Swallow

Bait & Switch store manager rests his powers of simplification upon the following dictum: All we’re doing is serving customers.

No. This is demonstrably false, the evidence for which I provide is the extensive forms required for semi-annual reviews. Endless detail about we serfs’ behavior in the store and in response to required tasks is annotated in excruciating detail.

Key to performance measurement here is one’s functioning as the next grade. In other words, for me to fulfill and above-average standard, I have to be my boss. This, for the equivalent of folding sweaters at The Gap.

The notion that “All we are doing is serving customers” is risible. Serving customers is the necessarily annoying but logically least of our job; satisfying an impossible standard for pay that’s below standard in an environment of lowest cost and ancient technology is the hard part.

Yep. Bait & Switch. Not just for customers.

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?