The Visit

“It didn’t go well.” 

“What do you mean it didn’t go well?” 

“She was pissed off at the state of the store.” 

“What was wrong with it?” 

“We had boxes of clearance that we were scanning out to send off to the clearance center in Milwaukee.” 

 “And she was upset about that?”

“Said it looked messy. So now this week we have two more corporate visits.” 
I nearly walked out in that moment. Not only was it absurd that they were giving us corporate visits on one of the worst weekends to do so, but on the weekend our Regional Visual Manager and District Manager were on vacation, and only days after we were experiencing the trauma of our store manager abruptly leaving us. We had no leadership. We were understaffed because of a sudden outbreak of bronchitis. All of us were at our wits end. Considering we were running the store on a busy sale weekend with only three associates and a manager I thought we had done pretty well all things considered. The clearance product was all packed, scanned, and ready to ship by the end date. So there were a few boxes out on the floor? There was someone at the station working on them while they were there. Corporate had no reason to complain, but corporate always complains. They all do. They try to rule with an iron fist of fear, and never with actual empathetic leadership skills that FastCompany magazine always told me about. 

That day, I had three managers for other stores come to visit and help out. I was called in every which direction. I felt like I had accomplished nothing, and yet, things were getting done. Were it not for that and the fact that I had only just bought my house and needed a stable job, I would have quit that day. Thankfully I had made no rash decisions. Thankfully I had gotten the help I needed in order to get a better handle on the issues I knew my store had, but didn’t have the staff hands, or staff that cared, to get done. 

What pisses me off about the whole thing, is that most of the time when we want feedback or need help, we get ignored. Half the time our e-mails just don’t get answered. Half the time our store managers don’t actually get us answers, or pretend they did when they never asked. It isn’t until after they’ve suddenly gone and quit we suddenly get told all the lies we were lead to believe. Then we are thrown into a chaos so panicked that we end up making things worse. 

At the same time, they do too. Corporate comes in with lists upon lists of issues. Things we simply cannot get done with so few hands. We are missing two managers. A store manager, and a Home Store manager. Our last Home Store Manager up and moved to California. Living the dream with her BF, and probably enjoying a Bloody Mary on the porch of her LA apartment hearing traffic beneath her feet and enjoying warmer weather than we could even comprehend in Wisconsin at this time of year. 

Part of me is so envious of her. 

So I didn’t quit. I’m still there. Discouraged that my applications get rejected and that there isn’t much out there to switch to. I’ve considered going completely design freelance. Still, with how much Papyrus love there is out there in this town, I’m not sure this town is ready for good design. Still, I’m so burned out on work. Black Friday is coming and I was hoping to be gone by now. I suppose I have no reason to complain. I suppose I’m just not in the places I wanted to be because I’m not meant to be. Or am I just not trying hard enough? Am I just not aiming high enough? 

I’ll never be sure. All I know is what isn’t happening. It’s discouraging, especially during a week that has had its fill of discouragement. 

Bra Wall

I heard the wind pick up and the light tapping of what I assumed was frozen precipitation in my window. A dim light was cast through the gap between the blanket I was using as a makeshift curtain and the … Continue reading

A Waterfall in Men’s Wear

We stood next to each other. The water poured into the tarp with a soft rainfall patter that could lull a tired mind into a sound sleep. I looked at the remnants of the snow trickling out of the ceiling. It would have been beautiful, if it weren’t such a stressful situation.

I spoke quietly concerned about how long he had been there.

“How you holding up?” I asked.

“It was rough. I don’t want to be here now.”

“How many hours you going on?”

“I’ve been clocked in for fourteen.”

I sighed sympathetically and nodded. I hadn’t been in the store when the water first came through. “Like a waterfall,” some of the associates told me. Then again, anything even slightly interesting in the store became a fish tale meant only to become larger and larger as the days went by.

“Did it get upstairs too?” I asked anxiously.
“Yes, but not by the posters. All your posters are fine.”
“Oh good. Thank you.”

I turned and made a B line for the stairs anyway. Pushing through the swing doors to the back stock room where the “magic” happened. I practically was sprinting up the steps to make sure more leaks weren’t up there by our paper collateral. I could hardly get a missing item sent to me as it was through our system. If I had to get EVERYTHING replaced I had no idea what I was going to do. I held my breath, and tried not to let any tears of disappointment come before I knew what the situation was.

I saw no other leaks. I looked for about an hour so I was pretty sure. I went down stairs, becoming ever more aware of the scent of mold in the air. “Mildew.” I said aloud as I entered the office. I could feel it in my breathing and considered carrying my inhaler around for the day, just in case. My manager nodded absentmindedly at my word, but I’m not sure she recognized what I had even said. She was exhausted. In all night trying to make sure the buckets didn’t overflow with our maintenance guy and my other manager.

It wasn’t until about 10am that I heard the roofers on the roof. Banging and sealing. Sawing and stomping around. Customers looked up every moment the patter of pounding would stop. Then they would make their way to the back of the Men’s department to take a look at the damage. We kept the lights out over the men’s dress-wear. The last thing we needed was a fire as well as a leak. So there was very little the customers could see. Not that there were many customers to begin with.

When the roofers were finished inspecting the management was made aware of the situation. Apparently there was a seam in the roof that had so much snow melt that it no longer held the weight of what was draining into the storm drain from above. So the incline seam ripped open, and poured all over our floor. None of the merchandise was damaged. Things were fine other than a few ceiling tiles would need replacing and we needed to keep an eye on things while the roofers finished up.

Things were pretty much back to normal by the time I left at 3pm. I was just glad everything was over. I was glad that nothing was damaged. I began to wonder how much longer we were going to stick around in that failing mall. The place was a mess. People hadn’t paid rent for their stores in ages. It was outdated. Poorly managed. The only two stores in the mall that were sticking around and paying were us and an appliance store that had been going strong for a little while, but was suddenly going bankrupt because of how little traffic that side of town was getting. The place was ghostly. It wasn’t going to stick around for much longer. I couldn’t imagine it would.

On the drive home I noticed my check engine light was on. I sighed. It was going to be one of those weeks. At least I had friends coming on the weekend. For that I was thankful. I had something to look forward to.