|Every Day, I Become Better in Every Way?
||[Feb. 18th, 2005|12:32 am]
They say that the things that are worth doing are usually difficult and make a person feel quite a bit of it.
On Halloween, 2004, a simple document on the door of my Los Angeles apartment changed my life. At the time, I went out with my roomate and good friend. He felt more pissed about the surprise $300 rent hike notice than I did. I agreed that it was bullshit, considering the landlord had told us only a $25 dollar hike was in the works. I can still feel my ass in the chair at the restaurant off of 3rd and La Brea. I laughed that night, and I went to bed, thinking that everything would work out just fine.
A week later, I realized that my friend was probably going to move into his own place, and I had to find my own place and a new job in less than 60 days. That weekend, I smoked about 3-4 packs of Winston Lights, felt the feeling of my world in collapse, and developed a serious hemorrhoid.
Right before Christmas, I realized that the job wasn't going to materialize in enough time. I had barely enough money to work with, and after great frantic struggle, I had found an apartment . . . but the money I had wouldn't guarantee enough time to honor the full lease. I had struck out all year in LA, looking for work. I decided on the night they played that Mitch Albom book-turned-TV-movie, in tears, on a phone call to Heidi, that I'd move back home.
Right right before Christmas, on a frantic 48 hour sleepless stretch of last-minute packing and stressing, I finished the move, and I landed in Metro Detroit on a red-eye flight. I went from 80 F to 0 F in less than 6 hours.
On New Year's Eve, I went to an interview for a managerial position in a retail store. I had no management experience, and the interview was a favor through my Heidi's family. The interviewer, now my DM, granted me an assistant manager's position. I attended a swell New Year's Eve party that night with a good friend and his girlfriend/another of my good friends, at her family's house. I had some beers, and I tried calling Heidi at midnight, but I couldn't reach her on the cell phone. I passed out in front of the TV, watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. That was one of the last days in a scant few that I've felt pretty happy. I had hope on that night.
I started work the day before my birthday.
I completed a two-week training period in a store where I was barely shown some of the managerial functions that I needed to complete my responsibilities. Basically, I did stock. At the time, I felt the rigors of long hours and heavy lifting after a few years of hardly any physical labor. At the time, I didn't realize that I didn't receive enough training as I should have. I felt, from the impression, that there was a long period of time, maybe a few months, to where the store where I was to be sent would help me function as an assistant manager. I figured that the responsibilities would be added over time, and that I would receive what I needed to succeed. On the last night, I noticed that I really didn't know much about management of the store, and I hadn't completed my training workbook. No one seemed to care, but I did. I left that night with the four training books, even though I was supposed to leave them at that training store.
When I arrived at my store to start work, on my first day, I discovered feces on the floor in the clothing aisles. By the end of the week, on Super Bowl Sunday, I stressed over one of my first nights as the only person in charge of the store. I had to call for help to try and figure out how to open and close the store. On top of that, I stressed over my car, which was probably dead at that point. I received a call on Monday morning from the manager, letting me know that the store "looked like hell" from Sunday.
Sometime before that first weekend, I had a serious anxiety attack, and in communication with the assistant DM and my manager, I was asked by the assistant DM whether or not I wanted to be an assistant manager. I didn't really want to work for the company at that point, but I said that I did.
I had been asked a similar question once before at a previous job about whether or not I wanted to carry out my duties. What I didn't know in that conversation was that the company had summoned security guards outside the office door to escort me out if the answer was "no." If I had said no, then that company would have fired me. I quit about one week after that conversation. It was clear that I wasn't wanted at my pay rate at that place.
I contacted my training manager about a week ago . . . my benefits form was due in less than a week, and I needed her to pick up my forms to turn in to the retail corporate office. She said that she'd stop by and pick them up from my store.
I had two days off this Monday and Tuesday. I spent most of the weekend with a very sore back, and I had it cracked at a chiropractor. The bad back is chronic from a childhood injury, but the continuous heavy lifting from this job aggravated its severity. On Wednesday, the truck was to arrive with over 1,000 pieces.
After my arrival at work, I noticed that my forms still sat in the office. They were due the next day. The truck for shipment wasn't to arrive until noon because it broke down on the road. I caught a lucky break because I wasn't ready to receive it in the morning. One of my workers showed up early with me, and the other one hadn't shown up at that point.
I started to fill some extra stock from the mountain of stock still in the store. The worker helped me do this. I found out before noon that the other worker wasn't going to show because his car broke down. Then, the worker who showed decided that since he came in early, he was supposed to leave early for the day.
I wouldn't have had a problem with it under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, the truck didn't arrive until after noon. The worker who showed decided that he had to leave at 2 PM to take care of his child while his girlfriend went to work. The cashier couldn't really help. The manager wasn't going to be in until 3 PM.
My back felt stiff and sore from the chiropractor on the previous day. I had one worker for a truck that would take at least 3 hours to unload. This meant that I would be the only one unloading the truck at the time, which ran into 1 PM . . . that left me with the majority of the truck to do by myself.
The store hit meltdown. I hoped to be nice to the worker and ask him if he could make a phone call to have someone help watch his kid so that he could help me do the truck. He declined to call anyone. On my phone call to the manager, I explained the situation. She didn't understand what was happening, and she told me that it was my store at the moment, so I should run it. She also told me that he was expected to be there all day, and I should tell him that if he doesn't work the truck, then he won't work in this store.
I explained the situation to him, but I left out the "work or never come back" part. I asked him one more time about 15 minutes before 2 PM. He refused to stay.
Like clockwork, his girlfriend showed at 2 PM, and he left with his kid.
I had no one to cover with me to unload the truck.
I called Heidi's dad to ask him advice. By this time, I realized that if I didn't get my benefits shipped out and processed by the next day, that I would not have benefits for the year. I also had no one for the truck. Heidi's dad, an executive in the company, heard my story, and he became quite pissed about my predicament. He was not pissed at me, but he could not believe that I had all of this happen to me. I couldn't believe it, either.
I called the assistant DM to find out what I should do, and he mentioned that the truck had to be done that day. I asked him about my benefits, and he suggested to overnight the form to corporate. The conversation was rather short, as he was at the next store for the truck. The previous night, that store was robbed.
The truck guys didn't know what to do. They estimated that it would take me at least six hours by myself to unload, maybe longer . . . they didn't want to start the unload. Then, the truck's dispatch office called, angry, wondering why their truck wasn't unloaded as of that time. I explained to them that we were going to unload, but I also mentioned that the assistant DM had mentioned that he was going to okay the delay of the truck for the next store until the next day. I received a bit of flak on the other end of that phone because the dispatch wasn't notified.
Finally, the manager entered at 3 PM. I explained the situation. My manager has years of management experience in another retail company. She's seen a lot of crazy things. This hadn't phased her as of yet. I told her that I was rather pissed, and I explained what was happening with my benefits situation. She understood the problems that I experienced.
We talked to the DM. We decided that the truck couldn't be unloaded that day. I explained the situation to the DM, and I asked about the benefits, mentioning that it was supposed to have been taken care of for me. She responded that my benefits were not her problem.
My manager tried to find a post office for me. I was dropped off at work that early morning by Heidi, so I didn't have a car. Managment had to be inside of the store, so I had to stay while my manager went to find the post office to mail my forms overnight to corporate. I went out at some point to notify the truck guys that we wouldn't do the unload until the next day. They took it in stride.
My manager returned from the drive. She couldn't find the post office. Heidi called not long after that, and she offered to get my forms out on an overnight through FedEx/Kinkos. She drove over to pick me up from the store.
At that point, a shoplifter took some items from an aisle and walked out . . . the cashiers took down the thief's license plate. The manager had to start on that problem. That is when I followed her into the back room, where I watched her cry.
Apparently, the day's chaos not only was too much for me. The shoplifter hit her last nerve. I felt for her. Heidi showed up, and I decided to stay a little while longer to make sure my manager was going to be okay. Heidi did the FedEx errand while I worked until things cooled down a bit.
My manager gave me solid advice. "Never let your employees see you sweat." If I have major problems, even if it means going into a back room to scream . . . it's better than any emotional breakdown in front of them. The problem is, I can't really do that. My feelings have always been prominently displayed on my sleeve. I bleed that way. I let her know that I'm really not capable of doing that.
After a while, Heidi returned from FedEx . . . it was a successful overnight mailing order. I left work on my first day of my week, Wednesday. I left work, however, like I have been doing for most every day, with quite a bit of stress and frustration. It doesn't leave itself at the job. It never did, the stress. It probably never will.
Thursday was my one month anniversary with the company. I worked the truck with three workers. We unloaded the 1,000 plus boxes in 3 hours. There were too many products, so I ordered the workers to unload quite a few on to the floor. I didn't really understand that all stock must stay in the back room unless it's being worked upon . . . I broke quite a few safety rules today in my inexperience. I also failed to make any pickups on the register. It's so very against the rules to have over 1,000 dollars in the register. Whoopsie.
My manager went to an all-day meeting. I ran the store, quite poorly, I should add, from the early morning until 5 PM. I left this evening changed from the previous day.
I feel quite broken inside of me. You might say that I really haven't felt many happy moments since Halloween of 2004. I've been running on empty, financially and otherwise, since that day.
I'll have to stop this story at this point.
At 9 AM, I must be at the region office for an assistant manager's meeting. I don't really feel much right now except for anger, pain, and moments of numbness from exhaustion. I make 25% less than my previous horrible job, and each job that I've held since I graduated from college progressively degrades in quality. My quality always is as best as can be, but it never matters. It's never good enough, and it was never good enough in school, despite a 3.5 average.
I have no hope of a writing career. I have too much debt at this point to even consider another run at writing. Writing is its own 40-plus hour job, and I have experienced over 12 hours of daily chaos from nasty surprises, horrible work, terrible Detroit weather, and stress aftershock.
The only great part of my life is Heidi, and I love her. It is currently the only thing that I am doing right. My work is a mess of non-followed policies from poor on-the-job training. Outside of Heidi, I remain in great misery. I know things could be much worse, but the future appears very dark.
Life isn't fair, but it should be a little more fair that it currently is.