From August, 2011, Ilia's first post as Bookstore Slave:

Hello all, you can call me Bookstore Slave. 

Now on this day, I was a fellow customer in this store. I had no uniform, no name tag, and a purse over my shoulder. I was carrying a basket of books I was planning to purchase, and stopped frequently to READ the goddamn excerpts on the inside cover.

Custy: Can you tell me where to find [insert obscure book title here]?

Me: Unfortunately I can't. I'm not an employee. You can ask them at the information desk though.

I point out the info desk, which is a whole 15 feet away.  

Custy: I don't want to walk that far! Just tell me where it is!

Me: Lady, I don't work here.

I walk away and select another book that catches my interest.


She follows me down the aisle, yelling and banging her fist on the shelving.

Me: LADY! I don't fucking work here! Ask a goddamn employee!

The woman goes fucking ballistic and a manager arrives at a dead run, probably thinking somebody's getting murdered. 

Custy: Fire this bitch! She swore at me and refuses to help me!

The manager looks at me, looks at the customer and then says: Ma'am, this is not one of our employees.

Custy: This woman was rude to me and I won't stand for it! You fire her right now or I'm calling your corporate office!

Manager to me: You're fired.

The woman strutted off like it was her birthday and I got a coupon for the trouble. To this day I don't know whether she was stupid, or just that goddamn determined to get SOMEBODY fired that day.

--Bookstore Slave


read more from Bookstore Slave here

read more Bookstore Hell here

for more Mistaken Identity tales go here




Retail Hell Memories: Ilia - When A Company Runs On D-GAS


This story was originally posted on August 24, 2011


ILIA1What's D-GAS?

Don't Give A Shit.

Bookstore Slave again with a story from the days when she was a Scrubs Slave.

This job lasted about 9 months, and those months astounded me. It was a small in-mall store tucked in a distant corner. This is a long one so please forgive me. It is all important.

On my very first day on the job (literally, my interviewer told me to appear on Wednesday for my first day of work), the two employees looked at me, looked at each other and said that the one manager in the store, also my interviewer, had quit on Monday. Fascinating, because I had called Monday morning and she had confirmed my start date.

My paperwork hadn't been processed. I was not in the system. The employees were muddling along as best they could with no manager, because calls to the nearest store a few cities away resulted in nothing. With some effort, we got me input to the best of our understanding.

Training consisted of whatever my fellow employees could teach me on the fly. Well, I got folding done fine. I could do cashier work just fine. I could close out the till, take it to the deposit ATM and lock down the store. Cool. Awesome. Bare minimum knowledge, but heck, it kept the place running. On Sunday I learned the process of submitting hours. Awesome. Paycheck on the way, right? Nope. Read on, and abandon all hope.

Turns out I was employee number 5 for the whole place, which, granted, is small enough that we can handle it. Joy. Well, we're all manager-less, our calls to the nearest authority figure are still being ignored or forgotten, and we're all just being one tight knit co-worker community because, damn it, we're all that's there.

With phone calls and a pow wow, we figure out our own scheduling, breaks and coverage needs. We, the untrained minions, have figured out how to keep everyone's breaks covered while juggling availability. Let's hear a round of applause for the poor untrained slaves.

Carolanne boobsSo why did Manager 1 leave? Because she discovered that the company planned on firing her for "Stealing." Now keep this in mind because it's important.

Two weeks go by, no paycheck. A call to the nearest store results in a "I'll get right on it." Translation: Shut the fuck up, you're being ignored already.

1 month, no paycheck, the General Manager appears on a routine tour of the store, and I bring up that my paycheck hasn't come in yet. A quick and simple fix reveals an un-dotted i or an uncrossed t somewhere in the system, the hours are submitted and I get all my missing pay promptly from there on out.

Two months later, we get a note, Employee 2 is Manager through internal promotion. No manager training results.

One month later, Employee 2 quits. Why? "Stealing."

Employee/Manager 3, rinse lather repeat. Quits before being fired for "stealing." See a mysterious trend? I can vouch for 4/5 days closing till with all of these managers that the till was never off by more than a few pennies, and that was usually over due to declined pennies.

By now we have two complete newbies that we had to hire because, well, our ranks were dwindling. We are struggling to train through osmosis, essentially.

Technical difficulty #1. A pipe cracks in the ceiling, resulting in frantic store rearrangement, a plastic bin being dumped out on the floor and placed under the crack. We place a call to the mall repair who could hear the pattering of water and sent a repair man right away. Problem fixed. Simple, relatively painless.

Technical difficulty #2. The fluorescent lights start going out. A call again results in a veiled STFU from Useless Manager. No way to contact the General Manager and not a problem important enough to pass on to her from UM. The light gets progressively dimmer in our store as they go out one by one.

Eventually customers start having to change in the dim stalls, coming out and using a mirror outside because they can barely see for shit.

When a customer (surprisingly they were all at abnormal levels of being patient and understanding) FINALLY sought to complain, I said "Please do!"

Cue shocked expression.

Coworker: I think you broke the customer."

Customer was sent with an itemized list of complaints and the only phone number we could offer, which was, sadly UM's number. I can only assume the customer complaint was shunted like everything else.

Nasty Ass ThievesFast Forward to 5 months into my job. GM comes wandering in, looks around and goes "Good lord, it's dark in here."

I bit my tongue till it nearly bled to hold back a loud and emphatic "DURRRRRP!" What followed is a brisk lesson in ordering and installing the lights (the mall told us it was OUR problem to replace the lights) and how to receive shipments (because we had no idea where the doohickey to scan new shit was or how to work it so we were forced to just open the boxes and put it out to keep the shelves from going bare.

No Inventory correction was done.

We lost an employee shortly after that due to school.

So. New employee. Now our tight knit community has been surviving on mutual support, so not only did we work together as best we could, but we also assisted one another for transportation and covering breaks.

However, this new girl never got the memo. This was a real, honest to god Thief.

Another employee was a single mom with five kids. Having no one to take care of all of the kids all the time, Single Mom would bring her eldest in occasionally so she could keep an eye on him. Now this was an angel, not a hellspawn. He helped out around the store, listened to mom, helped shelve scrubs that we folded and all around acted like the kind of kid you almost never meet in the retail business. Again, keep this in mind, as the following paragraphs will reveal important info.

The first clue was money disappearing from MY purse, and Thief with a cheap meal at a mall store, after complaining that she was starving and had no money. "No I meant that I didn't have any money for TOMORROW." mmmhmmm...

Once again, a complaint was ignored. "It's not [company's] responsibility to handle employees stealing from one another." Still no contact information to the GM despite us asking for it when she had been here.

So, I took a trip to Wally World, bought a toolbox and a padlock, and locked my stuff inside. Later that same day, Single Mom confronts me, saying that Thief said that I was locking my stuff up because HER KID was suspected of stealing. WHAT?!

I had to straighten it all out, touting her kid as a wonderful helper and that I would have hired HIM if he'd been of age. I had to explain that Thief had taken money from my purse while she was the only one in the back room and the kid had never left anyone's eyesight except to trot across the hall for the public bathroom.

After my purse had to be locked up, the till suddenly became exactly $5 short every time Thief worked. Every. Goddamn. Time. UM acted all concerned when we reported the till being stolen from, which was ultimately the COMPANY'S fucking money, but if you've noticed the trend, you know what was done about it for two whole weeks. That's right. abso-fucking-lutely nothing.

Jason beerOn the plus side, we got a hallelujah from the back room, because GM's number was magically unearthed in some mysterious corner under a bunch of product boxes. Thief was promptly fired. Our lack of manager was FINALLY noticed and we got a brand spanking new manager, who I'll call Racist Bitch (you'll see why). Now she was not Caucasian, something that would normally not bother me. Over the course of working here, we had workers of all colors, and I got along with all of them save for Thief.

Now RB decided that the store needed to be whipped into shape and proceeded to do so.

Her: "Now I know you all know what you should be doing so I don't see why you haven't been working according to company standards."

Us: "Um..."

Her: "I know you read the handbook."

Us: "Handbook?"

Her: "This."

She pulls out a key, unlocks a drawer that has been locked and inaccessible since I started and pulls out company handbooks, which should have been part of the hiring process.

Cue blank stare.

Her: "And you should have seen the company video."

Blank stare, then I say: "How?"

We do not have a tv or a vcr except for a recordable vhs collection and a monitor, which are part of the bloody security system that we use... mystery of mysteries... to record security tapes 24/7.

Sooo, we are all "trained" by a "proper" manager, who had to eject the security tape and play the company video on the monitor.

My hours, despite having no other job or school at the time were suddenly reduced to 4 hours each for three days a week. The math resulted in paying more for gas than I got in a paycheck every week. The reason? "It's a competition now. If you want more hours, you all need to work harder in order to earn them." She even wrote me up for not working harder, which served as an excuse for termination if I dared made a stink about it.

Yeaaaah fuck you.

1) I am the only employee whose hours were reduced right now, instead of balancing according to store needs.

2) I'm not working harder for less hours because YOU reduced them.

Skullies RHU3) I worked my ass off for the 8 months BEFORE you ever came to this store, and

4) I helped save this store's ASS not only in money but in manpower to keep this fucker from shutting down completely.

I gave up and quit after only a month of her presence. Passing by on a later date, I glanced in and saw that all of the former employees had been replaced. Running into another former co-worker, I found that Racist Bitch had served everyone the same treatment "work harder if you want more hours" and then writing them up so that it was documented that she had "made an effort to correct the behavior."

All the while, she had been cutting back on hours until the employes had to find other employment to pay their bills. Each and every employee that replaced the hardworking mini community was hand picked by RB, and each and every one of them was the same ethnicity as she was.

5 years later, RB was STILL manager, and over the course of time, every single employee in that store has only ever been one particular ethnicity.

The Useless Manager was useless, the GM only ever did the bare minimum she could get away with and it took them 8 damn months just to hire a new manager for the store, resulting in my leaving the company after 9.

Complete and total D-GAS.

--Bookstore Slave


Read more Bookstore Slave / Ilia stories here!


T'was The Night Before Hallowthanksmas



RHU couponT’was the night before Hallowthanksmas and outside the store,

Lurked crusty old ladies and discount clipping bores.

Ready to mob shelves of product stacked here and there

Eagerly at the doors, these freaks do stare.


When retail slaves should be nestled all snug in their beds,

Instead they man the registers due to the holiday ads.

Kid demands a laptop, Mommy dearest quickly adds a Wii

To silence her hellspawn's screams of "Me, me meee."


Then at the front doors there arose a noise so ample,

We open the doors and pray not to get trampled,

C1 (2)Away to the store racks they flew like a flash,

The decorations now lie strewn, crushed, or smashed.


From one end to the other, lie messes galore,

Sadly not one thing is missed, here in our store.

Into the dressing rooms with horrible ado,

Someone’s abandoned diaper failed to contain all the poo.


And then our spineless, soulless, dear boss

Demanded we cater to their whims at all costs.

More rapid than eagles, their orders they came

They snarled and spat and called us bad names.


A teen demands “This! Sell me this right here!”

“No sir, you're much too young to buy all that beer.

I'm sorry ma’am, you missed what you desired,

Your coupon from last year has long since expired.”


WolfshopperaThe woman shouts “Now faster, now cheaper, hey give that to me!

If my coupon is expired, then my item is now free!

I have no patience, how dare you to defy my will!

You’re hiding my discounts so hurry up and spill!”


As tossed birds before the wild hurricane do fly

We are grabbed, shoved, and battered with nary a sigh.

Back to the break room we carefully try to retreat

Our muscles all aching; halfway through and we’re totally beat.


In the break room, a coworker shivers and cries

Stripped to the underwear by forty customers who tried

To seize one game that someone else wanted

Poor girl; she’s so much more than daunted.


I hear a shout, a curse and a scream

Apparently pepper spray is now the meme.

Sobbing and coughing they stagger their way to me

Apparently it’s all my fault that they can no longer see.


Douched“Hey you! Yeah you! I’m looking for things, you know what they are?

My wife says no more presents from the neighborhood bar.”

“Sorry sir, you know more about your family than I,

Just look around, and there should be something you can spy.”


The doors slam closed with a final crash

Registers are packed full with coupons and cash.

Our slave driving boss grabs his cap and doffs it

Apparently the company’s pleased by the slice of profit.


Freddy MoneyWith a groan and grimace, I look at the litter

Piled higher than me, YES I am bitter.

For I’ll tell you this, in a voice delightfully bland,

There’s no such thing as “Holiday Cheer” in Retail Land.


So the next time at retail slaves you do sneer

Keep in mind this story, my dear.

Words like “Lowlife, no future, inferior”

Belong attached to the one you see in your mirror.




The Miniature Heart Attack


ILIA2From Ilia

Okay, here's a story of what I believe was a miniature heart attack, followed by resuscitation.

Grocery day is Wednesday for my family (a day I have off and can drive mom around to the stores). We grocery shop in a nearby city, which is approximately 30-35 minutes away from home. It's an all day thing, and we come home pretty tired and very much not in the mood to make a complicated dinner.

So decision? Chinese take out, which is close to home.

We call at 7:20 to make the order. I drive to our home town, and we make it at 7:55. Five minutes till they close. Just made it.

We walk in the door and... hoo boy. That poor employee. It's a brief glimpse, but when he looks at us when we walk through the door, I can see it's an instant freaking heart attack. There's just this LOOK of panic in his eyes that every single one of us gets five minutes to close and somebody walks in the door.

I felt bad, and wanted to laugh, at the same time.

"Hello! We have a take-out order under [Mom's name]."

Relief. Instant, blessed, sweeping relief in this kid's eyes. The heart resumes beating. He is resuscitated from cardiac arrest.

We pay for our order, take the still-hot food (it was delicious), and head home. They were able to close on time. 



Monstrous Customers: For Half Of Your Life, I Wasn't Even Born Yet, Creeper


7 MonstrousFrom Ilia

I used to work in a bookstore in my early days of retail.

My conversations in retail fell into three categories; the script of the purchase, concerned well wishes if the weather was bad ("Drive safe, it's REALLY coming down out there!") and fending off creepers.

Third category on the day of this story.

I get greeted by General Dumb Creeper, a man who (according to his life story, as told to me over several days) supposedly attended Oxford, was in the US miliary, planned to go live in Syria, and born in 1952.

He starts right in on the endearments; quite literally "dear" at the end of every sentence.
He doesn't speak as if he had been college educated: simple dialogue, terrible vocabulary, etc. He was trying to sound smarter than he was, but at times he'd use the wrong word or phrase entirely; 'curry-luncheon' instead of "correlation," you get the idea.

I ask him not to use endearments with me, then he asks what "endearments" means. (Sigh and facepalm.)

I tell him that I do not want him calling me 'dear' or 'honey' or other terms of affection.

He acts all offended for all of five seconds, then is all, "But it's okay, dear. I came here to find my soulmate, and you seem pretty interesting. Where do you live?"

WTFOMFGNO! I'm a retail worker you freak! I'm nice because my job says I have to be!

And he's still using the endearments after I asked him not to. "Are you married, dear? Do you have any children, dear? I want lots of children."

I tell him that yes, I am married (lie, but he doesn't know that).

Him: "Oh, well I'm okay with someone looking to have an affair."

Me to headset: "Service Manager to registers please."

ILIA1Me to man: "You are being seriously creepy. And no, you're twice my age." I tell him point blank.

Him: "I don't know what to say, other than that age is only a number, dear. I'm sure you'll be okay with it after we date a while. Women like experienced men."

Oh look, there went the final straw. Maybe some people are okay with dating men/women twice their age, but if you're shoving it onto someone who isn't okay with it, you're a scumbag.

Me to headset: "Manager to registers! NOW!"

Me to man: "You don't respect me enough to honor the one request I've made of you so far, and you're not coming off at all like the well-educated person you claim to be. I'm not talking to you anymore, and I refuse to serve you."

He kept trying to chat me up and arguing that he really was educated, and how he would take me to Syria where I would live like a queen if I married him. (Are you stupid, or do you think I AM?)

I turned away from him and told the managers that this man was harassing me and that they needed to convince him not to come back.

He came back several times that week, until we got the police involved.