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Working for a Living

When I was a kid and worked at menial jobs, I noticed that the people I worked with went out of their way NOT to go out of their way.  At the end of their shift, they'd clock out and that would be the end of it. 

One of my close relatives used to say well, that is why they are IN these sorts of jobs.  See how they are talking with their friends instead of organizing shelves or seeing if that customer over there needs help?  Or that lady.  You can tell she is talking with her boyfriend on the phone the way she is swooning about all over the place.  She needs to do that on her own time.  I'da fired her.

Another great thing he used to say was that employees should get sick on their own time.

I agree with this mindset pretty much.  If you're at work, you're supposed to be working.  Really working.  Not giggling with your friends or chatting on the phone or flirting with some guy who "happens" to come to the store when you are working.  Get moving.  I can't see my way clear to paying some of these morons seven bucks for doing pretty well jack crap nothing.  They deserve maybe $1.50 hourly for their efforts on a good day.  These minimum wage laws are an absolute shame because companies can't pay these losers what they're really worth.

I worked really hard when I had a job.  Really, really hard.  I just couldn't seem to keep a real job, even a "simple" cash register job.  (They are not as "simple" as they look, by the way.  I have a college degree and COULD NOT keep everyone's stupid orders straight or remember which buttons to push WHILE talking with the customer.  I can do one or the other.)

What would happen is something like this:  I would go in for training (which consists of a 45-minute video and a worksheet) and I'd learn that our NUMBER ONE priority is customer satisfaction.  NUMBER ONE.  We want to keep those customers happy with us here at Brand Name, so they come back.

Okay then.  "So Customer, would you like ketchup with your fries?"

The manager takes me aside.  Oh no, no, no, he tells me.  We do not "suggestive sell" ketchup because we give away the ketchup.  We "suggestive sell" additional products.  Like this:  say some old man orders a cheeseburger.  You ask him, "Do you want a drink with that?"  You don't ask him if he needs jelly with his muffin, or salt with his hash browns!  Why are you doing this?

Now I am genuinely confused.  The NUMBER ONE priority was supposed to be customer satisfaction.  That means how happy the customer is.  Ketchup made this customer happy.  But I am being yelled at for giving away the ketchup. 

And so on.  Or the rule is that "if you have time to lean, you have time to clean!"  You can't lean on the counter between customers.  You need to find something to clean.  WOW these shelves haven't been totally emptied and reorganized in forever!!  *dump* Sort, sort, sort.

"Why are you making this big mess?"  The manager is displeased again.

Nevermind that job.  I also was a reporter for a while.  My editor would give me five or six stories to work on.  All of them entail tracking down several people to interview and/or travelling to a given location.  I need to prioritize here as I am the only reporter on the daily paper.  Which story is the most important?

"All of them," my editor replied. Sigh.  I can't tell you how many times I worked on the "wrong" most important story.

Or I am to report on the police blotter every day.  That is interesting stuff.  The dispatcher would just hand me a big stack of reports every morning when I showed up.  I would look them over, copy relevant information, give her back her papers and then leave.  Reports would have the names of the people involved in the incident, where and when it took place, and the MO (or "how it happened").  Here is an example of an interesting police report I copied:

Name:  Mr. Joe Smyth and Mrs. Sally Tucker
Date:  June 15
Location:  Elmer's Parking Lot 2101 E. 17th St.
Summary:  Suspicious car reported, investigating officer found Smyth and Tucker engaged in a sexual act.  Told to go take it somewhere else.
MO: Missionary

Dear friends, most of the really interesting stuff never makes the paper.  Even though it is public record, my editor kept making all these "judgment calls" on what is news and what isn't.  Though the ad staff did have a good laugh at me for including it.  You would also be surprised at how many important people's cousins and/or staff's relatives never had their names in the paper for anything bad.


  1. I think it's all a question of perspective.e.g. in the US customer service is always, always, always, excellent. In the UK we don't have customer service, but self service. [yes, I exaggerate.]

  2. Well ... the most important goal in a business ... to make money. Customer satisfaction is great ... as repeat business (more money), less grumblng (less employee time to waste resolving) and also happier employees (reducing turnover).

    I also know people who have those stories of getting hurt on your own time. I was told once ... my boss never took a single sick day in his whole 35 years ... even when I almost severed a hand in an airplane propeller ... it was the weekend. But companies give sick time as a benefit and to prevent other workers from getting sick as well. I don't believe in abusing it, but I do believe in using my own benefit. Maybe I would think differently ... more loyal in that way ... but companies have ceased honoring their side of loyalty by firing at will just for bottom lines without concern for families. They have decided to break that gentleman's agreement.

  3. "if you have time to lean, you have time to clean!"... man, I hated that line.

    Sorry, didn't mean to lean for a second... do you mind if I pass out a little?

  4. Checkout work certainly is harder than it loooks. Clean in between? Means wipe down all sufaces near you, not rearrange the shelves or sort out the cigarette cabinet. (me)
    Suggestive selling is called upselling here in Aus. I do it...customer buys a pack of cigarettes, I ask does he need a lighter. A packet of tobacco? I ask does he need papers, filters, a lighter? I've recommended additional products to complement selections made by customers, when they've bought stuff to try a new recipe for instance.


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