Corporate Arseholery

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.

Promises and Lies

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.

Result: Nothing.
The other circumstance is more clearly a lie.

Supervisor: I am going to make sure you are rewarded for sales success.

Me: Great.

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.

All Change. Or Not.

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.


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.