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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Geez Louise…This Guy Again?…

Working as a grocer, I’ve come to learn that we all have our favorite and not-so-favorite customers…and of course there’s always another manager with their own customer or with their own story of when all hell broke loose like you’ve never seen before…well other than a few mulch fires or a group of customers…although they never came into the store to buy anything…they just stood in front of the entrance to the store staring at their cell phones like some kind of cult…looking for some kind of Pokémon character that someone said showed up…I don’t really have any of those hell breaking loose stories…but, I do now have my most dreaded customer…I’ve actually already written about him in another post…

“Excuse Me Sir, But I Am Not A Liar”…

…it’s now this flippin’ guy…I actually had another interaction with him when he accused the store of false advertising and he wanted to call corporate to complain about their deceptive practices…all because he wanted to mix a Pepsi 12 pack with two Coke 12 packs and get the discount that Coke was offering when you buy three (3) Coke 12 packs…we gave it to him anyway because he was becoming a disruption…

…and then out of the blue this week, he pops back into my life, charging out of the register line he was waiting in to loudly impart this wisdom on me…

“You know who doesn’t lie, Ann Coulter doesn’t lie…that’s who…Ann Coulter doesn’t lie.”

Well, I don’t know if she does or doesn’t…quite frankly I’ve never really read or listened to anything she says…and to be honest, I certainly won’t based on his recommendation. It also made me wonder if, since this was now our third conversation based on truthfulness and transparency…was he now openly calling me a liar in front of all of our customers and my co-workers?…how should I respond?…just as quickly, he was gone again, back in his line, trying to now prove to other customers as well, that Ann Coulter did tell the truth…

After thinking on it for awhile, I decided a couple of things…never again would I let this guy challenge my honesty…second, from now on the deal is the deal, I won’t mix 12 packs of soda…let him call corporate…and finally…I’ll never have a most dreaded customer…I’m doing away with it…I won’t give guys like this the chance to say they’re the “most” anything…

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If It’s Gonna’ Be…I’d Rather It Not Be Up To Me…

There’s an old saying about not defecating where you eat…well, I would never do that, and it really doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m about to share…

The problem here is…I live near where I work, not that I do the aforementioned defacating…I could walk to and from work if I had to, and I have…so if an emergency were to say spring up…maybe the store night manager has to leave in a hurry?…who they gonna’ call?…yeah, it was me…and it was after putting in a 9 hour day…I had just gotten home and was settling into my favorite old-man Bahama shorts and t-shirt… maybe even a quick nap since my wife was away at church for the next hour…when the cell phone started ringing…

Normally, I would have just let it ring and go to voice mail…but no, my son, thinking he was doing me a favor, hurried over to pick it up…some day, God as my witness, I’m tossing that kid outta my house…

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And of course it’s someone from the store…and of course he felt that I needed to take the call rather than lay down and nap in peace for an hour…and yes, it was the store and they asked if I could return to work for another fun-filled 5 hours as the night manager…see, here’s the thing, remember I said I could walk to work…well, it turns out I wasn’t even the first choice to fill the role…I wasn’t called until they were left with no choice…maybe I should be grateful for not calling me until everybody else said no…but for some reason I feel like my talents were disrespected by them not calling the easiest, closest alternative?…how screwed up is that ass-backward logic, right?…

The everyday role I have in the store is also shared by 5 other employees…when you have a store open 24/7 and 7 days a week, you need lots of leaders…and if you’ve ever read anything else I’ve ever written, you would know that I’m the token old man…older than any two of them put together…so when an emergency like this pops up… and it really doesn’t, this is the first time ever…but when it does, you can bet that these young whippersnappers are off doing fun things…not laying around in their old man shorts and t-shirts…

To wrap this up, the night went smooth with no problems and I was done by 1 AM…I do have to laugh though…the youngster who is in charge of scheduling said that I can just leave early from one of my shifts this week…I may be getting old, but why the hell would I leave early at a later date and lose the overtime I put in last night?…making the 14 plus hours I worked all at straight time?…sorry kid, I may be old and you may be smarter than me…know all the new math and stuff…but I still remember the value of time and a half vs. straight time…the value of a buck vs. a buck-and-a-half…grow up!…

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Is It Finally the Right Time?…

I got home this morning after working an overnight shift at the grocery store, and after powering down a couple of mini-cinnamon buns and a glass of iced-tea, I checked my upcoming work schedule on the website…probably should have checked my sugar…but I saw an item that stuck out immediately…as part of my company’s community outreach, I found that I have been volunteered to work at an upcoming pet adoption show in June…

I love dogs…just about all of them…even the three that bit me when I was delivering packages…while I don’t necessarily love them…wasn’t their fault…well-behaved dogs come from owners who treat them well, and who give them the chance to inter-act with both people and other dogs…in the area I used to deliver to, there were 3 pit bulls…everyone has heard the horror stories about this breed…but these 3 dogs, all owned by separate families and adopted (rescued), were 3 of the sweetest dogs I had on my route…they had responsible owners who treated them well and gave them a chance to inter-act…

I thought that this day of service might also be a chance to adopt a new family pet…our family beagle passed away this winter…

Goodbye Bailey…You’ll Be Forever In Our Hearts…

…and to be honest, I still haven’t gotten over losing him…I’m still living in the house that Bailey owned…we had him for 14 great years…many nights when my wife was traveling and the kids were away at school, it was just me and Bailey…more often now, I think about another dog in the family… would we get another beagle?…something different?…can we afford another mouth to feed in the house?…afford the additional cost of vet visits and kennel costs if we go on vacation?…do I want to invest the time in raising a new dog the right way?…do we really need that Complication in our lives right now?…

We bought Bailey from a pet store when he was a puppy and his mark on our family will be forever…is it time to let him go and allow a new dog to make its mark on our family?…and in our kitchen?…our family room?…the office and the bedrooms?…get back to you on that one…

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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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Frogger…Valerie Bertinelli…And Sir Isaac Newton

On a recent Sunday morning at the grocery store, as part of my position as junior Service Team Leader (who says seniority doesn’t have its advantages?) I had to head out to the parking lot to join in what I like to call shopping cart FROGGER…you remember, that video game where you have to get frogs across a road full of traffic or a river with hungry alligators?…

Now, our store has literally hundreds of carts available for customers…and being a Sunday morning, the place was jumping by 9 AM…retrieving grocery carts doesn’t really take a lot of thought, more brawn than brains…and at my workplace it’s treated like an all-day job with anywhere between 2-4 employees retrieving carts depending on both day and time of day…they do other things too, emptying trash, assisting customers to their cars…they can be very helpful…

It was while pushing 7 or 8 smaller carts from one of the more distant corrals…and dodging not one, but two different customers who chose to back out of their spots with no regard for me or anyone else…that for some reason, I began to think about Frogger and Newton’s Laws of Motion…excuse me, Sir Isaac Newton…and how all this applied to the job I was doing…things in motion staying in motion…equal and opposite forces…that 3 laws crap…

Let me try to apply Newton’s laws to the simple act of pushing grocery carts…the carts will keep moving as long as I’m pushing them…or until another force…say, the bumper of that car backing out of a parking space?…is applied against mine…when put that way, it’s pretty easy to see where Newton was going, am I right?…

0E1EFA71-B904-40D0-B237-B4052EAF8AD6I’m no physicist, but I remember this stuff being much more difficult in high school, mostly because I was an idiot…but also because the girl in front of me could have been Valerie Bertinelli’s doppelgänger…remember her?…she was the good daughter on “One Day At A Time” and eventually married Eddie Van Halen?…difficult to concentrate on Newton’s nonsense with a really cute-almost Valerie Bertinelli sitting at the desk just in front of me…ignoring me…the whole semester…I often wonder if Newton would have been so smart if he had someone who looked like Valerie Bertinelli sitting at the desk in front of him?…

 

Recycling My Tribute To Santa’s e-Commerce Mutants…An Annual Holiday Classic?…

As a driver delivering packages for Federal Express, this particular Saturday was always among my least favorite. In all the boroughs and townships that my route 9588D292-8E1D-4386-A09B-51FA9C508A65consisted of, it was fire truck Santa Clause day…I despised it…so much so that last year I wrote my own fantasy / true life tribute to my fellow drivers at FedEx Home Delivery and all they deal with during the busy holiday season…all they have to work around on fire truck Santa day…I’ve included it below…give it a read if you have some time…

 

Santa And the e-Commerce Mutants

Today…down at the grocery store…things come full-circle as the bearded wonder makes a visit to my new workplace…but unlike all those years as one of Santa’s e-Commerce mutants…happily…thanks to my quirky schedule…I won’t have to deal with all of the craziness that comes with a Saturday morning with Santa and kids all hopped up on candy canes and Hershey Bars…and today I can look on…Silent…from my front window as the fire truck Santa and his volunteer fire fighting elves…(thank you for your service boys)…make their way through my neighborhood blowing their siren…ringing the bell…honking their horn…all to let kids know that Santa and his helpers are just outside…blocking traffic…and handing out candy canes left over from last year’s Christmas ride…you don’t really think the townships and boroughs throw the leftovers out, do ya?…

To my former co-workers and friends at FedEx…be safe today and hang in there…it’s almost over…until January when everyone starts spending those gift cards they got for Christmas…during all those on-line after-Christmas sales…sometimes e-Commerce really sucks…

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