Life with a Myositis Disease

The laughter and tears that come with living with Polymyositis

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Location: fort worth, texas, United States

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

There's nothing like a career in retail....

My sister-in-law once commented that she had no idea how difficult retail careers are until she met me and heard some of the stories....I know, I get this a lot. Many seem to think trained monkeys could do retail management.

Shortly after the dot-com fall-out in Seattle I was inundated with applicants looking for a job as a store manager. Despite the fact they had never worked a retail management job, they felt that not only did their background in running websites (or whatever) put them in the 'qualified' category, it also called for a match of their former many cases, more than I was making as a district manager! I asked one applicant why she decided to apply at ______ and was told that she thought it would be something 'fun and easy' to do while she waited for something in her field to open up.

I often say that retail management is controlled insanity. I would guess that those in corporate environments do not deal with nearly the amount of bizarre situations that we do on the 'front lines'. I am not challenging the complexity of other careers, merely defending the one I chose. Here are some examples of challenges I have faced over the years:

  • Being called by the police (twice!!) asking if I'd like to come and pick up the keys to XX store. Now, why would the police have the keys to one of my stores, you might ask? Once, because an employee called them asking to be taken to the nearest psychiatric unit for a self-admit. Once, because a customer had to call 911 when the only two employees working became involved in a brawl....turns out they had just discovered they were both sleeping with the assistant manager.
  • We won't even go into the number of freaky customers - I'll just go into this one example: We had a customer who kept calling and ordering books to be delivered to a variety of addresses. When the store manager got one of several back with a note attached explaining that the IRS is not allowed to accept gifts, she called me for direction. I told her to inform the customer that we would only be able ship to her home address going forward. The customer proceeded to call the store incessantly, harassing the staff. They gave her my number and I was greeted by a truly bizarre message that took up the entire machine. The essence of the message was that this woman was Miss America, but her identity had been stolen and she was being stalked by the IRS, the Post Office, etc, etc. I called her to tell her to stop calling the store and was treated to another insane dialogue. In desperation (I am NOT proud of this....really) I finally told her that if she didn't stop calling, we would contact the police...."the police", I said "you know, like the postman but with guns".....she never contacted us again.
  • Well, maybe one more crazy customer......we currently have what we refer to as the 'Crazed Crapper' who frequents my store. We can't seem to catch her, though I came close once (what other job would have you lurking in the women's restroom for 45 minutes trying to outwait a customer who refuses to leave the stall while you try discussing the public health concerns through the door??). She walks through the store smearing (ah-hem) sh** like a trail for some freaked out Hansel and Gretel. I had one employee earnestly insist that there must be more than one 'perp' because the poop was so different....I refrained from asking why he felt it necessary to put that much study into the clean-up process. I was just too grateful it wasn't me doing the cleaning for once!
  • I knew I had lived in NY too long when I looked back on my response to this situation: I got a frantic call from the manager of my second highest volume store (located in the notorious King's Plaza in Queens) telling me that the police had just cordened off the storefront....being as it was Dec 23, I could understand her panic. I told her to put one of the cops on the phone, and immediately began demanding that they open up a corridor allowing customers to enter and exit the store. "Hey Lady!" he exclaimed, "We've got a guy with his throat slit open on the bench in front of your store. This whole area is a crime scene!" "Are there customers waiting to get in?" I asked. "Well, I guess so" he said. "Well, then - let them in! You're killing my business! If THEY don't care, why should we??" Needless to say, this was not my best moment as it lacked a certain - oh, I don't know, sense of compassion? The cop didn't care for my suggestion....he hung up on me.
  • Then there was the call from a store manager who was completely at a loss as to how to handle the naked employee.....yup - NAKED. I had a similar reaction. Apparently, he recommended she take off a layer when she complained about the heat while vacuuming the store. The next time he looked up from counting the night's receipts, he discovered that she had removed ALL layers and was vacuuming naked.....
  • And how about that recent presidential race? We nearly had to hire security. You would not BELIEVE the abuse we took from people convinced that the bookstores were trying to impact the elections by 'favoring' one side or the other. Hey folks, we don't WRITE or PUBLISH the books - we just sell them! And being as our incomes and future employment are dependent on our ability to sell books (not to mention our closely held antipathy towards censorship) we sell ANYTHING and EVERYTHING our customers ask for. Just call me a retail whore.....
  • A friend of mine once had a guy die in her store.....he was sprawled out in front of the magazines for God knows how long with customers just stepping over him to get their magazines. It wasn't until a clerk went to put some magazines away that he was 'discovered'.....
  • For some reason, perverts just LOVE bookstores. The exhibitionists seem to favor the history section....why is completely beyond me. I just thank God I have never had an incident with a pedophile. You would think that parents would consider that pedophiles are attracted to areas that appeal to kids....despite that, numerous children under the age of 12 are constantly left in the children's department to amuse themselves while their parents go shopping. ARGH!!!

If you are looking for a stable, calm career - do not go into retail. If you are looking for a career that is a constant roller-coaster ride....give me a call! I just may have a position for you!


Blogger C.W. Cale said...

THIS post wraps up why I think the world of you!

I just hope I don't make it into one of these future posts as one of your "incidents"!

:) --Charlie

2:00 PM  
Blogger Siobhan said...

Just don't strip, Charlie - that's all I ask! :-)

3:35 PM  

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