Friday, December 17, 2010

You'd think after all these years of blogging, I'd have the font thing down a little better.  Sorry if you had to invest in reading glasses in order to read my last post (haha, because you would do that for me, right?  you would be dying to know what the words said, so you would leave your screen, go to your local drugstore, purchase some of those colorful, $5 glasses, then come back to see what gems I've graced the world with this day?  Yeah?  I know.)

Thanks to Joe and Gleds for the comments!!  I will be catching up (and I have already done, a little) on everybody's writing this weekend, and I can't wait!!  I always find that reading my favorite blogs is as good as reading a beloved book! 

Now, regarding those comments, Gledwood, do you not know of Martha Stewart that she is considered the Queen of all Homemaking?  It's not just cookin', mate!  If it comes to entertaining, folding sheets or blankets properly (i was recently stunned to learn from martha, on tv, that outside of the retail industry, where I had to learn to fold towels the company way, there is indeed a proper and preferred manner in which to fold and store one's linens).  anyway, here in the states, you usually fall into one of two camps:  the one that loves her and counts on her empire (magazines, something upwards of 57 books, tv show, holiday specials, etc) to teach you how to live a neat and organized and aesthetically pleasing life ...the other camp, of which i might be camp president, is the one wherein we respect the fact that this is a woman who has built a billion dollar empire (girl power, yay) but we think that should i say this?? we think that to spend one's afternoon endeavouring to fold one's fitted bed sheets just so is a waste of one's precious days on this planet.  but to each her own, right?  most of the, um, disciplines, that martha teaches also seem to my way of thinking to be exercises in Earning the Approval of One's Peers/Neighbors/In-Laws, etc.... and i never can condone expending much energy on that.  but wow!  who knew that i even gave martha so much thought?  not i.

ok, well, moving right along!  what holidays does everyone out there celebrate?  i would love to hear about all of your traditions or what you might PREFER to be doing if you are not able to do that because of your traditions or obligations.  i mean, let's keep it real on my blog!  not everyone adores the holiday times... in fact, i think that many or even most people DISlike this time of year.  i worked in retail for 9 years, and if that didn't give the impression that no one enjoys anything at all about hannukah / christmas /kwanzaa et al., well, nothing would.

as you know, i've been out of the workforce due to illness for about a year now.  and while my situation has its ups and downs -- oh wait, we are keeping it real, so there aren't many downs at all, i have to say!! --i have never hit my knees in such fervent thanksgiving as when i was freed from the indentured servitude of retail hell.  never was the light at the end of my tunnel less visible than when i was there.  never did a college degree feel like more of a sick joke.  and honestly now, seriously:  NEVER, EVER have i been treated on such a regular basis by other human beings (both supervisors at my places of employment and customers of course) in such an astonishingly inhuman manner.  i exaggerate not a bit.  it was truly humanity at some of its ugliest lowest behavior.  my boyfriend of five years during that experience had worked in retail security, and now he is a police officer.  i think only those in that line of work see humans at a lower point in their life and actions.  it doesn't get much worse.

if you haven't done a holiday stint in retail (or really any time of year, because the holidays just amp up the noise and crowds and confusion and RAGE of the people), let me share some details about my last christmas in the business.  i don't even know off the top of my head whether this was the worst.  it was definitely one for the memory books of course.  but who knows?  every year was just mayhem.  i'm sure that you've seen it on tv each year, at least a bit of it, yeah?  i remember that in recent years, employees and customers alike have been severely injured and even killed, during the "black friday" rushes for sales and in-demand toys.  INJURED and KILLED!!!  what's wrong with these people?, we'd ask each other rhetorically, everyday, all day.

so my last year of holiday employment was like this.  it was actually the last official day, because it was christmas eve.  everyone on staff with me was in a pretty good mood.  we were way OVER-staffed, which was rare, but on that ONE day, our company allowed for a high payroll, because 1)it was never possible to predict how many last-minute shoppers would be in from year-to-year; sometimes it was a mad rush, others it was vacant... and 2) yes, indeed, our boss showed a bit of mercy and wanted us to get out of the store when it closed at 6 p.m. rather than stay late cleaning up like we usually did at night.  it should be noted that at this particular store, they had the extra-merciLESS habit of scheduling people, including students and those with full-time "regular" jobs in addition to the one at the store, to close at night (an endeavour that often lasted past 12:30 a.m.) and then to open the next day at 7 a.m.  no sleep or driving time or anything was even considered, just stay late and be back bright and early!  at least when i worked at one of america's most beloved big-box stores (i shant say their name, for fear of their wrath, which is well known to me, but perhaps you will think of a bullseye as a hint), they had a company rule that mandated employees be given eight full hours between any two shifts.  it's just basic human treatment, you know?

but i digress, because if i wanted to write about all the violations these retail companies heap upon people on a daily basis, i'd write a book.  oh wait, i already DO have that in the works ;)

so it's christmas eve, and we are all having a grand old time.  we had some good catered food brought in for us by our managers, which was lovely of them indeed.  most people had plans for later, and of course for christmas day.  half the staff were seasonal help and those tend to be happy just to be making some cash, unlike the year-rounders who are generally surly and less enthused about all the long hours.  while we were having a good time showing people our last-minute deals, re-stocking shelves, and telling delighted callers that yes! we are open for business ... the clientele was less than civil to us.  i mean, they were just wrong.

i was working at a customer service desk that day.  at the desk, we would take returns/exchanges, we would order and replace online items for ya, and we'd help with any other issues at the back of the department store, which is where we were located.  the store i was working in also had a hair salon and one of those photo "studios" where people pay to get their kids' pictures taken, or their own or their pets', i'm sure you know the type... well, wouldn't you know it, since it was the eve of christmas, the photo studio was engaged in selling photo opportunities with santa!!!  how lovely!  now, i must tell you to have the kids leave the room for this story, because it ain't pretty...

okay, so i guess santa was doing his thing over there, smiling with what seemed (and SOUNDED) like tens of thousands of children all day long.  hey, i hope he didn't expect anything less when he took the job!  whatever his issues, santa finished his day around 4 p.m., so the rest of the store was still working, so he could still shop!  yes, santa needs to shop apparently, for a few last-minute items.  regretfully, i do not remember what he bought.   but he brought his items back to our registers (yes, even though we were under a luminous red sign that read:  "Customer Exchange / Return / Service," many dipshits customers would bring their regular stuff to buy up for us to take care of for them.  okay, fine if we weren't busy, but hello, if there is a line of people already pissed about some defective thing they have to exchange or return or whatever (as was the story of our life in that department), why are you doing this to us??????  we were not allowed to turn them away unless there was an extreme line of our own customers waiting, so i rang up santa's stuff...

santa handed me some money and two coupons.  as was my habit, i ran the two coupons through the register (mind you, before we go further, this was only like a $20 purchase, nothing extremely expensive); then, sadly, the registered beeped me a rejection sort of beep, you know the type.  one of santa's coupons was the type that could NOT be used with ANY OTHER DISCOUNT OR OFFER OR COUPON... you dig?  y'all know when you have a certain good discount coupon, and it says on there that you can't just pile up about five of 'em, so that basically the store has to pay YOU or something?  yeah, it was like that.  so i pleasantly and politely, as my training and 9 years of experience dictated, explained, "oh, i'm sorry, sir, this second one cannot be used in combination with another coupon," and began to hand it back to him... have i mentioned that he was still dressed head to toe in full santa regalia? (for your imagination's sake)... 

santa did not raise a hand to take the coupon back from me, the first and certain sign of Trouble at the customer service desk... i made sure to have my blandest, most serene-and-a-bit-stupid-as-in-too-stupid-to-understand-any-complaint-you-might-make, look upon my face, and santa just ERUPTED!  "WHADDYA MEAN?!" he bellowed in that ho-ho-ho booming tone we all know and love.

"I mean, that this coupon cannot be used with another, as it states at the bottom here," I kept my voice low and gentle...Santa ripped the coupon from my hand, quite literally, tearing its corner in the process.  he peered down through those sweet-old-grandpa bifocals at the writing on the coupon, and his face turned from confused rage to the rage of complete understanding.
"Oh!  THAT is GOOD!  You all SENT me this, and now you're telling me I can't use it!  Is that right, am I getting that right?"  he spat...
quite right, douche-claus, now you're catching on, except i didn't personally send you anything, except my list like 20 years ago, and i never DID find a speak-n-math under the tree, so fuck you.  "Well, no, you still can use it, but it can't be used at the same time on the same items as this other coupon," I explained in a voice that was practically sing-song with patience and the finest spark of disbelief that i never could shake, no matter how many times i had to patiently deal with maniacs.

Santa stared at my face like he wanted to say something more, like he was itchin to throw down as we'd say where i come from, but he was trapped by the legalese of that damn fine print.  to be honest with y'all, i would have suggested he split his items up into two neat $10 piles and i would ring 'em each up and put one coupon to both of 'em ... but see, when you treat the cashier like the shit from your reindeer's ass, she sometimes forgets to mention that these things can easily be done.  

that was about it for santa.  i rang up his items and sent him away growling under his breath a bit more about how i had sent him something and tricked him into coming to shop and then not letting him use it after all.  nevermind he had used one coupon already and saved like 20% on twenty bucks.  nevermind it was christmas eve and, ya know, only 17 bucks after all was said and done.  nevermind it was SANTA.  hell.

okay, so here's part two.  on that same afternoon, that same inauspicious christmas eve workday, i see a guy in line who i recognize as a businessman from the area.  my brother and i grew up knowing this guy, i mean, he's been around the chicago suburbs all of our lives, so... let's say at least 30 years.  i shall assume we are far from the only ones who know him.  he does not know me well enough to recognize me all-grown-up self.  my brother took lessons from this man at one of his places of business, ok?  i'll just leave it at that.  and to top it all off, if anyone was uncertain, he was wearing one of those stylin' satin jackets with his business name in huge airbrushed letters on the back of it ... so you see, if one were standing behind him in, say, a long line at a store on christmas eve ... well, one would know who he was and what business he represented.  hmm.  if it were me, i'd behave as befits a rep for the company, especially if it were.. MY COMPANY!  but that's just me!

let's call him The Fish, because, well, it's sort of like his name.  once again, we-- my fellow workers and i -- are all working quite efficiently i must say in all honestly, and getting through our long lines that had collected.  the afternoon was the type when there was no real busy hour, just lots of dead time interspersed with huge throngs of people all showing up at once.  it happened to be a time like the latter when we got our lines to the point that everyone had maybe two more people and a current customer.  my current customer was the fish.  the fish was making a purchase, just like santa had done, and i accepted it, fine whatever.  it was only one item, a set of gloves and mittens or something like that, definitely for a woman, mind you.  i think the fish mentioned it was for his wife, for her christmas gift... so imagine my inner snickering when he whips out a credit card with a woman's name on it but bearing his last name.  

(now, look y'all.  just in case you don't know, there are laws regarding usage of credit cards in america.  they are LAWS, not rules, not suggestions, not even like county ordinances from place to place.  no, they are federal laws in most cases, including the one at issue here.  i'm often told that cashiers fail to ask for i.d. even when someone has requested it on the back of their card.  or they fail to even notice that the name on the card does not match the name on the i.d. presented, or the gender of the person using it, etc.  people get irritated sometimes but they just complain and move on in most cases.  nevertheless, it is a VIOLATION of the federal LAW to use a credit card without proper authorization.  this does not change when you get married, have a child, or otherwise entangle yourself with another human.  the way to become authorized to use another person's card is to have that person INCLUDE YOU on the account... you see, you must be NAMED as an authorized user in order to buy stuff with the card of another person.  no matter how much they love you or sleep with you or share your dna.  otherwise?  it's breaking the law, mostly by YOU, but it ain't gonna be pretty for the person who let you do it.)

okay, so the fish hands me a card that says, let's say, loretta p. fish.  i ask him, does this card belong to you?  (hey, i mean, maybe... ya know, who knows?)  he says, "no.. yeah... well, it's my wife's."  he's buying his fucking wife's gift with her own credit card??? ok, well, that's their business, but well... shit.  i asked him politely, although i had some doubt about completing this transaction peacefully:  "ok, so are you an authorized user on the account?"
fish says, "i guess so, it's my wife's."  yeah, you said that already, dumbass.
fortunately, the credit card in question was a store card, the kind we were forced to try and force on YOU the customer everyday by asking "wanna save 10% and get a ___card?" with every breath we took.  believe me, this annoys no one more than it does US.  anyway, i had access to all of the accounts, so perhaps i could rectify this situation quite nicely after all.
me:  "okay, let me look you up so i can verfiy that you are on this account in addition to the cardholder named on this card."  i was trying hard to convey that it was simply protocol, not any air of suspicion toward the fish himself, which is how any question regarding one's credit card is always taken by customers.  
after more, "whaddya mean, it's my wife"ing, the fish shrugged like okay, i'll just have to play along with this ridiculous charade, it's the least i can do to get these mittens for my wife using her money.  he handed over his driver's license so that i could make the necessary computer inquiry, and there it was, loretta p. fish's store account and credit card number, naming loretta herself as the only authorized user of the card...shit...

returning with an air of calm authority, I handed the fish his d.l. and explained quietly, "i'm sorry, you aren't authorized to use this account."
OHHH, the wailing, lamentation, and gnashing of teeth!!!!!  my line of customers had now reached epic proportions, and as the fish's whining and threatening and accusing rose to another level and another, i stepped away from him and called for back-up to my register.  haha.  i just stepped away and i don't think he even noticed, both of us behaving as though he was a two-year-old in the midst of a tantrum and quite unable to control himself at the moment.
so, as amazed, angry, impatient, put-upon customers stared at the business name emblazoned on the fish's back, the fish himself raged at me accusing me of calling him a liar (i hadn't even gotten a word in to call him anything at all), saying his wife would be appalled that he hadn't been able to use her card, i (me personally, as usual) was causing him one inconvenience after another, all of which he enumerated verbally for all within range to hear...
i told him there was nothing that i could do about it, but that he could talk to my superior if he wished to question the issue further.  i glanced meaningfully at the long line behind me to suggest to him that getting out of my face one way or another, would be the best move at this point.
...well, SHOCKER!  the fish threw his $15 mitten set down on the counter and just stormed out, still cursing me and all and sundry issue of my womb for all generations forever.  but you'll notice he did not wish to see my manager.  huh... see, in my experience when someone wishes to make his case, because he believes he is in the right, and the conniving little cashier who has attempted to thwart him from purchasing the item of his desire, is in the wrong (why do they think we CARE enough to do so???  why do they think we are loyal to our company enough to prevent them from using a coupon if we can help it?  or to jack up prices and such?  i promise you, the cashiers are not loyal to the company store in this manner and would never be called on to do such things, nor would they do them if they were told)... they will see the manager in that situation.

so the fish abused and cursed and berated me, after santa had already done so, and in front of all these customers, and on christmas eve, and while sartorially advertising his own business to boot.  and come to find out, he KNEW all along he couldn't use that card!  for all i know, he's estranged from his "wife"!  maybe he is divorced from this woman!  maybe she hates him, has a restraining order against him.  how the eff would i know?  see, this is why you can't just come up in someone's face and go, of course i'll use this credit card even though it doesn't have my name on it, because that person is my wife.  i don't know you like that, fool, i don't know anything about y'all's relationship or who uses who's money and all that.  see?  shiiiiit.

and that was the end of retail christmases for me.  i know this is long, but well, i didn't go back to edit/cut it, i just left it the way it is, just like my rambling brain full of thoughts.  now you know what it's like to be me, haha


Gledwood said...

I'm having a good peer at your blog, not having glasses and all. I need 'em I know. Cannot get arse in gear enough to actually get any... ho hum.

You're on Adderall? Really!!

I'm just on methadone. I feel morally superior now, hahaha!!

Have a cheery weeked ;-)

Tatyanna (and Dorian too) said...

did i SAY that i was on Adderall HERE on my blog anywhere? actually, i think i have, or rather, i did. but not today. maybe you read it on someone ELSE's blog, yeah? it's against the law to disseminate my medical information willy-nilly, you know. and yes, you are superior in many ways, far far superior. sometimes i just refer to you as father superior. :)

Tatyanna (and Dorian too) said...

[from TatyannaMobile] just got texted a very flattering comment! (all this texting+mobile updating will b in 2morrow's post)... BigAl said: "Lmao-douche claus... The fish, another... U r such a great writer! The words just flow and ur analogies, treating u like shit from his reindeer. Brilliant!“
...thanx big al!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I, too, worked many years of retail. X-mas was a horror, quite frankly. I can totally relate to your hell.

Happy holidays (retail-less)!



the guy in the silk taffeta dress said...

My sympathy to the wife of that guy.
Some women are too tolerant of that kind of behavior.