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Highway To The Retail Danger Zone

, , , , , , , , | Working | July 20, 2022

One of my first jobs just out of high school is a retail position at a rather upscale place. All of my coworkers are relatively nice, but it’s the manager that bothers everyone, and he’s a real jerk. It’s about my first or second week in, and I am still learning. The manager comes in to explain that we’re going to work on Zoning for the new folks — aka me.

Zoning means there are one or two people standing and staying in certain places in the store, broken up by displays. Zone One is the display by the front door, Zone Two is the display behind it, Zone Three is the display behind Zone Two, etc. Oddly, Zone Four, behind Zone Three, is the cash wrap. Why the registers are in the middle/back of the store, who knows?

It’s a pretty slow day to start. I’m assigned to Zone Two, and I’m told to dust, clean, tidy, and make it look like I’m busy bustling around. I’m still nervous, so I do my best.

A customer finally walks in about an hour after open. I’ve done all I can to make my Zone neat and tidy, so I’m kind of standing around. I watch as my coworker in Zone One greets the customer and then goes back to their dusting.

The customer eventually asks where an item is, and my coworker gestures to me. I smile and help the customer get their item. It turns out my retail persona is better than I thought: the customer and I gab for a bit.

I decide (foolishly) that I’m going to help the customer a little bit more than necessary; I take them beyond my Zone Two into Zone Three, and then into Zone Four, and (gasp!) ring them up. The coworker at the register gives me a funny look but steps back once they see that I’m ringing the customer up by myself and even helps a little when I get stuck.

I hand the customer their bag and then walk them out of the store, holding the door for them. The customer is happy as they’re leaving, and I’ve just made the first sale of the day. Sure, it was for a spatula, but it was a good interaction, and the woman said she’d leave a good review. I’m beaming with pride.

Mind you, this takes no more than five minutes.

I go back to my Zone and begin to tidy up again (or at least look like it) when my manager comes bustling out of the back, red as a tomato.

Manager: “You left your Zone!”

Me: *Still smiling* “Um. Yes. Was I not supposed to? This customer—”

Manager: “NO! You can’t leave your Zone!”

Me: *My smile fading* “But—”

Manager: “What if someone else came into your Zone and stole the rest of these spatulas?!”

Me: *Now confused* “Um, but there’s another coworker up front—”

Manager: “That customer could have been a plant! They could have had someone else in to take these items! DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ZONE!”

Me: “But, that was the first sale of the day—”

Manager: “UNACCEPTABLE! YOU LEFT YOUR ZONE! What did I tell you? YOU DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ZONE. You do that again, you’re getting written up!”

He stomped away, and I was nearly in tears. I was in shock. What the heck had just happened? And I had another six hours of this? My coworker in Zone One hugged me and said that’s just the way [Manager] is, shrugged, and then went back to their Zone.

The customer did leave a very good review, which made my manager even more furious, but I didn’t last long in that job, and neither did many others. Last I heard, that manager was transferred to another store, the new manager was great, and Zoning was no longer a required task.

Alllllmost There

, , , , , , , | Working | July 19, 2022

We recently had an agency temp on reception as our receptionist had a three-week holiday. On the temp’s second day, she asked where confidential shredding needed to be put. We were a little confused as to why she would need it, but we showed her where it should be placed.

One of her duties, while covering reception, was to open the post and distribute it throughout the office. She had been left clear, concise, and detailed written instructions, but she somehow misunderstood. She had removed private and confidential letters from their envelopes and then shredded the envelopes because they stated “private” and “confidential” on them.

Thanks For The Easy Rent

, , , , , , | Working | July 19, 2022

A few years back, I landed myself a cushy job as an Order-to-Cash Specialist, which, despite the somewhat pompous title, was basically about receiving orders by email and entering them into the systems. In many ways, it was a pointless job. The customer picks items in a catalogue, fills out an order form, sends it to us, and we (re-)enter it. Why not offer an online platform for the customers to begin with? But the pay was pretty decent for an entry-level gig, plus it was back office, meaning I didn’t have to actually talk to any customers.

I wasn’t hired as part of a group, but individually, so I was initially supposed to shadow my colleagues and learn the ropes that way. However, they were perpetually backlogged and thus had no time to train me, so I was pretty much left to my own devices. My team lead made no secret that I might as well go outdoors and enjoy the nice weather because there was absolutely nothing for me to do anyway.

Nice! I was getting paid roughly $8/€7.50 an hour after tax to fiddle and fart and lick sun. Plus, I enjoyed massive employee discounts in the food court of the nearby shopping mall. (And as my rent was $270/€250, I’d earned that amount in less than a week, so overall sweetness.)

After two or three weeks, my training actually began. I was given some training material, and with its help, I was to enter some dummy orders. Pretty straightforward stuff, except it turned out that the training material was hopelessly outdated, so I failed the first test — ironically because I did follow the instructions. “No biggie,” my team lead said. “We’ll just quickly update the material, and you can retake the test.” Sweet. And until then… yep, you nailed it: more fiddling and farting on company time.

The next week came, and it was time to retake the test. I did much better this time, but overall I still failed… because they had overlooked some sections of the material, so once again, I did it wrong because I did it “right”. Rinse and repeat; more updates, more fiddling and farting, and another week passed by.

The third time’s a charm, right? Nope. They still had forgotten to update some product codes and procedure abbreviations, so I failed again. If it’d been a group of new hires all failing in the exact same spots, maybe management would’ve seen a pattern and reacted accordingly. But as a solo flyer, it was my word against theirs. And after the third fail, they unceremoniously wished me good luck in my future endeavours.

Usually, I would’ve fought the termination, but at the time, I knew several recruiters and Human Resources people in other companies, so I wasn’t too perturbed. I got two months’ salary for d**king around for almost eight weeks (and scored two months’ rent in just two of them), so I just considered the whole experience to be paid vacation.  

However, I still can’t fathom how that company would rather waste two months’ salary on one employee doing absolutely nothing, and then waste more money on a whole new recruitment process, instead of just pulling one person out of production for one half or full day and properly updating the material once and for all. Heck, I could’ve helped, because I now knew firsthand where the glitches and potholes were. But their loss, I suppose.

Training Is Often Tedious, But This Is Ridiculous

, , , , , , | Working | July 19, 2022

I was hired by a company that is the world’s largest at what they do. I’m a long-term temporary employee (AKA a contractor). I work at their site as a direct employee. There are quite a lot of contractors on the project I work on.

We all need computer-based training, but I’m one of the first to try to take the training. My supervisor sends me a link to the internal home page with directions to click the “Training” link on that page.

I’m denied access to the home page. I send the error page I get instead back to my supervisor, and she opens an IT ticket to have me and the other contractors granted access. After a few days, we’re told it was done. I bring up the home page, click on the training link, and am again told I am denied access, so I go through the “send error to supervisor/she opens IT ticket/wait for IT to fix it” rigamarole again. But this time, she makes sure she’s clear with IT that I need access to the computer-based training system to take the mandated training.

We get the word back from IT that it’s fixed, so I get access to the main training page… but the next page I need access to tells me I am denied access. This goes on for a total of six individual pages on the route to my individual training page, with each page needing the “supervisor/IT ticket/wait for IT” loop, despite my supervisor telling IT each time that I need access to the training system and not just the current page I got the access denied message for.

I finally have access to my individual training page, with the twenty-three — yep, twenty-three — classes I need to take, twenty to sixty minutes each. But every single one of those links gives me an “access denied” message. My supervisor tells IT I need access to all twenty-three of my training classes.

A few days later — they’re all fixed, and it’s been weeks since I started trying to take my training. The first dozen or so training modules go just fine. But then, there’s a string of nine or so that state that, in addition to going through the training module, training will not be considered complete until I’ve read a document at the given link. What happens when I click the link?

You guessed it, access denied. I give my supervisor the list of all the links to the documents I need, she sends it to IT, and after a few days, they fix it.

It takes me over five weeks to get my eighteen or so hours of training completed, and at least four of those weeks are waiting for IT.

The only saving grace is that IT has at least been fixing each issue for all contractors, not just me, so all the contractors who try to take their training after me are able to do so on their first try.

Apparently, IT was only willing to risk taking malicious compliance so far.

Wood You Believe They Don’t Even Get Hazard Pay?!

, , , , | Working | July 18, 2022

I am in training for a job at a factory located inside a complex that has everything needed for turning pruned tree trunks into finished products, ranging from pallets to prefabricated construction elements, including facilities where the lumber is dried before it is turned into planks, etc. With vast amounts of dry wood and fine sawdust everywhere, we have already spotted a number of ways one could die there when a fellow trainee mentions how his friends told him that two people would die between our starting and finishing our on-the-job -training. (He also identified the cause of death, which I didn’t catch, but it isn’t important for this story.) Pretty sure he and/or his friends were joking, I jokingly said:

Me: “So, one more way to die on the job. You can lop off a leg with a chainsaw, get run over by a forklift, get an artery sliced open by the prongs of a forklift, or have a ton of pallets fall on you, or some dumba** may burn down the entire factory by lighting a cigarette in the wrong place.”

Fellow Trainee: “Didn’t the manager say that it’s an immediate sacking if you are caught smoking on the complex grounds?”

Me: “Duh, why do you think that policy exists?”

I will answer that one myself: dust explosion.