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.
Seems that the Bait & Switch store manager under whom I have labored quit yesterday.
Two points of interest.
1. She gave two weeks notice. What kind of manager has to give that kind of low-level indulgence?
2. I found out from one of her subordinates.
It’s a reflection of why she’s going. Any normal manager at an establishment with fewer than 30 employees would talk to each person individually. How hard would it be to take everyone aside for a minute, and say, simply:
Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I’m leaving. Best to hear it direct from me, and I want to thank you for your help and support.
Unworldly; unsophisticated; not classy, inelegant: any way you choose to think of it, this process is that of a bogan. Which, now I think about it, is precisely the zeitgeist of my place of employment.
People have tells, just as businesses have tells.
Businesses are easier to judge, because they’re not intended to be multi-faceted, like people. They make steel, or create PR campaigns or sell groceries; there’s no secret as to the beginning and the end.
At the Bait & Switch shop, the story is the same. You decide to purchase your favourite kind of bait, so you make a trip to our store. We stock your bait, and we advertise good prices.
But when you arrive, you find we aren’t that keen to sell you what you want. We have another kind of bait, one of which you have never heard. Insisting upon choosing what you have come to buy, you can’t help but feel like you’ve done something wrong.
If you look closer you might notice some things – the fact that the store’s kinda messy; that it’s dirty; that the employees are detached; that there are few systems; that it’s confusing. Working there is worse. Systems are weak or non-existent; policy is only poorly developed or barely matured; managers look up toward corporate functions rather than straight ahead at customers and workers; that confusion reigns and no-one is king.
Simplicity takes work, but is always worthwhile. Start at the beginning and examine the reason for doing anything, and it soon becomes a habit to not do useless stuff, which creates room for the good stuff.
Keep it tidy, and all else will follow.
It’s just a bloody shop.
Keep it properly stocked. Keep it clean. Keep it organized. Make people feel welcome. Don’t put up with any shit.
In the last week: we are out of green “Out of Stock” tags. We ran out of both our best selling red earthworms and a top-five white earthworm variety. Scheduled tasks (centrally determined, BTW) were not completed more than 50% of the time.
I could go on.
When “managers” look up towards corporate rather than straight ahead at the people walking through the door, stuff goes wrong.
When edicts from someone thousands of miles away are perceived as more important than what customers ask for, stuff gets missed.
When no-one has the ability to create systems that simplify and work, someone loses.
When no-one feels sufficiently strong to start the process of starting from scratch (every so often) there is no future.
There is no future.