A Cautionary Tale

This wasn’t the post I intended to write today, but it’s the one that spoke to my heart. It’s my two-year blogging anniversary, and I was going to regale you with some stats and search terms and other things that are mildly amusing, but I won’t. Not today.

Yes, I got all excited and screencapped it right that very moment. If you have followed me for a while, you already know that I am a dweeb.

Yes, I got all excited and screencapped it right that very moment. If you have followed me for a while, you already know that I am a dweeb.

When we start blogging, many of us have long-term goals. I had hoped by the two-year mark, I would be a published author with six best-sellers to my credit (one obviously ghost-written by my cat), and I’d be wealthy and retiring to the French Riviera. I happy to say I have met those goals. In the last two years, I have produced four first-draft manuscripts. I am now wealthy enough that I can buy almost anything in the free-bin at my local used bookstore, and I am about to retire to the French Riviera if by that you mean looking for a job at McDonald’s. Life is pretty sweet.

Anyway, pondering this post got me thinking about stories I have alluded to in the comment section of other people’s blogs but have never fully explained. I think now is the time. 

Some of you may know I used to work for Giant-Soulless-Discount-Chain-Mart. Some of you may even know why I left. Here’s the full story.

I took the job because my husband and I were looking to get out of debt. I worked at home during the day, and adding an 8pm-4am shift at Soulless-Mart three days a week seemed like a good idea at the time. I lasted four months. I could have persevered for another year or two, but I did not. It wasn’t the money. The pay wasn’t half-bad. I didn’t feel poorly treated, either. My supervisor was a little brusque, as we all are at 2am, but she taught me what I needed to know and cut me some slack when necessary. I left over a discrepancy in policy.

New trainees are subjected to endless hours of training before beginning their career, and even more after. Most of the training modules cover policies and procedures, endless hours of them, at which the employee sits slack-jawed before a computer screen and learns such things as “Selling Liquor to Minors Is a No-No.”


No beer for you, kid. Those glasses ain't foolin' no one. / Photo credit "D Sharon Pruitt"

No beer for you, kid. Those glasses ain’t foolin’ no one. //Photo credit “D Sharon Pruitt”


This guy's probably okay. As long as he has ID and his cheque doesn't bounce.

This guy’s probably old enough. It’s okay to sell as long as he has ID and his cheque doesn’t bounce. // Photo credit Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Policy training is crucial when a company has enough money to buy their own planet be a target for law-suits. And there’s a policy for everything.

Those of us who have ever worked in low-paying jobs know that we’re always looking for a win, some bit of evidence that we have not wasted our lives what we do matters. We dream of that golden moment where the 40 hours of computer training finally pays off and we save a life using the price checker as a defibrillator. Or can at least tell a customer where to find the Cheez-Whiz without having to make a left-hand turn. When you make barely more than minimum wage, the little things matter. It was so for me, and when my moment came, I was in for a surprise.

I clocked in as usual that fateful night shortly after Christmas, scheduled to report to my register in five minutes. I was cruising through electronics when I spotted it. A puddle in the floor.  There’s a policy for that, of course, because people spill things all the time. I was to stand guard over the spilled liquid until maintenance could clean it up.

Here was my moment to shine! I could protect all the shoppers from slipping and risking injury, and I could protect my employers from a lawsuit in one fell swoop! I was a super-hero. I didn’t even need a cape!

There were a couple of problems with the policy, however, starting with the fact that Maintenance knocked off at 6, and ending with the complete lack of supervisors to notify. Leaving the puddle to report it was forbidden. Some money-hungry idiot might stage a fall in the 3.2 seconds it would take to find someone. So I stood there.

The first time my name was called over the loudspeaker asking me to report to my register, I began a frantic dance, leaping and waving, hoping that someone in electronics would notice. No such luck. After two calls, I finally saw a customer service manager and reported my dilemma, begging them to let my supervisor know I was on the job. The CSM assured me I was doing the right thing, promised to find someone to take care of it, and ordered me not to move.

It was at that moment I noticed what I was guarding. This was no grocery spill, friends. I was risking my job to watch over a puddle of pee.

Using my mad forensic skills, I speculate that some parent was perusing $5 DVDs while their unattended offspring dropped trou and hosed down a support post. A carpeted support post.

Ten minutes and three more calls over the loudspeaker later, and I was still standing guard to a pool of human excrement. The royal baby hasn’t been watched as closely. Said CSM walked by again, having forgotten I was there at all, and wandered off with vague promises to find someone to take care of it and to notify my supervisor. He did neither.

Finally, a second CSM strolled by. She took charge of that puddle and relieved me (Get it? Pee joke. See, I can still laugh about it.) to return to my register. My supervisor was in a giant huff, and proceeded to chew me out, demanding to know why I didn’t just leave the pee and report for duty.

It was at that moment I know I couldn’t work at Soulless-Mart anymore. How can I work for a business whose managers are not on the same page about how to handle a puddle of pee? How does anybody? That’s why I prefer the zoo.


54 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale

  1. I know this isn’t the crux of the post, but it’s interesting how many bloggers have reached a year/2/3 lately and are meditating/lamenting on where they imagined the blog going, and appreciating where it has.

    Not ME, of course. *cough cough*. Other people.

  2. I can see how standing sentry over a puddle of pee could make one a bit reluctant to continue working there, especially if getting yelled at for it.

    When your supervisor asked, you should have looked her right in the eye and stonefaced said, “Because I like pee.”

  3. Two years is a long time for anything. I also imagine it was a human of about that age that left you to guard aforementioned puddle. So… you’ve got that going for you… which is nice.
    (Also, congrats! I enjoyed reading this post, as well as all your others!)

  4. LOL I like your by-the-book attitude. The good part of that scenario is that if they had left you standing there too long and you heard the call of nature, who would have been the wiser should the puddle become a bit bigger? Says the woman who spent three days at hunt tests with nothing but corn fields nearby. 😉 Happy anniversary!

  5. This would be why I decided to take a break from the cooperate world as long as Hubby can financially support us. I hate being stuck in the middle of poor management teams. It literally makes me sick to my stomach. Happy bloggiversary! 🙂

  6. Oh do I feel your pain. I work for a large hospitality company, and part of my job is to train employees on guest service and safety, including spill response. During training, we’re clear with employees that they should clean up spills even if it delays their regular duties. Unfortunately, their managers are not always on the same page- a frustrating experience for the employees.

  7. Happy anniversary! And good for you for leaving the soul-sucking job. But I do feel sorry for the staff that has to clean up those messes.

  8. The good thing about working in a zoo is that puddles of pee are a must there and no-one will chew you out for dealing with them. So definitely the right decision. Happy anniversary!

  9. So glad the zoo won because I’ve learned so much from you about animals–especially baby turtles and snakes. Soulless-Mart didn’t deserve you. Cograts on your two-year anniversary. Keep writing!

  10. You are far FAR too over qualified to work at sheeple-mart with hypocrites who cannot follow and adapt to a simple policy. Ugh.. I for one am proud you got out while you could.

  11. I lasted 2.5 years working part-time in a mall, selling overpriced stuff to the 1% crowd. I feel your pain. If of interest, I wrote a book about it that has sold well and prompted many heartfelt emails from fellow retail service survivors. I hope you don’t mind a link to it…?


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