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:

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”

Probably:

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.

I Haven’t Changed.

I’ve been MIA for a couple of days because I’m pounding out words like a psychotic trained monkey. I know this is supposed to be a Thanksgiving post and all, but what I am most thankful for is currently a state away from me. No, you romantic thinkers, not my 2001 minivan. Although I am infinitely grateful that she hasn’t dumped me on the side of the interstate in at least a year. It’s what’s in the minivan that I’m grateful for. And kind of missing.

But don’t cry for me, Argentina. They’ll be back later tonight, and I’ll be doing my Snoopy happy-dance. In the meantime, I have for you a Black Friday post. Read it here.

Click the link and the zombie in the middle lives again.

I haven’t changed a bit, and I doubt I’ll be invited back. I’ll let you know.