Tuesday, February 28, 2006

When Good Employees Go Bad

One thing I've always prided myself on is treating my employees as well as I possibly could. I know what it's like to work for some absolute jerks of bosses, so I always promised myself that when I got to be a manager I would never be like them.

So, let me introduce you to "H", a young lady who actually got hired before I took over the store. H has demonstrated repeatedly an amazing commitment to her job. She is well-liked by the entire staff, she's always on time, always does a terrific job and was being considered very seriously for a promotion to a lead position. She is also a student, so her hours are somewhat limited but that's been fine.

Lately, however, H started becoming a bit withdrawn. She had submitted various time-off requests, and had always gotten them. I know she was trying hard to balance her life, especially school, but there had been no signs that she had any dissatisfaction with her job. She did break up with her boyfriend and moved in with her brother and father.

So imagine my surprise this past Wednesday when the district manager came into my back room on a surprise visit and told me he had just had a negative encounter with H, who up until then had been a prized employee. Apparently, when he arrived, she had been reading her textbook at the front counter. When he asked her if there weren't things in the store she could be doing, she answered "this is more important."

Fast-forward to Saturday, where H calls out sick a couple of hours before her shift, claiming that she was coming down with a migraine. She certainly didn't SOUND like she wasn't feeling well. I gave her phone numbers for four employees to call to cover her shift. She didn't call any of them and we went short.

The next day, she called two hours before her shift and informed me she was sorry, but she was quitting effective immediately...no notice, no final week to work....nothing. I told her that if she was truly sorry, she wouldn't have disrespected the district manager or myself, and that she had always been shown the utmost consideration and professionalism, and I was disappointed that she was unwilling in the end to do the same.

I really hate being lied to, and I really hate being treated rottenly by people whom I've treated well. I guess in the end if she was unhappy it's best that she move on, and it's not as if I don't have other employees who would be willing to pick up the hours. It's just that it bothers me that someone could be so callous to a group of people who had treated them really well.

Some days, retail REALLY sucks.

The Date Has Been Set!

Mark your calendars, boys and girls (and those of you who aren't sure). Luis and I have decided to have our commitment ceremony on June 30th. The location of the ceremony and the reception have yet to be decided, but we're working on it.

Luis has finally given in to my pestering him to wear a tuxedo for the ceremony. Woohoo! He's going to look great in a tux.

So far, the colors we've chosen will be silver and black. Wedding bands are a whole other issue at the moment, as we're trying to get the money together and decide on a design that we both like.

Due to recent negative developments with my parents, they won't be invited...nor will I be mentioning it to them. They've expressed their opinions that they can't handle any type of romantic affection between two men, and I'm pretty much supposed to edit my conversations with them so as not to offend. I'd rather just have people be a part of a happy celebration that actually want to be there.

More news on the ceremony as the plans continue developing.....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's Official!

I'm excited to announce that today Luis and I received our official notification from the state of California telling us that we are officially Registered Domestic Partners and entitled to all the rights thereof. It's a pretty huge deal for us. We're still planning on doing a commitment ceremony in the spring, so stay tuned as things develop for that.

Birthday Recap

Just thought I'd drop a bit of a note regarding my 34th birthday yesterday (February 10th).

No, I didn't get a pony. Dammit.

However, the day started very nicely with my friend Lee checking in from Arizona to wish me good tidings, an email from Lisa out in Georgia and a text message from Matt here in the Bay area. Luis surprised me at 12am with a new flat-panel monitor for my computer, which I'm beyond happy with. I've been wanting one of these for umpteen ages. Now, I can finally return the monitor I borrowed to the guy who loaned it to me almost a year ago.

Luis and I ran some errands, but otherwise just spent a really peaceful day hanging out. At night, we went to Bubba Gump's for my birthday dinner. It's sort of a tradition for me to go there every year, and I really need to try and get there more often. Some of the best food anywhere and the customer service is beyond excellent.

I called my parents around 7:30pm because I hadn't heard from them all day, and thanked them for the $50 Old Navy gift card which I'm going to use in a pretty big hurry. I can do some serious damage with that.

After dinner, it was back to the apartment for cake slices and a birthday candle wish. Last year I wished for a wonderful guy to enter my life and hey...I got Luis! We'll see how I do in the wish-come-true department this year.

And no, I didn't wish for a pony.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Welcome To Over The Counters

So, I'm finally doing it....

I have friends who have run a LiveJournal for ages, and still others who have managed all sorts of other blogs. For me, though, I never thought I really had anything to say, especially to keep up on a daily basis.

Until now, that is.

You see, after 15 years of working in retail (not to mention 30-some-odd of being a customer), I'm finding that I'm becoming rather jaded and cynical about the whole industry. I think that overall the retail industry has given up on customer service in favor of higher profits and expansion not seen since the days of Lewis and Clark. Not every company is evil, mind you...but heck, a good chunk of them are.

That's not to say that the average, everyday customer is so swell to deal with either. I'm finding customers today to be even more hostile and rude than they were, say, 10 years ago. Extremely demanding, ready to treat a retail employee as less than human and less willing to part with their cash than ever.

There's still hope out there. There ARE many retail environments that are both excellent to work and shop in. There ARE really terrific customers who help to offset those who would otherwise ruin our day. I'm also learning valuable lessons through my everyday experiences on both sides of the counter that are helping me to be a better employee as well as a better customer.

So welcome to my blog, celebrating anything and everything having to do with retail. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. To quote the great Bill Cosby on Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids: "If you're not careful, you might just learn something before it's done."

Hey, hey, hey!

Write what you know, they say. So I'll be writing about the retail world from all aspects. Sometimes I'll include news stories. Sometimes something witty, sometimes something (hopefully) profund and sometimes just something obscure off the top of my head. Sometimes it'll be a personal thing. Here's a guide to the meanings behind the various blog headings you'll see:

The Handbasket: A retail story indicating a person/business that is heading straight to hell thanks to the poor way in which they've chosen to conduct themselves. These stories won't be pretty, kids, but maybe it'll make you go 'hmmm....'

The Road To Hell: The old saying goes "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." These are the stories of people/businesses that came up with REALLY lousy ideas and proved that the finger that's supposed to be on the pulse of America is actually stuck somewhere closer to the vicinity of their colon...along with their head, I presume.

Redemption: These stories are about people/businesses that found retail religion and praise us all....they've turned their act around. I hope to find a lot of these stories.

Saints And Angels: These are the true do-gooders out there. The Saints are those who practice strong ethics and morals each day in the way they conduct themselves as either a customer or a businessperson. The Angels are those who smile down upon us and can possibly change our outlook for the whole day just by either giving terrific customer service or being a terrific customer. Let's all hope for a lot of these stories, eh?

As for me...I'm a retail manager for a well-known chain of stores in the art industry. As I'm only human, you get the fun of watching me go from Saint to Handbasket and back again as time passes.

So welcome to the wonderful Hell that is retail. I'm hoping you'll stick with this blog, drop your own thoughts and comments to me and help to make it an interactive experience.

Brace yourself.