How Not To Keep A Job

Good morning Sunshine! Hope you’re having a nice, relaxing Saturday morning. I’m on day 17 or 30 days straight of work this month (unless we wind up going on strike on the 26th, then I’m not technically working if I’m on the picket line), and I’m going right goofy.

For those of you who are new around here, I make my living by professionally peddling the Devil’s Brew in a government-owned retail establishment in a Canadian province (I think putting it that way works around my “social media” clause in my contract).  It may not be the greatest job, or have anything to do with what I went to school for, but it a great fit for me right now. I work with pretty much the greatest staff ever. Other stores have told me they’re jealous of our store, because we all get along so great and we’re like family. This job also gives me time to figure out my life, which I need to do very much so right now. And even though I hate people, I seem to like working with the public.

We have two busy seasons, where people buy a metric shit-tonne of alcohol – Christmas, and the summer. We get a few seasonal workers to come in at these times, kinda round out the schedule and make sure we have enough people on staff every day to keep the store open.  Usually, for a store our size, we would get 4 or 5 people to come in and help. This year especially, we needed that many people due to the possibility of a strike and the public’s usual “what do you mean you may be closed for a few days??now I need to buy CASES of booze to make sure the world doesn’t run out!” panic/ But this summer, through some combination of new management and some sort of curse, we have one. We have The Kid.

The Kid must have interviewed really well, because he’s never had a job in his 22 years. He’s never handled money, or touched a cash register, or dealt with the public. The product of helicopter parenting and a God-complex, The Kid believes that he is the be-all and end-all of cashiers. He even once dubbed himself a “cashier ninja” for his ability to hold up a line while he stood there staring into space and adding numbers in his head (we had to remind him that the cash register does all the adding for him, without uncomfortably staring at customers).

Now, I know that everyone has to start somewhere. The Kid doesn’t want to just “start” though. In his own mind, he knows everything and no one can tell him what to do.When I was just starting out as a cashier at my first job, I brought a notebook and pen and actually took notes on everything I had to do. Hell, even when I started THIS job a few years ago, I brought a notebook and pen to my cashier training and took notes on everything I had to do! Not The Kid, though. He knows everything, even though he knows nothing.

It’s only been a few weeks since The Kid first graced us with his cash-ninja presence, but it feels so much longer. Everyone but him seems to realize that he probably won’t last much longer. The only reason he’s lasted this long is because we are severely short-staffed as it is and we need bodies in the store.

Basically, he’s a walking manual for How Not To Keep A Job.  Here’s just a few of the thrilling lessons he’s given us so far:

1- Stand there. Don’t offer anyone any help. See your coworker with the huge line-up? Don’t let anyone in her line know that you’re open too. Just watch her struggle. Customer has his hands full and needs a basket? Just stand there and watch him drop glass bottles on the floor while there’s a pile of baskets next to you.

2- Stare. At everyone. Customer, coworkers, managers. Don’t say anything, just start at them.

3- Don’t think, just talk. If people are offended, it’s their own fault. Some great random phrases to get the conversation started with your customers: “Wow, you were in here yesterday too. You must be a huge alcoholic.”, “I can’t tell if you’re pregnant or really fat. Should you be buying coolers either way?”, “You’re smelly. You should go take a shower, or not look homeless or something.”

4-Don’t listen to your coworkers. They’re not trying to help you. Sure, they’re telling you what you did wrong and then showing you how to do it properly. And yes,  they’re being very patient with you. Ok, and they keep having to remind you of the same things over and over and over again. Easy things like, “Before you try to log on to a cash register, go sign in and grab your till. You can’t just walk up to a register and start using an empty drawer” I mean, all of this SOUNDS like they’re trying to help you. But they’re not. Don’t listen to them.

5- Go that little extra mile to put a personal touch on things, even if it means breaking all the rules. Coworkers told you to hit “assistance” button when you have a big line or need to use the bathroom or it’s time for your break, so that they know you need help and can come out there and help you? Screw that! You don’t play by conventional rules! Just abandon your post, wander into the back, tell them personally that you need help. That face-to-face contact is sure to impress them!

6-Make sure your coworkers know you’re on to them. Be loud, be forceful Don’t worry about their feelings; they have none. Yell right in their face if you have to. Make sure they know you are smart, and you know everything there is to know about their job, so you really don’t need their help. In fact, they should be asking you for help!

7-You know how every workplace says they have their own policy for breaks? Well, they’re lying because those policies don’t apply to you. Have a huge line-up? Just walk away and take a break! Supposed to buzz for someone to come relieve you for your break? Why bother? Just walk away whenever you want your break! Supposed to take 15 minutes? I’m sure you can reason out a way to take more! “Well by the time I sat in the office for a bit, and then went to the bathroom, and then sat for a few minutes, and then heated up my food, it was 4:15. So technically my break didn’t start until then.” See, just outsmart them!

8-The same goes for the end of your shift. Sure, the boss says he’s the one to tell you when to cash out and finish up your shift, but you know better than him. He says it only takes 5 minutes to do that? You take 25 minutes! Coworkers try to tell you that’s not how things are done? Well screw them! You know better than them! Just ask your mom, who has probably already checked in on your at least once during your shift and is waiting in the parking lot for you 45 minutes early just in case someone is mean to you.

9- When in doubt, get your mom. No one wants someone’s mom not to like them. Have your mom tell everyone how stressed you are, how you stay up at night crying about your job after the second day there. Make sure she tells everyone what a good kid you are, how smart you are, and how special you are. Everyone will listen to your mom and automatically love you.

10- Do things your own way. Sure, the register adds up all the prices you scan, but isn’t it just more fun to add up all the numbers in your head, even if it takes a few extra minutes per customer because you have to scan so slowly? Damn skippy it is! When the boss tells you to stop doing that (apparently it distracts you from stupid things like taking payments, and making change, and checking ID’s to make sure you’re not serving a 15 year old when the legal age is 19), stop for the few minutes he’s watching you, and then get back to doing what you love! Remember, your way is ALWAYS the best way!

 

This is just the short list of things he’s done THIS WEEK. And that’s not counting all the stupid comments he’s made to us. The concept of keeping the doors locked until we opened so that customers couldn’t come in was well beyond his comprehension. He also doesn’t seem to quite realize that “seasonal employment” means that he’s employed for the season, no matter how many times we explain it to him. He has flat out demanded we order him full-time staff uniforms and get him his own locker (instead of the one marked “seasonal staff”).

And I know I sound like a bitch for complaining so much about The Kid. It’s gotten to the point that he’s already made the most patient workers there snap from frustration. Last weekend, I kept rubbing my temples every time he said or did something unbelievably dumb or rude. And I don’t mean he hit a wrong key on the register, or accidentally gave someone an extra dollar with their change. I mean, his 15 minute break was almost 30 minutes; he mocked out plain-clothes security guys for not standing next to him all night to make sure he was safe (which apparently makes them lazy); he refused to ID people, and then refused to log the few ID’s he got in the system (it’s just logging that yes they had ID and what kind they had, for legal purposes). This was on top of his rude comments to staff and customers, his refusal to help anyone with anything, and his flat-out mocking of certain staff members and shift leaders. By the end of the night, I had my nervous twitch back in my left eye, and I had rubbed off my eyebrows and most of my outer eye make-up from rubbing my temples so much. And I’m one of the patient ones, too! Already this week, he’s had multiple private meetings with the boss about the things he’s doing wrong, and he’s almost been fired more than once. And I have one of the most patient bosses ever! Sweet little old grannies have come into the store, dealt with The Kid, and have almost resorted to purse-swinging violence!

He’s worked all week, as we’re trying to prepare him for our own brand of personal hell called “Dealing with customers who are trying to prepare in case we go on strike, and are acting like it’s the coming of the apocalypse”.  We’ve kept him on the early morning shifts to avoid him having to deal with the night rushes and the after-work/pre-party crowd. But tonight, a Saturday night when we’re already short staffed and have a tasting in-store, we also have The Kid with us. I already have my spiked rootbeer chilling in the fridge, and a big bottle of Chilean Cab Sauv staring at me from the counter.

This is going to be one hell of a long summer!

What about you, Sunshine? Have you ever had a coworker who you knew just wasn’t going to work out? Someone who drove you bonkers? Or maybe you’ve dealt with someone like this before and found a way to make it work?  Drop me a comment below, let me know how you handled things…… or let me know the worst of the worst stories you have about that coworker (we could all use a bit of a giggle).

Believe Me: I Know My Job!

So I can’t say exactly where I work, but it deals with selling alcohol in a store run by a provincial government. Now, we are trained to a ridiculous degree! I met the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend after I had been hired on here, and showed him the training booklets I got just to be a seasonal worker. And then the books for the tests to be a casual worker. And my Service Knowledge book. And Product Knowledge books. And my Customer Service training books. And the notes from my in-class training. And the online modules for my mandatory training. In short, I am constantly either in training, about to start training, or just finishing training.

And one thing we’re trained on constantly is the ID laws for our province.

Here’s the gist of it all: in order to buy alcohol at my store, you need to have valid government photo ID with you. I can ask anyone at any time to produce their ID, and deny a sale if they don’t have that. Yes, the legal drinking age here is 19. That doesn’t mean that if you’re 20 you don’t need your ID. We are legally obliged to ID anyone who appears to be under 25. And that’s not all.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not the one paying for it. If you touch it, talk about it, point to it, offer money for it, pass money to someone in the store, or say something like “Thanks man, I’ll pay you back for this later” in front of us or our security staff, you’re getting ID’d. We have this little thing called a Second Party Purchase, where we know someone is buying alcohol for someone else. If you carry it up to the counter for someone, you’re getting ID’d. Yes, there are a few exceptions: if you’re a child carrying it up for a parent on crutches, or you lift it up onto the counter for a wheelchair bound friend who can’t do so themselves, we will most likely let that slide. You are allowed to help, as long as it is clear you  are only helping.

We get this training drilled into us. Do you know how much of a fine we can face PERSONALLY if we serve an underage person? $250,000!!! So we are damn sure to ID everyone we need to! Not only that, but we look out for each other. If I see a group of customers all picking things out together, I’ll be sure to tell my co-workers to make sure they ID the whole group. You are damn right we’ve all got each other’s backs!

All of this being said, it amazes me that amount of people who come through my store and seem to think that either the rules don’t apply to them, or that they know our jobs better than we do.

Case in point: last week, I walked by a group of three young men in the vodka aisle discussing what brand of vodka to buy. All three of them were pointing at bottles, and were talking about how they would pay their friend back later for buying the vodka. When they came up to the register, I motioned for my coworker to ID the whole group.

Well, the young lad who was paying went off! Apparently his dad is a cop, which means he knows the law inside and out, because the first responsibility of being a cop is to make sure your son knows exactly which laws don’t apply to him. According to this boy, even though him and the cloud of cheap Axe body spray he called friends had all decided together which bottle to buy, we couldn’t legally ID his friends because they didn’t touch the bottle.

Normally, our story would end here. Child Who Is Not Smoll would yell and scream, and then leave without his bottle. But not this time!

No! After being denied once because his friends didn’t have ID, Boy Child came back in the store to try and buy the bottle again! Now, since we just saw him in there trying to buy for his friends, and it’s recorded on the store’s security camera that he was denied for his friends not having ID, we can’t sell him this bottle. The only way we can sell him the alcohol is if his friends both come back with their ID. But he wasn’t hearing any of this!

No! His dad is a cop! He knows the law! His friends didn’t touch the bottle! And he came back in alone!

Needless to say, he was rejected again. As he slowly meandered on out the door, he had some very loud choice words for my coworkers and I. Out shift leader told him that since he had already created a scene twice in a span of less than 15 minutes, he was not allowed back in the store for the rest of the night. If he did show up again, he would be denied service and asked to leave.

Did that stop him from coming back?

Well, if it did, would I still be writing this?

He came back with his friends a while later, claiming that because they all had ID now we had to not only serve them, but APOLOGIZE to them for not serving them earlier!

Needless to say (even if I am saying it here), they did not get served. Even better, we had police on sight for a separate incident later that night. You know what? They had no clue who this Boy Child was, and had no officers on the force with his last name!

Want to know the worst part of all of this? His two friends seemed pretty apologetic throughout the whole thing. If they had just come back with their ID, we would’ve served them. Even if the Boy Child had flipped out a little tiny bit at first like he did, but they all came back with ID and apologized, I would’ve served them.

But after all of that, the three of them left empty handed.

The moral of the story Sunshine? While you may think you know customer service, the people in each position get specific training for their job like you would not believe! So don’t be THAT customer that tries to teach employees about return policies, or ID laws, or anything else.

Customer Service Representatives get a shit rep, and take a lot of shit from people. We are all people, and we all deserve the respect you would give any other person in any other job. So be kinds, be polite, and don’t be that asshole who thinks they know our job better than we do!

Customer Service Hell: Charity Donations

Twice a year at my store, we are asked to ask customers if they would like to donate to a certain charity. This year, we also had a third round of this, with all monies going to the Canadian Red Cross to help the people of Fort McMurray during those devastating wild fire.

Now, keep in mind, we are only asking IF you would like to donate. We’re not FORCING you to donate. We’re not asking your personal opinion on this specific charity. We don’t care if your roommate’s sister’s dog’s veterinarian’s secretary once read a website 11 years ago saying that this charity is crooked. We’re just doing what we’re told to do in our daily work.

That being said, here’s a small collection of reactions I’ve had to “Would you like to make a small donation to X?” (Everything here is pretty much paraphrased, since I’m not allowed to record customers, and it’s frowned upon to stop working to write down exactly what a customer just said to me so I can laugh at them later)

  • “Well why should I give them money? No one ever gives me free money! Why aren’t you collecting money for me?!?!”
    Well buddy, you’re not a registered charity. 
  • “What the hell do sick kids need money for? They don’t pay bills, they have parents for that! What kind of scam are you running?”
    Yeah, because we’re collecting money for sick kids to buy Ferraris and tour Europe, not to help with their medical expenses or anything.
  • (In response to being asked to donate to help wildfire victims) “Do you have any idea how much money people make out there?  They can afford to rebuild for themselves!”
    They just lost EVERYTHING, including for some those high paying jobs you’re talking about. They also have to rebuild work, schools, homes, businesses, public buildings, forest land…………
  • “Do you have any idea how much the CEO makes? I heard it’s more than $500,000 a year! I’m not giving more money just to line HIS pockets!”
    First, no the local CEO of this certain charity doesn’t make anywhere near $500,000 a year. Secondly, he is a CEO, which means he has all the responsibilities of a corporate CEO, just in the non-profit sector. And third, if you’re so hell-bent on curbing CEO salaries, why are you shopping here?
  • “My friend worked as their bookkeeper a few years ago, and he said that what he saw would make anyone never donate to them again.”
    Understandable, but I know the bookkeeper of this charity, and SHE has had her job there for more than 20 years. Unless your friend was 7 when he had the job, you’re full of shit buddy.
  • “Why should I give them my money? I work hard for my money! Stop trying to take my hard-earned money you c…….”
    You can guess what that C word was, or you can try to Understand it Next Tuesday. The guy who said this has called multiple girls at my store this word, and is famous for throwing a fit when asked for donations. I always feel bad when a new girl gets him at her till before we can warn her.
  • “FLARHGMEKLLKJDFSANLJKHTOIAHKJSDNGFJKSAFDGHKL!!!!!!!!”
    Seriously, this woman just started yelling random jibberish at us until the transaction was complete.

That’s just a few of the ones that stick out in my mind the most right now, Sunshine. Have you had to deal with customers like that? Leave a comment, tell me what YOUR most memorable experience was when you had to ask for donations at work.