Break-ing The Law

, , , , , | Working | February 26, 2018

(I am a cashier at a department store. It is 4:00 pm, and I am midway through my eight-hour shift. We are very busy, though we have more than enough staff on hand. I approach my supervisor for my lunch break.)

Me: “May I take my lunch now?”

Supervisor: “Sorry, but we are very busy right now. You’re going to have to wait.”

(This pattern repeats every 30 minutes for the next two and a half hours. When I approach her again at 6:30, this happens.)

Me: “Now can I take my break?”

Supervisor: “No. You’re not getting a lunch at all.”

Me: “Excuse me?

Supervisor: “Do I need to repeat myself? You are not getting your lunch today!”

Me: “That’s illegal! The company can get in a lot of trouble for that!”

Supervisor: “Really? Wait here.”

(Soon after my supervisor leaves, she returns with my manager in tow, who brings me to the office.)

Manager: “Is there a reason why you were not taking your break?”

Me: “[Supervisor] wouldn’t let me! She eventually told me I wasn’t allowed to take it at all!”

Manager: “I see.”

(She hands me a clipboard. I immediately realize I’m being written up!)

Manager: “You’re not a good liar, you know. I heard everything from [Supervisor]. I would normally have you fired for this, [My Name], but I’m feeling generous today. But going forward, this cannot happen again, or you will be fired.”

Me: *signing the form* “I should not have been written up for this. I’m going to take this up with [Owner].”

Manager: “You do that, and I will fire you. I dare you.”

(Unafraid of my manager, I followed through and reported the incident to the owner, who was horrified when he heard of it. He fired my supervisor for intentionally breaking state laws and lying to him about it, corroborating his statement with a customer complaint about her cursing me out. The manager was also suspended for two weeks without pay for not investigating enough, and eventually demoted when the owner discovered that my write-up wasn’t the only bogus one she had submitted. For all my trouble, I got three days paid leave and a promotion!)

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Thinking Way Outside The Tissue Box

, , , , , , | Working | February 21, 2018

(A woman is filling out a job application outside my office as I work. She knocks on the door with a question, and then pauses.)

Applicant: “Oh, look at your tissue box!”

(I glance at it. It’s a normal tissue box from a multipack, sitting on my desk.)

Me: “Yeah. My allergies are sometimes bad.”

Applicant: “Oh, but it’s perfect! It would match my living room perfectly! Where did you get it?”

Me: “[Grocery Store], a while ago. Looks like they are [Brand]. Do you have any other questions?”

Applicant: “No, no. Oh, I buy [Brand], too, but I never get a beautiful green design like that! It would match my living room so well.”

Me: “Uh-huh.”

Applicant: “I got an okay taupe color, but it only came in a multipack with a terrible red box. Did you get that recently?”

Me: “A bit ago, I guess.”

Applicant: “Oh, that’s a shame. The patterns are seasonal, you know.”

Me: “I… uh… guess I’ve never noticed… or cared. How about you finish your application?”

Applicant: “I would do anything for a box like that.” *sighs*

(She leans against my door frame for a bit, then goes back to her application and turns it in to the hiring HR manager. I make mention to the HR manager that she seemed off, but the applicant passes the initial interview and is hired. On her second day of training, I’m walking through the store when our trainer pages me.)

Trainer: “Okay. You’re not going to believe this, but one of my trainees was walking down the hall to our room and saw your office door was ajar. Before I could stop her, she ran inside, grabbed your box of tissues, and ran out of the building!”

(The applicant was fired for theft and banned from our property. I hope the mostly-empty box of tissues brought her joy, though!)

No Right To A Cashier When You Have No Cash

, , , , | Right | February 14, 2018

(I’m walking the store floor when a part-time employee flags me down. She’s on a cash register, with one customer in front of her who is having an angry conversation on her phone. A large number of bagged clothes are across the counter.)

Employee: “Her store card was over the limit, and her credit card was declined. She’s been on her phone with her credit card. My shift ended fifteen minutes ago. I have to get to the bus stop, or I’ll miss class! I can’t suspend the order; I don’t know what to do!”

Me: “Just go clock out and get to class. I’ll handle this for you.”

(The employee dashes off. I check the order, which has been active for a total of 45 minutes, and do a re-ring so the employee’s check out time isn’t poorly affected, then wait for the customer. After a few more angry minutes, she finally turns to me.)

Customer: “This is such bulls***. They can’t just cut me off. Try my other card. I’m going to sue them. I’m going to… Wait. You’re different.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. The previous employee’s shift ended while you were on the phone.”

Customer: “Shift ended? In what, two minutes? Get her back here.”

Me: “She’s already left.”

Customer: “You can’t do this, changing people behind someone’s back! I was on the phone for two minutes. Get her back here.”

Me: “It was longer than two minutes, and she left.”

Customer: “I am spending hundreds of dollars today. You will get her back here!”

Me: “I’m afraid I can’t, ma’am… and your third card was declined.”

Customer: “None of you know how to do this! It can’t be declined. Get your manager!”

Me: “I am the manager. Do you have a fourth method of payment you would like to try?”

Customer: “Forget this!”

(She left the store, abandoning her heaps of clothes.)

Has Some Ill Willing

, , , , , | Right | February 8, 2018

(I am ringing up a man and his family. He is probably in his 50s and his wife is a little younger, and they have a quiet teen daughter.)

Me: “Do you have any coupons?”

(He hands me one for 20% off of juniors’, which would apply to the $150 of the daughter’s clothes. I scan the coupon and the computer kicks it back.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir.” *now reading the coupon* “This one starts next week; it won’t take it now.”

Male Customer: “What? Well, I need this stuff now; we don’t want to come back next week. Why would I have the coupon now if I can’t use it?”

Me: “We send the coupons out a couple days early so that you can have them ready, and they have the dates printed right on the front” *I show him*

Female Customer: *very nicely* “Oh, okay. Sorry, we didn’t read that part.”

Male Customer: “WELL, I DON’T CARE! It creates ill will with the customer when you send us coupons we can’t use and don’t honor them! I’m spending $150 dollars here, and I want to use it!”

Me: “I’m sorry I can’t apply it right now. We have other—”

Male Customer: *repeating* “No! It creates ill will with the customer and makes me not want to shop here. I want to see the manager; he just DOESN’T understand!”

(I called for the manager, who came and manually gave the customer the discount, to my disapproval.)

It’s Not Policy To Keep Our Workers Alive

, , , , , , , | Working | January 31, 2018

(A major highway leads to the mall where I am store manager. I’m driving to the store in the morning during a freezing cold and icy day, when all local schools have been cancelled. Normally, I plan to be at the store a half-hour before my employees. This day, my GPS tells me that the entire highway is blocked off ahead of me due to an accident. I quickly reroute to go around the blocked highway, but spy thousands of cars stuck in standstill traffic across four lanes. I then find myself navigating slippery back roads, passing cars that have slid off onto the shoulder. Traffic is slow or stopped along the back roads, too, as commuters avoiding the highway overwhelm the smaller streets. Finally, I get to the store, a half-hour later than anticipated, and find that two employees have arrived before me out of my opening staff of 19. I send one of my employees a few doors down to a doughnut shop for two dozen doughnuts and a large box of hot chocolate. Then, as employees arrive, I assure each of them that I will be overriding their late clock-in, and I sweeten the deal with coffee and donuts to calm frayed nerves. We manage to get the store open ten minutes before our first customer arrives, and all my employees are in great moods despite the miserable morning. It seems fine… until corporate calls.)

Corporate: “You had a seventeen people come in late, and you overrode every single one. Explain yourself!”

Me: “We had dangerous driving conditions.”

Corporate: “And?”

Me: “And I was later than I anticipated, as well.”

Corporate: “And?”

Me: “And I bought them all breakfast.”

Corporate: “What?!”

Me: “Look: I want my people to know that they should be safe. Their lives are more important than being on time.”

Corporate: “Well, that’s not corporate policy!”

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