Managed To Waste A Whole Day

, , , , , | Working | June 25, 2019

(Every morning where I work, there is a store meeting that, very simply put, is a waste of time. At the end of the meeting, we then have to clap along to a chant or cheer. Normally, the meeting will last 10 or 15 minutes, but not this time. Everyone is called to the back and we stand waiting and waiting, with the only management in sight being the department managers, who realistically are barely above your average stockers. Eventually, the deli and bakery workers all leave, each saying something along the lines of:)

Deli: “I got to go! I got s*** that has to be done before lunch or I get written up!”

(Although none of the rest of us have anything as time sensitive as them, the sentiment is unanimous. Finally, after more than thirty minutes, the store manager bursts out of the office:)

Store Manager: “The District Manager is coming today! Everybody go into zone defense now! Department Managers hang back for a minute.”

(With that, a coworker and I, both from the canned and dry grocery department, head back and begin zone defense, which is basically just tidying everything up, pulling stock to the front of the shelves, making sure no trash is on the floor, etc. We’ve been at it for a few minutes when our Department Manager — who is actually a pretty good guy — comes up holding a few sheets of paper. He does not look happy as he hands them to me. I start looking them over as he’s talking to us.)

Department Manager: “Don’t worry about that; I’ll do it. The District Manager wants a display built on the front aisle. Take everyth—”

(At about this time, I flip to the second page and see the dimensions of the display.)

Me: “This is huge!”

Department Manager: “I know.”

Me: “This’ll probably take two hours to build!”

Department Manager: “I know.”

(Although it is indeed very large, something like 50 feet long, the design is simple: a two-tiered shelf running parallel to the cash registers. The merchandise itself is just canned goods. Customers can pass by without trouble, and maybe pick up a can of beans if they forgot them or don’t want to walk that far back.)

Department Manager: “Take everything we have of these from the back and everything on the floor, too. Leave just enough to front the shelves.”

Me: “That still won’t be enough to fill the display.”

Department Manager: “I know. For now, take some whole cases of [other type of canned goods] and put them underneath to fill it out more. We’ll switch it out when we get more stock in… which I’m going to go order right now. Get it done so we can get back to actually working.”

(So, we do. Fast forward a bit more than an hour and a half when my coworker and I are around 75% finished building the display. Suddenly, my coworker lets out an exasperated sigh. I can tell he’s trying to be quiet about it, so I stop to stretch and turn side to side to see what’s bothered him. Enter the true antagonist of the story, the assistant manager who oversees all the food-related departments in the store and is directly above our department manager. I won’t go into all the details about just why he’s a horrible manager. But just like those meetings, he is absolutely useless. He’s standing about 15 feet away from us, just looking at us, and it almost seems like he is posing, trying to look tough and thoughtful at the same time. His left arm is across his chest grabbing his right side, his right hand is cupping his chin, right arm draped across the left while hunched over towards his right. Imagine your overly stereotypical gangsta rapper pose combined with Rodin’s “The Thinker.” My coworker and I both know our day is about to get worse as he starts to walk towards us.)

Assistant Manager: “Fellas… fellas… Yeah, I don’t like this.”

(We stop completely and turn to him. He actually grabs the plans for the display that were sent by the District Manager, ignores what’s printed there, and flips to a blank back page.)

Assistant Manager: “It’s too simple. Here’s what you’re gonna do…”

(He proceeds to draw what’s basically an upside down, upper-case V laid over an upper-case T, or the lower half of an asterisk with a strikethrough applied. Unlike what the original plans called for, this design does NOT let customers pass by easily, as it would almost completely cover the entire width of the front aisle and severely restrict the flow of foot traffic. We stand there for a moment looking at his epic “plan.” I take the papers and flip them back to the front.)

Me: “But the plans for this—”

Assistant Manager: “No! Do what I say, the way I said to do it!”

(He grabs the papers back from me and flips them back to his drawing, turns, and walks away. My coworker and I stand there, dumbfounded, for a minute.)

Coworker: “S***!”

Me: “You think we should go to [Store Manager] about this?”

Coworker: “H*** no! You know how [Assistant Manager] gets if you go over his head!”

(And he’s right. This guy will make your life a living Hell if you challenge any decision he makes in any way. So, we do exactly what he said. We break down our nearly completed display and start rebuilding it. This also requires us to go find extra materials to fit into the display because shelving materials all made of right angles don’t fit together properly when you jam them together at a 45° angle. Fast forward about another hour when our department manager comes to find us.)

Department Manager: “What’s taking y’all so—” *gets a good look at the display* “What the h*** are y’all doing?!”

(My coworker stops, turns to look him square in the face and simply says:)

Coworker:  “[Assistant Manager].”

(A confused expression passes over the department manager’s face for just a moment, immediately followed by realization, understanding, rage, and finally defeat. He simply turns and we hear him mutter, “God d*** it…” as he starts walking back to our department. A while later, even some of the cashiers notice how much the display is interfering with foot traffic and ask us why we are building it that way. A reply of, “[Assistant Manager],” is met with, “Oh, Lord,” and them leaving the area as fast as they can. Fast forward almost another hour and the district manager finally arrives with his entourage. All the store’s management staff head to the front where they talk for just a few minutes and then immediately head our way. I grab a few cases of canned goods and take them to a part of the display that allows me to keep working while watching everything unfold. They stay far enough away that we can’t really hear anything they’re saying, but the district manager does have a slightly confused look on his face as he sees the display. Our assistant manager has now sidled up to him at the front of the group while once again in his gangsta/thinker pose with a VERY smug look on his face. You can tell he’s just waiting to pounce and say something like, “Yeah, you like that display? I told them to do it that way!” But his chance to pounce never comes. Like our department manager, a series of emotions play across his face, but oh, how different they are. The smugness melts into a sort of confused happiness, his eyes get bigger as realization sets in, and raw fear and embarrassment are now plastered on his face. The district manager hasn’t even looked at him once the whole time, and the assistant manager begins to slide away, moves behind the entire group of managers, and actually hunches down to hide behind them. They all stand there a few more minutes before moving off. Our department manager comes over to us in a mixture of frustration and laughter.)

Department Manager: “Y’all go to lunch. When you get back, break this down — again — and rebuild — again — it the way you were the first time. Maybe we’ll actually get something done tomorrow.”

(All told, out of eight hours of work, we spent over thirty minutes waiting on a meeting that never happened, and about six hours building one single display. Oh, and remember that the department manager ordered extra stock to fill out the display? So did the assistant manager and store manager, but neither of them checked if anyone else had already done so. We ended up with an entire extra 18-wheeler full of nothing but canned goods for that display; 26 pallets’ worth.)

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