Bait & Switch is not a seasonal business; the market in which I live is. One inevitable consequence of large swings in customer numbers (although interestingly, not sales) is that fewer of us are needed on the floor. You know where this is heading; hours are down.
The scheduling is arcane, chaotic and plain unfriendly at the best of times. Now it has all of those qualities in barely two thirds of a full-time employee’s regular hours. This is making for some very unhappy bunnies, and rightly so. High season expectations are high and met by we peons; low season reality does not involve reciprocity.
There are all kinds of ways to look at this, but mine is to wrap the dissatisfaction in a blanket and store it somewhere. One has to look after onesself at all times (when one’s power is usurped by the corporate beast) but absolute power is limited. So guerilla tactics are appropriate, as is timing.
In any case, without the ability to change the number of hours one is allocated, try another path. Manipulating opportunity is a valuable skill. Notwithstanding, it doesn’t change the complete arseholery of the owners.
In a company that pays little and expects much, a tactic to keep people is to lie to them.
Two cases in point affected me in the few months I’ve been toiling here. The first time was at my six month “review”, at which I made it clear that I wanted more money.
Manager: Is there anything I can do for you?
Me: Pay me more.
Manager: I’ll do whatever I can to make that happen.
The other circumstance is more clearly a lie.
Supervisor: I am going to make sure you are rewarded for sales success.
Supervisor: What do you want? Bait? Tackle? Food?
Me: More money.
Supervisor: I’ll work it out.
Now that sales are up (a lot) you’d think there’d be some kind of feedback apart from the obligatory “good job” and a fist bump. Nope. Being strung along is another dispiriting element of working for buttholes.
After a rotten three weeks of work-contracted illness, I’m back on a secure path. It’s never a secure path at the Bait & Switch shop, because it’s an awful place to contemplate having a “career” or “prospects”, but it’s a path of sorts.
My immediate supervisor asked me whether I had any interest in advancement. I didn’t answer, instead deflecting onto other matters, which highlights the point that they’re not really interested in the individual, rather what is expedient to fill holes. They play the short game all the time, and manage the ensuing mess, rather than planning for success and spending time and money to ensure it.
Last weekend another of my supervisors spent two days at another store, leaving us to one of our biggest days of the year without sufficient floor people. The reason (as he explained when I asked) was that the other store cannot find people to work there. Surprise! People aren’t willing to work for crap money, assigned awful schedules under incompetent managers.
Speaking of which, we’re about to see new people at the top of our own B&S outpost. Today we regain a store manager and an operational assistant, both from nearby. Interesting that the assistant manager has only a few weeks of bait experience, meaning that everyone else in the sales/slave group has more knowledge. Interesting. We shall see.
This is my first retail experience, and I should have known that most people aren’t like me.
I’ll approach a customer, and the following conversation ensues:
Hello, may I help you?
No. I’m looking for this worm I hear someone else liked.
Do you have a name, or a description?
No. It was red with two ends.
People are stupid. Oftentimes they will not look at you, staring off into the distance to my left or right, as if eye contact will reveal just how lost they are.
I understand this, as much as I detest it. Not knowing stuff is embarrassing to some people, as is submitting to the superior knowledge of an inferior. The dichotomy allows me to separate the good people from the bad. Good people allow themselves to look vulnerable, and are honest about it. Bad people mask their deficits and look insecure as a result.
Dress is no guide. Well-dressed people are as likely to be as dopey as slobs, and might even be more likely to be dickheads. Personal grooming is of no importance, although it’s more directly linked with boganism. Men (and women) with halitosis are almost always not worth the time, which validates what your dental hygienist knows and tells you every time. In fact, in most cases, shoppers aren’t worth the time.
However, like panning for gold, you never know. Sometimes a gem will emerge from the dross, and it is always a surprise. Such sparklers are hard to find, disappearing amongst the deadening dross of awful humanity.