note the quotation marks—rumor has it he was nursing a hangover) and another employee worked a few hours and then quit because she was "too tired" to have a job anymore. (This just in……she quit so she could go to a local amusement park…….wait for it……with her best friend, the other manager—not Boss—who told me TO MY FACE that she didn't know anything about the girl quitting and hadn't seen or talked with her since their last shift together. Lied. To my face. Not cool.)

Retail will always have some incompetence and high turnover because, especially for the front-line crew, the pay sucks. Of course, it's not that great for me, either. Boss is the only one to get decent pay, especially considering what (little) she does.

Some of these problems are unique to my company; some aren't. Some of these problems are unique to my particular store; some aren't. There will always be shoplifters and unreasonable customers who lie to corporate to get free stuff. That's retail, anywhere. Now corporate believing the customer and rushing to chop off heads--that is, I hope, just a my company thing.

Am I willing to put up with all that? For a whole career? For another year, even?

Continued in My New Job