New Fuedalism

The Industrial Revolution initially strengthened the feudal system in England, then proved its downfall. Productivity and the resultant expanded buying power gave previously impoverished workers the chance to choose: choose a path through life, a career and all kind of other manifestations of freedom.

On the current downslope towards neo-feudalism, we’re experiencing a reverse of all the good changes noted, above. Productivity is declining, but that’s only a human phenomenon – robots are on the rise.

There’s more to it, of course. Retail is changing. Stores are oh so last century, but the change is happening only as fast as the population either ages or changes.

At Bait & Switch the physical product will never change. Fishermen will always need bait, so the question becomes how we transport their bait of their (or, in B&S style, our) choice into their boat or fishing kit. Think of just how time-consuming the trip to the bait shop and the subsequent shopping, checking out and trip back to the fish is; it’s all a waste of time and utterly tangential to fishing.

Price squeezes are the name of our time as costs are wrung from all kind of processes, such as the one I described above. Which means that anyone currently being paid for activity that keeps stuff in stores in front of consumers is destined to lose their job.

The first step in that process is to have one’s wages squished. Retail pay has always been awful, but the current model leads it in only one direction. Neo-Feudalism, here we come, Sire.

The Frayed Edges

A rundown of recent events is appropriate.

+ Increasing work hours based on increasing increasing daily turnover targets. Does this seem as counterintuitive to you as it does to me?

+ Departure of previous Bait Supervisors precipitated appointment of current non-Bait Supervisor to the position. This particular Bait Supervisor-nominate doesn’t fish.

+ Notable selectivity of workers for better assignments. Favoritism, in other words, which is fine, but that based on personal links rather than professional reward.

+ Signs of chaos amongst managers and supervisors. Subtle use of words to separate the existing muckety-mucks from the two new brooms. All is not happy in Celebration.

+ Weird new appointment of under-manager to Bait Manager, thereby completing a troika of Two Bait Managers and One Bait Supervisor who have never fished, nor choose to.

+ Personal Snubs. The Store Manager continues to openly snub your humble correspondent. When I walk past and say: “Good morning” he fails to look up from his phone.

+ Last night I arrived for shift to a very odd and notably subdued atmosphere. It seems that our Token Flamboyant – a previously mentioned recipient of positive selection – had been ordered home. “Attitude” apparently.

Hah.

Pep Rally

Oh dear.

This time last year the same Sunday morning staff rally happened, in exactly the same way, with precisely the same outcome. Blah.

Apathy is not an emotion that comes without effort. First comes enthusiasm, then skill, which is followed by slow realization and the slide towards disenchantment. Bait & Switch managed to compress that sequence into less than six months for me; now it’s a slow sail across a windless ocean.

Two interesting points from the (crap breakfast provided) meeting. First is that although the cast of “managers” is different, the message was the same, almost word perfect.

Second was the info that we’re getting a new tool and die guy, just what we need around here. The new CEO will be hanging around the bait store for a week or (something) after his two weeks with our titular head. Interesting of itself, this news is exciting for the chaos-making possibilities.

Interesting too that his antecedents (hidden here for reasons of anonymity) aren’t exactly shining lights of modern business practice. Predictably this was spun to us on the basis that he’s a people person, and very keen on developing talent.

I can’t even be bothered placing those phrases in quotation marks, so utterly disingenuous are they.

Still the bait and switch goes on. Can you feel my passion?

Costra Nostra

As if the presence of political operatives, spies, double agents and saboteurs weren’t enough, we now have nepotism. The aisles of Bait & Switch store are rife with intrigue.

The new manager-in-waiting¬† – who is really not waiting that much – installed her toy-boy boyfriend last week. He’s younger by decades, and of somewhat dubious provenance. He was on the phone to someone conversing about jail time and bail applications a couple of days ago; not the kind of milieu that inspires trust.

As you would expect, he’s acting not just as loverboy, but internal informant too. A snout, as the English would have it, with clear pathways to being a grass.

He’s taken a dislike to me, which has a couple of motives. The most likely is that he wants to needle me to the point of exasperation in the hope that I do something for which I can be fired. Ach, that’s not the worst thing. My disappearance would create a space for him to move up the (limited, meaningless) Ladder of Serfs. In turn, that means he’d be in line for more steps higher.

In time his relationship with her will disintegrate. He’s a nonce, a feckless dude on the make who is using her. She’s a dopey trollop with ambition and (in common with him I guess) is using him to an extent she would otherwise be¬† unable. I’m talking sex here.

Furthermore, she’s gradually surrounding herself with associates and friends from prior jobs. In that sense, there’s a lot of mafia-style manoeuvring, a kind of retail power-grab that the Gambino family would recognize. Hard to believe all this is happening in a simple bait shop.

Despite that, a key to the way this will all implode is the background of discontent swirling around the store. Poor pay, wretched schedules, sky-high expectations and pathetic conditions make not for a happy group. Infiltration cannot by definition include everyone; those who are beyond reach are still a majority, and as even the biggest Kool-Aid drinkers go on, they too will become disillusioned.

It’s gonna be fun to watch.