Month: May 2010

Of Stealth and Sneakiness

It’s not that I dislike customers; it’s that I hate them. I know they pay my salary and all, but avoiding them remains my Number One Priority at The Shop. Since digging a tunnel from Reggie #1 to the break room is out, I’ve developed a new plan—a new route, actually, which allows me to traverse The Shop without having to brave the minefield. At least it did, until this morning. My route consists of cutting through the floral department, which comprises three well-stocked (and very tall) aisles of artificial flowers, trees and plants of every kind. I like to refer to it as The Jungle. Like all jungles, The Shop’s Jungle is dense and nearly impenetrable—a perfect hiding spot! But like all jungles, it is also a dark and dangerous place. Customers often get lost in The Jungle. At least, I’m hoping they’ve gotten lost because theirs is a particularly acute form of stupidity. Being lost, as far as I’m concerned, is the only possible explanation for the fact that they routinely enter The …

One month later

Today is a very special day—none other than the one month anniversary of Before I Quit My Day Job!  I’ve decided to celebrate by stickin’ it to The Man and not going to work.  Actually, it’s my day off, so I don’t have to go to work anyway.  But even if I did, I wouldn’t, so consider The Man stuck. Earlier this month, I was sitting on my roof deck (well, my parents’ roof deck), enjoying the fruits of my wine cellar (well, their wine cellar) with my friends (okay fine, their friends) when I got The Question.  The why-are-you-working-retail-question.  And it was the no holds barred version, complete with the classic, “But you went to college!” Prior to Before I Quite My Day Job, this question would have caused great gnashing of teeth on my part, followed by the raiding of my mother’s no-so-secret chocolate stash, and yet another existential crisis (judging by the number of tissue boxes I have emptied since returning to the US, I am something of an expert on the …

Running the Gauntlet

I’m working on a new project.  It’s called “How to Avoid Customers While Walking to the Break Room” and before you ask, this is harder than it sounds.  Corporate conspires to make our lives as miserable as possible—in fact, they probably have strategic planning sessions and business development retreats for this very purpose— and they really outdid themselves with the layout of The Shop.  The bathrooms, the break room and the time clock, you see, are in three separate locations.  This means you have to go into the office, punch out on the time clock and re-enter the sales floor on your way to the restroom.  And if you manage to make it to bathroom without interruption (a feat in and off itself) you have to re-enter the sales floor again to get to the break room.  As much as I wish there was a secret underground tunnel connecting all of the Employees Only Zones, there isn’t.  For a while, I thought about digging the tunnel myself.  I figured I could enlist the help of …

My Third Praise Card

Today, the unthinkable happened.  I received my third Praise Card.  And no, I don’t mean “Praise” in the religious sense (although we do get a fair amount of COPS in The Shop: “Christians Out Promoting the Savior,” according to their embroidered baseball caps).  I’m talking about the little yellow index cards that well-meaning customers fill out specifically to torment reluctant retail associates like me.  Cards that say, “You’re good at your job!”  And I don’t want to be good at my job.  Not this job at least. “Why me?” I wondered, slipping the handwritten note into my register.  It wasn’t even a particularly dramatic act of kindness on my part—all I did was call a manager to verify the customer’s employment with the School District of Philadelphia so I could process her purchase as a Tax Exempt Sale—but she just had to be all nice about it.  I dislike nice customers almost as much as I dislike the annoying Stupid Sally-types, because nice customers force me to reconsider my abject loathing of the retail industry …

Corporate Comes to Call

At exactly 11:13am on Thursday morning, The Shop’s corporate cavalcade rolled into the parking lot.  “The mother ship has landed!” I hissed into my headset.  As The Shop’s Front End Specialist, I was on look out duty, and even though I devote a substantial portion of each day to hating my job, I took this role very seriously.  I had spent all morning thinking of cool things to say into the headset, lest The Shop’s corporate investors catch us unaware.  My luck, they would arrive just as one of the other cashiers was picking her nose, and this would set into effect a great chain of Unfortunate Events.  The corporate investors would be appalled by the nose-picking cashier, and threaten to withdraw their financial support from the company.  They would complain to the Head Head Boss, who would place the blame on Head Boss (“Didn’t I tell you not to embarrass me?”).  Head Boss, for her part, would place the blame on me (“Control your cashiers!  Why did I promote you to Front End Specialist …

Of Daydreams and Die Cut Machines

Tomorrow is going to be a big day at The Shop.  Corporate is coming.  As so are the company’s investors, which means that the future of The Shop (and all Associated Shops) lies in our hands.  At least, that is what Head Boss told me, which would explain why we’re no longer having friendly conversations about the perils of online dating.  In fact, Head Boss has outlawed friendly conversations of any kind.  Given that her boss, the Head Head Boss, broke the news of the Corporate/Investor visit with a particularly ominous “Don’t you dare embarrass me!” I can’t say that a blame her. It’s been all hands on deck since Monday.  We may be a ghettofabulous shop, but we are also a “high volume” shop.  As such, the Head Head Boss is determined to camouflage our ghettofabulous-ness with a face lift, courtesy of The Shop’s All-Star Team, which comprises of Head Bosses from across the tri-state area and, as I have since come to learn, All-Star Associates from Store #1. Store #1 is in New …

And the winner is…

The results are in.  (If you’re just tuning in, we’ve had a little contest here at “Before I Quit My Day Job” in which readers were asked to provide an appropriate or creatively inappropriate response to the question “May I have your zip code?”)  After sorting through the excuses (“Teacher, my dogs ate my homework…seriously they woke me up by flipping my shoe back and forth to each other and that seriously deterred me from completing my assignment, can I have an extension?”), the conspiracy theories (“I am glad u explained why they—The Man— want zip codes.  Radio Shack asks too, even if you’re just getting batteries.  I feel like James Bond when I give them a fake one— well not a fake one, just not mine”) and the tales of woe from readers abroad (What happens to those people who don’t have zip codes? If I was in your shop, would you be unable to sell me anything?  My parents lived in Seattle for a bit, and my Dad had an alien card. He’s …

The Miseries of Mass Transit

Today’s to-do list required a trip to Temple University, which required braving the underbelly of the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority.  Otherwise known as SEPTA, or f*cking SEPTA to the majority of the population, SEPTA is the crown jewel of Philadelphia’s civic disasters (proposed casino’s along the riverfront are up there as well, right beside closing public libraries to balance the city’s budget). It’s not just the smell, although the Federal and Ellsworth station was sporting a particularly delightful blend of urine and citrus this morning, or the lack of transit options in South Philly.  It’s the sheer impossibility of navigating SEPTA that leaves me wondering how anyone gets anywhere. You could accuse me of sub-standard subway intelligence— I was, after all, on my way to meet with the director of Temple’s Dance Department to discuss an article she invited me to write on dance and cultural studies.  This would suggest I’m something of a bookworm, which would in turn suggest that I am lacking in street smarts (and therefore prone to confusion when faced …