Open Your Ears AND Your Eyes

, , , , | Working | September 21, 2020

This happens a number of years ago, back when I am working for a national electronics retail chain.

As I’ve been there a couple of years and want to progress, I sign up to the company-sponsored Retail Workers Accreditation scheme; it’s been so long now that I forget what it was actually called.

We have an external overseer come in who has to monitor my in-store work from time to time. On this particular day, I happen to be working at the checkout and one of our semi-regular customers comes up to the checkout.

I check him out in absolute silence, making hand gestures and writing down his total for him before checking him out.

After he leaves, there is a momentary lull in customers, so the overseer comes to talk to me about my last transaction.

Overseer: “Why did you not speak to that customer or offer any of the addons as per policy?”

Me: “I did offer the addons. He bought an item and I asked if he wanted to buy the batteries for it.”

Overseer: “Impossible. How could you have done that without speaking to him? This doesn’t bode well for you passing this module.”

Me: “What would be the point in speaking to him—”

Overseer: *Interrupting* “It’s important to speak to the customers to make sure they’ve got everything they need, and you need to offer the addons.”

Me: “But he’s deaf, and I know that because he comes in every couple of weeks. If you’d been watching closely, after I scanned the item, I pointed to the batteries, and he declined.”

Overseer: “Oh. Well, that’s different, then. I’ll just go rewrite this assessment form. Good job.”

Needless to say, I passed the module.

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Time To Drive On Out Of Here

, , , , , | Working | September 19, 2020

I’m a guitar teacher at a music studio that offers lessons from August through June. Teachers have the option of doing lessons over the summer if they can arrange it with the customers.

It’s mid-July and I’m the only one in the building. I’m sitting at the front desk waiting for my student to arrive. In walks a woman I don’t recognize.

Woman: “Hi.  I noticed you have signs in your parking lot saying that parking is for customers only, but I have an interview at the restaurant across the street and I can’t find parking anywhere else. Would it be okay if I parked here just for the interview?”

Me: “Sure thing! We’re closed for the summer anyway, so no one is using it right now. Good luck at your interview!”

Woman: “Thank you so much!”

She leaves to go to her interview. The next day, my boss, the owner, comes into the studio while I’m working. 

Boss: “Hey, so I saw on the security cameras yesterday that you let someone park in our lot who isn’t one of our customers.”

Me: “Yeah, I figured because we’re closed for the summer and not using it at the moment, we could let it slide. She had a job interview at the restaurant.”

Boss: “You shouldn’t have done that! When people drive on our parking lot, their tires wear down the pavement and I have to pay a thousand dollars to get it resealed! That just cost me a thousand dollars! You can’t just let whoever drive on our pavement!”

Confused and sure she’s joking, I laugh a little.

Me: “Yeah…”

Boss: “I’m serious! That was not okay! Never let anyone park here again unless they’re one of our customers! Even when we’re closed. I’m not made of money, you know.”

Me: “Okay. Sorry?”

Boss: “Just don’t let it happen again.”

So, not only was my boss creepily watching me and listening to my conversations over the security cameras while I was the only one in the building, but she actually tried to tell me it costs her a thousand dollars to have someone drive over her pavement. I have repeatedly watched this woman call a tow-truck on people when we are closed or have extra parking. I have since left the studio.

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This Is As Awkward As Mayonnaise On White Bread

, , , , , | Working | September 15, 2020

In the mid-1990s, “diversity” became an important buzzword in our company. As used by human resources, it meant that having persons of varying backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities together lead to better solutions in groupthink situations. The team I supervised, however, almost never made group decisions. Instead, we all acted as individual contractors, working alone on technical problems for clients. Diversity to me meant hiring the person who had the best demonstrated technical abilities and being sensitive to cultural differences when interacting with them one on one. It did not mean going out of my way to ensure that we all looked different.

As a supervisor, I had to attend a Diversity class. The problem was that getting the instructors to define the word was like nailing jello to a wall; it kept changing all the time. After repeatedly telling us that Diversity was more than counting noses and that it was deeper than that, I gave them an example. In a previous job, I had been in a small group with two other workers. One of us was a Catholic from mid-America suburbia, one was a Jew from a large rust belt city, and one was a Protestant from a small town in rural New England. I called this group diverse by their definition, but suddenly, things changed and the fact of our all being white males trumped the rest.

The fun part came when we were asked to describe what made us diverse individually. We were in the central valley in California, so there were a lot of stories about Latino immigration, working on farms, and the like. Then, it was my turn.

I am a glow-in-the-dark straight white male WASP. My father’s family traces back to the Mayflower — at least nine lineal ancestors on the boat — and other migrations from England and Scotland in the 1600s and 1700s. I was raised in an upper-middle-class household and went to exclusive private schools for high school and college. I went over this in detail. 

Surprisingly, that wasn’t what they were looking for.

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He Didn’t Manage To Get Away With This One

, , , , | Working | September 13, 2020

I work at a family-run department store in a mid-sized city. We take layaways and orders from our loyal customer base. In mid-October, the owners — a lovely couple — hired a new manager that we grew to dislike fairly quickly because he always takes shortcuts.

It’s a couple of weeks before Christmas and the owners have been out of town for a week due to a family emergency. I’m helping a gentleman to try and find his order and have had no luck.

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t find it here in the system. Is it at all possible that you put it under a different name?”

Customer #1: “No, I’m sure that I put it down under my name. I paid a lot of money for this gift.”

Me: “Let me call my manager and see if he can find it.”

I call up the manager.

Manager: “It must not have been ordered. [Coworker #1] is in charge of putting in our orders; I’ll deal with her.”

After the customer leaves, I ask the manager about this.

Me: “I didn’t know that [Coworker #1] had the authority to use the ordering system.”

Manager: “Oh, she doesn’t; I just told him that so he’d leave. Don’t mention it to her, okay? What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

I’m shocked at first and resolve to tell the coworker about it the next day. Before I can find her, the returning owners call me, her, and about three other employees into the office.

Owner: “I’m very disappointed in you all. I’ve had lots of calls from our customers while we were away, all complaining about you all not doing your jobs. You guys know that as soon as you take the order, you have to put it on the system for [Manager] to order the item up.”

Coworker #1: “I did log it in after they made the payment! [Manager] told me that [Coworker #3] didn’t put in the order.”

Coworker #2: “He told me that it was [My Name]’s job to put in the order.”

Me: “He told me that he just forgot and to blame [Coworker #1].”

We told the owner everything the manager had been telling us and he seemed shocked. He told us to go back to our stations in the store and called up [Manager]. From what we heard from the owner’s wife later, the manager had been taking the payments for himself and just blaming the rest of us. Police were called and the court case is currently pending.

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They Made A Slip Up, Part 2

, , , | Working | September 11, 2020

This evening, I am working on the cash register. I happen to peek over my barrier to see a puddle of seemingly-clear liquid in the middle of my aisle.

My manager is absent today, so I call over to the grocery manager, who happens to be standing nearby.

Me: “Hey, [Grocery Manager], can you help deal with that puddle?”

Grocery Manager: “What puddle? Show me.”

I bring him over to the puddle as requested. I have no idea what’s going through his head, but he gets on his hands and knees and SMELLS the puddle. I wish I was joking.

It’s pee.

He then cleans up the mess with all of us cashiers trying to pick up our jaws from the floor.

They Made A Slip Up

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