What A Cone-head

, , , , | Right | February 2, 2018

(The store I work at is remodeling, so we are closed down. We do not have a fence to keep people out, so instead, we put cones in the entrance of the parking lot. Over the course of the day I have to move the cones back into position because people are moving them. As I am walking back to the restaurant, I see a man getting out of his truck.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir. We are closed today for remodeling.”

Customer: “What are you talking about? You’re [Store]; you’re never closed.” *proceeds to walk to the building* “What gives? The door is locked? Go open the door.”

Me: “Sorry, we are closed. I can’t do that, and even if I did open the door, there wouldn’t be any food inside.”

Customer: “What? Why didn’t you tell me you were closed?”

Me: “Why do you think those cones that you got out of your car to move were there?”

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Not The Brightest Bulb In The Store

, , , , , | Right | January 31, 2018

(I am the store manager for a hat shop. A man stomps into our store right as I open, clearly very upset.)

Customer: “Are you the one who told my wife she couldn’t try on your hats?!”

Me: “I honestly doubt it. All of our hats are available to try on. Do you know when your wife was here?”

Customer: “Last night! She described you and said you refused to get a hat down for her to try on! That’s discrimination!”

(Right at this moment his wife walks in. I clearly remember her from the night before.)

Me: “Hello. I do remember you, ma’am. Sir, the only ‘hat’ I said I couldn’t take down for your wife was the light fixture behind you, because those are not actual hats on it, but lamp shades. They are wired to the fixture.”

Customer: *looking at me with dawning understanding and then slowly turning to his wife* “They aren’t real hats! It’s a d*** lamp shade!”

Customer’s Wife: “I know that, but I wanted to just try it, and she refused to take it down! She wouldn’t even let me take it down myself!”

Customer: “That’s because it’s not a hat! It’s a lamp. Shade.”

Customer’s Wife: “I know that, but I just wanted to try it.”

Customer: *to me* “I’m very sorry about this.” *to wife* “Come on. I’m taking you to the hardware store so you can try on all the d*** lamp shades, if that’s what you want!”

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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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Didn’t Land With Their Feet On The Ground

, , , , , | Working | January 29, 2018

(An employee is moving from another state and looking to transfer to my store. I am supposed to do an interview even though she is already employed by the company. Usually it’s just a formality, but this time is different! The employee is so late to the interview that I have figured her as a no show and started a different task. When I am paged she has arrived, I make my way over to the office, where our customer service head informs me the employee has been complaining loudly about having to do the interview. I approach, smiling, with my hand out to shake hers.)

Employee: “Oh, I don’t touch people’s hands.”

(I quickly review her employee file with her, where it says she has been working in the shoe department of the other store for four years. We head to our shoe department, and on the way down the escalator, she pulls her cell phone out and starts texting. At the shoe department, I tell her we are going to do a quick customer and employee role play to show she has finished training.)

Me: “Okay, so, I’m the customer and I want my shoe size confirmed, so I need you to measure my feet.”

Employee: “I don’t touch feet.”

Me: “That’s a major part of your job here, and you’ll be assisting people all the time.”

Employee: “It’s the customer’s fault if they can’t put shoes on.”

Me: “Okay… Well, for the next scenario, pretend you are helping a customer. I come up and need assistance right away. Show me how you would respond.”

Employee: “I’d say, ‘Listen. Learn some patience; you aren’t three years old! Sit down and I’ll get to you when I get to you.’”

(She smiled like she did well. At the conclusion of the interview, I contacted corporate and said I would only take her on if she went through full customer service training again. She quit three days into training and submitted a report that my store was too harsh on its employees. I noted that her old store had the lowest customer service rating in the country; it’s no wonder why!)

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Switching It Up And Going Down

, , , , , , | Working | January 26, 2018

(After employees count down the tills at the end of day, money goes into plastic bags with strong adhesive strips closing them. They have to be cut open by accounting. Because counting down the tills is important, but difficult for people who struggle with math, I’ve had my store split between employees asked to count down tills and those in charge of floor resets at end of day. The district manager visits, and he takes issue with this.)

District Manager: “Why do you only let some employees count down tills? It would make more sense for every employee to take a turn.”

Me: “We only let employees who are able to demonstrate they can close tills quickly and correctly actually do so. There’s more than enough work for everyone else to recover merchandise.”

District Manager: “Hmmm… Humor me. Tomorrow, let’s switch the two groups, just for tomorrow’s shift.”

(We did. Thankfully, he was there to witness employees struggling with counting out the change and massive cash discrepancies. I expected that; not everyone is good at math. What shocked us was the number of people confused by the adhesive plastic bags. Several people had to be instructed that the bags had to be sealed and how to seal them. One employee somehow managed to get the bag stuck to his hair, money still inside. The adhesive was so strong, we had to cut it out. I let the district manager be the one to actually cut the employee’s hair. It drove the point home, and he bought the accounting team — and me — lunch as an apology.)

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