Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm tired.

Work is going well.  Our new store manager, T, has moved me out of the magazines and into the toys and games sections, a move long overdue, and I am very tentatively hopeful about things.  I'm certainly working harder than ever.

This is the part I love.  This is the part I'm good at.  The beginning.  The rush to get everything right the first time, to prove that I really do deserve the chance I've been given.  As we move into Christmas, and in my business we have been moving into Christmas since June, everything gets harder.  I just worked eight days in a row getting all the toys set up for Christmas (overtime is sweet, and many thanks to all the managers for their help) but I know that the hard work is just beginning.  The hard work of selling through the Christmas season, and the hard work of living through a new section of life.

A lateral move and a new boss may seem like huge changes, even though I'm still in the same old job, but I realize now that no matter how many changes I experience, I'm still me.  It does not matter what department, or what job, I have, I will still have the same strengths and weaknesses, the same drives and hidden motivations, the same parts of myself that I wish I could change and the same parts of myself that I will never want to change.  I am my own cell, and my own guard.

And I'm really tired.  Not only from working eight days in a row, but of trying so hard to be better than I am.  I am seriously doubting my ability to change and improve myself.  Employee reviews are coming up, and last year did not go so well.  And I am still the same person I was then.  It does not matter what circumstances I'm in.  I feel like a diamond.  A slightly happier diamond, but a fundamentally unchanged one.  I'm still the same loudmouthed, hardheaded, hypercritical, inappropriate bitch I always was.  I still find myself terribly smart and terribly funny, and probably always will.  (I also use the word 'and' entirely too much.)

You can cut a diamond, but it takes special tools and skills, and I feel like I've spent the past five years being pounded by a rubber mallet.  As revitalized as I am by the department move, and as much as things have improved under T, I know the effect is temporary.  I will eventually get bored of toys and games, and our district manager will play roulette with our store leadership at least once a year, every year, so it's not like we can get used to the way things are now anyway.

Am I called to change, or to endure?  Do I have the energy left to do either?  What happens when I get bored and cranky again?  Oh well, I guess we'll find out.  God Bless us, everyone.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Customer Service part 8: All in One Day

Psalm 5: 8, Colossians 3: 12

Just when I think I have had the weirdest customer experience I have a weirder one, and then there was Saturday:

1.) At the cash register, my customer asked me the name of the song on the Muzak.  (This actually happens rather frequently, as though obviously all retail workers automatically know every song playing in their background.)  But I ran back to the break room (literally, so the song didn't run out  before I could get the answer) and wrote down the title and artist for the customer.  When I got back, we finished ringing up, and he paid in cash.  As I was making his change, drawer all open, he tipped me for my effort.  In cash.  I know you're thinking: that's awesome.  No, not awesome.  Please do not ever throw more cash at a cashier when they are already counting out change from an open drawer while standing under a security camera.  All that random cash flying around will make them look like they are stealing from the register.  (The managers were merciful gods, I am not in trouble.)  If you want to tip, wait until the drawer is closed, or just tell them to keep the change.

2.) My next customer, after taking forever to get herself organized and pay, (If you have to go through that much business, you need a smaller handbag, not larger.) wanted her book gift wrapped.  So I took her down to the end of the counter to wrap her book, and she started browsing the gift bag rack, which was odd, since she was getting my free gift wrap. (And I wrap very well, it looked good!)  Then, as we started chatting, it became apparent that she was not 'all there.'  In fact, she told me that she had just come from the dentist, and was still feeling the effects of anesthesia.  Yes, she was high and shopping.  After I wrapped her book, she decided she wanted a gift bag, too.  So we went back to the register and rang up the bag.  (And again with the handbag business.)  Then she put the wrapped book into the gift bag, and went to find her husband.  I silently thanked God that she was not driving herself.

3.) Finally, having escaped the register, I took a call at the customer service desk, for a woman looking for Fifty Shades of Grey, on CD.  I found the only copy in the store (we can't keep it on the shelf), and offered to hold it for her.  She accepted, and gave me her name and number.

Then, she made a very odd comment: "Oh, don't let my husband pick it up for me.  He'll just give it to his mistress."

After only a slight (I hope) pause, trying to offer good customer service, I asked: "Would you like to leave a fake name, so he won't be able to pick it up?"

She said, "Oh, I already did.  That's not my name."

Like I always say, you're not paranoid if they're really after you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Customer Service, Part 7

Usually, when an entire family walks into the store together, you can tell who really wears the pants by who walks in the door first.  Now, there are some exceptions, but the rule of thumb holds, so when I see a family all together, headed by a child, I take notice.  This is never anything good.

This family was headed by a beautiful teenage girl, as it turns out, a very silly beautiful teenage girl, wearing very tight and silly teenage girl clothes, and way too much makeup for her lovely face.  She led her mother and four younger siblings to the Customer Service desk and asked for Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, in a teenage girl voice so stereotypical I nearly laughed out loud in her face.

Unfortunately, we were all out of Of Mice and Men.  We had already sold over one hundred copies that week, to Miss Teen Bookstore's classmates, and she was late to the game.  (This sounds like a lot, but it is completely normal when the closest school district has three high schools near us and they assign the same book to all the kids in the same grade at the same time.)  (And no, there is no way to prepare for that kind of bookpocalypse, even if it is completely normal.)  And her mother's total lack of attention to our conversation was starting to bother me.

I told Miss Teen: "I'm sorry, we're all out of Of Mice and Men."  Her mother stared off into space.

"Oh my God, you're kidding," she exclaimed, and once again her mother showed no reaction.  It occurred to me that she might not speak english, and that is the only reason I got away with what I found myself doing next: playing it completely straight.

"No," I replied.  "We really don't have it.  I can put you on the list for the next shipment, it will be here on Monday."  Her mother scolded one of the other children, in spanish.  (Nailed it.)

"Oh my God, you're kidding," she exclaimed, again.

Once again, I managed to look as though I was taking her completely seriously.  "No, it will really be Monday.  Or possibly Tuesday."

"Is there anyway I can get it faster?"  They always ask this, the latecomers, and I was prepared with the ugly truth.

"I'm sorry, all the stores on the North and West sides of town are completely out."  I waited, careful to keep my face gravely calm.  She came through.  

"Oh my God, you're..."  She took one more look at my studiously solemn face and trailed off.  

I only let the silence hang for a moment.  I offered again to put her on the list, and she agreed.  She and I were very nice to each other from then on, and when she left we exchanged polite smiles.  She led her family out of the store, her mother still unaware of the inexplicable, inexcusable way I had treated her daughter.


Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Labor Day!

Everybody take the day off.  Even the stay-at-home-parents.  The kids will be okay for the day, right?  Just don't take them to the bookstore.  That's where I'll be.  Happy day off, everyone and God Bless.

Bad Christian