Short shift today, 6.5 hours in the middle of the day. It should have been a doddle, a busy-ish Friday with everyone in a good mood.

It should have been, but there’s something about the new Store Manager that puts me on edge. As a colleague noted, the new management group takes this operation waaaaay too seriously. We’re selling to addicts; it’s not difficult. We can be relaxed and be just as profitable as being uptight and making the same amount of money. Let’s choose.

I can’t quite figure out what kept me off-balance, but I did get a partial resolution. At one point I sought some information from the SM on behalf of a customer, who was standing beside me. The enquiry was pretty boring, and it was unlikely he’d have a precise answer, but it was an opportunity for him to make a connection and possibly a positive impression.

The convo turned to baseball, and I made a mildly mocking comment…he says he loves whatever team the customer likes…which I thought was nicely inside baseball (ahem) and self-deprecating. It was a slow ball, center plate for him to hit out of the park. He had the opportunity to make himself look humble and sharp simultaneously, but no, he went the defensive route.


The customer walked right over it, but the point was made; he’s slightly insecure and not at all interested in taking the human route. Everything is flatly about profit and “serving the customer”. Just like a Stalinist.

Lord, save me.


Expansion is the big picture driver at Bait & Switch, at least at corporate level.

Seems to me that this is a precursor to a listing, because the only reason to put a business on such a course is to boost the P&L top line. In other words, revenue at all cost, and hang the consequences.

At store level, the repercussions are clear; poor communication, management incompetence and mixed messages. Are we a big box retailer or quality and service-based? Are we lowest cost or knowledgeable? Are personal relationships important or numbers through the door?

Someone, somewhere thinks the business can be all things to all people, which is an admirable dream if you want to ignore the income statement. The place could be big and personal, but it can’t be big and personal and lowbrow and low price. Something’s gotta give.

Which brings me to short termism, the operating umbrella under which we labor. There are big changes required to bring the place up to the standards of even the lowest big box model. Computer systems, stock systems, pricing systems; these area all archaic and showing signs of breaking down. The least stress opens another leak that needs inordinate time to fill.

All this leads to frustration and disillusionment amongst we peons. But no-one cares about that either.


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.

Kryptonite for Old People

Given where the ED store is located, its customer base is severely skewed to the ancient. That implies a lot of deaf, incontinent, hairy, poorly dressed, scattered, confused and difficult people. The usual panoply of disgusting older habits and signals are on show aplenty.

These people – most of them, anyway – shouldn’t even be in the market for earthworms. If you cannot remember the type of earthworm you like, you shouldn’t be buying it. If you don’t know what the difference between quality earthworms and junk earthworms, you shouldn’t be buying them. If you are so strapped for cash that the only earthworms you will buy are those in which a coupon plays some part, you might want to reconsider your addiction.

Fishing is well and good, but the bait might not be helping you.

Other customer ideas fall into the category of complete nonsense. One big one is the pursuit of “organic” earthworms, or earthworms without “sulphites”. OMG you morons. When women (and it almost always women) want products that are by their nature bad for you to be as good for you as they think they can be, it’s best not to take them seriously.

This is the equivalent of someone saying “I want to breathe, but I don’t want the oxidative effects of those pesky oxygen molecules”. Theses people are commonly called idiots.

The other moron one must deal with is the 200 pound overweight dude who wants to know “What’s the earthworm with the lowest calories?”. Ditto the comments above, in which I now say “The one that you don’t buy?”.

This is a failure of the education system, and a triumph of generations of marketing and television: people now think they can buy everything, including health, fitness and longevity. No input (like, say, a good diet and moderate regular exercise) required from the individual.

One hopes that old people gain perspective; more likely they’re just dopey young people with a lot of miles on the clock. Time to find a place with fewer of them. As m’colleague says, cold is old-people kryptonite, so that’s where I’m going. Somewhere freezing.