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!


Coworker Hell: The Tale of Stupid



From Jan, 2011:

I work in a small Australian retail chain that sells kitchen-and-home-stuffof the generally tacky variety, so I’m going to call myself KitschBitch. (Hey look, it rhymes!)

Boy, do I have some stories for you. This is my first job (I’m 18, I couldn’t work earlier because of health complications) and I’ve been working here about a month. My manager is great, most of my co-workers are wonderful, and everyone has generally worked hard to make me comfortable.

Except for one employee.

Let’s call her Stupid. Now Stupid seems utterly convinced that I can’t do my job. Sure, it took me a little time to get used to it – I could rant all day about how she left me alone at the register on my first day when she knew I hadn’t been trained on how to use it, and then made me feel like crap for not magically understanding how the thing worked– but now I’m a lot faster and I very rarely need help at all.

All the same, Stupid blames me automatically for ANYTHING that is wrong in the store, and has gone so far as to take over transactions that I was handling just fine on my own because she thought they would be too hard for me. At first I let her, but I’m slowly learning to fight back.

Today was just one example of her meddling. An elderly woman came in, bought a pillow worth $19.99 with a $20 note (I remember this very clearly, as the note had been extremely crinkled and difficult to put in the tray – for those who aren't aware, Australian currency is made of a plastic-like substance that holds crinkles like nobody’s business) and so I gave her the receipt and she left the store.

Jason 031Sale done, I went back to unpacking some bathmats that had just arrived. About half an hour later, I hear Stupid screech my name from across the store, so I go to see what the matter is.

“You short changed this lady!” she says. “She gave you a $50 note, and you were supposed to give her $30 change, but you didn’t! God, you’re so fucking hopeless!”

I recognise the lady and the pillow she was holding, and I tell Stupid that no, the woman gave me $20, perhaps she used the $50 note she was missing elsewhere and didn’t realise it.

Apparently this couldn’t possibly have happened, so Stupid calls over the manager, tells her that I short changed the customer, and that the lady needed $30 worth of change.

The manager doesn’t think I could have made a mistake like that, and she says this very bluntly to the pair of them.

Her confidence in my ability to get things right is met with twin expressions of outrage and disbelief (It turns out that Stupid had explained me off as being a hopeless new employee who was constantly causing problems, so Custy couldn’t have expected the manager to back me up – Stupid obviously expected the awesome manager to believe I’d messed up); I suggested that the manager count out the till, which she does, only to find that (Surprise!) everything balances perfectly.

I hadn’t done a thing wrong. Custy leaves in a hurry, shooting us a dirty look as she leaves, and Stupid gives me attitude for the rest of the day.

Now, I can understand thinking I might have made a mistake - I have, after all, worked for less than a month. But you don’t accuse me of making the mistake, you look at the evidence and see if it balances out.

This includes counting out the till, something Stupid didn’t even suggest; she was willing to give the woman $30 with no proof that what she was saying was true.

Oh, and you don’t get pissy at your co-worker because it turns out you were in the wrong! I was willing to put up with a few of her tricks for the sake of my job, but now I’m pissed....

So yeah, that’s my day in summary.



read more Coworker Hell stories here








Thrift Store Hell: Missing Missy, And Lemkil Shenanigans On The Tills


Skully coworkersFrom Puppies In Prada

So... where to start... I guess the origin point of today's set of stories is Missy's retirement. Her last day was the 15th, folks. She's... sort of gone? She's going to take two weeks of vacation time to replenish her batteries, then she will come back to train her replacement, before winging her way completely into the ether. No idea where her next job will be. She's going to be doing a few very minor things for the store (like doing the weekly schedules) online. But she is no longer a presence in the store itself. We had two good-bye parties, one for employees and one for volunteers. Lots of speeches, many thank-yous, and many feels in which some eyes were teary. I got a big hug from her right before she left for the day.

One of the leads, Allie, did a lot of sniffling for about two hours after Missy left. Thankfully we keep a box of tissues at the registers, so I was able to hand her the box. I didn't sniffle, but I was pretty bummed for the rest of the day since she was gone.

Sadly, this is the end of any feel-goodness and warm wishes in my story. It's time for a Lemkil update.

And if that gave you a chill down your spine? Yeah, that's the correct reaction.

Allie whispered to me that Lemkil hated Missy with a passion... to the point where he referred to her as a "bitch" and a "whore" behind her back. Delightful.

Coworker hellAnd now Missy is gone.

This were relatively quiet for almost a week. Then I hear that Lemkil blew the fuck up. I was on the donation door and sent up my bin of shoes; I was going upstairs at the end of my door shift (in like 15 minutes) and would take care of it then, I figured. I heard from two employees that Lemkil went on a rant about how people on the door should not send their bins up for others to deal with. The guy who does toys and games went to empty the rolling bin into my in-bin as a thoughtful gesture, and got an earful of Lemkil's enraged (and pointless) tantrum.

I talked to the Toy Employee, thanking him for stepping in, and that I would have taken care of it if necessary. I asked him if he was okay, and asked him if Lemkil had been verbally abusive, or whether he had just ranted ineffectually. Toy Employee reassured me that he wasn't upset over the incident, and that Lemkil had just been making noise.

Thank Thrognar. I would have felt awful if Toy Employee had been dragged into Lemkil's psychotic verbal beating over something I had done. (And wasn't even against any rules, written or implied.)

Then... this weekend. HOO BOY this weekend.

I close. That means I count down one register. There are three of us at every close. Two to count a register, and a lead or supervisor to confirm the count and fill out paperwork.

Saturday night: Whoo hoo! The tills balanced! None over, none under. Me, Steve, and Supervisor Patricia. Signed, confirmed, and sealed.

Sunday morning: Lemkil counts the tills in. Claims Register 2 was short $1, and Register 3 was over by $5. Leave notes to that effect.

CASHIER-HELLSunday night: Tills balanced perfectly again. No sign of missing or extra money. Me, Steve, and Lead Allie. Signed, confirmed, and sealed.

Monday morning: Lemkil again counts the tills in. Claims he found a penny in the dime well, claims the tills are $0.09 off.

Monday night: Yet again, the tills balanced perfectly. Me, Steve, and Lead Allie. Signed, confirmed, and sealed.

We all sign off on the totals. Where the fuck is this money going if the tills are perfect the night before, 'missing' the next morning, and back to perfect that night?

Allie came to me and made me aware of the register shenanigans right away. She, the assistant manager, and Patricia are all clued in to Lemkil's bullshit. Three D's of Retail are now in effect: Documentation, Documentation, Documentation.

I looked at Allie tonight and said, quietly: "I don't know if Lemkil even applied for the position, but if they EVER announce that he is Store Manager, I will fucking quit; effective immediately. There will be NO two week notice. I. Will. Walk. The. Fuck. Out."

Allie was silent for a beat, then said, "You wouldn't be the only one. Most of the staff would follow you."

--Puppies In Prada


Coworker Hell: Seasonal Help



From Star Associate, December 2009:

Can I take a moment please and bring up a before now unmentioned aspect of retail hell?

Besides idiotic customers who do not realize that a name tag and an overloaded arm full of clothes does indeed mean I work there, (our managers are actually pretty great, so I can’t complain there) I would like to rant for a moment about another hellish aspect of this ‘holy’ season.

Seasonal help. 

Short-term associates who don’t know WTF is going on. 

I work in a big name department store and here are a few samples of this years’ pick of the crop.

There’s the woman in her 50’s who showed up for her first day and before clocking in asked when her break from her THREE-HOUR SHIFT was. 

Then there is the young gansta who, either by unfortunate DNA or by laziness, holds his mouth quite like Bubba of (the fictional) Babba-Gump Shrimp who’s job description must have read: Stand and have a look around for eight hours. 

And let’s not forget the almost entirely bald 50ish man who wears Buddy Holy glasses and who’s voice I’ve heard exactly once in an entire week. Buddy actually does what he’s being paid to do, folding and refolding the clothes piggy customers have torn asunder. But his silence, rather than golden is a bit alarming, and I can only hope there’s not a shotgun and surprised neighbors in the near future.

Oh, and the dressing room attendant in a high theft area who was told she needed to pay attention to what people were bringing in and out, to you know, catch a thief. She said she was going to need paper and a pencil to do that.  

I also have a co-worker (unfortunately for me, she’s full time and not going away at the end of the season) who stands at the register and rings customers for her entire shift. I and one other associate do most of the grunt work, recovery and putting back the unwanted items stupid ass people bring up to the counter and then decide it’s not cheap enough for them to buy.  (I’m sorry, but finding a $10 Polo item is akin to finding a forgotten copy of the Declaration of Independence in a garage sale painting, NOT GONNA HAPPEN)  We call her Quiet Contrary because not only will she just stand there, but she will but into your conversation with a customer (always disagreeing with what you’re saying) She will steal your customer faster than you can say ‘fuck off bitch’ and we’re not even on commission.

So, I found out the other day that QC doesn’t bother to do the half of her job of recovery because… wait for it….her feet hurt.  

Who’s fucking feet DON’T fucking hurt??? 

Thanks for letting me rant. 

--Star Associate


read more Coworker Hell stories here





Tales From Working at a Zoo For the Summer



September, 2009:

My name is Maria, and though you have not met me, you know me, just as you know every employee at a store that gives you that look you know so well, that makes you want to lean over and grab their shoulders and scream, "I AM NO CUSTY, I AM LIKE YOU!" 

I work at a zoo for a summer job in an undisclosed location in the USA. 

Not retail? I beg to differ. 

I worked at a ride for kids and their parents, or at a station selling feed for animals.

Screaming children every day, rain or shine, coffee or no coffee.  To add to that, it was the same CD we had to play for background music on the carousel with 16 4-minute songs that played for the entirety of an eight-hour shift. You heard that music when you got home, when you were driving, even while you slept.

I half awoke most nights seeing a line of people on the side of my bed, yelling at them to get the fuck out of my room, it was 3 am and the ride wasn't open yet. 

I can deal with that. I can deal with terrible customers, rude adults, bratty children, the pounding need to get my tubes tied lest I breed one of those hellspawn; it was simple as long as I had wonderful coworkers. 

For the most part I did.

Except one.

This coworker was hell. 

I am an ambitious, devoted worker who loves the bosses I had and truly enjoyed working for a company with the message a zoo has, and I take my job to heart. This coworker was a stoned-out slacker who showed up for shifts two to three hours late consistently, left early, took 1-2 hour breaks at a time (we're allowed 2 15-minute breaks and a half hour for lunch).  Usually there was a stench of pot about this loathsome creature who almost never actually worked even when present and accounted for. 

One day, this coworker didn't show up until a hour from the end of my shift, the opening shift.  They brought moral to an all-time low when present and constantly barraged the helpless managers with shirking and complaints.


When Crappy Coworker finally quit, it was too happy a surprise.  

It just goes to show how important coworkers can be to a working environment.

My dear friend who worked at a similar attraction was a true Retail Whore. She was either stationed in the large shop or at one of the three or four other small satellite stores scattered about her park. 

Her management was a group of sadistic morons who knew nothing about sales, motivation, compassion, or other things you need to house a soul. 

The biggest example of this was that in the dead heat of the summer, the management decided to remove stools from the satellite stores. This meant that all employees had to stand for at least four to five hours straight on their shifts, waiting between breaks.

The rational?

That stools made the employees look "bored" and "unapproachable". 

Management bullshit. 

My friend developed chronic back and leg pains so bad that she had to take pain pills to work.

But instead of keeping it to herself, she took every god-given chance to complain to every manager that came her way and got all her coworkers to do the same.

A memo to HR was drafted telling them that she, and her coworkers would go to the state department of labor unless they did something, but before she had a chance to send it out, what should happen but the management "decides to graciously return the stools" with a list a mile long about "regulations" for the stools. 

Bullshit, the employees led a peaceful but threatening uprising and you caved.

Vive la resistance.