Mixed feelings

I’ve become the “go-to” person where I’m cashier. I seem to pick up half of my hours because someone called in or something came up.

I have mixed feelings about being called in to work three hours early today because I was called in so they could fire someone. The person came in to work, clocked in, was put on a register and then pulled off the floor and gone. According to rumors, they had been caught stealing and were then closely monitored to confirm it. I know if they hadn’t been stealing then they wouldn’t have been fired. But what bothers me is the way the did it and that I had a part in it.

They knew at least 30 minutes before the person showed up to work they were going to fire them. I know because that’s when I was called in. Yet they let her come into work and begin her shift like it was any normal day.

I think what bothers me is that I don’t think a person can do that to a person. But a corporation can do to that to someone who is just a number. And I think in the end, we’re all just our six-digit employee numbers.

Tipsy customers

I have a rather sensitive nose. We sale cinnamon brooms and I ask people to leave them in their carriage because they make me sneeze, give me a headache or mess with my breathing in large quantities.
I mention it because I notice the alcohol on people’s breath quickly. One supervisor came in one day with it on their breath, but the worst are the tipsy customers.
One woman put some stuff on the cabinet to be rung and when that was done she just gazed at her cart. Then looked at me. I asked if they were separate sales and she said no. She moved some stuff, then checked the subtotal and forgot she still had stuff to unload.
Meanwhile everyone behind her feels sorry for me, who has to get and keep her attention, while disapproving of her. Here’s a hint: If you want to do shopping and drink alcohol in the same day. Do your shopping first!

Rituals

There was an interesting study done recently about how rituals can make our lives better. They found performing a ritual even made carrots taste better.
When I worked full-time with a set schedule I had a morning ritual of coffee, bagel and journaling. Every morning I got up at the same time and performed this ritual, which made my whole day run smoothly.
Working at two part-time jobs disrupts this ritual because when you end work at 9:30 p.m. at one place and have to be at work at 5 a.m. at the other, you run home to get sleep and get up as late as possible so you won’t be exhausted. In reality, you might fall asleep around 11 p.m. and wake around 4 a.m. You’re not likely to cut into that 5 hours of sleep for your ritual.
I find myself behind on my writing because I worked 14 hours in one day and then 10 hours the next. My feet recover when I prop them up, but my mind takes much longer. I suddenly understand the appeal of the TV show “Wipeout.”
My point is simply this: if you have the luxury of being able to thrive on 35-40 hours a work a week, then you probably have rituals that make your life better. If you barely survive on 70 hours a week, then you’re probably too tired for anything that adds quality to your life.

I lied …

When items leave the store that don’t fit in a bag, we’re supposed to put a “PAID” sticker on it. Today as I was bagging something a customer said I didn’t need to and for some reason I told her it was either the bag or a paid sticker. She went with the bag.

But then she complained about the price stickers on the picture frame glass. I remarked on the sticker that was right in the middle of a piece of artwork. And then she asked the $64,000 question: “Why do they do that?”

I paused knowing stickers on the glass or artwork or anywhere else where they visually damage the product or are difficult to remove are the retail version of a restaurant worker spitting on someone’s food when they complain. But in retail it’s not directed at a particular person, but at the company that pays them so poorly and treats them so bad. It’s not as well thought out as “If I put this sticker here, then nobody will buy the product and the company will lose money.” It’s more of a “they don’t pay me enough to give a shit.”

After a couple of seconds, I lied to the customer. I told them it was because my co-workers were stupid.

Colleagues

Last night after work one of my co-workers commented she would be waiting 45 minutes for a ride because her ride got off work at 9:20 p.m. and had to drive almost an hour to pick her up.
I wasn’t too tired, so I figured I could keep her company. Then another co-worker decided to stay with us.
The three of us where in orientation together, but this was the first personal time we had together in six weeks.
Because we stand in our tiny cashier cubicles the entire time we work and take breaks in shifts, we don’t know anything about our co-workers other than their first names and our common dislike of where we work.

Imagine working somewhere for six weeks and not knowing anything about the person who works 6 feet from you.

The worst thing …

I had a pretty awful schedule this week. On one day, I began replenishment at 5 a.m. and worked until 11 a.m., then had to work as a cashier from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. The next day, I started at 5 a.m. and worked until 9:30 a.m., then worked from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. If I don’t count breaks, that means I worked 12 hours each day making $93 one day and $91.50 the next.

But what makes this the worst part about working part-time jobs is that 4-hour or 4.5-hour gap between the two jobs. In four hours, you might have time to get home and take a quick nap and grab a snack. But the problem is you can’t really rest because you know you have to watch the clock so you get to the second job on time.

And, if you’ll notice, I worked until 9 p.m. the first night and had to be at work at 5 a.m. the next morning. It’s recommended that we get 8 hours of sleep each night, but it’s not about to happen on this stretched schedule because you get home still alert from work and most people need an hour to an hour and a half to wind down. Plus you have to get up, shower and eat breakfast in the morning. So you’re lucky to get 6 to 6.5 hours of sleep in between work.

I talked to two people about this with one agreeing it was the worst part while another said that it’s like the clock is hanging over your head because you’re afraid that you’ll be late to work. So you constantly check to see what time it is.

A 12-hour work day is awful, but if you work straight through and only stop for lunch, then you get mental rest at the end of your day. Let’s say you started working at 5 a.m. and finished at 5 p.m., you could have dinner and watch some TV before going to bed AND still get a solid 8-hour sleep. Not so when the clock hangs over your head.

As someone who once worked full-time where we reported for work at 3 p.m. and worked until midnight, I have to say there is another “worst” part about this when you work part-time in retail. Your schedule changes every week so your body (and mind) does not adapt to the later shift. If any given day can mean working as little as 3 hours at one job to 12 hours at two jobs, you never get into a routine and that can be exhausting.

Doesn’t have to be this way …

I thought I would share this story from CNN Money that compared wages between Wendy’s, Wal-Mart and Costco. And I wanted to share an example of the rudeness you get when workers are paid minimum wage.

A supervisor trainee took over my register while I was on lunch. I cringed when she helped wrap stuff so I would go on break faster. She wadded three sheets of newsprint around dishes leaving parts exposed and the paper too loose to do any good. She dropped it into the sack instead of placing it into the sack. But when I got back was the worst. I’m always cautious with bread because nobody likes smooshed bread from the store. She threw it into the bag AND shoved the bread further in.

When she does price checks, she’s so slow that I’ve started keying in the miscellaneous department code when the price sticker without a code is on the item. Another cashier said she never responds to her calls for a price check. When price checks take too long, customers find that item too much of a bother. Sometimes people in line behind them just abandon their items. Someone who takes too long to do a price check costs the company money.

That particular company has a history of promoting from within, which means poor wages are only marginally increased  as people become supervisors and then managers. And things will rarely change because nobody would accept a pay decrease from somewhere like Costco to become a manager at my store.