Sunday, December 17, 2006

I can't really be bothered posting much anymore, to tell the truth. But I was thinking that now I am in the office full time, I may have to change the focus and content of my blog... I had a few good names in mind while called in last minute at work today, but I've forgotten them already...

So I was going to go shopping (again, you say?!) today, but was called by Jen around 10 wondering where I was, as I was supposed to open Sunshine at 9. Extended trade the week before Christmas. Oh. Ok. Well, I wish someone had told me. I had told them again and again, Charlene, our area administrator, Sunshine, everyone, that even though I am full time in Head Office, I am still happy to work weekends, as long as they tell me! And no one CCs me on the rosters, or messages me to let me know (like I asked them to), so how am I supposed to know I am supposed to drive 40mins to Sunshine to pick up a key to open!? Honestly. So we didn't end up opening til about 11:20, poor Jen waiting outside, getting abused by customers. I ended up arriving at 11:30 after trying to call other staff who might have a key. The manager didn't pick up, the other girl opening tomorrow was away as well. What can you do. It was busy ALL DAY. And of course, the store was a mess, and I don't know what they were doing all week, but then I had to console myself it wasn't my problem.

We did our best to get the rest of the stock out and I managed to get rid of two trolleys of rubbish, and tidy and sort out the abyss that was the back room. I must say, we did pretty well, the store wasn't a complete disaster when we left. We served customers (well, Jen and Skye did, anyway!) and tidied and tried to re-merchandise the store. To some success. Well. Oh well. We can only do what we can only do. And I was so nice and cheery, I was impressed with myself! The coffee and/or the drugs, who cares! Christmas is fun! I am obviously still giddy.

Yes, Skye is still around. Haven't seen much of her, think she was at Howlong for a couple of shifts, but we hadn't seen her on the rosters in a while and assumed she'd either left or been let go. But nope...still here. She's a nice girl and nothing against her. Jen still thinks she's slow and slack, but I was more than happy for her to stay at the counter and out through the sales while I went to tidy and clear out the back room. Fine with me. Jen was reorganising the shoes and re-merchandising the women's section. We were on a roll!

Well, The Owner. Friday he drove the fire engine red Ferrari. Don't know the model type, but it was a two seater, and you could see the engine or whatever from the windows of the back side windows. I don't know if that makes sense, but I thought it was pretty crazy. And there was also the black, bigger Mercedes S500, with roof rack and sled(?) on the top. You know, those big plastic case thingers that you'd probably put your snow stuff in. And there was also the big Toorak Tractor white BMW 4WD (or SUV, if you like). And his mum apparently has a Bentley too. Yet to see one of those at work though.

Hot day again tomorrow, wonder what car it'll be then?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Flavour of the Week

One of my jobs in admin is to send, collect and separate the mail. Of course, The Owner's in tray is at the top, and my "Customer Feedback" tray is at the bottom "where we belong", according to my departing trainer.

The Owner is notoriously private and paranoid and doesn't like to disclose his name or address to anyone, which I suppose, is why he has correspondence forwarded to his work address and email addresses such as the standard as well as and To highlight his sense of humour, of course.

Well, in the process of sorting his mail, I came across a thick catalogue, obviously printed on heavy, glossy paper. The plastic wrap was silver coloured so as to ensure privacy and confidentiality of the documents. I was really curious then. What could be so personal and private that he is having delivered to his work address? And Head Office, no less. So I pulled at the plastic and peeked in from the top, it was a Bentley catalogue. Because of course, everyone needs to update their Bentley with each season!

It is rumoured that he has several Bentleys and other assorted flash cars. This was told to me by a former staff member (made 'redundant' and since quit) who was sent to his house to drop off something, and was so impressed with his collection of cars (as her boyfriend would've been so jealous) that she took photos with her digital camera. Then she looked up and realised, 'Sh*t! There's a camera staring right down at me" Knowing The Owner, it was probably being beamed to his home office or something.

Well, given the hot weather today, the car of choice was the canary yellow, convertible Porsche Carrera. The other day it was the silver Mercedes S500. One for each day of the week, huh. Don't worry if you forget something at home, you can just send one of your "blondes" to go home and fetch it for you.

The blondes thing: our reception/admin department has our open office area right outside The Owner's office, and so he often strolls out and gets us to do random tasks of his. Like clean his office. Or stand at attention while he tests something. Or work out how to operate the spiffy new label machine he ordered be bought as he couldn't find the less new one. It's not uncommon to hear him yell out (as you always hear him before you see him) "Now, I need a blonde to help me...." Some staff are his favourites. He even addresses them casually by nickname or surname. The admin girls all happen to be blonde. Except me, I am replacing one of them, so I suppose now he can't use that demand anymore. In any case, when he does, I ignore him, as I am obviously not blond. I have work to do. And so I do it.

"Wow, a Bentley catalogue... I wish I could afford a Bentley."
ponder for a second... "I wish I could afford to eat..."
I realise that final comment would probably be funnier if I was big... haha. "I'm wasting away..."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Office Slave

Well, I finally got a full time position at The Company, but not in stores! I'm now a full timer in the Admin Team at HO, no longer in Operations or in stores, which isn't bad in itself. My role involves answering customer and staff feedback emails, as well as general admin work as well, which will be introduced a bit later. A bit tedious and brainless so far, but there is more than enough excitement in the gossip and office politics. The Owner and his presence is entertaining enough. More on that later.

So now I am no longer a retail slave, having worked my last store shift this afternoon, and am now an Office Slave. Suits me fine. No more battling for a car park during Christmas, crazy, stressed out, impatient customers, and I can finally go to the toilet whenever I want!

Monday, November 20, 2006


I haven't posted in a while because I've been working pretty much all day every day for the past two weeks and have been too tired and lazy to rant. I guess that's an effective way to minimise dissent amongst the ranks: keep them too busy and overworked to have time to complain.

I've been working at Sunshine, Mooball, and helping set up a new clearance store in Blowhard. And then I've also been at the new HO helping Helena with the weekly reports (which were a few weeks behind as a result of the move) and even had the pleasure of 'meeting' The Owner, which I suppose deserves a post of its own. I've also been picking up shifts at The Supermarket, being a checkout chick, and getting to know more about The Company and maybe beginning to take on a bigger role and being trained in all aspects.

I've just finished a shift at Mooball, as Charlene roped me into doing (training new staff to do) stocktake today, and I will be back again tomorrow night. I just had the great fortune of 'doing' stocktake last week at Sunshine. Looks like I'll be doing the rounds where I'm needed. Anyway, it's 10:30, so I want to have some dinner!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


In typical fashion, The Company, or rather, its Owner, likes to keep things secretive and keep its staff in the dark as to what exactly is going on. Even if it concerns them. So, I rocked up to HO a few minutes past nine (I'm still in the 'sleeping-in-can't-be-bothered' phase) after having rushed there and broken many speeding limits. They were packing the place up. I had heard they were moving, but Helena said it wasn't confirmed yet, as The Owner changes his mind like the weather. I was NOT impressed. I could've still been asleep. I had a coffee in preparation for some straining boredom and brain work. I even made my lunch! Helena called me last week to ask me to come in on Thursday, as now Grant and the other Upstairs people want their reports by Friday morning. I said that was fine. So I made the effort to go only to be turned away by the removalists.

Someone warned/joked to me when I first started at The Company, that they treat us like mushrooms. Huh? I was confused. Hadn't heard that one before.

"They keep you in the dark and feed you sh*t" they replied with a knowing, cynical laugh.

I was to understand all too soon what they meant by that. I wasn't that surprised when the office was empty and I obviously didn't know. At least I got my payslip today, and they have 'overpaid' me an extra 2 hours, so that makes up for some of the trouble I went to, I suppose. And all the unpaid overtime we do.

Today was just one of those crappy days. I suppose it started this morning. Then I went to The Supermarket to talk to Cindy to ask to move to night fill, like Trev had said. I ended up picking up an extra shift and covering 11AM-6PM. That was fine. I went back home to change into my uniform, picked up a newspaper on the way and was back again in plenty of time. I was early, and it was busy down at the checkouts, so I went down earlier anyway to speak to Cindy. She was less than impressed with the fact that I had just stayed back on Friday night. Without authorisation, blah blah, you can't just do that, you won't get paid, blah blah. No, you can't just move to night fill, because you were hired for checkouts. Well, I was less than impressed with her response too. And here beginneth the ranting:

No one had told me I was hired for checkouts. My initial 5 minute interview with Therese, the previous Checkout Manager just asked me where I'd like to work, I specified night fill. Sally, the hiring manager and 2IC (2nd in charge) at our induction training, asked us where we'd like to work, I said night fill, as I'm mostly available nights as I work days at The Company. So then I turned up for training with Cindy, who had just been transferred to that store that day, and Sally had only told her that day that I'd be coming in for training. So she wasn't at all prepared for me.

I had no The Supermarket shirt, no locker, they literally threw a random shirt at me (I wanted a short sleeve, but no matter) and left me there, promptly forgetting about me. I was waiting outside their office, confused. So where do I go from here? What do I do now? Once one of the other guys noticed me waiting outside, he interrupted whatever important meeting they were having and told her I was still outside. First I was put with some of the other Checkout Chicks and 'helped' pack bags for a while. She didn't have the training books for me to work with on the POS. Then she just put me on a terminal/checkout and had me work through the theory and exercises. Sure, whatever. I can do that. So I did that for about 6 hours in total (over two shifts) and finished it all, but still had little idea of how to process sales on the POS by myself. What if an item doesn't scan? What if the customer says they are discounted? What if I need change? So after a while, they left me on my checkout, with a 'L' plate and I figured it out eventually, with much help from the Checkout Chicks on the next lane.

Back to today... So when I went downstairs 15minutes early to talk to Cindy about transferring, she didn't recognise me at first. The other staff had told her I wanted to talk to her about transferring to the night fill department when I went back for my uniform. She asked what I was after, and when I answered, it clicked. 'Oh, I remember you, Ranter. I trained you'. I was flabbergasted. What?! You TRAINED me?! You left me at the Checkout to go through the training POS and said to go look for you if I had any trouble. The computer froze on me several times, I went to go look for help, and you'd already gone home for the day. I stood there for hours going through the POS training and you didn't even come to check up on me. I was given no introduction to the store, where things were, where I could put my things, the clock on machine, where to collect pays, who to ask if I had any enquries... And you think you TRAINED me?! I was cross. As far as I'm concerned, she logged on the terminal for me to start my training, and that was it. I didn't see her for another week after my initial training shift. Thanks for nothing. And then she tells me off for working in a different department without consulting anyone, and I should never, ever do that. I'm sorry, I didn't know. The guys asked if I wanted to stay back, as they were short staffed, and I agreed. I thought I was being helpful. So sorry. (note sarcasm)

'How long have you been here?'
'Three weeks'
'No, you can't transfer to night fill, you've been hired for checkouts'
'But I wasn't told that when I first came in. I told Sally and Therese that I wanted to work night fill, and Trev said they needed another person'
'Well, I'll have to ask Sally about that. You can't just go changing departments by yourself'

Well, sor-ry. I thought they wanted us to experience different departments and be multi-skilled so we can be called in to cover shifts if necessary. Quite frankly, checkouts suck because the meat and food stinks, is squishy, slimy and generally gross. And customers ... well, I wanted a position at The Supermarket so I wouldn't have to deal with them anymore. I get enough crap at The Company as it is.

Blogging about today is making me angry (and I was fine before I thought about it again) and I am tired. I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bad things come in threes...

Ooh, I was so pumped Friday night! I worked 9-midnight on Checkouts, and then the night fill guys came in to purchase their stuff just before close. I was chatting to them, as obviously I am still quite new... and Trev asked me jokingly if I'd like to work on night fill. I jumped at the chance! Literally! It was earlier that very day, as I was woken from my afternoon nap (just cos I can) by Girl, who told me to change out of my Checkout Chick position and move to night fill, as I had originally intended. And then, just like that, I was offered the position by chance! Good thing I agreed to work that crap 9-to-close shift.

It was pretty quiet from 11PM, so I filled the time scrubbing down the registers and conveyor belts. Fun. Random crusted-on juices. Had a few interesting encounters selling smokes. Asking people for ID, and selling smokes to whacked out, stoned kids younger than me! I was reluctant, and quite glad when we had sold out of the brands that they liked. Unfortunately for me, most people with that kind of addiction will just go for a stronger one. I have no idea about cigarettes, brands, papers, milligrams of nicotine? tobacco?, and what the packets look like. So, I took a while to find the smokes and papers they were after. 'On your left' 'Right in front of you' -Er, yeah, be more specific, stinky. I'm still new and haven't even worked on the service desk before ok. Stop smoking!

So Trev took me on to work night fill, as I think one of the other girls is on leave, and they always need more competent, efficient staff anyway. I was shown how to use The Supermarket safety knife, disassemble and reassemble it, change the blade, and important safety aspects like not to keep it in your pocket. Of course, yet another case of what is procedure and what is actually done. Like stacking shelves, which proved relatively simple, once I could figure out where the category numbers and products were displayed. Who knew there were so many types of cake sprinkles. I learned quickly from Ellen, what is procedure for stacking and what is done. Random stuff in the wrong spot where you need to stack your goods: move it to the next random section. Random stuff shoved way at the back of the shelf from months/years ago, leave it there or bring it forward. Rip a hole in your pack of sprinkles while shelving it? Chuck it on the floor and the cleaners will pick it up. Can't fit all of your items into the one price point area? Put it on top of the next one. People will find them if they want it.

It was quite a lot of fun. Laid back, casual, I was forewarned that there was lots of cussing. The muesli bar aisle:
'If you're not a swearer now, you will be by the time you finish that aisle' Trev laughed as I moved on to the next aisle.
'Why?' I asked innocently. Muesli bars, all in boxes, looked easy enough
'There's sh*t everywhere!' he chuckled as he walked away.
Sure enough, those evil satan spawn kids had opened boxes to take out muesli bars, shoved random junk food on the shelves, and stuff would just fall down on you as you were stacking. There was no escaping it.

I might have stayed later if not for work at The Company at Sunshine the next morning (all day), and Ellen did a great job of making me feel welcome and showing me the ropes, keeping me entertained with her hilarious customer service stories and crazy customers and crazy supervisors in Deli. No one wants to work in Deli, because it stinks. And then you end up stinking.

Well, turned out Saturday was a crappier day than I could've imagined.

I was so pumped at 3AM when I arrived home and was in bed, that I couldn't sleep. Chatted on the phone for a bit, and then decided I'd better try and sleep anyway around 4AM, seeing as I'd have to get up by 8 at the latest, to get to Sunshine by 9. Oops. Overslept my alarm and woke up at 9. Holy moly. I am never this disorganised and late for work! Managed to make it to Sunshine half an hour late, only to find Jessi, one of the new girls, sitting outside the store. Turns out she didn't have a key to open either. It was her first shift at Sunshine. I'd called the store to let the girls know I was running late, but no answer. No wonder. She called me when I was on my way, and said she was inside. Or there was a misunderstanding to that effect. She didn't know what to do and just waited for me to arrive as she assumed I'd have a key. I'd assumed one of the other girls would.

So, 9:30AM, the shopping centre starts to fill up, but we are still stuck outside. I paged Charlene for help, and even called her on her mobile. No answer, no call back, despite the urgency of the message. I didn't realise she was on leave and had gone away for a few days. I hadn't been working since Wednesday and left my key for the other staff, as I'd assumed one of the other new girls, Karen, who was working Friday night and also supposed to be working Saturday, would take a key. I didn't want to keep my key if someone else needed it. Oops, I was wrong. Turns out Karen had asked for the day off or something. Well, no one bothered to tell us. Oops.

There has been an ongoing mix up and change of rostering and shifts as staff quit, are hired and trained and not put on the roster, and when new staff are put on the roster without having finished their training. So of course, no one bothers to tell me this, so despite my feeling responsible for the smooth running of the store without a manager or experienced staff (it's just me, Skye and Alicia, new but extremely competent, experienced full-timer, and occasionally experienced staff Gina and Annie from Innaloo and Howlong), I can't find covers and know what's going on when no one tells us. And I'm not in every day. So needless to say, there have been more than a few hiccups.

Close to 10AM. Store still not open. Couldn't get hold of Charlene, so I paged Gemma, and she called back straight away. I explained the situation, we tried to get hold of Alicia, who doesn't work weekends, but when I finally managed to get her number from another store her phone went to voicemail. I called Gemma back in desperation, hoping not to inconvenience her to come in and open our store with her master key that all AMs have. She was 45 minutes away, so could probably arrive at 10:45. A few minutes later, Alicia calls back, after I've left a few strange messages on her phone, she was in the shower. What a surprise to get so many missed calls early Saturday morning. It can only be work. Thankfully Alicia could come by in 15 minutes, and I quickly called Gemma back and let her know she didn't have to come over anymore. So we managed to open up by 10:30. I felt so bad for Alicia, having to come in, but at least Gemma authorised her to be paid for driving in to open for us. And I bought her a box of consolation/apology chocolates as well. I was so embarrassed. Not only was I late, but I should've had the key to open. Charlene also called back as well, I was embarrassed to bother her about it on her day off and try to make sense of the situation as well. The music from the other stores was pumping (deafening) and it was hard to communicate. Yikes.

You'd think the day could only get better after such a disastrous start. Wrong! About 2:10, Gemma called me back at Sunshine and asked if I could go to Iron Knob, a new clearance store that'd opened 4 days ago. Apparently there were only 2 new girls on and they were in the weeds. And one of their computers had crashed and the other was going at snail's pace. So I agreed to go, and left a reluctant and hesitant Jessi on her own for 3 hours. It was her first shift at Sunshine, and I didn't want to leave her on her own either. And I didn't think she'd be able to cash up alone. It hadn't been that busy at Sunshine either, but I suppose I'm used to being on my own when the place is swarming with customers. I forget how more than 3 separate customers in store can be confronting and stressful to new staff.

Followed Gemma's instructions to Iron Knob, out in the sticks, got slightly lost and had no idea where I was headed, but had faith in Gemma's instructions and kept going. I arrived at about 10 to 3 and both the girls went on their lunch breaks then, and I sorted out the manual sales from the broken computer, and continued to process sales at the counter. Thank goodness the clearance stores are self serve.

Turned out that the day wasn't going to get any easier. The slow computer certainly didn't help. There were certainly less customers, but cash up proved a major problem. The other computer had crashed, and some sales had been processed on it during the day, so in order to balance the second computer and the cash and EFT takings, I added them all onto the 2nd (slow, but working) computer. In theory they should all balance. But the EFTPOS machine hadn't settled from the night before and were adding the previous day's totals to Saturday's takings. So our EFT amount was a massive amount more than the actual sales, which was obviously wrong... Hmmm so we stayed til 6:15 trying to figure it out, with the help of Gemma on the phone. In the end, we concluded that it couldn't be balanced that night, but the girls, and Caroline, manually added up the EFT takings today and found the problem, and it was all sorted.

Meanwhile, Jessi at Sunshine was still on her own, I didn't manage to get back to cash up with her, but was able to talk her through it over the phone. I think she was so nervous she couldn't think straight. She couldn't peel the plastic backing off to seal the banking bag, get the money to balance, fill out the daily summary paperwork, or find the key to close the store. In the end, I just told her to leave it, and I'd fix it up tomorrow. Sigh. What a day. I had plans to meet my friends at 7 and it took me about 45 minutes from Iron Knob to get to my friends' place. I didn't even get to go home and change or have dinner. What a day!

Hey, at least I haven't been cranky with the customers lately! And I think with all the running around and stress I may have redeemed myself for being late. Let's hope!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Head in the Skye

Charlene has decided to give Skye another chance and has asked me to help with her training and so she now has two weeks to prove herself. So Skye has been put on full time hours in an attempt to expose her to as much experience and opportunity as possible. Problem is, I've still got one more exam and am not yet available full time. So I've only got Wednesdays and Sundays available to train her. It has proven to be a challenge, as her attention span is frustratingly short.

Understandably, there is a lot of information to take in, but she seems unwilling and lacks the sense of responsibility and initiative required to be able to survive running a store alone. She even told us unabashedly that she only got the job because her mother put in her resume for her online and applied for the job. She had no knowledge about The Company and didn't even want the job. It was out of sheer luck that she made it through the group interview and beat out the other more eager and needy of the job. She admits that she just wants a casual job. I assume by that she means no responsibility. She seems quite happy to stand around doing nothing. I think that is what her promotions job entails. Standing around looking pretty talking to people. Unfortunately, that is not what The Company expects of its staff.

So despite my best efforts to go through her training checklist, she doesn't put in the corresponding effort. She has her induction test, testing her knowledge of all that she has covered in her 20hours training at Howlong with Darren, and ongoing in store training with us at Sunshine. Yet she is still very unsure of how to complete a cash up and other relatively straightforward tasks.

In my opinion, her results in the induction training will determine whether or not she will be kept on. She exclaims that she doesn't think she will be kept on (she had been 'forgotten' on the roster for two weeks, as unbeknownst to her, it was expected that she would not be kept on) and has even less faith in herself to pass the test. Either way, I don't think she cares if she makes it or not. She left it four weeks to follow up not being paid at all. And that's the kind of slack attitude that I can't stand dealing with.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Money to burn

Having not grown up wealthy and being taught to be frugal, it often shocks me how people can spend so much money in one go. Sometimes I'd be surprised when my customers would spend $2-300 in one transaction on a few pairs of shoes, or on a few shirts. 'Wow, that's my whole week's wages.' (I judge many purchases and potential purchases by how long it'd take for me to work for). But what has been more shocking for me is what I have observed in my job as a Checkout Chick.

I recently scored myself a job at a major supermarket chain, The Supermarket, but unbeknownst to me, they put me in the customer service section (checkouts) instead of the higher-paid night fill department. Working on the checkouts is pretty monotonous. I originally thought handling all the smelly, squishy meat and other food and endless plastic bags would drive me insane. But then, like I say, you block things out and do what you have to do to come out the other end with sanity intact. The plastic bags sadden me, but I try not to think about it. What is less easy to think about is the amount people will spend on groceries and what it is that they are buying.

Customers who shop at The Supermarket usually have a significant amount of money to spend, according to some survey results I learned of in my training. I've processed several sales totalling close to or over $200. Their items poured out of the trolley and filled up both my front and rear conveyor belts. Hey, I'm new and therefore slow, but the amount of 'food' these people bought was shocking. But the packing and scanning itself wasn't difficult. There were almost no fresh produce items to manually enter and weigh. The whole sale consisted of assorted chips, biscuits, soft drinks, lollies and chocolates. Everything part of the sixth food group, artery clogging. I thought, maybe they're having a party, what with all the soft drink and chips and snacks. But then I shut my mouth and didn't say anything, because this is what some people live off. Colourful packaged goods. All in plastic bags, thanks.

We're pretty self sufficient and grow many of our own vegetables organically, and sometimes bake our own bread. The most common things we buy are milk, Weet-Bix and Milo. And then we buy in bulk when it's on sale! So to see people spending hundreds of dollars on 'groceries' with one lone piece of broccoli was quite confronting. Especially when they, and their children, were already overweight and bordering on obesity. But we can't discriminate against our customers either, and refuse to help them. It'd kill me to sell people cigarettes, so I don't think I'd like to work at the service counter. I have a hard enough time selling overweight people more junk food. In plastic bags.

Friday, October 27, 2006

How original!

Having finished my work for the day at HO, I offered to do odd jobs for Grant. That day, it was going through applications for Area Manager positions, as The Company prepares for its rapid expansion and growth of clearance stores. Basically, I was just stapling together applicants' cover sheets and resumes. Mindless, but hey, I don't mind for $17 an hour. No problem.

What I did notice was that many of the resumes were VERY generic. I lost count of how many resumes were created using Microsoft Word templates. Not that it's a problem, as the content and the candidate's relevant experience would be what counts, but it can be difficult to remember one particularly outstanding candidate from another when their resume looked just the same as the other hundred in my pile. I'm a visual person- I will remember info for tests by where and how they are located on my page, there were a mere handful of resumes that stood out visually.

So my 2 cents to people applying for upper management (hey, we're talking AREA MANAGER here, salary $90K plus) positions, go all out with your resumes! Do them in colour with interesting lines and headers and all that. We're scrooges, but DO print in colour! Keep it professional, and for crying out loud, if you've got 7 pages of experience and details, put page numbers on each page. Standing out from the crowd is the first step to getting noticed.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sink or Swim

I have to give feedback to Charlene on how Skye, one of the new staff are doing. Admittedly, I've only worked with her, what 3 times now, but she isn't the brightest of new staff. I don't think she's finished her training with Darren (reluctant, unqualified training manager, as there ARE no more managers) at Howlong. She seems completely baffled by how to do the simplest things, and seems easily confused. Not just that, she isn't the most eager learner. Jen detests her, and thinks she's just a big boobed bimbo. Apparently she dropped out of high school and also does nails and events promotions. But hey, that doesn't mean she's not extremely intelligent. She's just not as fast to catch on or as active as I'd like. But I have high expectations.

So I'll be at HO tomorrow, and will have to call Charlene to let her know how Skye's going. I'm a bit concerned about the weight and effect my feedback and comments and observations will have on whether or not she stays. But then again, as the new manager or acting manager at Sunshine (woo hoo for me) I'm not sure if I'd have the patience to train her... Ongoing training of the new managers that are already clued up are fine.

I've been a bit slack with the posts lately. Some family from overseas are over, so I didn't cover a shift at Innaloo today, and I'm still busy with assignments. I'll get back to posting regularly as soon as I finish all of them, and my last exam!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Making the cut

There has been a huge influx of new staff, training and working full time and casual in our region. Sunshine, Innaloo, Howlong and Nevertire have all now got several new staff working in store in preparation for new clearance stores opening nearby in the next few weeks and months. This means that several of the regular staff have been moved around to other stores to accommodate for the training of the new staff. They have been less than appreciative, as many staff, like Jen and I prefer to work at Sunshine. I'm still there regularly now, but Jen's gone to Howlong.

There has been a huge increase in wage costings as The Company prepares to hire and train new staff to run and work in the new stores. It should be interesting to see, as the majority of staff in the new stores will be brand new staff and unfamiliar with The Company and its operations. I've met a few of the newbies, and some are really great, and I am beginning to be able tell whether or not they will make it. Andie had that skill honed to perfection. She could tell while training them and within the first few weeks whether or not they'd make the cut and last the distance. I wonder what she thought of me when I was new and training.

Caroline will be moving from Innaloo to work in one of the new clearance stores with a whole bunch of new staff. I am still at Sunshine for the time being, I hope I don't get moved over there to fill the gaps (they still don't have a manager). I offered to work full time at Sunshine over the holidays in place of a manager, and assist new staff in ongoing training and manager training as well, so hopefully Charlene will take me up on the offer. I've been helping out with a couple of new staff, ensuring they know how to carry out laybys, product returns, etc properly, but honestly, one of the girls in particular... driving me insane in the 5 hours I worked with her on Sunday. You'd think she hadn't been trained at all! She had to ask for help with the simplest things. Even Jen can tell that she won't make it...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I wanna be a Supermodel

Talk about getting paid to stand around looking pretty.

Outside our store at Sunshine are 3 newly opened clothing stores, making our corner of the shopping centre much busier and very 'fashion-oriented'. One of the large stores next door is a trendy teens/young women's store with affordably priced clothing and accessories.

As a new marketing/advertising scheme, they have staff (or models), standing outside in the entertainment area on a platform as 'human models'. They strike various poses in the store's new season outfits, and carry shopping bags with "get this look at Valley Girl". The circular platform they pose on is probably a metre in diameter, and 3 models (sometimes, guys, interestingly from a store called Valley GIRL) strike various poses for the majority of the day's trade. Of course, they alternate the models every now and then.

In all, an interesting concept, and it has certainly garnered a lot of attention for the store, though whether it has increased their sales is unknown. The first day they were there, many people would just stand and stare at them. I'd walked past them thinking they were just mannequins, and what a strange pose for a mannequin. And then I stopped and looked, and saw that they were people. Oh. Whatever, and walked on. I was taking out rubbish and had things to do. They weren't partitioned off yet, as they probably didn't envision any trouble.

On later days, they were roped off so spectators couldn't get too close, I think perhaps people were trying to talk to them... but terrible teenage girls being terrible teenage girls were apparently being nasty and even throwing food and things at them! I was appalled. What a completely disgusting, subhuman thing to do. Why would you go and torture someone like that? For kicks? Do they not recognise that these models are also people? That they are just doing their job, not hurting anyone or anything like that? It was beyond comprehension.

Well, more disturbingly, I saw one man crouched down, taking a photo of them with his digital camera. That stopped my train of thought. What the?! I slowed down and turns out he wasn't just taking a photo of the teenage models, but his daughter for some unfathomable reason thought it'd be cool to be a model too, and she'd hopped up onto the platform, posed, pre-pubescant hips jutted out, handbag in place with the trademark vacant look. Daddy's little girl. She couldn't have been more than 10, yet her outfit was a tween hip-and-trendy number, little camisole, lowrider bootcut jeans, bare midriff and a cute little handbag. I honestly wonder what could possibly be in these little girls' handbags. Probably their lipgloss or something.

Young girls, dolled up like Barbie for a day of shopping, dressing like wanna be promiscuous adults, posing on a platform for their picture to be taken... something about that just gave me the shivers. I suppose what can be observed of the people in shopping centres bespeaks the advancement of our civilisation. What a scary thought.

Friday, October 13, 2006


After some persistence, my wishes have been granted! I've noticed that we are now rostered on 15 minutes before open, and today, I was rostered and will be paid til 9:15PM! That's a full 15 minutes to cash up! It's about time too. I wonder if I'd be pushing it to be paid overtime rates for the 15minutes after 9PM. Either way, I'm satisfied. This is just one small step in improving our workplace conditions and hopefully, retaining staff. They haven't published or replied to my vociferous staff feedback email, but the proof is in the paycheck!

Things are still a bit of a mess at The Company, there's a wild mess to cover shifts and it's not uncommon for staff to have to work all day without a cover. One of the poor new girls, Karen, was forced to work all day 9-9 yesterday at Innaloo. She had to close twice for her lunch and dinner break. It's not exactly reassuring for a new staff member, especially as she also had to cash up by herself for the first time. It's frustrating to constantly work with new staff, where the person that picks up at whichever store you call is new and has no idea what's going on, when new staff keep ringing for checks and transfers of new catalogue stock... I don't mind helping people out, it's just frustrating that all the staff are new, and then end up quitting in a few weeks, or months anyway. And so the cycle continues.

Today was one case in point. Apparently I was rostered to work 1-9 at Innaloo, so come 1:30, as I'm preparing to leave, Karen calls and asks where I am, as she has to leave at 2. Bummer. I was already meant to work 2-9 at Sunshine covering Marg, who'd quit the week before. And of course, there is no one else to work, especially given the late notice. We can't just close the store for the rest of the day. And there was no way Karen was going to work another 12 hour day and fat chance the girl at Sunshine would do the same ... oh, what to do. I called Charlene, and fortunately, she was able to get hold of one of the other girls to come in to Innaloo from 4-9. So that just left me working 2-4 at Innaloo, and then travel to Sunshine to finish the day from 4-9:15. What a day. And I'll be back all day tomorrow without a cover, and all day Sunday as well. Sigh, I'm too old for this... But hey, at least we get paid to cash up now! A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Window Washers

How much do you pay a window washer? You know, the kids hanging out on the side of the road at major intersections with squeegees and soap water.

Do you pay more if your windscreen was particularly dirty and bird poo/insect splattered?

Do you pay less if it was unsolicited?

Is it appropriate to turn on your wipers as you see them approach?

I was unwillingly approached by one kid that was apparently so poor that he couldn't even afford a Tshirt, and I saw them hovering on the median strip as I approached the red light. I locked my doors, don't know why, and without even making eye contact or anything the guy just started scrubbing my windscreen! I was angrily muttering 'NOOO! Grrrr' but started to fumble for some change.

I felt bad for being so petty when he did a reasonable job and even scrubbed at some encrusted insect splatter. I'd run out of water in my wiper tank and I'm not exactly fastidious in the maintenance of my car. And after all, they're just trying to make some money by doing some honest, hard work as well, right? And I work and have money, and can appreciate other people's efforts. Just I pay taxes on my wages.

In any case, I gave him 50c and thanked him, and he thanked me too. He returned to the other side of the road. Mine was the only windscreen he cleaned at that red light. It got me thinking, about my own prejudices, passing judgement on people I don't even know, and how much money a window washer could make in an hour if each car paid 50c...

Saturday, October 07, 2006


A quick rundown of the latest goings on and victims of the past week at The Company:

  • New spring/summer catalogue came out Thursday, thank goodness for no cheap freebie offers. Not all items are reduced, and some items are featured at full price. Others are a new, lower price. This means less freebie-grubbing bargain shoppers. Though we have 2 whole ranges of cheap women’s tees, all to be placed strategically in the front of the store. We ignore customers in that section.
  • Robyn, started in May this year, new manager at Nevertire has quit and finishes next Wednesday. She’d had enough, when given a particularly rude and abrasive store report and confrontation with Angela, having not received proper Store Manager training.
  • Janet, manager of Innaloo shortly after starting at The Company around April-May of this year, has also quit, her last day being next Wednesday. She has moved house and found employment closer to home. Not in retail.
  • Marg, new manager at Sunshine, worked her first shift there last Thursday, and has quit already. I met and worked with her briefly that day, having not worked there myself for some time, but she seemed like a nice enough, competent person. Well, that leaves the rest of her shifts for this week to fill, which I have ever so kindly offered to help out with.
  • James, one of the casuals at Poowong, trained with Stephanie at Nevertire just before last Christmas, has quit and also finishes next week. Poowong is also currently without a manager (that I know of, as Lia recently quit after more than a year of The Company)
This leaves Darren as the only manager in our whole region.
Charlene’s region consists of:
- Nevertire: Robyn, quit, finishes Wed
- Innaloo: Janet, quit, finishes Sat (or Wed, if she can’t cover her shifts)
- Sunshine: new manager Marg, lasted all of one week. Charlene trying to cover her shifts.
- Mooball: without a manager since early this year, though they have a new ‘full timer’, Becky
- Dunedoo, a clearance store, without a manager for some months since Naomi quit.
- Howlong: Darren, manager there for the past 1 1/2 years and has been with The Company for almost 2 years. Gypped out of his managers bonus for some 12 months, as he was not informed he was entitled to any sort of bonus at all, found out about it by accident.

With no administrator to do rosters and timesheets. Impressive, huh.
There is an “aggressive hiring campaign” taking place as The Company tries to recruit more staff for its “rapidly expanding” business (opening of clearance stores and closing of several retail stores) and rapidly quitting staff. But who will train them if everyone keeps quitting and there is no one that has been around long enough? In our region, there in Caroline who has been around for 7 years, me for over 2 and Darren and Ellen for almost 2 years. The rest have only been around for a matter of months or weeks. Only Caroline has been trained to train new staff, and she is reluctant to do so now that she is a casual and I suppose, doesn’t want the responsibility or stress.

  • Still no sign of a reply to my feedback about not being paid to cash up, which I sent mid September, and, not receiving a reply, resubmitted some 13 days later. Reasonable amount of time to wait, I thought. Saw Grant in HO again and he let me know that he appreciated concise, succinct feedback, of which mine was not, in his opinion. I am still awaiting a response, and national publication.
  • I received a Managers’ Bonus, split equally with Gina and Jen, for holding down the fort at Sunshine while there has been no manager. There is a new bonus and commission system in place, mostly favouring managers, and since there seems to be a serious shortage of those, Charlene (I presume) has decided to award the bonuses to the responsible casual staff filling in the shifts there. The amount of bonus paid out is determined by the store’s performance in presentation, budget, administration, price errors, etc. Sunshine did pretty badly, but I hadn’t been working there much at all so take no responsibility for it. But I’ll gladly take some of the bonus! This is a first for The Company, acknowledging and rewarding staff for their efforts. Hey, it’d sure make me work harder. I think I may request full time, maybe even manager status when I am on holidays from Nov-Mar.
Charlene seems a lot nicer, in the few minutes that I met and talked to her and when I’ve spoken to her on the phone to help cover shifts. Perhaps she has changed. I hope I have too. So it’s reassuring and also somewhat hopeful that maybe things will be a bit different this year under Charlene.

Well, off to work for another all day catalogue weekend. Should be a busy one, the first weekend of the new catalogue. I hope it isn't because I'm covering for Marg all day without a cover (I'm assuming) or key to open. So I have to get in a bit earlier. Perhaps I shouldn't have stayed out so late last night. I'm knackered.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Two weeks notice

One of the busiest periods in retail is Christmas, and so The Company, in trying to keep things under control, has a strict policy of no leave for store staff in December: for casuals or managers. Thus, anyone who plans on going on holidays must either take their time off earlier or later, and make sure they have their leave approved well in advance. Others just quit. With such a hardline policy against allowing leave over the holiday period, most staff will choose their holiday over working long, late hours and serving stressed, cranky customers.

The Company policy doesn’t allow staff to come back once you quit over the holidays - if they did, it’d just be like approving leave for the holidays. I think it’s more out of spite than anything else. Though I think they might reconsider if the staff member had been ‘valuable’ and highly skilled and long-serving and they were desperately short-staffed. However, if you quit at any other time of the year for whatever reason, you may be welcome back. There are now several staff who have quit, gained other employment in retail, only to have come crawling back.

I was considering going on a brief 5 week holiday from the end of November til early January, and was faced with the dilemma (ooo, tough one!) of the (im)possibility of being granted leave, or whether I’d have a job when I came back. Quitting for me was not an issue, as I’m sure I’d be able to find similar/better employment somewhere else relatively quickly, but I felt bad that I’d just started training at HO with the intention of covering for Helena when she went on holidays over January.

I felt obligated to Gemma, who had shown faith in me for suggesting me for the position, and also to Helena and other HO staff, for putting in the effort to train me. I know it’s not easy training new staff, and there is considerable inconvenience to many staff not directly involved in my training. Sharing an office with Grant, National Sales Manager or something like that, I was privy to a few phone conversations which I probably should’ve tried harder to ignore. He was going off to Gemma about one of her staff that wanted leave over Christmas- basically, to quit and come back, as she had been working in the warehouse for several years before now working in stores. The gist of it was, there was no chance in hell that she was going to be approved leave. Which left me more than a little apprehensive. I wanted to be sure I gave the appropriate length of notice so that they could possibly allow me to go on holidays and return to my position in stores and in HO over January. If not, I would also want to give them a reasonable amount of notice to find someone else to train in HO and I could finish my shifts with 2 weeks notice. I am loyal, to some extent, to The Company, but I also understand that this is the fickle world of retail, and that we are all basically expendable. Having worked there for so long and being given such responsibility, I am also (I like to think) highly employable.

Well, after all that, the holiday plans fell through, and I won’t be going away probably until I graduate... So I’ll be able to put in the hard yards over Christmas and really suck up to and impress The Company. I really was looking forward to another Christmas and post-Christmas sales period at The Company. Can’t wait. I was looking forward to seeing how far I could push my luck and whether or not I would be granted leave!


I've been having internet connectivity problems, namely I've inadvertently changed my wireless settings and can't get them back, and haven't been able to get on the net or post. I think it's ok for now, so I haven't disappeared and retail hasn't killed me yet. More posts soon.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nine to Fivers

Working in Head Office full time is demanding but I'm not yet sure if it's rewarding. I'm hired as a casual and paid on an hourly basis, but the HO staff are full timers or part timers, probably on contracts. They have set work to do, and obviously would have to finish that before they can clock off and head off for the day. Helena and Jasmine, who helped me out when Helena wasn't in, made it clear that they all work hard (probably just as hard as us in stores) and are expected to put in long days, and often work 45+ hour weeks. I was surprised, but then realised, that's reality in office jobs. And The Company has been demanding enough of us in stores, so there's no reason they'd go easy on their HO operations staff.

Well, sure, I care, and will try to get things done and do things properly, but I can say that when I am training in HO, though I have to get the weekly reports, budgets, summaries and store outcomes, etc done, come 5:30 last Friday, even though the spreadsheets didn't balance, I was out the door! I didn't feel that I'd received sufficient training to be entrusted to carry out all those tasks alone, and it was overwhelming, so I tried my best and did what I could, but I also had Andie's party to go to later that evening. So I wasn't going to stick around for free. There were still several HO staff still working when I left that Friday. I think they were going out for drinks later on anyway. Whenever they managed to pry themselves from their work, I suppose.

This Friday, Helena was in for a full day (she only works part time, as she's got kids) and went over some more training with me and we were able to discuss some of the problems I'd had the week before. I felt it was a good day, and I learnt a bit more and actually understood what I was doing and supposed to be doing, rather than just copying and following. I was given the task of going through the time sheets, calculating budgeted sales and store hours and also go through and record the AMs' day sheets. The last part was the most fun (and also the easiest!), and come 5:30, I still hadn't finished all the AMs. But being the good worker that I am, I offered to stay back and finish it off so that Helena could finish her productivity reports to send to all the AMs and The Owner and other assorted Important People.

The Day Sheets are daily emails all the AMs must complete, outlining what they've done during the day: store visits, discussing issues with staff, travelling between stores and being sick, if it comes to it! It's basically so HO or The Owner, or whoever knows what they've been up to all day and haven't been slacking off and neglecting their stores. Each AM has a set number of store visits that they are required to complete each week, and each store must be visited so many times per month or something like that. It was quite interesting to read what each AM got up to. I usually just look for whether or not they visited a store, and record that, I don't need their Day Sheets for much else. If they have a reason for not being able to complete their required store visits- for example, if they have been tied up in HO conducting interviews, or busy opening up a new store, etc, I record that down as well and adjust their required store visits accordingly. This week, my previous AM, Gemma, who got me the position in HO, has been in one of the new clearance stores daily, busy setting things up and hasn't been able to visit her other stores. So I've noted the long hours she's worked and what she's been doing, and rather than having a required 15-odd store visits for the week, I've adjusted her target visits to 0. She actually managed to visit 4 stores, so she's actually done very well for the week! 400%. Woo hoo! I've got your back Gemma!

I managed to get out at 6 that day, and still got paid for it, which was good. I expect that once I know what I'm doing, I'll be able to work more independently and efficiently. And get out on time! As I'm sure they're not too keen to be paying me long hours for doing relatively 'simple' work that should've been completed by 5:30.

Back in stores again, I've felt rather sad and somewhat frustrated. I can't stand dealing with the customers anymore, and maybe it's because they only buy or enquire about the cheap stuff, but even when they need help with shoes, I just can't bring myself to be bothered anymore. There's still a lot of new stock (we have a new catalogue out next week, can't wait) and I just want to be left alone and unpack and merchandise my stock. Perhaps I should work in the clearance stores - self serve! I've stopped caring about so much already, it surprises me when all the new staff make comments about things they're unhappy with at The Company. I've just blocked it all out for so long.

This week has not been a good one for retail- compiling the budgets in HO, our retail sales were extremely low, and we made probably 60-70% of the target budget for the week. And staff wages in retail were a great percentage of the costings as well, due to all the stock issues we've been having. This has probably made some of the Important People from Upstairs unhappy, and they've probably been putting pressure on their underlings to perform better too. So store visits by Charlene and one of her superiors, the National Training Manager, Angela, have not been pleasant. They made new manager Robyn at Nevertire cry with their scathing report and criticism of her store, and she put in her resignation shortly after. They also went to Innaloo and Howlong (I was at Sunshine that day) and it didn't go well for the managers and staff there either.

The Howlong staff, especially the manager, Darren, have had major issues with their lack of consideration or common courtesy, and the draconian policies of The Company. It was thought that Darren would quit straight away as well (2 weeks notice), he was so angry, he was forced to work 12 hours straight with no covers for lunch or dinner, but he discussed his issues with Charlene and I think Darren has calmed down now. He'll stick it out for a while and see how things go for now. Angela was nothing short of a bitch in her responses to Darren and Linda, who was told off for not wearing "top to toe" The Company gear. Linda has size 11 feet and there is nothing in The Company range to fit her. So I can understand her need to wear conservative, comfortable sneakers with no obvious brandings. Angela wouldn't accept that, surprise surprise. I hope Linda doesn't get a reduction (fine) for that 'breach of policy'. What a load of crap.

So many staff have been quitting this week alone, and I know many others are actively looking for other employment. I'm covering at Innaloo this week as one of the girls has an interview at Country Road. Given the daily stresses and pressures, although we are paid by the hour, overtime and penalty rates where applicable, I don't know how much longer I will last in retail. It's fine as a casual, but I'm not sure if I can handle it day in day out as a manager, '9-5er'. It's a lot of stress. If you care. My new supermarket position, with minimal responsibility, is starting to look more and more enticing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Feeling sick?

I try to be a good person and treat people as I would like to be treated, but when you get busted lying about being sick on a shift and inconveniencing someone else to come in and cover for you, that's just not nice.

A while ago, Jen, a new girl, told me how she'd covered for Gina in the middle of a sunny Sunday afternoon. Apparently Gina was sick during her shift and was 'chucking up in the back room' and all that. You know the drill- I feel really sick and have been vomiting in the store, and there is no one to cover me, and you're my last hope. Well, see, the thing is, Sunshine doesn't have much of a back room. We don't have a sink in there, let alone a toilet, so I don't know how or where she could've been vomiting out the back. Unless she did it in a garbage back when she managed to pull herself away from the customers, she must've been 'mistaken'. When Jen came in, on her day off, after having driven over an hour from the country because she felt sorry for Gina (hey, she contacted me too, but I was sick of covering and it was my only day off too) she noticed that Gina didn't look sick at all, and just thanked her for coming in and then waltzed right out. was a nice day out that day, perhaps she was going to the beach (one of the other girls got busted calling in sick, and then turning up when there was no one else to cover her shift. She was wearing bathers underneath her skirt and top). Jen noticed that there were no bags of chuck out the back, and if Gina did indeed throw up out the back, she would've had to close the store to get rid of the evidence before Jen turned up. And then Jen worked with Robyn (new store manager at Nevertire), Gina's best friend, and she mentioned that Gina had been sick on Sunday and she had covered for her, but Gina knew nothing of it. Sounds fishy...

WARNING: if you are easily put off by descriptions of vomit, stop reading now.

I've chucked up at work before (at Sunshine and Mooball), and it's not pretty. Both stores don't have a sink, so I had to be discreet and hurl in a garbage bag. Both times, I was serving customers, and both times, they didn't even notice, I think. During Christmas of 2004, I was working so much I was probably making myself sick from stress and tiredness, and it was quite busy, there were 3 of us on, and I was serving customers at the counter, Marnie was serving on the floor, and Miranda was around the back of the store unpacking stock. I suddenly felt very sick and could feel it rising and managed to get Marnie to come to the counter to take over for me (there was a line of customers) before I managed to rush down the back of the store with my cheeks puffed full of spew and my hands over my mouth. Miranda was out the back with garbage bags for the packaging, and I managed to get most of it into there, while she looked on in horror and disgust. Don't get to see that every day! She sent me home sick and managed to get one of the staff from another region to come in.

The other time, I was at Sunshine by myself and it was probably nearing the end of a Sunday, and I had been feeling really thirsty that day. I just couldn't drink enough water and my mouth felt really dry. I'd never felt like that before. No matter how much I drank, my mouth still felt dry. I can't remember if I was feeling nauseous, but usually when I feel nauseous, it's like I'm going to get the runs. It's only rarely that I've 'dry-hurled'. Well, I was feeling pretty bad and it was almost time to go home, so I stuck it out. There weren't many customers, but there was one who came in, and he was one that required a lot of service. He enquired about the shirt fittings and styles, and I was showing him around the back of the store where the shirts were but could really feel it coming, so said I'd go check for him, rushed back to the counter (in the middle of the store) and chucked up quietly in the garbage bag. Hmmm... it was all that water I drank! And a few chunks. Interesting. But I felt much better after that and returned to continue to serve him and he asked if I'd checked on the shirts. I was thinking: 'no, sorry, I was just puking my guts out, I must've forgotten. How silly of me'. The rest of the day continued without incident.

Welcome back

Well, Gina messaged me this morning, at 9:26AM, so half an hour after she got in, saying that she was not feeling well and wanted me to work the rest of her shift. I am on to do a lunch cover from 12-3 and she is on all day to do 9-6. She was apologetic: "sorry to be a pain" and "no pressure". Well, it's a fine, sunny day out today and I am more than a little suspicious and fed up. No one could help me cover my shift yesterday, and I know it's part of the job, but I couldn't help but feel a little let down. It's "a busy time for me" too. I can understand that people are busy with uni and assignements and are sick of being called in to cover shifts and feeling resenful when they say yes and bad when they say no, but if you owe me a favour cos I've covered your shift, I think the right thing to do would be to cover mine when I desperately need a cover and know you're available.

I worked all day Saturday without a cover or key and had to pick one up from a colleague's house nearby when Gina called in saying that her grandmother was sick and had been taken to hospital and her condition was serious. That was the Friday before last. I felt bad for her, but couldn't help thinking 'she better not be lying'. I know that's terrible, as I had a sick family member last year and had to take off without much notice- the ticket was booked and I was off to Sydney. Well, so I felt bad about contacting Gina and asking her if she could cover my stocktake shift last night. I made sure to ask her last, as I wasn't sure if her grandmother was still sick or if she was back at work or not. I was floored by her response: so sorry, she acknowledged that I helped her out on Saturday, but it's her dad's birthday. So sorry. So was I. At first, I couldn't believe she was celebrating her father's birthday when her grandma was so sick in hospital. But then I thought, maybe it's her maternal grandmother... but still, her mother wouldn't be up for celebrating, and if he was any type of good son, he'd feel the same. Or so I like to think... but I'll take her word for it.

So I can't understand why Gina messaged me at 9:26, saying she felt sick but would stay til 3, if I could work on til 6. I messaged her back an hour later, as I wanted to formulate the right response first. If I was feeling sick at work, I'd want someone to come in right away so I could go home. She knows I am available all day, yet wanted to work on til 3. It just doesn't make sense to me. I can't really be bothered working til 6 and have other things to do as well, so I compromised and offered to do 1-6 without a break and said she could go home when I get in if she wants. I'd like to talk to her and see what's going on. I was thinking she feels sick because she probably had too much to eat and drink last night at her dad's birthday... but I know that's mean, because I often feel sick because of a condition that I have, but have managed to avoid certain foods and control it. She just happens to feel sick the day after her dad's birthday bash, just as I happened to feel sick working on New Year's Day. And I don't even drink. I closed early that day and went home.

10:47 - she messaged back. Doesn't sound sick. Or maybe just trying to be considerate and hold it down as there is a lot of work to do in store and doesn't want me to hate her. Great. And apparently there is a store meeting as well. Well, that's news to me. ...oh yeah, it's for potential new staff I think. Like an introduction to The Company at our store, Sunshine, the "model store", where it's always perfect cos we are! Well, that was my slogan when Andie and I still worked there and it was indeed perfect. Now apparently there are more consolidations and heaps of stock on the floor. Welcome to The Company indeed. Newbies, you can count on me to provide a realistic view of the way The Company is run and what the staff experience is really like.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A second chance

I've been more than just a little apprehensive about having Charlene as our AM again, especially with the departure of Andie and several other staff I was fond of. Christmas is coming, and that last year's experience hadn't helped to ease my tensions either. I haven't seen her since she left our region earlier in the year...or since I changed regions to get away from her, but I've decided to be more compensating and give her another chance. A clean slate. Having worked in HO, I can understand the pressures they are under- required minimum store visits, day sheets outlining what they've done all day, trying to coordinate our bare minimum staffing levels while trying to hire more people, etc. I know it's not an easy job, being an AM, I suppose I just judged her the poorer for being different to my past AMs, Gemma and Natalie. Different people, different personalities.

Trying to coordinate my training at HO with my rostered shifts and shift covers in stores, Charlene was helpful, and tried to coordinate things with Helena and get me to finish some training. And I was worried about not being able to find a cover for stocktake next Tuesday when I have training at my new job that I'm really excited to get to. I was so frustrated and sick of it all today that I gave up and just emailed Charlene and our Administrator that I haven't been able to find a cover but I was willing to come in at 8 or when my "appointment" was over. Charlene emailed back later that day and said I didn't have to come in at 8! Woohoo! I was so relieved and excited. That was a major load off. I know it wasn't exactly my responsibility, as it was outside my availability, but I had ok'd the shift when the roster came out. I really tried to find a cover, but as usual, no one is available or willing. It's nearing exam times and many of us, me included, are extremely busy. I hope she can find someone to work with Angela to do stocktake. It'll be a long shift if she has to do it alone...

So maybe Charlene did know that I didn't exactly think very highly of her when she last had to deal with me. I haven't exactly been Employee of the Year material at The Company. We wondered what it must be like to know that so many people hated you. As an AM, to not be respected by your staff, to the point that many of us openly disliked her. Perhaps she wasn't as oblivious as she appeared to be and has been making an effort to change. I try to be understanding and like to treat others as I'd like to be treated, and that's something I'm still working on. I've always tried to help out in covering shifts and finding covers when myself or other staff can't work a shift, whether it's due to their own issues or due to mistakes in rostering. It's nice to finally get some back. So far, I haven't had any issues with Charlene, and here's hoping it continues to stay that way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Where the toilet paper's so thick, you need to flush twice to get it down

You can always tell a lot about a place and person by the type of toilet paper they buy. I buy unbleached recycled toilet paper in paper packaging. Most shopping centres will have the huge rolls of thin, scratchy one-ply. As kids, we used to go to a family friend’s house and were specifically told not to use grandma’s toilet, as she had the really nice, soft probably quilted/embossed toilet paper. That stuff was expensive! We had to use the regular toilet with the normal, cheap toilet paper. I guess being elderly grants you thicker toilet paper. That made me aware of the subtle differences between toilet paper buyers and users. I am surprised when I go to friends’ houses and know that they struggle financially, yet buy the thick, embossed, scented, printed stuff. That to me spells luxury and extravagance. But hey, that’s just me and the way I was raised. And my own neuroses. For all I know, they could’ve bought it on sale or something.

The street-front stores (those not located in a shopping centre) have their own toilets and we order our toilet paper with our monthly stationary orders. I believe it is the regular, probably one-ply Corporate Express (EXP) brand that our company has now switched to, probably as it is more economical. Training at Head Office, I noticed that they have the thick, embossed, two-ply Kleenex toilet paper. What is that, a whole 83 cents per roll? Wow. It was so thick I had to flush twice to get it down. And that’s not good, given our water shortage and increased water restrictions.

Well, training at HO has not turned out to be all that fascinating. A whole day of training and I have a better idea of what I am doing, or supposed to be doing, and that’s probably a good thing too, seeing as I’ll be working all day by myself on Friday finishing the reports. I am required to compile weekly productivity reports (everything from store time sheets, clearance store staff productivity and even AM productivity), wage sheets and summaries and budgets vs store hours. Interesting as it gives me an insight into how the stores, staff and AMs are performing, and I also get to see how much they receive in bonuses/reductions for being under/over budgeted staff hours related to money made. The Company is very secretive and likes to know exactly what is going on in every aspect of The Company’s workplaces.

The Company, and its Owner, like to keep tabs on the AMs as well and make sure they are performing. It is harder to keep track of us staff in stores, so they make the AMs pay. It is known that some AMs have GPS tracking devices in their company cars. The cars themselves aren’t that flash. Apparently just discards of the owner so he can get a new Bentley or something off and write that off on tax. Who wants a Hyundai Accent? They also have to complete daily reports and log their hours at work to show what they have been doing all day. One of the redundant Visual Merchandisers told me that The Owner has cameras in all the offices in HO so that he can view all the staff while they work. She was in her office when he suddenly called her in from his intercom. Quite surprising if you weren’t aware that he knew you were in there. Some stores also have live camera and audio feeds into HO as well- they apparently put that in to monitor a staff member who may or may not have been using recreational drugs. Watch your back.

It is well known that The Company is extremely secretive. Many angry customers have requested HO phone numbers and addresses in order to make complaints, offer marketing/etc services, or general enquiries. Half the time they don’t believe us when we tell them (in store, as they can’t seem to find HO details anywhere else. Duh) that we don’t even have their details. We all contact them through our internal email and centel-phone system. So all we can do is give them a Customer Feedback Form which they can post off to a PO Box, or we can post it off for them; or direct them to The Company website and online feedback forum; or a pager number, from which they can leave a voicemail message for the “Customer Empathy Officer”- someone will get back to you shortly! Once I list these exhaustive and exhausting options, they either get more fired up or fed up and give up in frustration. The local HO is soon relocating, I suspect customers have found it! The front windows had been ‘tagged’ by local youths/gangs when I went in again for the first time since late 2004.

Well, after my one day stint so far in HO (I’ll be back all day Friday), I haven’t uncovered much dirt on The Company or its staff. It’s given me an insight into the AMs’ roles and jobs, and I can see why Charlene was so tight on hours last year and refuses to ‘waste’ her time working in stores. It has also confirmed our suspicions that The Company is focusing on the clearance stores as they turn over more stock. There are some great new items from the current range now in our retail stores: like classy T-shirts with slogans such as: “Beer - give your brain the night off” and “It’s not a beer belly, it’s a fuel tank”. Apparently The Owner thought they were hilarious, and having sold so well in the rural clearance stores, The Company, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to bring them out in the retail stores as well. I can’t wait, I’m so proud to be selling such quality apparel.

Monday, September 18, 2006


A few weeks ago, I was contacted by my previous AM, Gemma, for a temporary position in Head Office, as Helena, one of the staff was going on leave in January. She suggested me as she thought I had a good understanding of The Company and its functions, with time sheets, budgeted hours, staffing, etc. The position also required some understanding of computers and Excel spreadsheets. I'd say I'm competent, but not overly knowledgable of computers, spreadsheets and formulas. I was flattered, but also had to acknowledge that she probably had few choices for a temporary cover.

Things to consider:
  • we need someone to be available at our beck and call. It's only a temporary position to cover staff going on holiday, so we don't want to hire anyone specifically for the position. Hiring and training are expensive! -Perfect, I'll be on full time availability and want heaps of hours from mid-Nov til March uni holidays, so we can get Ranter to come in and then send her back to stores when we don't need her.
  • we need someone who is eager to please and might possibly want to move up in The Company (kiss more butts to get more privileges). -Hey, I'm not that much of a brown nose, but do want what I want, when I want it. And I'd welcome the opportunity to meet the Owner and other HO staff, so then I can vent to them face to face. And they can meet the infamous whinger too.
  • we need someone that's experienced with The Company and has probably been around for a while. -Not many more of us left. I'd say Andie was the obvious choice before me, having done everything for The Company: training, admin, etc but she finishes in a few days. Or some other store manager would've done it, but oops, not many of those. And even less that are more than a few months old.
  • if we train them now, what's the possibility of them sticking it out til January next year? 3 months, and the Christmas/holiday period is a long time in retail in The Company. -I've been there for 2yrs now and taken a lot of crap, so chances are, a bit more won't deter me.
So I was contacted about the 6/9 or a bit before, and had organised to do training the following Thursday at HO. I was already rostered to work at Innaloo then, but Gemma (previous AM) said I could tell Lauren (our then AM- confused yet?) to find a cover for me, seeing as I needed to get trained at HO, and if we couldn't cover the shift, Lauren could work in store for Linda's (store manager) cover, and then I'd come back and finish the rest of my shift from 4-9. Fair enough. Sounded alright. There was plenty of time. I contacted Lauren, and her reply was: "I'll get you to find the cover please". WHAT THE!? I was NOT impressed. I knew there would be no one to cover the shift. Staff have been having major problems covering their shifts lately. The new/old stock issues aren't helping either.

Of course, I couldn't find ANYone to cover me, so Linda had to close the store to go on her break, and I took an hour to get to Innaloo from HO and finished my shift from 4-9. Fun. Lauren had given up on us already.

So I managed to get 2 hours of training done at HO and still don't really have much idea about what the job entails. I'll be doing productivity reports and be working with time sheets so we can figure out staff costing and something like that. Reports on all of The Company's AMs (Australia and NZ wide) and how their stores and staff are performing, I think. Should be interesting to see how Charlene's stores are going. And get all the inside juice on the scandals and gossip of The Company and its staff. Honestly, that's all we want when store staff go to HO.

I was supposed to have a full day of training the next day, Friday 15th, which I was looking forward to, seeing as I'm to be starting the position THIS WEDNESDAY, which everyone had neglected to tell me. Great, thanks for nothing. Of course, I couldn't even fit in a few hours training as I was called in by Charlene (current AM) to cover at Sunshine (new name for my previous store) and then we got hit with a huge delivery of stock. Charlene had to negotiate with Helena my hours and training, as obviously the stores needed me straight away, even though I had training that I needed to do.

So I haven't had the time or energy to post lately as I've had to cover shifts all over the place, deal with stock issues and have been very stressed trying to find my own covers so that I can finish my training (as of course, I can only do it on the days I'm already rostered to work in stores). And there is no one to cover me. Lucky for me, this time Pete has pulled through and has agreed to cover two of my uncoverable shifts this week. So I'll next be in HO all day Wednesday to "finish off" my training, ready to do whatever it is I'm expected to be doing. I'm a bit apprehensive to say the least.

Well, suffice to say, I'll be glad to get away from the customers occasionally, but will also not "sell out" on the rest of the retail staff and work full time in HO, as some of my comrades had feared. We've lost a lot of good staff through internal poaching.

I'm taking on the position to do something different, and to guarantee hours over the holidays when everyone will be available full time. Though I have been rethinking my future and have also just been offered a job at a major supermarket chain! They're open a lot more hours (6AM-midnight) so I thought I'd apply for a night fill position there to get more hours (especially over the holidays) at a higher rate of pay. Unfortunately, they have scheduled the induction training next Tuesday, and I have been rostered outside my availability to do stocktake. Again. It's not the first time that they've rostered me to do stocktake (seeing as no one else is available or willing, or able) outside my availability. I said no before, but ok'd this time, as I'm on holidays next week. Perfect timing. But now I've double booked myself. I really hope someone can cover my shift. I've always willingly covered shifts, and will probably go in tomorrow to help Robyn with stock, so here's hoping someone will pull through for me.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Too much stock, not enough staff.

It's been completely hectic at work lately. Stock office and Head Office have stuffed up again and still can't get it right. It's change of season and we have finally received instructions to send out the last of our winter stock (a random assortment of jackets, vests and knits) to a selected clearance store for storage. The Company can never seem to coordinate old stock being sent out and new stock being sent in. So at the moment, our stores are some 20-30% capacity, and we all just (finally) received our new spring/summer stock. A good 60 boxes in one go. That's how much Innaloo received today. Other stores like Beverly Hills received 100 boxes. Nevertire was supposed to receive 80-odd, but seeing as they are still trading with renovations going on in store (yes, The Company is that stingy) and only the front half of their already small store is accessbile, they only delivered 42 (where they stacked them up, I have no idea) and the other half will be delivered probably on Monday when the poor newbie manager is there all day without a cover.

Of course, I was covering at the last minute at my old store today, as Jen was sick. Probably due to having to work all day every day by herself without a break and under very stressful circumstances. No doubt being forced to find her own cover when there was no one else available didn't help either. We only received 29 boxes. Apparently, one of the GMs or something in head office has been campaigning to not have more than 20 boxes delivered in one go. It's about time. But right now, too little too late. We had 29 boxes to transfer in and 11 pages of consolidations to send out. So we'd be simultaneously transferring stock in and out at the same time so that we'd have boxes to pack things up and also so our store didn't look completely empty.

Because of the huge debacle with new and old stock, they have gone all out and allowed extra hours without penalties to the AMs. Budgeted hours and staffing are strictly controlled at The Company, and Charlene was notorious for enforcing budgets. This time, they have even asked us to stay back and get extra staff to come in so that we can get the stores set up back to the high The Company standard. Problem is, no one is available to come in, or stay back. You'd be hard pressed to find a cover if you're sick or dying. We're at the unenviable stage where once you're rostered on for a shift but you can't do it for whatever reason (outside your stated availability, sick, having an operation, mother just passed away...) too bad, there's no one to cover you. And Charlene, who hasn't yet received her master key for all stores in her region, also seems reluctant to work in stores, so you're pretty much stuck with the shift. Hence my covering Jen's shift at the last minute (called up at 9:30 the night before) without a key to open the store. Great. I was actually be supposed to be training at Head Office that day as well. More on that later.

But wait, it gets better.

I was also forced to work all day Saturday at Innaloo without a cover (or key to open) as well. Gina, who had been moved from Innaloo to my former store, Sunshine, when Andie quit, was moved back to Innaloo as the new manager had a few days leave. So I was originally rostered to do 12-5, but was happy to come in and work all day to help with stock, but then Gina messaged me on Friday night to tell me her grandmother wasn't well. Pretty bad timing, as it was her birthday the next day too. Poor Gina. At least she didn't have to go in to work, as she probably would've been forced to do if there was no one else.

It's now Monday, as I started this post on Friday night. I received a message from Nevertire during class today that they need more staff to come in tomorrow to help transfer in and unpack the 54 new boxes of stock today (the 18th)! So it looks like they got the rest of their 80 boxes originally supposed to be delivered last Friday, and then some! Poor Robyn. And she had to work all Monday by herself, without a break. She came in on her day off on Saturday (overtime) to help unpack the stock. She paged Charlene as their scanner had completely broken and she couldn't transfer in any more (of her 40-odd boxes of) stock. And you know what Charlene's response was? "Thanks for the update, Robyn." What the?! Get me another scanner from a clearance store! Now! That's part of what her job as AM is: ferrying scanners from HO or clearance to retail when ours break down or when we have stocktake. She obviously still doesn't quite get it.

Charlene officially became our AM on the 12th. I completely missed the boat there as I wasn't working that day but found out the next, as I was going through some emails at Innaloo. I've decided to be civil and give her a chance. Who knows, she may have changed. But then, she was the one who roped me into the Friday shift without a key when I was supposed to be training...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

She's BACK!

A post about staff, and sometimes, Area Managers moving around. One of the girls called herself a The Company whore, as she'd worked at almost every store in the metropolitan region. I'll also reintroduce a returning AM.

Things at The Company can be far from consistent. Especially during Christmas and holidays, when things get busier and staff are forced to leave, as casuals are not allowed leave in December-January. Fair enough, as that's when it's busiest, and other full time staff are able to take leave (though not store managers, I believe) then as well. Last year, we lost a good batch of experienced staff, as they went on overseas trips over the holiday period and had to quit. Others also graduated from university and are working in their respective industries. Of those that went overseas, they have since found other work at such reputable fashion labels as Hugo Boss, Esprit and Country Road. We are indeed expendable. So it can become quite hectic and short staffed, to say the least. We also usually train new staff before the busy sales period, which generally starts around November. So the busy stores, combined with short staffing, new and inexperienced staff and lots of stress will start in the next few months.

All the above, and then with staff's vastly different and always changing availability, we are then required to move around and work at different stores. That's usually fine. I've now cut down my rostered hours to a maximum 15/week and that's enough for me. The way I see it, it also frees me up to cover shifts where necessary. But only working at Innaloo for a few days a week, I must say, as I'm not there to follow things up, it can lead to a lack of accountability. Some staff are split between two, sometimes even three stores within a week. Often only working a few hours at one store and then a few hours here and there at another.

Despite our best efforts, it can be hard to stifle our lack of care. Because really, even though there is a list of things to get done for the next few days or whatever, 'non-regular' staff will not be there again to follow it up, so realistically, they don't care that much. I generally do care about how all our stores are run, and will endeavour to fix things up and get things in order if there is no manager or there are new staff, etc, but there is only so much one can do in a 7 hour shift. Alone. If I were to one day become a manager, I'm sure I'd be obligated (for the sake of my own sanity at least!) to put in overtime (most likely unpaid) to fix things up and get everything in order and to my liking! Our stores are set up pretty much the same, but there are always the little things that always stump you. Like where the sticky tape or pricing gun is at any particular store. I must admit that when I am frustrated at someting at a particular store, I won't always bother to change it because really, "who cares, I don't work here anyway!" or "who cares, I'm not going to be back here for a while anyway!" So-and-so can fix it up to however they like it displayed, etc.

On another note, our current Area Manager, Lauren, will be leaving our region to preside over the city stores region. It's much smaller, with only a few stores to manage, so should be easier for her, seeing as she's new and all. We're talking what, 2 months new? At least she seems nice enough and eager and enthusiastic. Though some staff think her incompetent, I'm keen to give her a go, and with time, think she'll get it right. Eventually. But at the moment, she seems to have given up on our region, and isn't exactly going out of her way to help us out or fulfil her AM duties. When she joined, two retail stores had since closed, and the stores were shuffled around to accommodate our new AM, Lauren. We had previously been under the superior leadership of Gemma, who's been with The Company for some 7+ years or so...

I had been working exclusively at my previous store (before moving to Innaloo) for some 8 months or so as I had major issues with our AM, Charlene, so they probably figured it'd be easier to move me to a different region with Gemma.

Charlene, Charlene.

Charlene started at The Company about 4 years ago, and quickly rose to Store Manager and then Area Manager positions. Apparently, one particular gentleman in Head Office was quite fond of her. This is something I heard in store, so may or may not be true. I'd say the source is pretty credible though. For some reason, she then left The Company for some 2 years and joined the team at a young women's fashion and accessories chain store, before rejoining us recently. As an AM, she was moved around a bit, and before coming to take over from Natalie (our AM who had diligently started as a casual during uni, then moving up to AM in her 6-odd years of loyal service to The Company). Charlene was previously based in New Zealand to manage the few stores just recently opened there.

The regions had been shuffled before, but I had personally never been under the managership of anyone but Natalie. Natalie was tough, but respected. She put in a lot of work for The Company and was pretty much always available to help when on call. She hired me, and had faith in me. Natalie left mid-last year, as she had been offered a better position somewhere else, where she would have a lot more responsibility with range development and she now has ample opportunity to travel overseas. And she now drives a huge Toyota Kluger, which beats the Hyundai Elantra hands down.

The arrival of Charlene was met with some apprehension, as The Company was in a bit of turmoil having just demoted several other long-serving AMs as well as various head office staff. These staff then moved into stores, so also ended up taking up some of our shifts and hours as well. Not many staff knew much of Charlene to begin with, as she was based in NZ, but we hoped she would be as good as Natalie was, being experienced in The Company policies and how things were done. Well, we should have all just changed our availability then, so as to avoid dealing with her wherever possible.

Perhaps time has been an amnesiac, but I can't remember any positive things ever having happened as a result of her coming to manage our region. Sure, it was a hectic time over Christmas with the majorly stuffed up stock levels and sales, which were out of our control, but her being heartless, demanding and completely lacking in compassion and understanding didn't help much either. With so many boxes of stock arriving and needing to be unpacked, and many new styles to fit in when there was no more space, no generous increase in staff hours (yes, we're still expected to do all of this and serve the 20-odd customers as well), as well as then having to pack up and consolidate to clearance stores the same stock just received days ago, our stores were not looking their best. Needless to say, the staff were also extremely stressed. Many casuals, as students also had exams and assignments, store managers were expected to train several staff at a time while getting little increase in staff hours, so they had to train the newbies and serve customers and deal with all the stock issues, as well as complete all the store tasks and endless paperwork, pretty much alone and without any support.

Charlene would come in every week or so to do store reports and was openly critical of the state of our stores and the staff for not being able to get everything done 110%. I had never seen staff morale so low as it was under Charlene. She criticised staff in front of customers, gave many of us "formal interviews" (like a formal warning, three strikes and you're out) for issues that were out of our control while offering little support as to how to deal with our stock and staffing problems. Being stingy with hours leads to disgruntled staff. Further cutting back hours during busy sales periods, that is, sending staff home when the staff remaining are obviously swamped and will continue to be so for the rest of the shift, also does not make for happy staff. I felt bad leaving Jane during a busy weekend pre-Christmas rush, but I am also not staying back at work when I am not going to get paid.

Charlene had appointed Stephanie, the manager at Nevertire to call up her region's stores and check to see if we were on track to making the day's budget. If we weren't, then staff hours would be cut. It didn't matter that we had 30-40 boxes of stock on the floor, or that the stores were still extremely busy with customers, if you weren't 2/3 of the way there or whatever measure it was that they were using, someone was going home. As casuals, that was usually us. So we weren't getting regular hours either. Paging Charlene for authorisation to be paid (AMs must authorise the pay for any extra hours, that is non-rostered, worked) for extra staff to come in to help with stock or customers, was out of the question.

Inevitably, the stock situation- receiving, transferring in, unpacking and displaying stock, and then having to remove, untag and pack up and transfer stock out again within a matter of days or weeks; got so bad that many stores had to schedule "stock unpacking nights" and staff were invited to bring in their friends and family to help out. Seriously. They would be paid the requisite award wages. There has been some reluctance at The Company to pay for hours outside store open hours, as there is no direct opportunity to make money. So if staff requested to stay back for half an hour to tidy after close or to cash up, there was little chance of it getting approved and the staff getting paid. Another one of the reasons why we're not paid to cash up and which I have raised in my most recent acerbic Staff Feedback submitted. So to have to organise stock unpacking nights, where staff would stay behind to pack and unpack stock was not only unprecedented but also a blinding sign that something was obviously very wrong.

Well, the constant unreasonable demands and pressure Charlene put on staff, as well as her condescending and arrogant attitude eventually got to many staff. Stephanie, like Jane had been training several new staff and had difficulty coping with the pressure and Jane quit early January, Stephanie shortly after, and joined us at our store in her last month. James, co-manager at my store with Andie, took over the manager position at Nevertire, and soon found it too difficult to manage. He was put under a lot of pressure by Charlene to pick up the store's performance and appearance, and not coping, rather than offerings of help and advice, received several formal interviews for petty issues so that he was eventually demoted to a casual position. James was demoted even though there was no other manager available to take over. So several 'lucky' staff, who were back to full time study, were suddenly working 30-hour weeks. The constant changing and lack of managers and constant, experienced staff had led to a disorganised store and demoting James was not helpful at all but to serve their own egos.

I'd also had my fair share of run-ins with Charlene. As an experienced casual, The Company could rely on me to work at several different stores and still work hard and get things done. Sure, I'll get things done, but I want to be paid for it. And therein lay the issue of the conflict between myself and Charlene. She wouldn't pay me. I had to drive for over an hour to pick up a store key, and she wouldn't authorise my pay. I was livid. I had late customers and had to cash up, and she wouldn't pay me for the extra half hour or so. We needed extra staff hours and she never allowed it. I was working extra hours for whatever reason, and she refused to pay me. I calculated that at the end of it all, when I refused to deal with her any longer, she owed me at least $250 in unpaid wages. And that wasn't even including overtime.

I felt that Charlene didn't care about us and was arrogant and self-serving. She was a miser with hours, keeping well under the budgeted hours even though we were allowed extra unrostered hours, as she wanted to keep staffing costs down so as to maximise profits and protect her own bonuses for performance. There were countless shifts and hours when we were unknowingly scammed out of our overtime pay, and paid our regular award wages. I personally don't have any good things to say about her, which as those who work with me will know, won't stop me from saying nothing at all! Surely in the 7 or so months that she was our AM, she must've known that we all hated her. And we always wondered what it'd be like to have so many people hate you and then not even care. It's hard to find enough superlatives to describe our feelings towards her. Hate is strong, but perhaps not strong enough for some staff. She was passionately abhorred, loathed, despised and detested region-wide.

Things haven't exactly resumed normality, and The Company is changing for the cheaper, so I am quite interested in seeing how Charlene is welcomed back to our region. Admittedly, many of the remaining staff are so new that they have not met her (such is our staff turnover), but have heard about her! I know I for one will now be confident enough not to take any of her crap and will ensure that none of the other newer staff are pushed around by her either. I am currently in the process of stirring the pot some more (see the link and following post "Update" as well) and am campaigning for fair pay for our work. I should be very interested to see if they have taken any of our feedback on board and reassessed her performance and to see if she has changed at all.

She'll be rejoining us shortly, coming back from having been moved to the Northern New South Wales-Queensland region. I'll be sure to keep posting updates as they occur!