Well, depending on what kind of calendar you use. You see, I am not currently working in a retail position and in the meantime I have been earning my keep through miscellaneous odd jobs and frequent home repair.
Take today, for instance. I drove all the way across the city to hack and dig my way through vines and trees in order to rescue a poor and tiny home from the plant life that had taken over. This has given me a newfound appreciation for the old days in which I would simply stand around in a nice air conditioned stockroom and sort things that nobody wanted anymore.
As I slew what must have been one of hundreds of spiders thatnthought that the easiest way to avoid me was to climb into my shirt, I yearned for the simple joy of collecting dozens of abandoned shopping carts and returning them to their proper place. Usually I look less kindly upon the world of retail but not today.NOT TODAY.
It is timeth again for the bold and the brave to venture toward the hollowed halls of the San Diego Convention Center to participate in our new religion of the comic culture. We welcome all the goers of the comic convention to our home city and we encourage you, visit our website and join us in the celebration of the combination of comics and retail in the new culture we call pop! For we are all minions of some variation, but mostly of the retail, come to the retail Mecca, Become a Retail Minion!
There is no postion more loathsome to me than returns.
Returns is the crucible of the retail world. If one wants to advance in their store, a stint at returns is mandatory. If it isn't, than it should be. Hell, it should be mandatory for all people. Working returns is attempting to organize chaos. No receipts, no price tags, no box, no context .Shit, you're lucky if your store even carries whatever doodad the customer wants to give you. The line never gets any smaller. The angry people just keep piling up. Returns is where you go to question how valuable having a job is. I've had a lot of friends work returns and my tenure was blissfully short. No one likes working there. Well, that is not entirely true. I once knew a man, a friend of the family, who relished in denying people their returns. That is the most unsettling part of working there, the way you are never entirely sure if someone is telling you the truth. It doesn't matter if it's a LCD television or a jar of jam. Could this person be lying? Who lies about jam? This mother fucker does, I can see it in her wrinkly old face!
It does weird things to people.
Returns is about making people who come in filled with some mix of hate and disapointment leave at least somewhat satisfied. This is not easy to do. Some have a knack for it. A constant flow of sun and rainbows ooze out of their mouths and infect the customer with this compulsion to one up the clerk in cordiality. This is actually pretty amusing to witness. It is rare though. Ususally it starts that way but then it dissolves, almost violently, into a heated and barely constrained argument. Both sides become more and more dissapointed in both themselves and the world at large until one of them finally leaves.
The thing is, it's probably no where near as consistently bad as I remember it. There is no way that it is that bad. If it was, how could people work in that position for as long as they do. Come to think of it though, I never see the same people working there longer than a few weeks.
So the search for new employment has not gone well so far. This is most likely because I have just been filling out applications online. I would do these things in person but the exchange always goes like this:
'Hello noble employer! Could you please give me a job application so that I may join your ranks?'
'Oh, why is that?'
'We only do online applications, good day!'
Without the benefit of my overwhelming charisma, how am I supposed to get hired? This is a rhetorical question. I probably won't get hired without it. You see, dear reader, I'm not what you would call 'good on paper'. This, coupled with massive amounts of spare time, has led me to consider what it must have been like in the old days to go job hunting. I mean old days. Really old. Think older than that. Now a little more. There we go.
Find food. Do not get eaten. Seems pretty simple, though my hunting skills are not great. I work well in a group though and am an enthusiastic self-starter so there is that.
15, 400 BC
I could make a mean pot, tell you what. I did take a ceramics class once, so probably totally set for that. There is always the problem of not speaking the language but I could probably learn on the jub. How complicated can it be at that point anyway?
Ohh, lot's of pushing and pulling of stones, construction of manuments. I think I will pass on this one. The possiblility of plumbing is pretty attractive though. I think my traits as a punctual and commited team member would be useful though. Sadly at this point any of my 'most challenging obstacles in life' are still way easier than just making it through a day here, so let's move on.
Jackpot! Assuming I'm a roman citizen. Can flex my political manuvering muscle, which would be useful in any competitive office environment. Otherwise, hell I don't even have to work. Just hang out in my estate and let all my servants do the working. Pretty sweet, man. I'll wrestle with that whole 'conscience' hassle later. For now though, woo party!
Well, shit. Find food, do not get eaten. Getting a job is super easy though. I don't need to know how to read, in fact, it's probably safer if I don't.
Fuck! Everyone is dying. This sucks. Lots of positions opening up though. You can really be a goal-oriented achiever in times like this.
I knew I should have spent more time in art classes. Well at least I can be an effective communicator and critical thinker as I sell all this art. Or I could rock the intellectual sphere with all the things I learned in highschool physics. You know, this isn't such a bad time after all, if you can stand the smell.
Oh, I could be a revolutionary! That would be cool, minus all the crazy and horrible parts. So I guess I'd be better off in that slightly earlier revolution. But this one has a proto-food processor! You're saying it's a what now? For people? oh my. Let's move on. quickly now.
I skipped a bit because I was getting tired of not having penecillin. Seriously, that stuff would have been so useful where I just came from. You have no idea.
Well, it was an exciting journey. I've learned a lot. Like how even though I don't have a job, at least I have a toilet. Sanitation is also a plus. I guess I'll just have to keep waiting for a response from my magical electric box of instant communication. Oh well.
Also, I'm very dissapointed in you, readers. I asked for comments and got just the one. Albeit they seemed pretty excited, it wasn't really something I could talk about. I have satisfied your command though, eager stranger.
Yes, again I return to write on things just barely related enough to retail to qualify. At this rate half of my posts will be glorious returns from totally undeserved vacations. While I may be totally cool with that, it is not fair to you, dear reader. Now that the afflictions and distractions that have been keeping me away are in the past, we have all the time in the world. So let's talk. I'd like to change the format of my piece somewhat, but it requires audience participation. I've tried this before but I never get enough responses, so this will be the last time and if it ends up only getting a lukewarm response I'll stick to my standard ranting format. What I'm asking for is reader questions, comments, or requests for advice. This serves two functions. First and most importantly, it. Let's me know someone is reading this and involves those people in the process, which is always nice. The second is because I think it would be more fun than me remembering horror stories from my employment past. While some are fun and interesting, most are just unpleasant . I'll also be reporting in on my quest to get a non-terrible job this summer, starting this week. The entries will be in ( heavily edited) journal format. These are the things you can look forward to in the coming weeks from my little section of the site. Keep checking in for new content from all of us, and post cooments below for me to overanalyze and comment on next week!
I am going to take a break from the doldrums of the platonic dialogues to inform you about a growing problem in the retail industry: meetings
Now I am sure standard Joe Bob, who works at the most Standard Corporation possible, attends at least two to three meetings a week. These regular corporate meetings, which I have attended, are boring. Nothing ever gets done and honestly most people use these meetings as breaks, or use them to find creative ways to text message without being caught by their big bad boss.
Everything that gets solved in meetings can be easily dealt with over e-mail or the phone but there seems to be an insatiable need to try and sculpt meaningful facial expressions (ex. Smiles, Frowns, Bobbleheading, and other such things) from the unbreakable brass and stone that grips the faces of unwilling meeting participants.
Fortunately we as normal functioning human beings, we can ascribe the quality to corporations that solves the mystery of meetings…stupid. Corporations are stupid and faceless, this is not true for the local grocery store manager that requires daily “huddles.”
These huddles are not like football huddles, in fact, these store huddles probably repulse camaraderie. Standing next to the hollowed husks of the managers of various departments, seeing baggers who could shoot themselves in the face, and the over peppy manager attempting to motivate minimum wage workers.
The huddle goes something like this:
Manager: Hey guys, welcome to another great day at Bob’s! Today is taco Tuesday over at the service deli and we need to push them tacos, alright!!!
Manager: Be sure to use the in store public announcement system to let people know every single half and hour on the half an hour that today is taco Tuesday and we are selling some tacos!!
Service Deli Manager Luis: Si, Voy a hacerlo.
Manager: Okay...moving on Chris you had a secret shopper come through the check stand that you were bagging at and she noted that you did not look her in the eye, you did not smile, and you did not thank her for shopping here a Bob’s …
Bagger Chris: I don’t care…kill me now.
Manager: Yea…so if you could go ahead and do that…that would be great.
Bagger Chris: Seriously, I want to die.
Manager: And, the last item on the docket is just for everyone to get out there and just do the best that they can do.
Me: We work at a grocery store.
Manager: Right, so be sure to smile at people, follow them and creep them out, and just generally talk to them until they are scared to be in physical proximity to you. Go team!
These are the things that we talk about in these huddles. They take about forty-five minutes and they really focus us on the real issues. Like creeping out customers, being lazy, encouraging thoughts of suicide, and bringing about general notions of malice. We have these meetings so that we can better serve you the customer, or to be as stupid as possible.
If you haven't noticed, we have new content that I'll be posting every other week on Fridays in the form of the comic "Overworked and Under Paid."
I'll be alternating between Floobydust posting and the comic, so you readers get something from me every week.
We should all be posting every week.... and we're not and it's laaaaame.
I don't really have much to comment on this week, but I felt you guys deserved something.
I was actually going to post a comic today, but 5.5 hours of my time was stolen by what I'm calling a field trip.
It was work, yes, but I refuse to call it anything but a field trip since I was surrounded by highschool girls... not the way anyone should have to spend their morning.
I suppose the only plus side was that it was by the ocean. Sadly, I didn't get to go to the beach because I had to return to work. (which sucks because it was such a beautiful day.)
I was happy to return to work because it's far better than following around a bunch of highschoolers and trying to ignore the cat calls of the obnoxious males who feel the need to overpower even the slightest scent of estrogen with an overdose of testosterone.
I promise I'll have a better story for you next week! Don't forget your helmet and bring a hammer, you just might need it in the wonderful world of retail that we all struggle to survive in every day as we continue our jobs as retail minions.
Or rather, not working.
I haven't had what you might consider an 'honest job' in quite some time. Instead I go to school. The longer I spend there the less I want to leave it. I'm not sure if this is universal but the thought of leaving school to beg for employment doing something probably totally unrelated to whay I have spent so much time studying sounds goddamned crazy. Luckily I have a wretched and cavernous well of memories from prior employment which keeps me moving forward.
Like the time a man put his child on the phone to ask where her food was when the pizza was ten minutes late.
Or when the walk-in freezer broke down overnight in July.
Or when I slipped on a mound of maggots while cleaning the mall parking lot.
Or the endless stream of angry phonecalls.
This goes on. There were a lot of reasons I decided to get back to focusing on school. It wasn't always horrible and it was all work that needed to be done. The people at the lowest rungs of the corporate ladder were always the nicest in my experience. The higher up you got the stranger people started getting. At a certain point, especially at the box store I worked for, it got really damn creepy. If you spend a long time without a boss or supervisor always checking on the minutiae of your work the thought of having one sounds unecessary. I'm specifically talking about things like preset organization and spacing and all the things unrelated to work itself but are more about the company policies. Seriously, in retrospect that shit seems ridiculous.
The thing I'm least looking forward to experiencing again are the videos. Training videos, orientation videos, policy videos, all of the videos. Unfailingly these are the most painful experience of working any basment-rung corporate job. More painful than getting seared by boiling oil, more soul-rending than working returns, more embarassing than being part or the 'streetside advertising'. They lack even the components to be laughably bad. They are nightmares made material. I will have to force myself to write more on them at some other time as my body can not physically handle this concept at this time.
Yes, it is difficult to imagine going back to work in such an environment. Unfortunately the state I reside in is hemorrahaging money at an alarming rate and none of it in the direction of education. Because of this I will be returning to the workforce in just a few weeks so I do not end up homeless over the summer. This means I'll have plenty of new things to share with you all, untainted by time and blissful repression.
Stay tuned for updates as I look for work in a less than wonderful economy! Join me as I do my best to tell you all about my week without sounding whiny or self obsessed! Delight in how I fail to do so! All this and more can be yours if you just don't stop reading!
Have you ever had one of those days where everything at work seems to be going ok…. And then it happens. In that moment the door opens and you hear the shrill, high-pitched cry of complete and utter chaos.
It’s gonna be one of those days.
Now, if you work with children, I feel for you, really I do. I’ve been there, done that; it’s not my favorite line of work. It’s really not all that chaotic once the parents leave because you’re in charge.
However, if you don’t work with children, the mere sound of their small shoes squeaking on the surface of the floor either A) puts you on high alert or B) all nice and happy emotions shut down and you’re left with anger, hate, and spite towards the customer… but mostly the children. Those kids are here to make your life harder; there will be no mercy here.
With an annoyed glare you track the child’s movements. You can’t actually see IT, but you can follow the path of destruction as it knocks over displays, pulls things off the shelves… until it appears in front of you… slobbering and snotting on your once pristine display case.
It’s right about now when you begin to envy Tom Hanks in the movie “A League of Their Own” when he portrays Jimmy Dugan. The kid (Stillwell), who has been nothing short of demonic the entire movie, has been continually taunting Jimmy and this is the last straw.
It’s at this moment that Jimmy Dugan does the one thing we all WISH we could do to every terrible child out there… He snatches a baseball glove and beans the kid in the head. Whoo!!!!!!!
As the stunned and shocked brat falls down the stairs and cries Jimmy (Hanks) laughs and exclaims, “I got him!! HaHAA!!”
You return to reality as visions of chucking various objects at obnoxious children continue to roll around in your head just as you turn and focus on the parent… the actual customer. You smile, but it’s not at all friendly since your eyes are still glaring malevolently. With a sneer you ask, “How may I help you?” The words drip with spite.
If you’re lucky, the customer will notice the tone of your voice and the look in your eyes and thankfully reign in their kid and you can proceed with actually being polite.
If not, your glowering gaze is always on the destructive “thing” while you only allow swift glances at the customer.
Around this time “it” is probably hanging or climbing on something that is not made or built for climbing. At this point, one could glare at the customer and say something like “Ma’am/Sir, do you realize that your child is climbing on that thing like a friggin’ monkey? I’m sure you realize that the fixture is not made to support your child and if it breaks, I will no longer be able to assist you, so please, control your child.” If this is said with a stern, but emotionless tone it should work. Also, put as much strain on the word “child” as you can to emphasize your disdain. However, there is also an alternative route…
This technique should involve some sort of distraction for the parent, such as pleasantly saying something like, “Over here we have a fine selection of (whatever they want).” Followed by a sharp turn to the child and glaring at it. If all goes well, this will fill the child with fear and, most importantly, guilt causing it to shut up and remain by its parent’s side. But I warn you, this is a difficult technique and should be mastered while you yourself are a customer being annoyed by a child, so you don’t end up in some sort of trouble.
It is the experience of many situations like these that cause those of us in the retail line of fire to often smile contentedly when we hear the screams and wails of a child not getting their way. As Moose would say “Ah, the sound of a child suffering…. Music to my ears.”
Keep your helmets on and your steel your resolve; you never know what creature from below might reach out to ruin a perfectly good day.
Tune in next week for another adventure documenting the plights of minions as we trudge on through the wonderful world of retail.
Unfortunately, for some of you.
No I am just quite distracted as of late. As three of you may know I am not currently employed. I am instead grinding my face into textbooks in an attempt to absorb knowledge through osmosis. The process is excruciating but also unrewarding. Much like retail. In fact there are many similarities between the two. In both you spend most of your day not talking to people around you and the rest of your time is spent desperately trying to justify your decisions to both yourself and others. You occasionally have to pretend to speak a language you know very little about. When you try to weigh the pros and cons of advancement you start to wonder if you shouldn't just try something else entirely. People try to encourage you to soldier on and say that it will all be worth it eventually but by the time you get there you've lost so much time and...This goes on but only gets more depressing as it does. ANYWAY.
I'm back. Most of me anyway. I'm going to totally cop out and take suggestions on what to write about for next week. This will also let me know if anyone actually reads these entries. There are things here other than the comics, you know. Well I guess you'd have to, reading this and all. Or maybe you were all scared away by my manly exploits in the box-dimension. I know I can be quite intimidating with my overwhelming machismo. Now if you'll excuse me I have tigers to bench press.
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