Daze Orff

Two days off with a five-hour shift in the middle; now that’s not a bad way to go.

At Bait & Switch today the place was busy as all heck, for a nothing-special Wednesday. Sweet supervisors yelling over the radio for us to meet customers, when I was already with two or three people. It doesn’t bug me except when a Bait Supervisor asked me if I could hear the radio.

Yes, butthole, I can hear it, but I am prioritizing by listening to my customers.

Again the problem is clear: not enough people.

Dear Fred, the mandatory non-English speaker in our midst isn’t really any help. He tries, and he knows the procedure when a specific type of bait isn’t readily available, but reverts to his first instinct which is to refer the person to me. When I’m already overloaded, it just make the system look worse.

In any case, the best path is to stay as unflappable as possible and not worry about the dumbass Canadians and the cheapass Americans. If they find their bait, great, if not, no-one dies.

Someone else makes the calculation about staffing levels and the resultant customer satisfaction; not me.

Lowbrow

In any job, staying detached keeps one’s perspective intact. That’s not such an easy trick because the sheer amount of time spent doing things for, and being with, other people will affect our thinking.

At the Bait & Switch shop, we workers are considered full-time with 35 hours per week, while managers and supervisors hack through 50.

Telling, that sentence. In order for a relatively responsible employee to take home a relatively livable sum of money, they must work 25% more than the standard work-week. Note that non-supervisory employees – me – do not make enough on which to live. That’s probably all I need to say about that.

The net effect of long hours, low hourly wages and a chronic lack of bodies on the floor means it’s easy to be rushed into losing sight of life. Think of a pressure cooker: heat and pressure cook faster than atmospheric methods, and more thoroughly.

None of that is happenstance. The Dodgy Brothers clearly dislike the idea of staffing for busy times; they’d much prefer to run everyone at the edge when it’s busy so that we’re merely fully occupied at other times. Just how this meshes with their “customer first” mantra is a mystery.

Like anyone, I have to keep this job from being too big to lose. Cobbling together any and all sources of income is the same as investment diversification, and at least as important. That requires constant awareness of and detachment from any one job.

Calm Down

Seven days straight is turning me psychotic. Well, not that bad I guess, but still.

No, it is that bad. It’s not actually the Bait Shop customers, although they’re bad enough; it’s my managers. The clear problem in this Bait & Switch business is that the store supervisory staff are almost entirely focused upwards, towards corporate and its requirement.

Day after day I observe them staring at screens, holding down countertops engaged in…well who knows what? There are lots of binders to fill with reams of paper that no-one ever looks at. Perhaps they’re doing that. Then there’s the rostering and scheduling function. Fixing screw-ups in stock. Apart from that, they do a lot of talking about customer service, but fail to act on that. Far easier for them to yell into the radio for someone ELSE to do that.

Case in point: When the store manager ends up on a computer out in the store, she occasionally helps a customer. When she’s overwhelmed (as often happens) she yells for someone to attend the unattended customer. If there are only two others of us on the floor, and we report back that we are also currently with customers, it makes no impression. She yells AGAIN for a Bait Associate to go somewhere AWAY FROM OUR CURRENT CUSTOMER.

She seems to think that we’re cabs on a rank waiting for business. In a sense that’s true, but there is no enormous line of cabs, often there are only one or two of us.

In addition, I take some pride in the way the store is stocked and looks. If there’s a platform that has an empty spot, I’ll fill it. I like to keep busy, and to keep moving. And yet that’s not good enough. After the manager meeting this week, my Bait Supervisor pulled me aside and told me to “calm down”.

What the hell is that?

Effing idiots. They seem to think that I’m ignoring customers when doing other stuff. Whatever. The store looks as good as it does, and the sales are up as much as they are because I have some discrimination about my time. Some people are worth talking to, and some are not. Sometimes stocking is important, and sometimes it’s not.

Why don’t they understand this? Is prioritization such a difficult concept?

Sales Blind

New depths of dummery at the Bait & Switch store yesterday.

It was, BTW, my 7th day straight. Did I mention that?

At our morning scrimmage, the fact of our traffic (retail term for “people”) was down around 10% for the previous day. That’s an enormous number, and yet our average transaction value was up 7%, retail for the traffic spending more per person than the day before.

What shocked me was the congratulatory tone about increased sales of large-format earthworms. Perhaps I should explain: earthworms come in two standard sizes, namely 750 ml and 1.5 l containers. Traditionally the best bait comes in the smaller size and bulk, lower quality bait ships in the larger.

Being a bait and switch operation, even this segment isn’t immune to the Earthworms Direct shenanigans. ED has its own brands, but because no-one in the store cares about bulk items – nor the bogans who buy it – sales of National Brand bait dominate.

For unknown reasons, I spent Sunday and Monday repairing and stocking that aisle of the store. Lo and behold, the sales went up, aided by a 12 case (12 container) online order. And yet the managers were very pleased with themselves based on the resulting daily sales increase. The utter ignorance and non-recognition of what’s happening IN THEIR STORE is breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.