Greetings From Down Under Mates…

No, I am not on vacation in Australia or New Zealand…nothing anywhere near as exciting…Hell, I’m not even sure when I’ll take vacation again…

The down under I’m referring to is from underneath the wheels of the bus that myself and my fellow team leaders…there’s 6 of us altogether…are about to be and already have been thrown under by our employer, the grocery store where we work…

Ever since myself and my co-workers started working there, we have defended and carried out the store’s strict policy on the sale of alcohol…everyone gets carded, everyone must present a valid form of identification…drivers license, passport, military identification…EVERYONE…Hell, I’ve carded a 91 year old man once and felt ridiculous doing it…but it was the policy, and we pledged allegiance to the store’s law…

An unpleasant event happened in the store a few weeks ago in which one of my co-leaders was called to the cafe checkout to settle an identification dispute…the customer did NOT have a valid identification and became upset when he was denied his purchase…the employee followed the rules he was given…during this time, another customer inserted himself into the transaction, offering to purchase the alcohol for the customer…he also identified himself as a police officer, although that claim was never actually proven…a police officer should know the value of following laws and rules…the employee explained he could not purchase the items for the customer and why he couldn’t, and unfortunately this is where the story takes a sad and ugly turn for everyone…

At this point the customer decided that the employees actions were based on his race and not his lack of proper identification…a claim that was just NOT TRUE…the employee was following the policies he had been given…the customer also decided that he would pull out his cell phone and begin Facebook living the event…this part of the story has never proven out either, but taking videos of the employees working in the store is also a violation of policy…the customer should have been asked to leave the store at this point…not to mention I think it’s a clear violation of someone’s personal rights to take photos or videos of them and then beam them across the internet without their permission…call me old fashioned, because I am…

As you can imagine, word of this brouhaha…ha…spread to the store manager and an area manager who came down to speak with everyone involved…and when the dust settled?…they threw the employee under the bus and gave the customer what he wanted…making the employee look like a fool for following the policy that the owners and the state put in place for these types of situations…they threw him under the bus for the sake of one customer…

Part of the actions to override the employee by the manager can probably be attributed to the ridiculous actions of some Starbucks employees in Philadelphia…they didn’t want to have their own Starbucks situation on their hands…and I somewhat get that…but alcohol policies are put in place to protect everyone…the store, the employee, and the public…what happens when a possibly intoxicated customer comes through a line to purchase more alcohol and we deny the purchase…as employees we are put out there (empowered?) to make these sometimes difficult decisions…and they do happen…sometimes it’s alcohol related…other times it might be when to take back merchandise on a customer return…another policy which is quickly becoming a big grey sticky wicket as well…but the hardest ones involve alcohol…

By leaving the door open to interpretation of the policy, there is the clear possibility that we will be asked to override the cashiers potentially making them look bad to the buying public as well…employee vs. employee…and that ain’t a good idea…and what happens if you have customers who pick up on the fact we’ve weakened our policy… don’t think for a second that they won’t…they WILL say they saw us do it for someone else and why are we singling them out…they without question will…

There are still issues in our lives that require strict rules and regulations and they can’t be open to interpretation…they’re there for the protection for everyone…and they need to be supported by those tasked with creating them, and those they hire to carry them out…

…whoever said life as a grocer was easy…

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“Excuse Me Sir, But I Am Not A Liar”…

Had a strange, somewhat interesting conversation with a customer at the market the other day. This customer was in search of a manager who he thought could somehow enable corporate changes in our policy of who gets carded when purchasing alcohol in our store. He found me instead…which is to say his dream of corporate change was about to head over the falls in a barrel…a cheaply one made at that…

…So this gentleman’s disagreement was that we were lying about WHY we card our customers when purchasing alcohol…I gave him the most obvious answers…the answers he was really entitled to…not good enough for him…he insisted I tell the truth…I promised him I was…not good enough…the real truth, like him, was out there, and he wanted that other truth…tiring of his personal agenda, I pressed him back to tell me why he thought we carded all customers…his answer was both simplistic and obvious…Captain Obvious-like obvious…his answer was liability

It was here that I decided I had enough of this conversation…of course we do it to reduce our liability…what company doesn’t put rules in place to protect themselves from liability?…he then went on a rant about how this country had too many regulations…how the population was too divided against itself…how there were too many hand-outs…our politicians were failing in their duty to us…he was really warming up now…and starting to Infect other customers happy little Saturday morning grocery shopping experience…time to change the subject back to his initial complaint…so I simply asked him if for some reason he had been denied a purchase in our establishment today…his answer was almost ridiculous when you consider all the argument he had put into it…he only drinks once, maybe twice a year…my first thought was that maybe today was one of those days?…a thought I kept to myself by the way…

 After a couple of minutes of back and forth I decided I had to politely end this guys dream…EA164E10-C2FD-4190-A954-F50535481935…one technique I’ve developed is to politely ask the customer’s name and shake their hand signaling my intention to move on and end a pretty much no-win circular conversation…but with this guy I felt a couple things needed to be cleared up first…after all I gave this guy a lot of time…so I made sure that he understood that his wish for us to change our carding policy would not happen, not even a little bit…and for some reason…using this interaction to improve my ability to understand other people’s motives…I was interested to know what this customer’s political party affiliation was, if he had one?…his complaints of too many regulations…of a nation divided…his objection to some, not all social programs (hand-outs)…of politicians who fail to do what he thought was right (drain the swamp?)…and his answer didn’t surprise me…

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