Tag Archives: manager

After two weeks, I return to retail. Chaos ensues.

14 Mar

Oh crazy customers, how I missed you

In the past two weeks, I had a temporary vacation from the world of retail. And, while I did enjoy experiencing what not working during the weekend felt like, I also felt terribly bored. All I could really think about during my weekends was what I was missing. How could I live a week without the drama of crazy customers? How was I going to function without witnessing a shoplifter or getting yelled at by super rich women who get kicks out of using coupons even though they probably cut them up with kitchen shears from Williams-Sonoma? I realized that after working in retail for almost six years, I have been somewhat conditioned to expect a certain percentage of drama and craziness in my life. And without it, well, life just seems so boring.

Last weekend, I was finally called into work. As I walked into the store, I breathed a sigh of relief: employees were standing off to the side bitching out customers under their breath, my boss was walking around and emmiting the typical American Psycho aura that he always seems to give off, and customers were setting off security alarms. In the words of J.K. Rowling‘s oh-so-profound last sentence in the Harry Potter series, all was well.

For like ten minutes, at least.

After that, it was as if our store had been punished for letting me back in. In a matter of an hour, the paper in our digital photo kiosk ran out, two people were caught shoplifting (one of which was a particularly gutsy customer who power-walked out of our store with a gift bag full of items), there was a consistent line of at least six customers at any given minute, and as I was running to the back of the store to grab a can of tuna for an elderly customer, I was asked by two different people to let them into the restroom. After I came back to the register and dealt with the line of customers, I turned to my co-worker and said, “Jeez, why is it so busy?” He gave me a weird look and replied, “Um, it’s always busy on Sundays. Remember?”

It seems that I really had forgotten what working in the store was like. After having a wealthy customer throw money at me and then ask me if I had counted it correctly, I realized that customers weren’t as kind and kooky as I had remembered them to be. At the end of that Sunday, my forgetfulness also caused me to scan in the magazine credits and seal them up into the envelope without putting the shipping label on. After telling my co-worker that I needed to open up the sealed package in order to get the shipping label still in there, she began cutting it open. As I was ringing up a customer, I heard her laughing. Not only had I managed to seal up the envelope with the shipping label still inside, but I had also managed to put fifty sheets of price adjustments in the envelope as well. I wonder what the magazine company would have thought if they had received those in the mail! My co-worker then turned to the customer I was ringing up and said, “Better count your money when you get it back. She’s not all here tonight.” She then proceeded to run off, still laughing, to tell our shift supervisor. I was not taken seriously for the rest of the night.

All in all, being back at work after the two-week respite allowed me to sink my teeth back into the healthy dose of chaos and craziness that I had been missing–even if a portion of it was entirely my fault.

New Management, Same B.S.

17 Nov

Spitting image.

After a few weeks of doing what any obese child does these days–locking myself in my room and taking refuge in sustenance in the form of Life-Savers Sour Gummies  and water that has so much Crystal Light in it that even the Kool Aid man feels inferior–I am finally back. Being a senior marketing student has really taken the aspect of group projects to an entire new level this semester: I have three of them, all of which involve the laziest people I have ever met. I still don’t understand how students can have Blackberrys and smart phones but cannot do something as simple as reply back to group emails. But I digress.

About a month ago, my store found out that our assistant manager was being promoted to a manager at a new store and that we, consequentially, would be getting a new assistant manager. Throughout my experiences at my store, I have come to terms with the fact that retail is, much like all of life, a series of comings and goings. I have always made it a point to be as welcoming as possible to any new person in our store, even if I knew that they probably wouldn’t be around very long. With that being said, I was extremely nice to our new assistant manager, who I will call Dudley. All in the spirit of the new Harry Potter movie coming out, of course.

Dudley is a 30-something chubby man who is so ADD that he makes even the most Ritalin-overdosed kindergartner seem calm and normal. The first time I met him, he spent the first ten minutes that I was at the register complaining about how much he had worked that week, and failed to clock my time in even though I interrupted his rant about five times to ask him politely to do so. I’m pretty sure I am going to get flagged for being late that day just because he failed to notice me constantly pointing, jumping, and waving, much like a Sim character who has been locked in a room without a toilet, at the sign-in screen. But hey, he was new. I gave him a break.

Last Friday, however, I got called into work due to a “schedule” change. Whatever, I have no life so I was totally fine with working on a Friday night considering it was only a five-hour shift. When I got there, however, Dudley instantly began bitching about how our manager was sick and how he was here on his day off, how he didn’t want to stay till midnight because he had to be back in the store at 6am the next day. I have never heard a grown man complain so much in my life. I laughed and told him that retail sucks and that’s just the way it goes, but apparently he was complaining for a reason: he wanted ME to stay until midnight so he could go home and sleep.

Now, let it be known that I come in and help out my store a LOT. Let me also say that I work about 18 hours over the weekend, and between that and all of my school stuff I never have a single day to rest. I was exhausted that night, and I told him that I really couldn’t stay and that I was very sorry, but my semester was being really stressful. Yet Dudley continued to bug me and pretty much make me feel completely terrible about the fact that he couldn’t go home. It started to make me feel a bit uncomfortable, so eventually I stood up for myself and told him no, point-blank. He spetn the entire remainder of the night sighing loudly, giving me death glares, and taking “bathroom breaks” which really consisted of him calling our manager and begging him to have me or someone else come in so he wouldn’t have to work the next day. Later on in the night, he even came out from the register, stood really close to me, and told me “Just so you know, the manager isn’t coming back until February, so I will be the acting manager until then. Just so you know.” I did what I have learned pisses off people trying to make a point more than anything–I played dumb blonde. “Wow that’s so cool! Congrats!” I said, and I walked into the break room to get my things, leave at the time I was meant to leave,  and go home. If you are an assistant manager who has been with the company for only a year, don’t try to scare me. Just…don’t.

That’s the thing about working retail, though, you really are guilt-tripped into completely overworking yourself. I have sacrificed many of my own free days to come in and help out the store just because, well, I knew things would be really bad for all of my co-workers if I didn’t come in and help. But there is certainly a line which a manager, or assistant manager, or anyone can cross when they complain and bug you so much that the last thing you want to do is help them. Soon enough you find them making up the most ridiculous reasons to leave work early: “Oh, but if I don’t have someone cover this shift, I won’t be home in time to feed the three infants I adopted from Tanzania who, if they aren’t fed at six o’clock on the dot, instantly believe that they are starving to death and start having terrible flashbacks.” Actually, I wish someone would use that as an excuse, I would just tell them that obviously they need to call the Angelina Jolie hotline and get some good adoptive parenting tips.

Days later, Dudley has continued to impress our manager who, as I found out later, really isn’t taking a leave of absence, by completely ignoring customer calls that were put on hold for him, not entering the paychecks properly so that at least five employees in our stores had not been paid enough for the time they worked, and tripping over boxes when he thought nobody was looking (I was!). And, even though I doubt that he will be around much longer, he taught me a very important lesson: sometimes, as much as I want to help everyone out–because that’s what we are really trained to do in retail, after all–I have to take care of myself first. There isn’t an “i” in “team”, but there sure as hell is one in “retail”.



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