Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Updates Coming

For those still following along. I'm gonna try and post a couple essays soon. Right now I'm getting out of a bad depression slump so I'll take a bit to come back. They may not be frequent but I got a bit burnt out at my previous rate. Stay tuned.

Yes this is shameless filler at the moment (like a Green Day album). But I'd rather be honest.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You'll Rest When You're Dead

I did something special my last shift working. For the first time in my three month tenure of working for my store I actually visited our employee "lounge". I put that word in parenthesis because what I found was all but anything resembling anything loungable and its location and company...well....far from relaxing. Located on the second floor of our store through a twisting hallway of sterile doors reminiscent of a hospital ward with an atmosphere I can only describe complimentary 'infectious'.

However let me explain why it was my first visit. You see my company despises non-productivity. A company philosophy I as a bad employee do not embrace. So in the absence of any customers or reason an employees default setting should be switched to "busy work regardless of if there is any actual work to do. This also transfers into our break time. This is better aptly described as 'maintenance' time in the corporate world. This is the time where all the little robots go to fuel up (eat), oil up (stretch/get off sore feet), and empty waste (self explanatory). Marx describe it best in 'Das Kapital' where he described how capitalism is the only system where a owners machines fix and repair themselves without pay and without disadvantage to the proprietor. This is the difference between a salaried employee versus an hourly employee. Or to put it better a wife versus a prostitute. In the latter, non of the upkeep and only the wanted product. Hmmmm, I guess that makes me a very poorly dressed AND paid whore.

Anyways, us employees are only allowed a 15 minute break every 4 -5 hours (although I've offset this through lies) paid and a 30 minute unpaid lunch every five generous. It's also always poorly time by management to suit "Is this good for the company?" (i.e. one hour into a nine hour shift. Yes, really).But naturally as a bad employee I ignore what I like to call "guidelines" and just take it when I feel like it because the only thing worse than me changing my break time is actually paying me not to take a break.

It's during this time I immediately vacate the store. I mean it's one thing to work there but to socialize in MY off-time? perish the thought. Plus my Hindi/Tamil/Gujarati isn't quite up to the fluent level. So I immediately head to my car and either go home for my lunch or hit the local depression analgesic fast-food shack for something to mask the personal disgust with...physical disgust.

So I was taken back when I actually visited the lunchroom. Apparently the concept of a lunchroom got mistranslated from corporate policy to mean "feed station" in retail application. Furniture I swear they were just storing from the picnic table we can't sell during the winter, plastic chairs that reminded me of the preschools I'm not allowed 50 feet of (Damn you Megans Law!),  and vending machines that were probably sponsored by the local dental office in order to "drum up business". Well.... either them or Goodlife Fitness. Going around the room some more, there was a TV obviously taken from the electronics display aisle that still had its accompanying box below the ledge it looked like it's just being stored on till we run out of floor stock. And finally three computers that aren't ever turned on, let alone any instruction on how to actually log into (I also know the store doesn't have Internet except for the Store Manager/office staff. So I guess they placed them there so we could practice writing our resumes for other jobs but not actually apply online.

Anyways, I certainly wasn't missing much and don't plan on returning anytime soon. It was an interesting visit I thought I could turn into an article and here it is. Voila!

p.s. Excuse any typos, it's late and I don't feel like proof reading this now and the stupid auto-save function is pissing me off.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Price Check into the Boards

I'm a sales person on the floor. But whenever a cashier calls me blindly because she can't deal with a customer yelling at her telling her to give them the lower price I walk up to the counter calmly and explain to them:

"Sir/Mam the price is as the computer dictates."
They usually reply that they're entitled to the price for whatever reason, be it made up or a mistake of placing the product in the correct hole, the sale sign not being taken down (which DO have expiry dates on them), or it "looks like" something in the flyer with a different product number.

"Well Sir/Mam, as much as you want it to be that price it isn't the case. All merchants can reserve the right to change price, null deals and specials, or DENY service where they see fit, As a PRIVATE company we are allowed to do this. Unfortunately we can not sell the item at this price because we would actually lose money. All we can offer you is an apology."

I don't yell this, or scream this and I'm not rude just firm. I explain this AS THE LAW it is. And I do give them a hearted apology. Except in 90% of the cases, customers are out to get the lowest price no matter the cost and usually get loud thinking I'll either back down or give in. Regardless, I make it clear that whatever television show ,friend of theirs, or some Episode of LA Law explained to them is WRONG.

Nobody has ever quoted any Act or Law when saying this, as usual it’s always a case of someone thinking they can yell their way into financial gain (unless it’s Bill O’Reilly). Usually it is 99% of the time in the face of some teenage girl cashier who is on the verger of tears by the time I swoop in and turn on the tough talk switch. I’m not a bully, in fact I was picked on all my life until I found a nice balance in the social realm of quiet outsider. But when I see crap like verbal abuse against somebody they think will just stand there are take it. Well…that’s when I start having fun.

I admit it. I absolutely LOVE arguing with customers. Because it’s the time when I can really tell people how I feel. Granted I always choose my battles well to make sure its not in front of management, I’m not wearing my name tag, and it’s not some dude who looks like he’s out on a prison-day pass. One trait I’m proud of is my ability to keep composure but still insult and egg people on to get angrier. So by the time we’re finished they usually drop everything and leave the store. We by-pass the whole “I want to talk with your manager!” Because I make it quite apparent that nobody cares about their selfishness. It’s a scene straight out of Dave Chapelle’s “Popcopy” skit (Google it, Youtube doesn’t have it).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jason Fried: Why work doesn't happen at work | Video on

This doesn't relate to my "field" of business and isn't practical for the retail business model. This is more of a shout out to those white collar readers not so much as a demand to listen but rather a request to at least watch. Having been a manager myself in a prior job I found the ideas contained in this talk very interesting and provocative as I lined it up with my own experiences managing a group of people.

If you've never heard of TED Talks, check out the site. There is a collection of amazingly creative, artistic, intelligent, and Tony Stark level innovating talks. Best of all you don't have to be Iron Man to afford checking it out. It's all free.

P.S. Thank you for the over whelming comments and responses from my last post. I'm glad to see that people identify with what I wrote and shared their own experience with others. Having read many many comments in the last month it was a pleasant change to see people interacting with an idea or opinion. Thanks.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Little Bit of History

I've said it before. I haven't always been like this. I used to think that going to work was fun and that I was a "valued member of the team" but over the years you begin to realize just how unimportant in the world you are. In my own case I found how every job I held I and my fellow employees were just reduced to numbers. Merely a changing face with a changing set of variables accompanying it. How much per hour, how much seniority, how many times late, how many 'training objectives' met, and most importantly. How much money we generated for the company.

It didn't matter if you were a "good" employee who was great with customers. Why? Because the guy who answered questions, didn't make chit-chat, and filled the absolute minimum requirements for a sale was numerically more valuable. Fore go the fact that showing some humanity or god forbid empathy for a customer gives a better shopping experience and also an unmeasurable increase in workplace morale (happy customer = happy employee). No, it's all been reduced to immediate gains that can be penned in black ink for the budget report.

Did you know that long ago people used to have a business relationship with their local grocer or butcher? That repeat business and a simple personal touch always ensured future business versus the other store that might have lower prices?

I had just thought about this the other day. When I grew up their was a local barber who always cut my father's and I hair. He would always ask us how the family was and what I was up to as a little playful scamp and so forth. As I got older I started going on separate days from my father, just because of scheduling and that I could drive myself. He would ask about my Dad and vice-versa.  Now note, this guy wasn't a family friend. We didn't have him over for dinner ever, just a guy who cut our hair. Yet he took the time to actually show interest in the people who came into his little one chair shop where he was the only guy working. He kept all the change loose in a drawer as we always gave tips for the good experience. If you asked for a receipt you would a get a fucked up look from the rest of the customers who waited on the benches flanking the one chair, taking a moment to look up from the Popular Science or Maxim Magazine they may have been reading at the moment.The thing is. The guy owned a house just by cutting hair and giving shaves. Can anyone who works at "Magic cuts" say the same? 

I don't really know what this was supposed to be about. I started out wanting to rant about how shitty I got treated by bosses growing up, but then it turned into more of a nostalgic commentary on how we treat each other as people in public. But if I can give you any advice your willing to accept, it's this.

Make your work a performance of art. Then nobody can measure or compare it to anything or anyone.

Administration note: Stop posting your blogs address in the comments. If people are interested in you, they will click your name to find your blog. I will not publish any comments doing this from now on. Even more so now, since I'm writing this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pay Day!

Oh Joyous Hymns ring out! The day has arrived! Today I am least misted with some cash to spend. It was an early morning as I had to wake up early for my other part time job for this crooked agency that sends out waiters to fill in at restaurants. I am one of those said waiters who you see who doesn't quite have that correct uniform and looks kinda lost while serving you. Only I spent last night blogging, and by blogging I mean reading everyone blog who I've followed (yes I do actually read your articles), commenting where valid effort is put forth. I also took in the Musashi III movie from 1954 Japan as I found it a very intriguing portrayal. So I had like four hours sleep max. Now before this turns into one of those "Dear diary, lawlz buoys r weird!" type of entries I will get to the sarcastic bitter commentary you've (I think) have grown accustomed to soon enough.

So when I woke up on my futon (yes.... I sleep on a futon frame) I hit the snooze of the cellphone alarm three times and finally rolled out of bed for my six hour shift. A quick shit, shower, shave and I was on my way! Now today was special. You see today was supposed to be an easy six hour shift. Why? Because I got sent out to be "that" douche bag who hangs around in bathrooms offering towels, breath mints, and spritz of cologne for your to cover up the smell of last nights afterbirth of Mexican food. The whole time making you feel bad in order to give me tips. Unfortunately this agency discourages tips and specifically sends you to places with a no tipping policy. The very reason people do waiting!

Anyways, I left an hour early for this place downtown which I thought was plenty of time. Until an hour and a half into the commute where my GPS has been saying I'm 2km away from my destination for the last five minutes and I'm seconds away from improvising a scene from "Falling Down". So after another twenty minutes in traffic and yelling wishful epitaphs at the dashboard like "Hurry the fuck up SABU!" and "God damn Savages!" I finally made it to the cute little checkered flag on my GPS. I found the closest parking lot across from this place and being already fifty minutes late had a well rehearsed lie to cover up my tardiness (he he 'tard'). When I saw it: $10/hr. Parking $13/Day max. I was blown back, firstly by the terrible math of some shyster parking lot attendant but more so that I wasn't told of this in advance let alone prepared to part with my recently found wealth. Albeit a small one.

So I drove my car into the lot without paying, parked, and just pondered to myself. Now in University I had failed Calculus my first year (why prove a theorem? Can't we just take your word on it?), but I did pass Statistics so my practical math skills were quite well and I knew that:
 (Days Pay - [lateness X Hrs] - Parking Fee = Much less)
Also I added that going to this place would guarantee I had to talk to some 'Floor Manager' and "explain myself" as to why I was late. So I quit. I didn't tell anybody, and nobody asked me where I was, never gave or received a call. I just quit.

I pride myself on never having been fired from a job. Not because I'm a great worker, but because as a bad employee I have a hardwired monitor of every employment situation and how the future is potentially going to turn out from certain potential actions (it ain't exactly chaos theory, but a workable cognitive tic of mine). I've posted before of how every job I work has a fuse: It's just a matter of time until it hits the detonator. This one had run out. Not that I expected to be fired from a company that exploits its workers. Which seems a bad habit of mine lately in choosing occupations, like that hot chick who runs back to her boyfriend every time the corrective facial surgery gauze comes off. It's was just the piling of the days situation that got me fed up with this operation.

And thus began the blessed "Day of quitting". I can't remember everyone I've ever done. But I can always remember the joy that I felt on those days. Like a junkie searching for that first high, the only difference is that every time I do this it's the same blessed peak. A wash of elation mixed with a calm relaxed feeling. I even had a cigarette to celebrate (the first of my lovely payday purchases)....oh shit...ITS ALSO PAYDAY!!! What!
It's like if Santa fucked the Easter Bunny and you got all your presents from giant Kinder Surprises!

So I quickly drove back to my end of town on the ever clear non-commuting side of the highway where I went to a gas station and...filled my mother fuckin' gas tank...Like a Boss.
Then got some more cigarettes...Like A Boss.
Then I went to the grocery store and got groceries...Like A Boss.
Paid off some Library fines...Like A Boss.
Paid my outstanding bills...Like A Boss.
And still had money for my date tommorow...Like a Boss.

Then after that I went home and gorged  myself on actual food in the afternoon (Nesquick Cereal! IT'S CANDY FOR BREAKFAST!!!) I went to work and actually had a good shift. It was very slow at the store so there was hardly any customers, less returns to put back, less helping required, and a nice pace in which to work. Most importantly, I didn't have any department supervisor buzzing over my shoulder like an annoying mosquito. And the manager that was working stayed well away since my little recorded warning incident.

All in all a very good day. I even took a break in the middle of it all to enjoy a cigarette and poop (not at the same time mind you) as I recently fed my immigrant co-workers a lie about labour laws. I told them the Labour code states every three hours you require at least a fifteen minute break. So believing me, I've now not only increased my own downtime on the job, But the downtime of others!

Fuck Yeah today was a good day! A small victory, but I'll take it um as I get um! More on quitting in general in my next post.

If you like my style of blog, checkout a fellow canuck Fruffles' new blog @ Entertainment Placebo
His chronicle as a Retail teller in a bank. If you think people go apeshit over ShamWows, just wait till you deal with the money of the lunatics. 

Further followup if you're still reading: I saw that Hunchback lady again tonight at the grocery store. I didn't acknowledge her or make conversation, and she didn't notice me cause I was wearing different shoes (ba dum tsk) but apparently she can drive. I didn't know what to think as she sped away.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Day Before Pay Day

It's always a scramble those last few days before pay day isn't it?
This should resonate with anyone whose worked on minimum wage or is knee-deep in depth. You end up planning on how you are going to blow your check already and wondering what bills you can put off for another two weeks. My days aren't really full of sunshine as growing up poor also adds to the stress of having no excess cash even in adulthood. This is forever compounded by having an acute awareness of just how fucked I am for the time. It's well and good if you're completely ignorant and content earning nothing while making someone else rich. But for the majority of us stiffs it's like a twisting knife dipped in lemon juice and rolled in salt.

My day besides going through withdrawals for nicotine was highlighted by not looking forward to tomorrow's four hour smack in the face shift and literally counting out nickels and dimes for the local chain grocers cashier. After that I went to the library and prayed they've yet to install a "deadbeat alarm" as my overdue fines for books I've yet to even glance at are still building up.

All of this is even compiled by my shoe-string diet of condensed soup, pasta, and cans of tuna fish. I've sworn off ramen forever myself but still get calls from the grocery store shelf whenever I pass it. You would think this would become some sort of life lesson where from now on I would cherish the money I have and note painstakingly where every future fund will be spent. But like most people, as soon as I get cash I'm sure the entire memory of the experience will be wiped like a childhood with an overly friendly step-father. Who knows?

I'm always looking for another job but waking up at 1pm everyday from a night of surfing the Internet for porn and funny pictures hardly translates into a  "go-getter". Who knows, I'm also looking into moving out west in Canada where working like a dog actually translate into a livable paycheck. Only time will tell.