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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Giving Thanks At the Market?…Well, Maybe Not So Much For Everyone…

Yes, this is but another in a close-Knit  and endless stream of posts about my new job at the grocery store…if you want the latest on Number 45 and his Cabinet of Horrors you clicked on the wrong post…it’s also not a very imaginative use of the Daily Prompt Word knit…

Anywho, in my position as the most junior of all of the Front End Service Team Leaders, this has been a good week to work with other Front End employees and managers…and unfortunately also get my rear end handed to me…it was one thing learning HOW to work as a cashier…but something totally different learning how to work WITH the cashiers and help them through their hang-ups…their register issues…not their emotional hang-ups, for those they can use the Employee Assistance Program or their favorite bartender…if their over 21 of course…sorry if that sounds cold…

this week they issued to me several cards…with printing barely legible because of the amazing amount of information…department numbers, phone numbers…all printed so small even with glasses on it was difficult to make out the numbers…add the pressure of a line of customers waiting for me to fix things…to figure out product codes or pricing when the item has none…why their credit or debit card was denied…the difference between in-date and out-of-date coupons…like I said…rear end?…meet front end…

I did learn some things the hard way, however my performance was not what you could call one of a seasoned professional in the grocery industry…I unfortunately maybe inadvertently ticked off a few customers with my new found incompetence?…not because that was my goal…however, I think I also showed great patience with some customers…I find it amazing that a customer can come running into the store and without even attempting to look around, ask…

“Where are the cranberries?”…

”Well…what kind would you like mam?…fresh cranberries, frozen, or canned?”…

”Oh, never mind. I’ll just wander around the store!”…

Uh?…Okay then, Happy Thanksgiving to you, mam?”…

Sorry…but that’s just not shopping to me…and no, I don’t know the precise location of every  item in the store…we have an phone app for that…she could have looked it up before she even left home…saving us both from that uncomfortable exchange… 

…even in the face of a really irate customer who wanted to buy two turkeys…who didn’t read the dates on the sales flyer and who came to the register with two frozen turkeys EA164E10-C2FD-4190-A954-F50535481935and enough attitude to stuff both those birds…she might have gotten her price too…if only she hadn’t been verbally abusive to the employee at the register…a 17-year old…tell me we suck and then threaten me you have a blog?…

WHO IN THE NAME OF SAM HILL DOESN’T HAVE A BLOG?…And let me guess?…she added it on your Facebook timeline too?…hopefully for her and her family, Chinese food restaurants are open on Thanksgiving…am I right?

There were lots of other inter-actions with customers…some good…some not so much…usually my fault…but I’m looking forward to the end of my first month…all the while realizing that delivering packages for FedEx for the last 16+ years has taught me almost nothing…it’s time to actually use my brain again…

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