S is for a storm, steel and a song

Gordon Lightfoot and I are soul mates. Momentarily.

Thick gray clouds were plundering the sunlit fields of sky when I rose this morning.

“Uh-oh,” I thought. Not for the storm itself. Or the snow it’s supposed to bring to the higher elevations nearby but won’t surprise if it hits the area.

Rather, at the promise of working in it today. Of pushing some 400 pounds of steel — shopping carts — through puddles and streams and cold winds.

Henry David Thoreau would make it sound all nature-y and romantic.

BTW, a plastic poncho protects not against those elements, contrary to claims by managers at Fry’s Food.

Upon first look out the window, the song “Rainy Day People” popped into my mind.

Then, per my morning ritual, I brewed the coffee and pulled up Pandora. I skimmed past two favorites, Dylan and Van Morrison.

“More in the mood for Gordon Lightfoot,” I thought.

With God as my witness, boom! First tune up: “Rainy Day People.”

Mr. Lightfoot and I share more than rainy day sentiments. We resonate with ships and trains. Wonder whether he could get me on the next train departing the Fry’s Food station.  Lord Gordon knows that when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

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Off With Their Heads(wear)!

Tales from the crypt. The Fry’s Food crypt.

So the other week I’m called into the office by the day manager, “Joan.” Name’s been altered (slightly) to protect the (so-called) innocent.

Also called in is a young pert coworker “Lisa.”

Fry’s doesn’t call someone into the office to praise or appreciate or thank. “What did Lisa and I do wrong?” I wonder.

We quickly learn.

“You are not allowed to wear scarves or bandanas.”

What?!

FYI aside, I’m a “head-dresser.” Baseball hats, scarves, caps. Long time back I got this pretty little scarf from the Goodwill. I love it. At Fry’s, I fold and tie it — with a small square knot, if you must know — at the back crook of the neck.

Bad Bandana! Bad!!!

Bad Bandana! Bad!!

Customers love it. Their positive comments are plentiful. It cheers them up. It cheers me up.

Although Fry’s thinks otherwise, I am not a robot or a simpleton tool for their gains. In their drab (and depressing) world, I like and need to express myself. Just a smidge. To peep out from under the rock. Just a tad. To express my light. If not for a blip of a moment. To bring color and a smile to the customers.

Befitting the Fry’s Food motto: Friendly Customer Service.

“Lisa” too, wears a simple headscarf. Hers aren’t quite as boldly floral. A splash of red or black or such against her dark hair. They suit her. They convey a creativity and cheeriness that, truth told, are absent at Fry’s.

When we’re told scarves or bandanas are not allowed, our jaws drop and eyes roll.

How utterly ridiculous. Stupid. Small-minded. Petty. I say so to “Julie.”

Especially in light of the GINORMOUS sea of problems Fry’s Food has. Starting with no carts for customers (see prior entry). I don’t say that.

“You can wear a headband or bows or ribbons or hairclips from a store. But no scarves or bandanas.”

I debate manager Julie on this inane “policy” while Lisa sits silently. Her eyes, however, convey concurrence. The manager could not argue for the policy on grounds of sanity or reason. She acknowledges lameness, to a point. She’s a kiss-ass. A lap dog to the Big Store Manager “Tom.”

She likes her job. She wants to keep her job. She would not rock the boat if her life depended on it. If Fry’s Food changed its dress code from black pants and white shirts to bikinis (eeewwwww!), Julie would abide.  That’s who she is.

So while I offer inarguably sound and intelligent response to the No Scarves or Bandanas policy — knowing full well too that it’s within Julie’s discretionary power to enforce or not policies based on grades of ridiculousness and productiveness, she chooses to abide nonetheless — my points stand no chance of survival in the muck, mire and seamless sea of insanity that ARE Fry’s Food.

So Lisa and I are stripped of our scarves.

Alas, that’s neither the point nor end of the story.

You see, those blips of color on our heads were looooved by the customers.. Appreciated. Enjoyed. Valued.

Moreover, a mere 24 hours earlier, both manager Julie and Big Store Manager Tom are admiring Lisa’s scarf, telling her how lovely it is!

I am not making this up.

For months our scarves were enjoyed by management and coworkers and customers alike.

Then BOOOM! One day. Outta nowhere. The axe falls. Or scissors, as the case may be.

What changed?

Absolutely nothing except the opinion of one man.

The Big Store Manager Tom.

He’s there on the daily. He’s seen our scarves many a time.

But this one particular day, just before we’re called into the office, he stood at the sidelines, with arms folded, surveying the store action with the stern countenance of a sheriff deciding whether the ruffian should be hanged or permanently jailed.

Big Store Manager Tom chose the gallows. For me and Lisa and any employee who might dare headwear.

So.

To the story’s end.

Nowhere in the company handbook is it written that scarves or bandanas are prohibited.

It DOES explicitly state that no liquids may be drunk during shifts except CLEAR WATER.

It DOES explicitly state the color of our pants (black or khaki) and shirt (white or black).

It DOES state that no more than two earrings in one ear are allowed.

Big Store Manager Tom hasn’t a leg to stand on, in truth.

Yet here’s a fairly universal Truth About Managers:

  • They like to throw their weight around. Just because they can.
  • They have egos and arrogance bigger than half the size of America. That’s how they get ahead. And stay ahead.
  • They like to issue edicts and dictates, regardless of soundness, reason, logic or sanity or lack thereof. Just because they can.
  • They like to mark their territory, like a hound. Just because they can.

So there ya have it. The customers’ loss is Tom’s gain.

So hat’s off — scarves or bandanas too! — to Tom and Julie and Fry’s Food for upholding those little insignificant yet uplifting personal touches and pleasures amongst customers. Y’all wear the Friendly Customer Service motto so very well.

The steam finally cools with Fry’s Food

The flames of frustration with Fry’s Food are at last subsiding.

Let’s review briefly the course of irritants in the past 48 hours.

1. A company email informs me that if I need to reschedule an interview to call Ms. R. at the store directly.

2. I do so, only to be told that no, you don’t call the store, you email her.

3. I’m told that her email is such-and-such. I insist that she spell it out and she obliges. Only, it turns out, it isn’t correct. My emails bounce back.

4. I call the store again seeking the correct email and confirming spelling. A staffer tells me that the “k” in the woman’s name must be capitalized. Ooooooooh-kay.

5. I make the change, send the emails. Wait a while. No response. They bounce back again.

6. I call the store now for the fourth time in two days and present the problem. Though the interview’s several days away, the time to reschedule is vanishing fast on repeated wasted efforts (through no fault of my own).

Regarding the yet-again incorrect email: “Oh, no, there’s no ‘s’ in ‘foods,” a woman tells me. Ohhhhhh-kay!

7. I send now the 6th or 7th email in two days that includes a brief recount and a sense of frustration and exasperation, understandably.

8. I nearly fall off my chair when I receive a response!! I rejoice! At last we have contact! After a stream of incorrect email info from the staff, this one’s right!

9. Unfortunately, all interview slots for the day we both have available next week are filled, in no small part I’m sure due to the two days lost in trying to get a hold of Ms. R.!

So an open interview it’ll be. I and who knows how many others on a first-come first-served basis between 12-3 p.m.

I’m nothing if not persistent — and responsible. Lesser souls attempting to reschedule and hitting wall after wall might’ve said “screw it!” Can’t say I’d blame ’em.

And no, my persistence isn’t rooted in any yearning or deep desire to work at a supermarket for minimum wage!

I persisted because I feel responsible. If I can’t make an interview, I’m not gonna be a no-show. I’m gonna reschedule — if I’m able … and this arduous Fry’s run-around called that into question!

I’m gonna do the right thing. The responsible thing.

I hear so many stories of people — especially young folks — who simply don’t show up at work as scheduled. Who quit without giving a head’s up to a manager. Who simply “don’t feel like working there anymore so I’m not ever going back in.”

Such behavior — and it’s far more common than you think! — appalls. It revolts me. No sense of responsibility or respect or work ethic.

A part of me thinks I should be hired simply for all the grief, frustration and aggravation imposed by Fry’s! A case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand’s doing.

I don’t *really* think that of course.

I do, however, think that anyone who went through as much trouble as I did and still stuck it out to do the right thing shows an aspect of character — an admirable aspect — that should cause a potential employer to sit up and take notice.

I know I’d notice were I a hiring manager.

But then again, were I a manager, none of these in-house missteps and failures to communicate would’ve occurred. Not on my watch. And if they did, I’d correct them immediately.

Guess that’s why I remain a peon in a cog in someone else’s wheel rather than a manager or high-level administrator. I’m too intelligent, too efficient, too orderly, too adept at identifying and solving problems, too thorough, too meticulous, too conscientious and adept at a job.

In a nutshell, I’m the worst candidate for a managerial post in Corporate!

Glad this mess is behind me — for now. I want to celebrate. A round for everyone!

Pick Your Pretty, Please!

Pick Your Pretty, Please!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr-eat!

As if Fry’s isn’t frustrating enough!

An update. This’ll make sense only if the prior post’s read.

The email to the interviewer isn’t being delivered! Just got one of those auto-alerts from the server. Basically “we’ve been trying to send it for 24 hours. We’ll keep trying.”

This is the exact email addy I was given by my local Fry’s!! Letter for letter. I checked with the store.

So how the F am I supposed to reschedule an interview if the email’s wrong and she can’t be reached by phone?!?

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Grrrrrrrreatttttt frustration, Fry’s!!!

Fry’s Food: Frustration!

A case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand’s doing. Fry’s Food.

The large supermarket chain for any unfamiliar.

The online application was no cakewalk. (Hate online applications for various reasons.)

The followup phone call to arrange an interview was almost as arduous! What I expected to be a quickie 5-minute scheduling turned out to take 20 minutes! Much longer and it would’ve made me late for my interview!

A company email spells out at considerable length where to go for the interview, what time, what to bring, whom to call and what to do if you need to reschedule.

I do. So I followed the instructions as precisely spelled out.

“Sorry,” the store person says. “You have to email her.”

“But the email says to call the store directly,” I respond. “I’m just doing what I’m told to do.”

“They just changed it,” she says, parroting a coworker in the background.

“Ooooo-kay,” I say, now dubious about the true proper procedure. The left hands says do X, the right hand says do T. Whom do you believe? Whom CAN you believe? It’s Corporate. As in Confusing. Conundrum. Confounded.

So I followed the “revised” set of instructions. I emailed the interviewer (presumably a manager) with a request to reschedule, my email and my phone.

Nothing.

Now, it’s not a time crunch … yet. The interview’s Wednesday.

But, knowing Corporate and its incredible efficiency {gag}, it can turn into one on a dime.

Which is the very thing I seek to avoid! Which is why I’m staying on top of this.

I can just see it. Wednesday 4 p.m. comes. The interviewer’s sitting there waiting, checking the time, tapping her toes. I don’t appear. I’m written up — and — off as a no-show.

There goes an interview and possible employment down the drain. Plus I’m perceived in a false light and a black mark’s put on my record, so to speak.

**All through no fault of my own!!**

All because the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing.

At some point, I want the adults I’m dealing with to be adults. To be accountable and responsible. Even if they’re only half as responsible as I am, that’s still a gain from the average!

Short of going to the market and sitting there for hours and hours hoping she’ll show so I can actually personally request an interview reschedule, I can do only so much. I’m doing the best I can. The most I can. All that I can. If she fucks up and never responds, then it is I who bears the consequences, not she.

It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt with Corporate — capital C. I got out in 2004 and never looked back with anything but scorn and relief and exhilaration of being unshackled to that monster. A cold, heartless, inhumane The Bottom Line Alone Matters monster.

I’m not suggesting the interviewer is of those characteristics, rather that that’s the nature of the Corporate beast. I’ve not missed it and do not miss it one iota.

Yet here it is again, blatant and in my face. The left hand and right hand speaking entirely different languages. As a person and natural CEO with inherent gifts at organization, order, sound structures and communication — running a tight ship is my nature — this crap rankles, profoundly!

Only time’ll tell whether I’m a “no show” at Wednesday’s interview due to a breakdown on *their/her* end. Or whether she’ll rise to the occasion and answer an email — well, emails.

You’d think it’d be simple. So simple. It SHOULD be simple!

Until I’m reminded: The Corporate monster knows no simplicity. It feeds on inefficiency and stupidity and illogic and unreason; after its feast, its fart smells of Aggravation for humans in its presence.

Will she or won’t she respond? Will we or won’t we reschedule? Only the beast time shall tell!