We have a core team of wonderful employees who have worked there even longer than I - all hard working, knowledgeable, motivated, deal with our crazy customers in a professional manner, and a delight to have as coworkers.
However, we seem to be the object of some kind of voodoo curse - we can't seem to find half-sane people to cashier and do stock to round out the shifts. The people who apply are laughable, and the creme de la sludge who get hired are awful - they are mean, insubordinate, text friends all day, play with animals, habitually late, habitually call off, can't follow simple instructions, are miserable to coworkers. They take a 15 minute break, and they practically need to be retrained! They take attitudes with customers - crack gum in their faces, text while people are at the register, complain to the customers about they are sad because their boyfriend broke up with them etc. They are given a simple task, and they don't follow through, and we find them standing around again, texting again, forgetting to how use the phone, etc etc, and have to be told to do the simple task again. It feels like baby-sitting hellspawn on top of all the other stuff we core employees have to do in our busy environment.
Despite the misery of the retail environment, the core slaves are self-motivated and work very hard. We have a lovely, well run store with dedicated customers, and we hear way more compliments about how enjoyable it is to shop there than crazy people complaining. But the bad mean slaves are the carbuncle on the pretty face, the dog poo on the shoe. I've had our nice regular customers pull me aside and say, "OMG! So-and-So was just ROTTEN to me!"
They really run down the store, and it is demoralizing. The bad slaves also start so much trouble with customers that it ends up blowing up in the faces of the good slaves, which is demoralizing. The manager is aware of how bad it is, and it directly impacts her, but she doesn't seem to know what to do to manage them and seems to be afraid of confronting them. She seems to be afraid the owner will find out she can't manage difficult people, so she avoids the problem.
My problem, Fellow Retail Slaves: We barely have enough competent people to fill out the shifts, and even though I am not officially a supervisor, I am going to have to be a de facto supervisor, working alone in the store with these awful employees.
I don't want to be an asshole supervisor. I'd like to keep these bodies in motion doing their tasks without being a harpy. How can one firmly but politely set tasks, and enforce common sense rules about texting at the register and following through with tasks? I know that I have to come up with some kind of "method actor motivation" to portray a person who does not want to throw cat food cans at them to get their attention, or chop off their thumbs to stop them texting their friends when they need to be working.
Suggestions would be deliriously welcome.
In future I will send some amusing Transient Co-Workers From Hell stories so your mind can reel too.