Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Three days in ...

I've already learned the ins and outs of retail. Not for nothing am I a genius-level intellect. The rules of retail are simple. 1) Try not to do any work. 2) When forced to work, work as slowly as possibly but make it seem that you are actually taking special care to do high-quality work. 3) Avoid like the plague any managers who try to rope you into dirty, nasty and unpleasant tasks.

Tuesday, I "assigned" myself to the Sporting Goods section instead of into the general labor pool where the other cashiers were working. After all, I might break a nail or something slinging those heavy shelves around! And this princess absolutely cannot walk around on her feet all day in heels! Sporting Goods is pretty easy duty.

The Sporting Goods section is run by a fairly easygoing, laid-back man who understands that everyone is new and no one knows what the heck they're doing, so he has of patience. He also is grateful for whatever help I'm able to give since he doesn't have much other regular help. Tuesday was spent putting in those little pegs that merchandise goes on.

Think of a Wal-Mart. Now think of a 220,000 square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter and think of how many little pegs full of merchandise are hanging in that store. Staggering. And they have to be hung in a PRECISE pattern. The pattern is dictated by a piece of paper called a "modular," so named because each four-foot-wide shelving unit, however tall, is called a "modular unit." Now, these modulars are printed on a regular sheet of paper but are extremely crappy quality and in type so small as to make a Smurf blush with shame. You have to read the modular to put up shelves, put of pegs, then attach the merchandise labels to the pegs and shelves.

Today was fun. We got in and discovered that at some point overnight someone had gone around to many departments just taking things and/or rearranging pegs, shelves and other items. About five assistant managers were about to blow their stacks right then and there. There is no greater pain than having spent two hours putting 100 pegs into a pegboard shelf then coming in to find it completely rearranged. And before you can put the merchandise tags on, you have to rearrange the pegs. Nice!

And another thing. There's the truly EVIL man from headquarters operations that is just going around randomly grabbing employees to go "help out" in places. Now, "helping out" usually involves doing something that junkies who hadn't had a fix in four days would turn down. Yeah. Tuesday, some people got roped into cleaning up the "boneyard," the island of lost parts in the middle of the store. Unfortunately, it was near the Sporting Goods section, so I had to take the long way around any time I had to go look for a particular shelf or run an errand.

And this man, who I swear is a doppleganger for Lucifer himself, will just walk up to you, demand to know what you are doing and then re-assign you. I see him coming and immediately duck down the nearest aisle. I keep trying to have something in my hands and looking like I'm headed the exact opposite direction. There is such an art to looking busy. You have NO idea how important that is.

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