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Retail Hell Memories: LESSONS LEARNED AT AN EDUCATIONAL STORE

 

Bookstoreslave (2)

From Ilia, posted to RHU, July 19, 2013:

I have shared stories about D-GAS (Don't Give A Shit) Scrub store, and about Hoarders, but the shortest store tenure I ever had was a little shop that sells educational supplies to teachers and parents who home school their spawn. I shall dub it Educational Crap. And my, do I have a buttload of "education" from this place. It's been years, so pursuing anything right now would be pointless.

1) Ostracize the Newbies, part 1.

Like any company, Educational Crap has a fuckload of manuals that they expect their slaves to know and read. What you don't expect is to be handed these manuals and to be shut off and shoved back into the very back room in a poorly lit corner to read these fuckers... on the property... when you could do it at home or be getting...you know... training... I spent three days, eight hour shifts... doing that. Take the books home? Fuck no we don't allow that!

I was so fucking bored that I said "fuck it" halfway through the biggest book and claimed I had read it. Not that anyone would know. I was sick of sitting in a far back corner at a small, cramped desk in the security cage with a single desk lamp for company and talking to my imaginary friend "Wilson."

2) Newbies can swim with sharks.

Miss Manager Boss Lady would shove me onto a register and drag a D-GAS overdosed lower manager in to "supervise" me. Under normal circumstances, we newbie slaves want this. Any "good" trainer will walk you through the process and stay on hand to give you an assist as you fumble your way through the register functions. Buuuuuut if this had been a "good" trainer, I wouldn't be writing here would I? 15 minutes in, I have mostly got the hang of it as I learn by doing, quickly, and with a minimum of mistakes.

Carolanne2 011The my slack jawed D-GAS trainer gets too fucking bored and tells me that she's done watching me, tells me to "go straighten the shelves... or something..." and walks away from me as I stand at the reg with three people in line.

I sounded like Yosemite Sam after Bugs Bunny hauls in a solid gold boulder."Duh...buh...geck... *splutter splutter*" as I uselessly try to point out the line she is telling me to abandon. I give the startled looking lady in line a "deer in the headlights" look, then shake myself out of it, grit my teeth, and proceed to ring the three of them up.

With no mishaps I might add. Hooray for slave power!

Total: 20 minutes register "training" time, 20 minutes being chewed out for manning the register without my trainer. "If your trainer can't watch you, walk away from the registers and don't touch them again until your trainer comes back."

WTF?! Fine, next time I'll tell the customers, "For any and all complaints, please dial THIS number." and hand them out. "Please specify that the trainee cashier was forced to abandon the registers despite the line of waiting customers."

3) Sunday night is "free bait for criminals" night. 5pm-10pm.

Supplies arrive in the big truck full of boxes and half the staff is scheduled to be on location for helping to unload the truck, open boxes and put product away. Most of the shit is light so offloading is easy enough. So what happens? I am handed a box cutter, and the Miss Manager Boss Lady points at the boxes and basically tells me to get cracking. I am expected to recognize the stuff in the boxes and sort them according to where in the store they go.

Alone.

I have no fucking idea where this shit goes. The first pile of boxes is taller than I am, and folks, this is day two of me actually working on the floor.The rest of the piles are shorter by only a tiny bit. This is incredibly unfair but like a good little slave I bite my tongue and start slicing boxes open. All is good for a while. The sun is still up, and the workers in the store are in and out frequently to pick up boxes and carry them inside. Then the sun sets.

I've been working hard on a mountain of boxes. Seriously, there's too many for a single person to do unless they're doing that and nothing but that for 5 hours straight, compounded by staring at the stuff inside with a bewildered expression before tentatively putting it in a pile where you think it MIGHT go. Do these items go in 2-5 year old range or the 5-9 range? It all looks like a bunch of cheap, simplistic "educational" shit to me and not everything is labeled with its age appropriate range..

Suddenly I notice I can barely see. I look around and realize I'm in the parking lot ALONE with ONE light to illuminate the whole thing. It's really gaddamn dark, and I can't see anything beyond the wall of boxes at the edges of the light. A football team could jump my ass, and I'd never see them coming. I've barely made a dent in the mountain even though it's been two hours. I'm mighty uncomfortable, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of another employee for half an hour. Re-fucking-diculous.

So I poke my head inside and hear cheerful voices. I wander in and from my shadowy exile, I see everyone standing around talking and laughing like it's a social party. They don't have anything from the outside left to put away, and they're jabbering away about nothing.

New Freddy 025I walk inside and join them. I am noticed immediately and get told to get my ass back outside and opening the boxes.

Me: I need help.

Miss Manager Boss Lady: No you don't, it's not a difficult job. Just cut the boxes open and put them aside.

Me: I'm doing it alone, the lighting is poor and I don't feel safe.

Miss Manager Boss Lady: It's a safe neighborhood. You're in no danger. Get out there and get to work.

Me: You know what? I don't care how safe it is. I don't FEEL safe, and I haven't seen anybody for half an hour. I need help opening all these boxes, and I don't know where anything goes so I really can't sort them effectively.

Miss Manager Boss Lady: We'll be back outside soon. *turns away from me and ignores my outraged expression*

I walk back outside, spitting and snarling to myself, grip the boxcutter like a weapon and get back to work. I stop every ten seconds to look carefully around like a jittery zebra in lion territory, and ten minutes LATER Miss Manager Boss Lady comes out to "help" me open boxes. She's silent for several minutes before starting in.

Miss Manager Boss Lady: Ilia, I'm very concerned.

I stop, straighten very slowly, and stare at her.

Miss Manager Boss Lady: Your attitude. It's very disturbing. I want to remind you that you are on probation until the company assesses whether or not we want you to stay on with us.

(Fuck you. Fuck you very much.)

Me: Miss Manager Boss Lady, my 'attitude,' as you call it, stems from the fact that you are leaving me alone in a potentially dangerous situation with no witnesses and no way to get help if I am gravely wounded by an assailant. You left me alone and unattended for nearly forty five minutes in a very poorly lit parking lot. If I got injured, you never would have known until I either staggered into the store, bleeding, or until someone eventually came out and found me lying on the ground.

Miss Manager Boss Lady *snapping at me*: You are exaggerating. This is a safe neighborhood,and your whiny attitude is unreasonable, unrealistic and ridiculous. You were hired to do a job, and you are expected to do it.

Me: And I will do that job to the best of my abilities, but only if I do not feel like my safety is in question.

She straightens, turns her back and storms off into the store. A few seconds later, two other employees come out and start helping me take care of the mountain of boxes and proceed to help me sort, innocent expressions and all. The night ended on a somewhat better note, but in retrospect I should have documented and dated.

4) Ostracize the Newbies, part 2

Now, the chain of command is simple: Retail slaves, including me, at the bottom. Above them are Manager A (female, African American, "good cop") and Manager B (male, Caucasian, "bad cop"), and above them is Miss Manager Boss Lady. I include ethnicity in my description because I kept getting the feeling that I was in some sort of cop show where everything was totally opposite in the pair of cops, even skin color, as if emphasizing even that difference would help get the audience more involved in the game as they try to break the bad guy's will. You've all seen them: black cop with white cop, skinny cop with fat cop, short cop with tall cop, nice cop with asshole, book-smart with streetwise. You get the idea.

Manager A asks, not orders, me to change out the display signs on top of the shelves for an upcoming sale. Fine. Cool. I am not a fan of heights, and the three step stepladder is enough to make me squirm. But it is a sturdy tool and the task I am assigned is neither difficult nor really uncomfortable all things considered. So halfway through the job, Manager B storms over and demands to know why I'm changing the signs.

RHU HeadMe: Because Manager A asked me to.

Manager B: The signs can be done at any time, you need to put away the go-backs now.

I look around at the three other more seasoned employees who are standing around doing fuck all and look back at him.

Me (slowly): Manager A asked me to do the signs now. If you want me to do the go-backs, I can do them after I finish with the job Manager A gave me.

Manager B is silent for several seconds; that long hesitation people get when they want to intimidate you into buckling. Finally,he mutters a low growl to himself and reluctantly agrees to my suggestion.

If I dropped everything I had been doing and left Manager A's job half done (leaving removed signs on the floor ant the step ladder in the aisle, I would have been fired for insubordination and safety violations. I saw what they were trying to do, and I fielded both as best I could.

But this is RHU, and we all know the ultimate end result just looking at the title. The pair keeps up their good cop, bad cop routine, and I had finally had enough and let slip that I was feeling very "harassed" and that I didn't appreciate being given contradictory orders.

Manager B vanished after staring at me, as though shocked by the "H word" and the insubordinate behavior of objecting to "hostile working conditions".

Then I was called into the back by Miss Manager Boss Lady, given no opportunity to state my side of the story and duly "let go" because "I wasn't what the company was looking for."

Needless to say,it was a lesson in documenting situations immediately because I'm pretty sure I would have had a case. But it would have taken time and money that I didn't have, and the company was a small one, meaning that I wouldn't have won a lot. At the time, I was a relatively new, a submissive retail slave, and figured I was just better off away from the company altogether. Only after years more experience, have I learned the wisdom I now know.

Nowadays, I will shove my court papers up a company's ass so hard they'd be spitting court papers for years afterward if this situation were to repeat itself.

May all your customers (and coworkers) be nice,

--Ilia

 

 

 

 

Comments

TenebrisVenator

*snerk* *pffft*
OMG, I think that's my new favorite RHU line. "I will shove these papers so far up your asses, you'll be spitting paper for the next year!"
Dead

Samus

What a bizarre dynamic. Why would the managers try to contradict each other all the time and have the employees suffer for it? Did they really not like one another and it was some weird power play?

As for working alone outside - super creepy. Glad you stood up for yourself. Many newbies wouldn't and would just continue to suffer in silence.

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