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Temporary Manager, Long-Term Jerk

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 23, 2022

In my early twenties, I took a job as the deputy manager of an offsales (liquor store) in Glasgow. I had worked in retail before, but this was my first management role. I was nervously excited about joining the team, but things went pear-shaped very quickly. My boss (the store manager) and I were the only full-time employees. The other four staff members were part-timers, all of whom had very constrained availabilities around their other commitments.

About a month after I joined the team, my boss took a holiday for a week, but whilst she was away, she quite seriously hurt her back and thus went on long-term sick leave. I can’t remember exactly how long that lasted, but I think it was at least a ten-month-long absence.

I was told that our area manager would find us some additional support, and if I was ever in a pinch, then I could phone around the other stores in the area and try to borrow their staff. As you might have guessed, the extra support somehow never quite happened, but I’m proud to say that, with the help of our part-timers pitching in to pick up extra hours, we managed to keep the store open. We routinely placed as one of the best performing stores in our region, sometimes even placing first in sales.

However, there came one week when all of the part-timers were unavailable, and the only way I could make it work was to pick up three consecutive open-to-close shifts by myself on top of my other shifts. At the end of the week, I had something like twenty extra hours on my time sheet.

Finally, the area manager took notice — but only to reprimand me for all of those extra hours! I explained what had happened and he professed ignorance of the fact we were short-staffed. I’m not quite sure what he thought losing the store manager and one of only two full-time employees meant, but clearly, our shop had been a victim of our own success by muddling along.

At this point, the area manager finally organised a temporary manager, and it was actually surprisingly quick to get sorted out. It was only three or four weeks between that call and my meeting our temporary manager on his first day in our shop.

[Temporary Manager] was a bit of a strange character. He was friendly enough but could become very serious and officious about things with little warning. This led to him trying to discipline me, only to get in trouble himself.

Our franchise required us to cash out our till (register) drawers at the end of each shift and put the large notes in our safe after everything was counted. During the shifts, there was a lockbox beneath both of our two counters so that we could safely store paper money and cheques if the drawers became full, and obviously, those needed to be counted at the end of each shift, too.

[Temporary Manager] didn’t believe me and thought the lockboxes stayed where they were until the shop closed. I told him that wasn’t our training or policy, and he quite bluntly told me I was wrong. Then came this conversation.

Temporary Manager: “Hey, [My Name], I need to have a serious word with you.”

Me: “Oh, okay. What’s wrong?”

Temporary Manager: “You didn’t cash out my lockbox last night; it was full overnight.”

Me: “Oh, I wondered why the count was out. Did you see the note I left about it? I didn’t think to check the lockbox on till one because it wasn’t used during my shift.”

Temporary Manager: “I’ve told you before that they get emptied when the shop closes, not at the end of each shift.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry, but I explained that isn’t store policy or how we’ve been trained.”

Temporary Manager: “I told you you were wrong and you were warned. I’m putting in a written warning about this, and the area manager will be in touch. You can get back to your shift now.”

Fuming, I went back to my shift. I decided that I’d just take it up with the area manager when he spoke to me, but days turned into weeks and I never heard anything more about it. I also noticed that [Temporary Manager] had started clearing the lockboxes after his shift.

Eventually, one of my colleagues had to cover a shift where the area manager was working and came back to me with a story the next day.

Colleague: “Hey, [My Name], I’ve got a funny story for you. Do you remember [Temporary Manager] threatening to discipline you?”

Me: “Remember? I was furious! I never heard anything about it, though, and I noticed that he started cashing out properly, so I assumed that he finally checked the training manual and realised I was right.”

Colleague: “Nope! He really did try to report you. [Area Manager] told me but asked me to keep it quiet. [Temporary Manager] phoned to ask him how to submit a written warning so, obviously, he asked him who it was about and why. As soon as he explained, [Area Manager] told him you were right and that if he didn’t drop it immediately, he would be the one getting a warning.”

Me: “Amazing! I do kind of wish that he had been given a warning, though.”

[Temporary Manager] didn’t stay with us much longer. Our manager recovered about four months later, so he was thanked for filling in and shown the door.

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