Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pissed Off, Pissed On. Ya Know, Whatever.

Sometimes people do things or say things that I just cannot even begin to understand.  On one particular occasion at Happy Time Portraits I got to witness both.

I was working by myself one day and this lady comes in with her mom and they were super, hardcore Martinez.  (If you aren't an avid reader of mine, the Operation Dumbo Drop post defines what that entails!)  They came in and the grandma was rather ornery from the start, but after sweet talking them for a few minutes at the front counter, she started to relax.  She told me that she had a bad experience at another studio because the lady was treating them "like they had no class", so I assured her that I would take good care of them.  Unfortunately, the people at the last portrait studio had it right, because these ladies were super unclassy!

On our way into the camera room her baby dropped a cracker on the floor, and instead of picking it up she ground it into the carpet with her foot because she thought I hadn't noticed.  When we got into the room, both of them took off their shoes and they were wearing the nastiest socks I had ever smelled in my life.  It was still okay, because I was going to do my job to the best of my ability and NOT pre-judge the customer.  The baby was really fussy and didn't seem like he had taken a nap that day.  He cried through almost every shot I took regardless of what sounds, faces or noises I made.  It was tough.  And the ladies brought in two outfits for him in addition to what he was wearing.  It was very trying.

After the third outfit change I thought that we were finally finished when the mom says "Hey, do you guys do the naked baby pictures like out on that poster out there?"  I told her that we did and she asked if we could do some.  I agreed cheerfully, but inside I was dying a little.  The baby was way past done and we had pushed our luck with the last outfit.  While they were taking off the baby's clothes the grandma made some super awkward comment about how happy the baby was to be naked "just like his daddy" and I had to turn away while I cringed.  I told them to leave the diaper on until the very last second so that we wouldn't have any accidents. 

We took a few poses on the black background with the diaper on and we had everything all set up to do the naked baby laying on his tummy shot where just the booty is showing.  The grandma took off the diaper and went to set him down but he got fussy as soon as she set him down, so she immediately picked him back up.  She said that he needed to try and eat something really fast to make him happy.  I let them know that they needed to put the diaper back on, but they wouldn't listen and I was so new at the job still that I just gave in. 

They were standing on the background still while I was on the floor thumbing through the shots that I had already taken on the camera.  The grandma was cradling the baby, still sans diaper, in her arms, when all of a sudden I hear, "Oh God!"  I raise my head up to see what is happening and the lady turns the baby towards me and a strangely powerful stream of baby piss is pointed right in my direction.  I try to get out of the way quickly, but I was kneeling down and I raced to get to my feet. I got up and the lady just keeps pointing it at me.  I was furious.  After all was said and done I ended up with baby piss all over my shirt and I was so shocked that it happened at the time that I had my mouth open in awe for a second, just long enough to get some in there too. 

I grabbed the nearest garbage can and spit into it a few times and grabbed some paper towels to clean off what I could from my shirt.  And I kinda lost it.  "What the hell?"  I yelled at the grandma. 

She looked at me sheepishly and all she could say was, "Sorry, I didn't wanna mess up the background that ya'll have in here."  So you thought you'd point it at the photographer instead?  I could feel my nostrils flaring.  Then she looks at me and says, "So, I think he's ready to take that last picture now."  I wanted to murder a grandma at right then and there. I excused myself for a minute and after I calmed down I came back out and took the last shot.  I think the baby knew on some level exactly what he did.  He lay there and smiled really big.  Snarky baby.

After everything was said and done, we got to the sales table and I showed her all of the amazing pictures that we had taken.  They both loved almost all of them.  So I ask her which package she was going to get and the fucking grandma pulls out a coupon for a one-pose package for $4.99 and tells me that that is all they can afford.  I am pretty sure that I turned bright red with anger at that point because I didn't understand why someone would bring in three outfits if they knew from the beginning that they were only going to buy one picture.  They wouldn't even add one extra sheet.  And to add insult to injury they didn't even get the naked baby picture!  RAGE!!!  I bit my tongue so incredibly hard that day and as soon as they left I was punching the hell out of a teddy bear that we had.

One of my fellow managers called me in mid-rampage and she asked me how my day was going.  All I could say was, "Dude!  I just got pissed on for five fucking dollars!"  And after letting me bitch and complain and explain to her what baby urine tastes like, she told me, "Yeah, I bet if you moved to Vegas you could get at least ten bucks for that." 

CONference Calls

I was just reading a co-worker's Facebook post about a lengthy, pointless conference call that she had to be on and it inspired me to put together a blog post of shit that people say on conference calls that just make me wanna punch a baby.  So I thought I'd paraphrase some of the more irritating things I've heard:

-Tardiness.  Me: "And the winner of our sales contest for the week is--"  Random Late Person: "I'm here!  I'm on for the Springfield store!"  Dammit...

-Overzealousness.  Me: "Okay, does anyone other than Susan have an idea for the event?"  Susan: "Haha, you are so funny!  But I have lots more ideas!  We can do..."  Gah! 

-Crickets.  Me: "So, I know that topic was a lot to take in.  Can I get a commitment from everyone that you will get this done today?"  *silence*  Me: "Anyone?"  *more silence*  Awkward Me Using a Ridiculous High-Pitched Voice:  "Of course we will because we were totally listening and totally understand what you just said!" 

-Driving During a Call.  Me: "Okay, Sarah.  How much money do you need to make your weekly goal?"  Sarah: "Uh *static, static, static* I'm not at the store yet."   Why the fuck are we even having you on this call if you aren't prepared for it!?  Grrrrr!

-Inappropriate Background Noise:  Me: "And that is why--"  Unknown Person:  "I don't care if you think he likes it!  Stop petting the damn cat!  And if you bite your brother again I'm gonna whoop your ass!"   Me: "Can you all please mute your phones?"  Same Unknown Person:  "No!  Mama's on a call right now!  Sit your ass down!"  Lovely.

-Thinks They're Muted:  Jennifer with the Unique Voice:  "Yeah, I'm on a conference call right now, but it's cool, it's on mute.  These calls are so stupid."   Me: "Hey person talking, we can hear you.  If you're going to be disrespectful, mute your phone or get off my call."  Jennifer Again:  "Yeah, I know right?  My boss is the same way.  She thinks she's so funny.  Whatever."  Me: "Jennifer, it's super obvious that it's you talking on your cell.  Please get off of my call or at least mute it so no one else has to hear you being so rude."   More Jennifer:  "Haha!  I know!  She seriously said that to you?  Hey, one sec, another manager is calling me.  She's probably bored too.  One sec.  Hello?  Oh, shit..."  Then you hear her get off of the call really fast after that.

-Trying to Milk the Call Time:  "Wait, I had another question! Um... Uh... I can't remember what I was going to say now... Hmmm... Oh yeah!  Um, no, wait.  I lost it.  Sorry."

-Obvious Bullshitting:  My Boss: "So, Annette, what do you think the problem with that is?"  Annette (who has no idea what she was just asked because she wasn't paying attention):  "Yeah, I mean, really, what I think I'm trying to say is that we all need to follow through, and, uh, you know, manage our stores. Ya know? Because, like, I think some of our managers just aren't managing their business, and we need to like make better managers out of them rather than managing for them. Let's manage our managers. Synergy. Yeah."  This is about what I hear on most of my calls with other upper management members.

Anyone got any other good ones? :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stupid Employee Tricks

Just some random employee stupidity...

A cop comes into my Hollywood Video and asks me if I am the manager.  I tell him that I am and he asks me if I have seen my employee Charlie lately.  I said that he was supposed to come in to work that afternoon but that he never showed up.  I was all worried at this point and I ask if something bad had happened to him.  The cop proceeds to tell me that Charlie stole a car and when they pulled him over downtown he fled the vehicle on foot and took everything with him--except for his name tag from work. He called me a few days later and asked if I could hold his job until he got out of jail.

As a DM at Happy Time Portraits, I do a surprise visit to a studio far away from my house and walk in on a girl looking very bored sitting behind a computer.  When she finally notices me she gets up quickly and pretends that she was getting some paperwork done and starts fiddling with things on the computer.  I tell her that I need to see some random thing and she goes in the back to get it and when I go to look at the computer screen I see that she left a NotePad document open that says "Things to Buy:  1. Bed room set  2. Dishes (potts, pans, ext.)  3.Bed spread  4. Curtains" and it went on and on.   She had an awesome command of the English language and a great work ethic!

Another fun NotePad story was at a different store and someone had written a very graphic love letter to their boyfriend and all of the things they wanted to do to/with him. 

There was a manager in our district before I was a DM and everyone thought she was so nice and liked her and stuff but I kinda thought she was fake.  One day she called tech support and they warn you that the "calls may be recorded for quality assurance."  Well, that day they were.  This manager called in and went off on the poor guy at tech support and cussed him out pretty badly.  And I got to hear it because they forwarded the recording to the DM at the time who happened to be in my store that day as well as the RD and the VP.  It was pretty sweet.

I was really busy one day and I gave this girl a list of stores to call in our area that we needed to pass a message along to.  She calls everyone and comes up to me a few minutes later and says "It's the weirdest thing, most of the numbers were disconnected."  I looked at her strangely and ask her to show me which ones were disconnected.  It turned out to be all of the ones outside of our area code.  "Uh, did you happen to press '1' before dialing the number?"  "No, why?"  /facepalm

I get a call one afternoon from one of my employee's cell phones.  "Oh my God.  I was taking the freight elevator down to the basement to take out the trash and the elevator is stuck.  I'm freaking out!  It's been like twenty minutes and no one has come!"  "Oh, wow.  Okay.  Did you try calling the store?"  "I don't have their number!  Can you please call and have them get me out?"   So I call the store and they have someone go down there and it turned out that the elevator was working perfectly fine, she just didn't realize that she had to pull the handle on the door.

I like to use this story for why phrasing is important!  At Happy Time Portraits we have to call the customer to confirm their appointment for the next day and figure out what they are going to be doing.  When I was a manager I was trying to show a new associate how we made these calls.  One of the things we try to figure out is what kind of outfit they will have for the shoot.  So after explaining all of the steps to him, he calls up a customer and is going through the list of questions and he gets to the outfit part and he gets all nervous and says, "Uh, so um... What are you wearing?"  And I can't help but laugh because it sounds like it was his first time calling into a phone sex hotline and he catches himself and makes it worse.  "I mean-- No, ma'am!  Not what are you wearing right now, but, um, what are you wearing tomorrow?  Sorry!  Sorry!"  Loved that kid to bits, haha!

I walked into a store and thought that no one was there, but the employee was just hiding behind the cash wrap, sitting on the floor, eating Doritos and reading Twilight

There was this chick who worked with me at Hollywood that moved from Ohio to the coast and she was just a hot mess of a person.  Her name was Taryn and she was a super big white girl with kinky hair, horrible skin and glasses that were too small for her face.  She was one of those people that you spent five minutes with and realized that they were what was wrong with America.  She openly loved George Bush, drank a giant plastic thermos cup of "pop" from 7-11 everyday and used the word "nigger" in the most horribly offhanded fashion I have ever seen.  If they ever let her breed she would be that lady whose kids would always be apologizing for her.  Anyway she got hired to work at the video store when I was the assistant manager and only managers had the ability to open the cash register if there wasn't a purchase being made.  Like I said this girl was big and with the largest size shirt that our company made, she still couldn't tuck her shirt into her pants.  So one day I was in the back of the store and she calls out my name.  I head up to the front and she calls out again before I can get there and yells "Help me!"  I get up to the cash wrap and this girl locked the bottom of her damn shirt into the register.  I tried really hard not to laugh, but wasn't totally successful.  She shot me a terrible look and I apologized.  I unlocked the register and she went about her business.  About two hours later I am in the back office and I hear, "It happened again!"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Giving Up My Job for Lent

Sometimes the jobs that we have are not always jobs that we have held as adults.  Before I was able to work in the "real world" I took on a slew of babysitting jobs.  One of those jobs was during my sophomore year of high school. 

High school was super fun for me, especially that year because I had a lot of personal issues going on with my family and such.  I would go to school in attire that my business teacher would refer to as "Cyndi Lauper cosplaying as Rainbow Brite."  I'd wear garish makeup, eye stickers, fishnet stockings and tights under skirts and shorts, off-colored t-shirts with references that no one ever got in my small town and lots of interesting hair styles.  I was a rebel Dottie, a rebel! 

When I was in Girl Scouts (because I joined pretty much every club in high school to get out of my house as often as possible) I had a troop leader who had a co-worker that needed a babysitter after school.  It was a great deal.  It was for three kids, a five-year old, a six-year old and a ten-year old, and they were going to give me ten dollars an hour.  This was a crazy amount of money for me because I was only fifteen at the time.  She would pick me up from school and then we would go and pick up her kids from school and then she would drop me off at their house and I'd watch the kids for about three or four hours while she finished her day at work.

The first day she came to pick me up I could tell that she was put-off by my appearance.  We had spoke on the phone and she loved me, but now, as she opened the door to her Escalade wearing a blazer and pantsuit, I was standing there wearing a colorful ensemble consisting of pigtails, glasses, a lab coat I borrowed from my dad, a Marilyn Manson shirt and a jean skirt with a petticoat.  She begrudgingly let me into her vehicle.  She seemed uncomfortable at first, but I talked with her on the way to her kids' schools and I eased her mind with my sharp wit and mature, adult voice.  The kids loved me right away and we connected pretty quickly.

I worked for her for a few months and it was going pretty well.  I helped the kids with their homework because I tutored on the side, I helped put a cheerleading routine together for the oldest one and I sat through that damn Disney Dinosaurs movie about twenty times because the little boy loved it.  Their house was huge and each kid had their own room.  They obviously had money because all of the kids went to Catholic school.  And that is kind of where the problems started coming into play...

The girls would bring their homework over to me each day after class and I'd see questions that had kind of religious overtones to it.  I would just gloss over it like I always did at that age and just smile and try to go along with the whole God thing.  I really did try to help them out and they got good grades. 

But one day when they came home the oldest one says "Today we drew what we were going to give up for Lent in class.  This is what I'm giving up."  And she showed me a picture she drew of ice cream.  I told her how great it was and went back to helping her sister with her work.  The older girl tapped me on the arm and asked, "What are you giving up for Lent?" 

I probably just should have pulled something out of my ass like soda or pizza at that point, but something came over me and I was struck with honesty for some reason.  "Actually,"  I told her nicely, "I'm not Catholic, so I don't really take part in Lent." 

She looked kinda shocked and said, "Well, what church do you go to?" 

"Um... Actually, I don't go to church.  I'm atheist."

"What religion is that?  Is that like a different kind of Christian?" 

I told her that it meant that I didn't believe in God and her eyes got really big and she gasped and put her hand over her mouth. 

"But you have to believe in God!  He is everywhere and he made us!  Even you!"  And she just went on and on and on.  I kept trying to change the subject but she wouldn't drop it.  She had no idea that you couldn't believe in God. 

So of course when her mom came home she runs up to her and says, "Mom!  She doesn't believe in God!  How is that even possible?"

Her mom looked at me like I had just unraveled the kid's entire world.  It's not like I was trying to, but I wasn't about to sit there and lie to the kid either about what I believed.  Yeah, it would have been easier that way, but that just isn't how I operate. 

That night I got a call from their dad saying that their grandma was going to be watching the kids after school from now on and thanked me for my services.  The mom didn't even have the guts to call me herself.  I was really upset because I knew that was the reason that I had been let go.  About a week later I was walking home from school and I saw the mom pull up to the high school and pick up some other girl who was about my age.  I had been replaced by a less controversial model.

I understand that people are free to do what they like with their children and their religious upbringing, but I was deeply saddened that the lady was so offended by someone simply mentioning the existence of another belief system in their house.  I never said anything to belittle their religion or that said my way of thinking was superior to theirs in any way, shape or form.  I only answered some questions for a curious kid and I didn't feel that they were inappropriate at all.  I wonder what would have happened if they had hired someone who believed in a different deity than theirs instead of none at all.  Was it the fact that my view differed from theirs or was it the fact that some people still feel they "can't trust" someone who doesn't believe in something more powerful than man? 

Either way it was disappointing and it changed how I felt about voicing my opinion during high school.  I'm over it now, but it was something that really made me feel like holding back and no one should have to feel that way if someone is asking them a question, looking for an honest answer. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

That's Not a Knife... Oh, Wait, Yeah It Is!

I don't know why I have so many cell phone stories, but I do.  Sorry.  One that I like to tell is about this guy that worked with me at Hollywood named "Joey" who was just...  Yeah, I don't even know how to accurately describe this guy.  He kinda looked like if Phineas from "Phineas and Ferb" was an actual, real-life person and talked like Beavis.  He was tall and gangly and thought he was way cooler than he actually was.  Also, he openly hated working for women and was constantly saying shit about how he was telling his girlfriend to "get back in the kitchen and make him a sandwich" and other lovely shit like that.  I was the store manager at the time and there were two other females in management when he was working there and he would never do what the two female shift leads asked him to do. 

One night I had to work with him first-hand because I had never closed with him and had got so many complaints from the female shift leaders working there.  There had been a few instances apparently where one of the girls asked him to do something three times and he wouldn't do it, but then a guy asked him that wasn't even management and he did it immediately.  I had to see this for myself.

"Hey Joey, can you go run the movies out to the new release wall?"

"Oh, uh, yeah, I just wanna see the last part of this movie that's playing."

"Um... Not trying to be rude, but we aren't here to watch movies, we are here to sell them.  Can you please go put those away?"

*sigh*  "Yeah, I guess."  And he takes a stack of maybe like ten DVDs out on the floor with him when we would usually carry about fifty in one trip.  He's about fifty yards away from me when I hear him pull out his cell phone and say, "Yeah, dude, she's being a fucking bitch tonight."  Doesn't have the balls to say anything to my face, just gets all passive and douchy.

So I kind of have an "Oh hell no!" moment and walk out onto the sales floor after him.

"Hey Joey, you know we aren't allowed to have cell phones out on the floor.  Also, I'm not deaf.  Put it away and watch your mouth."

"I don't remember signing anything saying that I couldn't have my phone on me.  What if I had an emergency?"

"Actually, yeah, you did when you first started working here.  And I don't think that telling your friend that I'm a bitch qualifies as an emergency."  He got flustered because he thought that I didn't understand what he was talking about on the phone and just walked away to put away his wimpy stack of movies.  He went in the office and said he had put his phone away, but I could still see it in his pocket.

"Dude!  Joey!  I still see the phone in your pocket, man!  If you can't follow a simple instruction, just go put the phone away in your car."

"Fine," he says having a temper-tantrum.  "I will put it in my car then!"

So he goes out to his car and is gone for like fifteen minutes.  He's out having a smoke but I have customers so I can't do anything about it.  When my last customer leaves I run outside and tell him he needs to get in the store because I didn't say he could go on break.  He has a fit and comes inside. 

His phone is now in the other pocket.  Now this is just getting ridiculous.

"Joey.  Really man, are you kidding me?  I see it in your other pocket.  Put it in your car!  Now!"

"Ugh!  This is so stupid!  It's just a phone!"

"Exactly!" I tell him as he walks out the door.

So he goes out to his car again and he's gone for like five minutes.  I am just about to lose my shit over this when he finally comes back in.  And I swear to God, it's still in his pants!!!

"Joey, this is the stupidest thing ever, but I am going to have to write you up," I tell him as he gets back behind the cash wrap with me.

"Why?  I don't have the phone anymore."

"Dude, I see it in your back pocket!!"

"Oh, that's not my phone."  And he reaches in his back pocket and says "It's my knife."  And he pulls a fucking folded knife with about a four-inch blade out of his pants.  And he says it like he's trying to be all hardcore and intimidating.  But he just looked like Napoleon Dynamite got a haircut and contacts with a crappy knife in his hand.  So I just lost it.  There were no customers in the store and I just let him have it.

"Are you fucking kidding me, Joey??  Why the fuck would you bring a knife in here?  Are you trying to threaten me??"

"No, I'm just letting you know that I put my phone away."

"But why did you grab a knife???"

"I dunno.  It was just there when I put my phone down and I started playing with it and put it in my pocket.  And, uh, now it's here."



"Leave!  You're suspended!  Go!"

"That's bullshit, man!  I'm gonna tell the DM that you cussed at me!"

"Well I'm gonna tell them that you brought a fucking knife in!  Go!"

And he left calling me all kinds of lovely things that sexist asshats call women when they are upset at them.  He was classy.  And fired.  Also, I remember when he left that one of the things he called me was a fat bitch.  Which reminds me about another awesome Joey story.

So, since it was super obvious that Joey acted the way that he did to try and get attention from other guys, the other guys really had no respect for him at all.  One time we were cleaning out the back office where people would take their lunch breaks and we found a notebook.  And we looked inside and the cover had all this shit saying "Do Not Read!  Personal Property of Joey!"  At the time I was defending him and I told the guys to leave it alone, but they opened it up anyway.

Turns out it was "Joey's Song Journal" (it seriously said that with a label from a label maker, haha!) and he was writing all of these terrible songs about some girl and everyone was just cracking up because they were so bad.  So a few hours later, Joey comes into work and the guy who was off totally fucks with him. 

"Hey man, I'm really sorry, but I was in the back and I found this notebook and I was reading through it before I saw that it was yours.  And I was just totally moved by the stuff in there.  How does this one go right here?"

And he played it so straight-faced that Joey was like, "Oh, wow, man.  I'm hella embarrassed now.  But uh, that one goes..."  And he sang (completely off-key) this whole song about how hot this girl is and that he was going to "bone" her and all this other crap.  And we are just laughing except the guy who was leading him on really badly.

"Oh, come on guys, you shouldn't laugh.  Who is it exactly that inspired you to write these epic songs, bro?"  Still completely straight-faced.

"Well, actually it's my girlfriend.  She's, like, super hot and stuff.  We haven't gone all the way yet, but it's been a few months now, so it's totally coming.  I can feel it." 

And yes, he is saying all of this stuff in front of the four people who are working there, including myself. 

"Well, good luck to you on that, man.  You should bring her by one night and introduce her to us," he told Joey.

So about a week later he did on a Friday night that he was off.  And that was a mistake.

Joey walks in the door and he is holding hands with this girl who he wrote all these flowing epics about that were incredibly graphic about things that he wanted to do to and with her.  And she was BIG.  I'm not saying that I'm small, but this girl was easily 300-350.  And she was wearing tiny girl clothes.  And it was all kinds of bad.  I'm always saying that just because they make something in your size doesn't mean you should wear it.  But I am pretty sure that they did not make this stuff in her size.  There was stuff sausaging out all over the place.  It was scary.  (I don't care what size you are!  Cover your chunk, ladies!)

So he walks up to the counter and is just like, "Hey bros, this is my lady, Candy."  (Or some other stripper sounding name, I don't remember.)  And it's Friday, so most of the staff are working.  No one knew what to say.  I had to excuse myself and go in the back, so I am not sure if anyone slipped up or not out there until they left. 

But one thing I remember very clearly was that one of the guys was really messed up and he kept going around saying, "Hey guys, I got a picture of Joey's girlfriend in my wallet!  Wanna see?"  And he would open up his wallet and there was a Post-it Note of a drawing he did of a stick-figure Joey and a cartoon whale in a tube top and booty shorts. 

A few months later Candy dumped him.  Go, Candy!

Part of me feels bad for telling that last story, but the other part feels like, "Eh, if she was that good of a person, she wouldn't have dated someone like that in the first place."

The End! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012


When I worked at Hollywood there was this guy named Mr. Castro who was everyone's least favorite customer.  He was rude and sexist and supposedly a super smart computer programmer, so he talked down to everyone that he didn't think was as smart as he was.  He was in his late 40s or early 50s and would always come in really late at night right before we would close and want to stay and keep us after-hours all the time.  He was a walking sexual harassment case who wore a man-purse and Birkenstocks.  If you were a girl that worked there (which was a rarity) he gave you the hardest time and would try to invent ways to get you to bend over so that he could look at your ass or down your shirt.  It was great fun. 

We didn't carry porn because we were a family store, but we did end up carrying some softcore NC-17 titles like Pirates and the Emmanuel series.  Mr. Castro rented them all.  And when I say all, I mean all.  It got to the point where he would come in and I would just round them up for him at the front counter.  Sexual harassment only works if you let the other person feel like they have power over you, so I would just pretty much tell him to fuck off.  Eventually we learned to tolerate each other.  It was creepy.  One guy that worked with me there said that he used to work at an adult store and he saw Mr. Castro there all the time and they had to kick him out because he got caught, uh, testing the merchandise in the store before purchasing anything.   It just eventually became like a hazing ritual at Hollywood that new people would have to work an evening shift until they had to help him.  "Oh God, I had to help this really horrible little man last night?"  "Oh yeah, was it Mr. Castro?"  And we'd all laugh because we had been there.

One night I was working a closing shift with one of the guys and he had to go take a ten minute break outside.  It was super slow that night and we hadn't had very many customers.  Fun fact about me:  I love to sing.  I irritate people around me sometimes because I sing so often, but when I am all by myself I go all out--like full on American Idol status.  So when my co-worker went out to take his break I started putting movies away through the store.  I always hum to myself or whatever even when people are around, but I scanned the store and I saw that I was all alone so I start busting out some pop song that I had stuck in my head.  Now, I'm not the best singer in the world, but I'm pretty decent and when I got into the song I was kinda even dancing a little bit with the stack of movies that I was holding.  I had been out on the floor for so long that I had even made it to the part of the song with the high note that you hold out for a long time and I totally nailed it.  I had just finished my last few movies and, still singing, I made my way for the main aisle of the store to go up to the front and get more to put away.  I turn the corner and Mr. Castro is up at the cash wrap and he starts fucking clapping for me. 

I was so damn embarrassed because I thought I had been there alone, but he just heard me bare my soul to the Classics section.  And the worst part was that the other guy was still on break, so I had to fucking help him and check him out. 

Through the whole transaction he doesn't drop it and says stuff like, "I had no idea you could sing like that" and "Maybe if you dropped a few pounds you'd have a career for yourself, sweetie."  I was beat red the entire time and I wanted to jump over the counter and beat the crap out of him. And as he's leaving he says, "You know, if you ever wanted to sing anything else for me, you have my number."  And he did the little finger point and mouth click thing with a wink and walked out the door as my co-worker was coming back in.  And he tells my co-worker, "You better watch out for that one!  She'll get ya all riled up and leave you hanging!" 


Monday, August 20, 2012

50 Shades of Red

I really don't want to get all super valley girl in this blog and start every story with "So this one time..." but too bad!

So this one time at Hollywood Video I hired this guy Wiley.  And yes, that was really his name.  He was the most irritating person that I had ever met in my life, but unfortunately I didn't realize that until after he had been working there for a few weeks.  He was one of those guys that had joined the military and had just come back to join the workforce, but I wasn't sure if the military had made him weird or if he was just a bit off to begin with.  He was super enthusiastic about his job to a fault and there was no doubt in my mind that he had adult ADD.  I was about 20 at the time and he was about 30.  I got a little bit of lip from him every now and then but for the most part he did his job.

And everyone fucking hated him.


He really wanted to fit in with everyone at work and so he would get people lunch and he would be super nice to everyone but me so that his peers would like him.  People kept telling me that Wiley was telling everyone that I was a bitch and so hard to work for and all this other crap, but they were cool enough to at least tell me what was going on.  It was a fun cycle of people saying he did something and him denying it.  One guy at work even recorded him saying it with his cell phone and he still denied it.  If he wasn't one of my best sales people I would have fired him in a heartbeat. 

One day I was working the night shift with a bunch of guys and I'm putting movies back on the shelf when Wiley comes in the door and is super excited about something.  He had been working there for the better part of a year and by this point, everyone was tired of his shenanigans.  "Oh my God, you guys!  You will never believe what I found in my email today!"  And of course they all made jokes about penis enlargement ads and Viagra and what not.

"No!" he says so that everyone in the damn store can hear.  "Our manager thinks I'm sexy!" 

What the hell?

And he walks over to me with this giant fucking grin on his face and struts over with his damn thumbs in his belt loops like he's some kind of cowboy.   He slicks his hair back with his hand, licks his lips and raises his eyebrows in that "how you doin'" kind of manner. 

"You think I'm sexy!" he says with a huge smile on his face. 

"What are you talking about Wiley?"  I ask him like he's insane.

"I was going through one of my email accounts that I haven't checked since I came back from the military and I had a lot of mail to go through.  It was my Yahoo email account."

"Uh-huh... What does that have to do with me?" I asked him cautiously.

"Well, I'm glad you asked!  You see," he said rifling through his backpack (and yes, he was a 30 year old man-boy that brought a backpack to work) "the last time that I was on leave last year I signed up for a dating service--through Yahoo."  And then my heart sank into my stomach and I dropped the pile of movies that I had been holding. 

About a year before this whole thing happened, I was not exactly in a good mindset for dating.  I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I was on the rebound.  So I decided to try Yahoo dating.  And the stuff that had happened as a result of that is worthy of a non-related work post all its own.  But in regards to this, let's just say I tried casting a lot of lines out into the internet sea of love and had come out empty-handed. 

And Wiley apparently had proof of my unfettered desperation. And it was bad.

"Oh yes," he said holding it up in the air.  "Gather 'round boys and listen to this!"  So of course they all did because they were all little shitbirds.

"Oh good God..."  I said turning about a million shades of red.  The paper had my profile from the dating service AND an email that I sent to him.

"Ahem.  Hey there sexy!  I saw your profile online and just had to drop you a line to see if you'd ever be interested in meeting up!  You have absolutely gorgeous eyes and I could definitely see myself running my fingers through that amazing hair of yours... and possibly more ;)  [And he fucking winked right there.]  I see that you're a bit older than I am, so maybe you could teach me a thing or two!  We have lots in common and it looks like you live pretty close to me.  Hit me up if you'd like to, uh, hit me up, hehe...

My jaw dropped to the floor and everyone else's working had their jaw dropped to the floor.  There was even a regular customer in the store and his damn jaw dropped to the floor.  I had no idea what to say.

So of course one of my employees has to say, "Dayum!  You's a freak, girl!"  And everyone starts laughing. 

I was completely and utterly mortified. 

Then to make matters worse, Wiley has to ask me, "So, do you still think I'm sexy?" in this super throaty radio show host voice. 

I mean, at this point there really was no going back.  The thing had my damn picture on it and everything.  I've never been ashamed of my sexuality.  So, after being totally destroyed in front of my crew, I just picked myself up again and went for it.  He started it!

"Well, honestly, Wiley," I said with the whole store hanging on my every word, "You were very attractive in that picture.  And you're cute.  I'll give you that.  Maybe even very cute.  But you are a 30 year old man who lives at home with his mom and trying to call me out on something from before I even worked with you and that's never sexy."

At least that's what I wished that's what I said.  I think I ended up just having a total meltdown.  I can't remember.  All I remember was going into the back office and locking myself inside for about twenty minutes until I stopped being red.

Yay.  Memories!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Operation Dumbo Drop

Here's a fun post about code words and phrases that have been used in the workplace! And, as always, all the examples have happened irl.

Mac 'n' Me - A horrible 'boy meets alien' movie and a phrase at Hollywood Video to signify the presence of a hawt girl while being able to shout it across the store.  "Hey, bro!  Did you, uh, find that copy of Mac 'n' Me over in the, uh, Drama section?"

Hardcore Martinez - A description of a rather trashy individual that we assumed lived in or around the city of Martinez, CA, a small town known for 'tweekers and antiquers'.  "That lady was hella Hardcore Martinez!  She paid for her pictures with a Ziploc baggie of nickels!"

Ghetto Guero - A white person that tries to act like they're from a rough part of town, aka, 'the hood', but is putting on an act for everyone around them.  "Damn!  That chick is one Ghetto Guero!  Her eyebrows are drawn on with a Sharpie and her super white boyfriend in the game section is wearing a FUBU sweatsuit!"

Seven - The number that you pull out of your ass on conference calls when you didn't look up the research and need an accurate sounding statistic.  "Uh... Yeah, so I think we are up about seven percent from last quarter with our conversion rate, you know, give or take a few."

Ruined Christmas - If you read my 'Some Parents Are Asshats' post, you might recall the horrible father who told his daughter "That's it!  You just ruined Christmas!".  So this was a phrase that we'd use in the studio to basically just describe any parent who was being a complete douche to their child.  "Dude, that lady just totally ruined Christmas up in that session!  She told her kid that he was a fag during his senior portraits session!"

Punch a Baby -  A phrase to describe how over-the-top angry you are about something.  "I am so pissed off right now that I could fucking punch a baby!"  Or one that I used the other day, "This day sucks so bad that I wanna use a baby to knock a senior citizen into a paraplegic."

Operation Dumbo Drop - A really bad Disney movie and a phrase used at Hollywood to let everyone know that someone beefed.  "Oh dude, someone totally left a copy of Operation Dumbo Drop over in the kids section.  Stay back!"  (We were classy.)

Crazy Cousin - A stranger doing something that is causing you to be embarrassed for them. You then turn to your co-worker and imply that they are related to said stranger to attempt to cause them shame by comparison.  "Haha!  Tell your grown-ass, crazy cousin that he can't come into the store with cornrows and footie pajamas and sit in the middle of the store watching a movie!"

I've gotta have more of these somewhere in my brain!  Feel free to share your own!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Fun, on-the-job antics relating to everyone's favorite undergarment:

- Just to prefix this a bit, the associate in question was a super nice Korean guy in his late 40s who had only lived in the U.S. for about five years.  And the manager in question was about 26 at the time, married with two kids.  Good times!

   "Um, do you have a minute?" asked one of my managers.
   "Yeah, what's up?"
   "He got me panties," she said, clearly in shock.
   "Who got you panties?  Huh?"
   "My associate.  Got me panties.  For my birthday."
   "What the...?"
   "And they are exactly the right size."
   "What the fucking...?"
   "And they have matching bras with them."
   "And they look very expensive."
   "Holy crap, dude.  Did you need me to call HR?"
   "No, I don't want to get anyone in trouble.  I just had to share."
   " 'The hell?  Are you sure?  What did he say?  Isn't he married?"
   "What is your husband going to say?  He is obviously not going to be cool with this."
   "What are you going to do?"
   "Go home and say 'Look at these awesome panties I just bought!'"
   "Dude... All he got me was a card haha!"

-At Hollywood Video there was a girl that worked for this crazy manager that no one ever wanted to deal with because she was nuts.  We actually had a few of those, but this one got her eighteen year-old, female associate panties for Valentine's Day and asked her if she wanted to go out to dinner.  Apparently there was even a box of chocolates included. 

-One Friday night at Hollywood, we were all recovering from a busy night of non-stop customers.  At least the people up front were.  I was still pretty new at the time, so I got the bitch job of putting movies back on the shelf up towards the front of the store.  I could hear them talking about one of the guys' pants being way too tight--so tight in fact that you could see a man-panty line.  "They are not too tight! Just 'cause I don't want my pants around my ankles like you guys doesn't mean they're too tight," he said complaining to everyone.  So I go to put some movies away on the very bottom shelf and a kid had knocked everything off the bottom row.  I kneel down to straighten things up when BAM!  Right in front of me, panty-line guy unintentionally has his crotch in my face and asks "Do you think these are too tight?"  Causing me to fall backwards and drop all the movies I'm holding while everyone up at the front starts cracking up hysterically.  And yes, they were entirely too tight!

-This story could have gone in a few categories, but I was running out of underwear stories, so I figured that it would work in this post.  I have taken thousands of portrait sessions over the years and I have lots of fun ones that I remember, but one very memorable session was during one holiday season at 'Happy Time Portraits'.   The studio was packed and we were short staffed.  As the manager, I wasn't supposed to be in the camera room, I was supposed to be running things, but I didn't really have a choice.  So I go into the lobby and there is this group of nine guys, grown men in their 30s-50s, all wearing crazy-ugly grandma sweaters.  I always tell my staff that I am a salesperson first and a photographer second, but when I get a really good group of fun people, I kick it into high gear.  I feel like I'm on stage at a comedy club and my act requires a lot of audience participation.  So when I see this motley crew of gentlemen in my studio lobby, I am fucking on it! 
  They tell me that they are all brothers and step-brothers and that they like to take a crazy group picture every few years and that they want to do some fun things in their session.  I get so excited!  I get them in the room and I start to get the first group pose set up, when suddenly there is an emergency in the lobby and they need a manager.  I let them know that I will be right back and they are super cool with it.  As I'm leaving the room I noticed that one of the guys isn't wearing a sweater, he has on a trenchcoat and sunglasses.  Weird, but whatever.  So I head back to the room a few minutes later and I hear them all giggling from outside, and when I get to the door I see the trenchcoat on the floor.  I step in the room and this one fucking guy is wearing sunglasses, a motorcycle helmet and a fucking gold speedo!  And he shouts "I'm ready for my close-up!"
  I was floored and I could see that they were all trying to gauge my reaction.  I didn't even really know what to say at that point, so I just blinked a few times and acted like everything was normal.  We actually aren't supposed to take pictures of people in underwear, but how often do you get to take pics of a hawt guy in a gold speedo?  (And, oh yes, he was gorgeous!  He looked like the guy from Sublime and had tattoos and stuff!)  So we just had the best time ever and I even got each of them to take individual shots doing some crazy pose.  They ended up getting this giant framed collage of each of them and a bunch of other stuff.  It was one of the most fun sessions I'd ever shot.  I think the crowning frame of that session was getting speedo guy on the floor on a faux-fur rug, laying down on his side with his finger to his lips and a come hither look in his eye.  Yum.
  And as an added bonus, when they finished looking at their pictures on the sales table, I forgot to close the window on the computer and this kid came up and started laughing and when his mom came to see what he was laughing at she cupped her hands over his eyes and yelled at me.  Worth it :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fun in the Bathroom!

I don't know why so many weird things happen to me in the bathroom at work, but they do.  And most of the time it's awesomely bad!

- I'm sitting in a stall and all of a sudden this little boy comes into the bathroom with his mom.  He had to be like five or six years old and he just starts peeping under all of the stall doors.  There are a lot of stalls and he gets to me and I just cover up and laugh at him.  A few seconds later I hear an old lady a few stalls over scream "How dare you!  You vile, vile little child!"  I couldn't see anything, but in my head I pictured her hitting him with a purse.

-I walk into the bathroom and there is a lady in the handicap stall talking in a soothing voice to a small child.  "It's okay sweetie, you can do it!  Come on!  That's it!"  And she goes on saying things like that pretty much the whole time I'm in there. Finally I hear the kid go pee and the lady is fucking ecstatic!  As I'm washing my hands the lady comes out of the stall and there is no kid... She was making her cocker spaniel use the public restroom!  Ack!

-When I first started working at 'Happy Time Portraits' I was not well liked because I got hired to replace someone that was getting demoted.  And I didn't know it until I showed up to work there.  And either did she.  And it was really awkward.  And then she stayed on to make my life a living hell.  And this relates to the theme of this post because one time I was in a stall at the end of my lunch break when the demoted employee and her work friend come in the bathroom to fix their whore makeup.  And they just stand there talking a whole lot of shit about me.  And I want to say that I came out and was like "OH REALLY?  Go eat a dick you skanky bitches!"  But I didn't.  I cried in silence until they left like a little bitch... Fun! :)   (It's okay, the last one is funny, so you can smile again!)

-I had to go adjust my bra at work [Totally not relevant to the story, just thought I'd share!] so I ducked into the restroom and this lady walks in behind me and makes a mad dash to one of the stalls.  Turns out the first stall that she tries is occupied and the lady who was in there didn't lock the door--and was apparently mid-poop.  The poop lady gets up quickly to close the stall door and as she gets up, it, uh, happens and you hear it happen.  The first lady still looking for an empty stall tries to close the door at the same time and shouts "Goddammit!  Lock the door!" and Poop Lady shouts "Lesbian! Get your dirty kicks elsewhere!"   And I am standing there wearing my name tag and this other lady looks at me and says "Aren't you going to do something about that?"  I looked at her, I blinked and shook my head as I walked out the door.  What the fuck are you supposed to do about that???

Bitches Be Crazy... Volume 1!

I am making this post "Volume 1" because quite frankly, I'm pretty sure that bitches won't stop being crazy anytime soon.  Here's just a handful of some of the craziest customers that I've ever encountered in retail:

-At 'Happy Time Portraits' we send extra prints of the portraits that customers order to try and get them to spend a little more money.  We own the copyrights to the portraits and it's totally legal for us to do so.  Some people get kind of unhappy about that because they "didn't ask us to do that" and some people go so far as to demand that we give them the extras for free because it is something that has their child's face on it.  But it doesn't work like that.  One lady in a more ghetto location came in and demanded that we give her the extras and the associate told her that she couldn't give them away... So of course the logical thing to do in this lady's head is to jump the damn counter and try to lunge for the pictures.  The store had to call the police and escort her from the studio.  All over some damn pieces of paper!

-When you work fast-food, everyone hates that customer that comes in and says "And I want fresh fries. They better be fresh or I'm sending them back!"   Dude, everything else has been under a heat lamp or something for a while, why are the fries going to be any different?  (Plus fries that are too fresh suck, 'cause they burn your mouth. I like the ones that have been sitting for a while!)  Under the Golden Arches, in a time before all McNuggets were all white meat, this crazy bitch would come in every few weeks and say "I only want white meat nuggets."  Well, I was new at the time and I didn't realize that they actually gave into her crazy, so I told her no.  So she went off on me and yelled telling me how stupid I was and blah, blah, blah.  My manager came out and said we would do it for her.  So this bitch orders five orders of 20 piece McNuggets!  And the only way to find out if they are white meat or not is to cut into them one at a time!  Gah!  Twenty minutes of nugget hunting later we bring them out to her and she said we took too long and she wanted a refund.  Grrrr at people!

-This lady at 'Happy Time Portraits' got mad because she left a digital camera in our camera room and someone stole it.  Yeah.  Think about that for a second.

-"I'm sorry, ma'am, but it looks like you have some late fees on your account and it shows that we've already removed three late fees for you as a courtesy, so you'd have to pay at least part of them today to rent any movies." 
"Oh, hell no!  I am never late with my movies!  Never!  Where is your manager?  I am going to speak with your manager because he always helps me out of these situations that people like you put me in!  I'm a regular customer!"
"Uh, ma'am I've been the manager here for two years now... And it says you haven't been here in about six months. If you like, you can just pay $3 of it today."
"No!  Fuck that!  I am not putting up with this shit!  I am a police officer, a Christian and a strong black woman and I will not let you treat me like this!  Why would a Christian police officer lie?"
And I couldn't fucking resist...
"Um... To get out of paying late fees?"
And she went off the fucking chain!  I got a movie thrown at my head, but it was super worth it!  People don't set you up like that often enough!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Some Parents Are Asshats

When you work in a business where parents come in to get pictures of their children taken, things can get ugly... All of these things were said in front of me and the kids that I was photographing.

"Why don't you smile?  I can't believe this.  This is why your father left!"

"Do you really want grandma to die seeing this as the last picture that you take for her?  Do you?  Smile pretty, not ugly!"

"Don't sit there smiling like some stinky, chinky Chinaman!  Open your eyes, silly!"  said this crazy white lady who said that as casual as day with a creepy smile on her face. It kinda was like I saw June Cleaver saying something like that.  And I swear to God there was an Asian family right outside the door and the dad looked in at me when the lady said it and all I could do was mouth "I'm sorry!"  Fucking white people.

This couple used to come in every year for Christmas pictures and they would bring in about four different outfits and put the kid and the photographer through hell to get these pictures.  When the kid was about nine years old, they came in and the whole time they were sitting in the back of the studio making snide comments like, "Great, now let's see what happens when you actually try" and "Do you even want Santa to bring you anything?"  The guy taking the pictures was trying to be really positive with the girl and tell her she was doing a good job, but eventually she couldn't take the pressure and she was standing in front of the camera smiling, but there were tears welling up in her eyes.  The mom had actually gone out of her way to put makeup on this poor kid and when she finally broke down she had mascara running down her cheek.  My associate and I felt so bad for this girl and in the midst of all this the dad gets up and storms out of the room yelling, "Well, that's it!  You just fucking ruined Christmas!"  And with that, the mom gets up and doesn't go to comfort her daughter, but runs after the dad saying, "Just get back in here!  She will finish this session!"  Meanwhile, leaving the kid with us.  Awkward turtle.

"You will smile for these damn pictures!"  Then hauls off and bends the three year old over her knee and spanks him as hard as she can.  Yeah, that helped.

This hella ghetto lady busts in like three minutes before closing with a super cute little girl and says "We need to get some pictures now!"  We are accommodating, so we took her in thinking maybe someone was leaving town and needed pictures or the child was going away for a long time or something like that.  We start taking pictures and about five minutes into the session Loss Prevention from a nearby store comes in and says that they need to escort them to mall security.  Turns out that the lady stole all of the kids' clothes right before they came in and wanted to get pictures in them.  And of course she cursed up a storm on the way out in front of her six-year-old.

People are classy as fuck sometimes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sometimes I'm a Corporate Whore

If you are in sales, sometimes you do some weird, scandalous or just plain fucked up shit to make your sales. Here are some things that I have done to make sales happen in the past.  Not proud of most of them, but at least they can be good for a giggle :)

"Oh, uh, yeah, I also liked that movie Crossroads with Brittney Spears..."

One time I really had to pee, but they were spending $1100 on pictures... Sooo... Yeah... My sale kinda won that round...

Cleavage. Yep, just cleavage.

I was super sick, but the lady who was in the store was going to spend about $300.  I barfed in a trash can, plastered a smile on my face and spent 20 minutes finishing her transaction while trying not to throw-up again.  The second she went out the door I grabbed a plastic bag and threw up again, not realizing that she forgot her keys on the counter.  She heard me and looked over the cash wrap.  She didn't ask if I was okay, she just looked disgusted.  About a week later I got a customer service survey and she gave me all zeros.  Bitch.

Everyone buys more stuff from girls who wear pigtails on occasion. True story.

"A, B, C, D, E, F, G!  There's the smile!" I feel like an idiot when I have to sing at work to entertain small children. Once a lady made me sing the theme song to Three's Company because her one-year-old liked it. "Come and knock on our door!" 

When I first went out into the world looking for work, it was the summer that I was 15 years old.  I really was willing to work pretty much anywhere, but my mom wasn't too keen on me getting a job, so she said that I'd have to walk around and see if anyone would hire me because she wasn't going to give me a ride.  So I walked around in the heat, in the middle of summer, in the Central Valley.  (That means it was really fucking hot!)  I went to practically every shop in a four-mile radius.  But in all the excitement of looking for a job, I only remembered to bring one bottle of water, which lasted for about 30 minutes.  I remember walking in to Video City and filling out the application--and that was about it.  The next thing I know there was an EMT shining a light in my face and a very scared lady saying "Oh thank God! I thought she was... Uh... I'm glad she's awake!"  Apparently heat stroke is an equal opportunity offender and I passed out as I was walking out the door.  They called an ambulance and my mom and the police and it was a whole big thing.  Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

Then there are things that I have seen other people do to get a sale and I don't feel so bad :)

"Hey go clean the windows!  Yes, now!"  As they see a customer walking to my register with a giant pile of merchandise.

Hardcore whale tail!  (And if you are unfamiliar with this term it is that great piece of fabric that shows when your thong is hanging out.)  I seriously had to tell a girl that we were trying to sell pictures at work and not give the dads a show.

"If I don't make this sale, my boss is going to fire me."  While I'm standing less than fifteen feet away!

"I know this is expensive, but if you buy it from me outside I can give you a better price."  Didn't realize I was right behind them until after they said it.  "Hahaha... I mean, come on, now... Totally just kidding.  You can see the value in the product!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

That's Not Stolen Merchandise, That's My Baby!

People will claim that a lot of stuff sets off the sensor gate in retail stores, but I had a few that were pretty crazy when I worked at Hollywood.

"What are you talking about?  I am wearing a suit for Christ's sake!  A suit!  Do you think that a man wearing a suit would have to steal a DVD?"  Um... Yeah?  'Cause by the looks of you and your demeanor I would hazard to guess you stole the suit too.

This lady walks around the whole store for about twenty minutes and is carrying a swaddled baby with her the whole time.  She never lets us help her with anything and avoids eye contact.  She walks through the sensor gates to leave and it goes off.  One trick that we used to use was if we saw them eyeing a particular title we would ask if they needed us to find it for them. So when this lady tells us that she didn't have anything on her but her baby, my smart-ass associate asks her "Oh. Well did you need us to help you find a copy of Men in Black 2 for your baby?  I'm sure she'd love that one!"  The lady says she wanted to check that out and she goes over to the shelf where the movie was being kept, comes up to the front about a minute later and says she changed her mind about wanting to rent a movie.  She walks out the door and the alarm doesn't sound, but we went over to the "M" section and there was a fat stack of about fifteen movies that she put away!

"What set off the alarm?  This set off the alarm!"  *pulls back his jacket to show a gun*  "You got a problem with that kid?"  Poor kid just says, "No, sir! Have a nice night, sir!" and has to call the cops.  The guy got away with about $500 in merch. A few months later the same guy comes into the store with his girlfriend and my shift leader recognizes him when he walks in, so he runs to the back and calls the cops.  A few minutes later the cops show up and surround the whole building and literally tell him to "Come out with his hands up" because apparently he had several warrants out for his arrest.  Justice for the win!

The town where my Hollywood Video was located was basically the white trash central of the Bay Area.  This morbidly obese, white lady comes in one afternoon with a huge saddlebag--literally a saddlebag--and is sauntering through the store.  She is in the store for almost forty minutes and she pretty much ignores us the whole time she's there. Apparently the whole time she had been stuffing movies in her bag and when the alarm goes off as she walks through the gate she pretends that she doesn't hear us and keeps waddling out the door to her car.  She was stupid enough to park right up front, so I wrote down her plate number and called the cops.  The cops come and get a report and usually that's the last you hear about it, because, ya know, who gives a fuck about some stolen movies?  Surprisingly, I get a call about an hour later saying "Ma'am we have apprehended your suspect and she wants to come down to the store and apologize."  I was basically floored at this point because this had never happened.  So he drives this lady down to the store in the cop car and they come into the shop and I notice that she is empty handed.  I ask where the movies are and he says (no joke) "Well, ma'am, apparently the suspect sold the videos after leaving the store and used it to purchase some low-quality methamphetamines. We have the drugs but I'm afraid that all we can offer you is her apology and the opportunity to press charges."  Super awkward!

One time this hella skinny black dude comes in and he is wearing an incredibly baggy sweatshirt and pants.  He is super nice and asking us all how we are doing and being quite pleasant to try to break the "quiet thief stereotype."  And after browsing our new movie selection the shelves are practically empty and he goes to leave the store a lot chunkier than he came in!  Of course the alarm goes off and I make a stupid decision.  I run out the door after him.  It had been a pretty rough month at work and at home.  I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I had been promoted to store manager but wasn't getting any respect from my employees.  I don't know what I was thinking when I ran after him, but one thing was for sure--this guy was very surprised!  I was a chunky white girl with glasses and pigtails and I ran after this guy with a ton of adrenaline coursing through my veins.  I caught up to him behind 7-11 and we were both in shock.  I didn't really know what to say, and this guy started to placate me as soon as he figured that out.  "Damn little lady, just calm yourself.  Just a misunderstanding.  Calm yourself." And I could hear him mutter under his breath, "Crazy-ass white bitch."  I was in panic mode and all I could do was scream "Give me the movies, dammit!"  He gave me a raised eyebrow and said "Okay, okay. Gimmie a minute here."  He starts pulling all these movies out from under his clothes, some from places that I wouldn't have even thought to hide a movie.  Soon enough there is a huge pile of movies on the ground that came up to about my waist. I am still huffing and puffing from being out of breath and when he says he's done I remember trying to be tough and I yell "I see Scooby Doo in your sock! Give me Scooby Doo!"  And this super confused guy bends down, gives me the Scooby Doo DVD and runs down the street because his getaway vehicle finally pulled up. "Yeah!" I shout after him and pick up the giant stack of movies.  We were really busy inside when all of this went down, so everyone else was helping customers when I went out after this guy.  I still don't know what made me go after him and I know that there was a chance that I could have been shot or stabbed or something horrible like that, but coming back into the store with all that recovered product to cheering customers and awestruck employees is something that I will never forget. [KIDS PLEASE DON'T EVER TRY THAT AT A JOB EVER!  EVER!]

These are just some of the ones that I can remember that were total outside theft situations.  I have lots more involving employees, but that's a whole other post!

Worst Boss Ever

We have all had experiences working with the boss from hell, but I had one in particular that just wins the award.

I had worked at "Happy Time Pictures" for about a year before I met my district manager's boss, the regional manager.  Everyone told me how mean she was and how horrible it was going to be and I was scared shitless to meet her for the first time.  I had everything all triple checked and made sure my store was spotless before she came and I made it out alive.  Her name was "Cher" and she was so picky that she literally walked in the door and looked through everything and when she couldn't find anything wrong the bitch got on a chair and looked at the top of my door frames so she could say, "Ah ha! See? You need to make sure things like this are clean."  But despite the crazy that came out, she did seem to know her stuff and she was nice to me as a relatively new manager and I learned a few things from her visit.  I even went so far as to tell people that she wasn't so bad and that I respected her.  At first.

Then she came to my studio a year later during our busiest time of year.  I was panicking because my DM already told me that she wasn't in a very good mood and I knew that at this time of the year there were a few things that I hadn't completed because of all the customers coming in the door.  Two minutes before she comes in, one of the seasonal ladies that I hired shows up to work in jeans which is totally out of the dress code.  I freak out and before I can send her home Cher walks in the door.  She asks my employee why she is wearing jeans to work and the lady didn't know what to say, so she threw me under the bus and said "Because my manager lets me wear them all the time."  Before I know what is happening I am being escorted out to the food court with Cher and my DM and she asks me if I let my employees dress like that.  When I tell her that I don't the first thing out of her mouth is "Well, that's obviously a lie."  I was in shock.  I had heard that she did things like this, but this was not the same person that I had met the first time.  I brushed it off but she kept digging into me and wouldn't let up saying things like "Maybe we just have the wrong person for the job here" and "Why are you crying?  I haven't raised my voice to you at all."  She was classy.  By the time I was done I was a puffy, red mess and I got sent on my way home.  After the fact my DM told me that Cher was impressed by the job that I was doing but just wanted to see how dedicated I was to the company.  She also said Cher made her cry too.  I hate crying in front of people period, let alone someone that I work for.  This was going to suck ass.

Eventually my store started doing really well; well enough, in fact, that I was promoted to District Trainer.  I didn't get paid any more for it, but it meant that someday I would be in line for the DM position. A few months later I moved into the DM in Training spot, which meant that I was not only working closely with my DM, but that I had to work with Cher whenever my DM went on vacation or leave.  That was a blast.  My DM at the time had decided to step down because Cher had been so cruel to her that she had started having high blood pressure and literally had a panic attack.  I never thought I'd have to ask my DM if she needed me to go to her house and drive her to the hospital because a phone call with her boss was so bad.

One day Cher decided that it would be a super fantastic idea to do a workshop for the DMs and DMITs and I got to spend the better part of a week with her and a handful of other people.  When I get there only two other people "could make it" and one of them was my DM who was there for a few hours when there was very suddenly a family emergency and she had to leave.  The other DM was local, so she got to go home every night which meant that Cher and I were the only ones staying at a hotel.  And then it got awkward.  I was technically off the clock, but it sure felt like work after the workshop was over.  When your boss's boss asks if you will go out to dinner with them it's kind of hard to say no when you can't find an excuse to leave.  And I really, really wanted a shot at a DM position coming up, so I rolled with the punches.

I had only ever seen this tiny, bulldog of an older lady wearing slacks and a blazer and when she comes to meet me at my room she is wearing shorts, flip-flops and a sleeveless shirt.  It was crazy.  We just walked around the hotel looking for a place to have dinner.  I was about a foot taller than her and someone at the front desk asked if she was my grandma.  So it was awkward.  It didn't help that she found herself to be the most amusing person that she knew and had a cough that only a veteran smoker could produce.  She told me all about how she quit smoking a few years back, and all I could do when she spoke was look at the scary wrinkles on her upper lip from thirty plus years of sucking on a cigarette that made her look like an extra from Planet of the Apes.   I thought that after dinner I would be off the hook, but then we had to walk around and find somewhere they sold candy bars because she had a sweet tooth.  The night just kept getting better and better.  Two Milky Way bars later, we ended up in the hotel lobby where she basically did an impromptu interview for the job that I wanted.  We talked for over an hour and then finally she said she was tired and I got to go to bed thinking that she was impressed with me and that I had got the job.

I could go on into several dramatic things that she pulled over the next few months, but suffice it to say she had been stringing me and another gal along the whole time about the position I wanted.  She had actually filled the position with someone else, but by some freak chance they couldn't take it and she grudgingly offered me the position.  When she asked me about it I was all too eager to say yes and I probably screwed myself in pay, but I knew my window with her was small, so I jumped the fuck in and I didn't look back!

During my DM training I had to go with Cher and another DM to do a studio visit.  This other DM was bombing her visit and made the mistake of telling Cher that we were going to "her best store" that had her "best store manager" who was also her DMIT.  You never tell a boss that something, somewhere or someone is your best anything because if there is anything wrong with it then all of your other people, places or things are automatically crap.  I learned that lesson here.  The store was a mess, the employees were improperly trained and the store manager was ill-prepared to tangle with Cher.  Cher first starts asking the store manager questions that she already knew the answer to, then doing the same thing with the district manager, just to show them that they had fucked up. But I will never forget what happened next.  The DM is trying her best to hold back tears and I can see them welling up in her eyes, but the store manager couldn't hold her shit anymore and lost it.  She went to go excuse herself because she didn't want to cry in front of everyone and this crazy bitch follows her into the ladies' restroom yelling after her "We weren't finished talking!  Where do you think you're going?"  And then after that had the audacity to come out and say that we are all invited to lunch.  Her treat.  I had to keep telling myself what a good opportunity this was and that I just had to stick it out to get some experience and if I couldn't deal with her anymore then I'd quit.  It was a very long experience.

Cher lived a few states away, so when she came into town I was basically her personal chauffeur.  And being in a car with her was not the most pleasant of experiences either.  I was the youngest DM in the company and she was the oldest RM and she always made me painfully aware of it.  She was always calling me "kiddo" and "sweetie" and saying things about my "lack of experience" and starting or ending sentences with "for someone of your age."  It got old really fast but I tried to make the best of it.  Thankfully, I have a musical upbringing that included listening to a lot of oldies radio stations, so when we were in the car together I could talk with her about Smoky Robinson and Gladys Knight and made sure that I had all kinds of the music she liked loaded on my iPod.  I always tried to steer the conversation towards music, but sometimes the lady wanted to criticize me while I was driving.  Not exactly the brightest person ever.

It took me a while to figure out that Cher wasn't just a "mean boss."  Even now I don't consider her to be mean, but after a few one-on-one outings with her, I realized that she wasn't all there.  One of my favorite crazy Cher stories was going out to lunch at Cheesecake Factory.  I don't know if you have ever been, but their menu is like twenty pages long.  She sat there for like thirty minutes just reading the damn menu.  She snapped at the waitress for "pestering" her to order and then when she left made some off-colored comment about "the help."  When she finally was ready to order it was a sight to see.  "Ma'am!  Ma'am!  Yes, I know what I want now, so I hope you have your pencil ready!  Okay, I have decided to select the following menu item:  I would like the All-American Hamburger and I would like the sesame seed bun, the burger cooked well-done--no pink at all. Do you understand?  Alright.  I want four pickles, two tomato slices--and they better be red, not green--and please make sure they aren't sliced too thick--maybe about a quarter of an inch--and lettuce--but the leafy kind, not the shredded.  Do you understand?"  The waitress and I were both floored and I was pretty red in the face after that.  When the waitress asked her if she wanted fries or a salad you would have thought she asked Cher if she could crap on the table.  It was insane. But when her food came to the table that was when she got all Howard Hughes on me.

She picks up the burger and looks it all over to see if it meets with her specifications.  Seemingly satisfied she takes a large bite and gets this look on her face like she smells something terrible.  What the fuck is wrong now?  "This burger is somehow off," she tells me and then proceeds to flag down the waitress. "Is there anything in this burger that I didn't ask for?"  The waitress tells her there isn't and then walks away because apparently she is tired of her shenanigans now.  I sit there and watch her pick apart the whole damn burger.  I have never seen anyone do this in my entire life.  She picks off a piece of the bun and nibbles it, "Well, the bun is okay..."  Then she does the same with the lettuce and tomato and every other damn thing on the burger, talking the whole thing out as she goes.  I am looking around uncomfortably and just keep nervously sipping water while people pass us by and give me looks of pity.  Finally she nibbles a piece of the burger patty and says "Oh!  Here it is!" rather loudly. "There is seasoning on this meat!  I did not ask for any seasoning."  That was the moment that I realized that she was bat-shit crazy.

After the Cheesecake Factory debacle her crazy just kept peeking out more and more.  She was being completely irrational and asking for things on conference calls that she had never had us prepare for and we would just have to pull a random number out of our asses to appease her, she would call you up throughout the day "just to see what you were doing" and you could see she was losing it.  One thing that we had to do as district managers for "Happy Time Pictures" was to review our studios' photography online each day.  She would tell us every day that she was looking at our pictures and that it was clear that we weren't doing our jobs properly.  She would make announcements on our calls and send us emails that she saw what was going on out in the field and that she did not approve of it.  She made it seem like a huge deal to her and even said on a national call that she didn't like the quality of photography in her region and that it could be so much better.  One day I got an email and all it said was "I need you to send me instructions on how to view photography online immediately."  I couldn't stop laughing about it for almost a month.  She had some nerve. 

The crazy just kept coming with Cher and eventually we got a new VP of our division and he realized that when you go through eight district managers in one year that there was probably something wrong.  He realized that she didn't understand how to use computers, that she couldn't read reports correctly and that she had no discernible people skills of any kind.  Human Resources took statements from us all and finally, after her twenty year reign of terror, Cher was fired.

And yet, I still felt a little bad for her.  That's just the kind of person I am.  I'm not the kind of person that felt so bad that I couldn't sit here and type of this out, but I am the kind of person who feels a little bit bad or guilty for pretty much everything I do to some extent.  I dunno, I guess I'm broken that way.

If there was anything that I learned from the whole experience, it was that sometimes good things really do come to those who wait.  I also learned that after working for someone like that, I am pretty confident that I could work just about anywhere.  Bring it on world!

***BONUS STORY***  This one is second-hand, but I still found it amusing.  Cher took my last DM out to lunch with another manager and they were sitting their eating when all of a sudden she puts her sandwich down and covers her mouth.  Apparently all of her front teeth were fake (because she ruined them with her tobacco habit) and her partials fell out in her lunch!  They had to take her to an emergency dental office and she had to leave early to go home. Karma's a bitch.

Fun with Illegal Substances!

So right off the bat, I just want to prefix this post by saying that I don't do drugs.  It's not that I'm against doing drugs, it's just that I've tried a few and painting my whole finger with nail polish instead of just the nail and kissing that chick whose league I was way out of was not something that I really enjoyed waking up thinking about.  Plus, everyone drug tests now and taping a baggie full of someone else's piss to your leg isn't my idea of a good time either.  I am a firm believer in doing what you want to do in your free time as long as it doesn't hurt you or anyone around you, and as long as you don't bring it to work.  That being said, drugs (and some other things that aren't quite drugs) can make for some fun stories, and sometimes I'm fortunate enough to see the stupidity unfold in the workplace. So here we go.

When I worked fast food everyone used to smoke in the freezer.  (Actually a lot of shit went down in the freezer, but more on that later!)  Once the guys were being stupid about it and it set off the smoke alarm and they told everyone that someone burned a burger, but burgers don't generally smell like dank.

At Hollywood Video it seemed like everyone and their mom was using something.  One of my fellow managers ended up getting shipped out to a store in the hood when his store closed down, and when he got there on the first day his employees had hotboxed the back office. 

I had two employees at Hollywood Video that I caught using coke at work.  It was funny though, because I was so sheltered at the time that I had only accidentally found out and told my co-workers interesting things that I saw while they helped me piece it together.  "It's so weird.  Matt is always using the bathroom.  He goes back there like once an hour and he's always so jittery.  Do you think he has a bladder problem?"  One of the guys had a crack pipe in his pocket and got busted by my district manager and the other seriously came out of the bathroom with powder on his nose and had to take a drug test. Also, this one guy got drunk in the parking lot and came into work smelling like vodka and left the bottle right outside his car door. Some peoples' kids.

When I switched to the super female-friendly portrait business I figured that there would probably be a lot less of this, but nope.  As a manager I had to fire an associate for sleeping at work only to find that he was doing some kind of prescription medication that he was not prescribed before coming in for his shift.  I guess it took the edge off of dealing with all those horrible children.

I think my favorite was as a DM having to go in and fire a manager who was pretty much the worst manager I've ever seen ever.  She was fired for:

-Falsifying sales
-Stealing commission from her employees by telling them only the manager could use the register and ringing up their sales
-Hiring her friends
-Having sex in the back of the studio with employees from nearby retailers
-Smoking weed on her lunch break and smelling like it in front of customers
-Firing an employee on the spot (something you can't do in California)
-Coming to work out of dress code AND
-Trying to buy pee from a pregnant customer whose maternity pictures she was taking so that she could make her boyfriend marry her!

Sometimes retail is hardcore :P

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Inside the Box

I have so many fond memories of working at Hollywood Video, but some of my favorites involve things that people would stick in our movie drop-box.  Our store was special and had a drive-up box at the curb and one attached to the side of the building. Here are some of the things that really stick in my head that I found in the boxes and in the movies themselves:

- Used condoms
- Trash
- A white domesticated mouse that totally looked like it was a pet or a lab animal
- An employee that another employee locked in the box
- Notes from a secret admirer
- Notes from a stalker
- Notes from angry customers
- A DVD case that was full of spiders
- A bag of poo (not sure what kind)
- Movies from other video rental stores
- Home movies
- Intimate home movies
- Porn
- Movies soaked in soda ("I swear I rented them like that."  "Really? All of these random movies from different parts of the store went out the door rented to you all covered in the same kind of soda?"  Bitch, please.)
- DVDs with bite marks in them
- Movies that had clearly been run over by a car

Just to name a few.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Off the Hook

So, my last post had me thinking about a story that happened to me earlier this year.  And it's kind of a fresh one, so I will have to very carefully tip-toe around the details to cover my butt, but it's a classic!

At the beginning of the year I was in a studio and I get a call from my company's HR department.  The guy from HR is always very matter of fact with me, so when I pick up and he says "Hey there, are you sitting down for this one?"  I was pretty alarmed.  And I sat my happy ass down to ask him what was going on.

"Well, it seems that we have a situation with one of your employees.  More specifically one of your managers.  I'm sure you are familiar with Miss Jennifer Jones out of studio 5555? [that looks like a convincing store number, right?]  I just received a call from Miss Jones' host store and they have presented me with some very, uh, unsavory information and video footage."

I was panicking because we had been having a lot of theft in that studio and the company had LP put in some covert camera systems to find out who had been stealing our company's cameras and equipment.  Jennifer was kinda shady, but I didn't think she was that shady.

"Oh no, she isn't the one taking the cameras from the studio is she?" I asked, already pretty upset.

"Um, no," the HR director told me. "That is how we found out what we know now, but that is not what she was doing in her store.  The reason that I was calling you was that Miss Jones was caught on film having, uh, relations of a particular nature in her studio.  Of, um, a...."

"A what?" I squeeked.

"Of a, ahem, of a sexual nature..." he trailed off. 

I was floored!  I was in shock and I just started asking the stupidest questions.

"Where could she possibly have done that?"

"I can't say."

"Well when did this happen?"

"Which time? Uh, I mean, it really isn't important to the situation."

"Oh my God!  She did this more than once!? How many times did this happen and how long has this been going on?"

"Listen, I really can't say anymore, but I can tell you that the host store wants her gone," he told me dryly.

"So when did they want me to go up there?  Like, next week?"  I asked stupidly, the valley girl coming out of my mouth.  I was fucking busy and had over twenty stores and it was always a big pain in the ass to drop everything and just go somewhere at a moment's notice.

"No, like, tomorrow morning," he mocked me. "I have already arranged her final check.  You just have to carry out the term and clean up the mess."  And after he went through telling me what to say to her and giving me a well-worded, rehearsed speech that was super politically correct, we hung up and I had to scramble.

The whole time that this was happening I was in the closet of one of my studios and the manager that was there was starting to worry.  I came out of the closet totally pale and not even able to tell her what was going on.  All I could do was tell her that something came up and that I had to go. 

I called my boss and told her what was going on and after I explained the situation she calmly said "Yes, well, actually I already know about it, but thanks for keeping me in the loop."  Apparently her boss, the VP of the company, had already heard about it from the head of the other company's HR that our stores operate out of.  So basically, everybody and their mom knew about this, including (as I was soon to find out) all of home office and everyone who worked at that particular host store.  And then some.

The whole way driving up to the studio all I could think of was how I was going to let Jennifer know tactfully why she wasn't going to be working for me anymore.  I practiced my damn speech about twenty times in the car and when I got there I was pretty damn nervous.  Jennifer wasn't exactly the nicest person in the world and had been at the company for a long time. Plus she was about twenty years older than I was, which made the whole situation even more unsettling.  I felt like I was about to go fire my mom for having sex at work.

When I got to the studio the girl that I told to meet me there to run the business was waiting and the studio was supposed to open up in five minutes.  I was pacing back and forth in the entryway of the place and just kept looking at my watch.  She was fifteen minutes late and when she finally did show up, Starbucks in hand, she looked like she just about crapped herself.  I told her that we needed to go downstairs and have a talk.  It was an incredibly awkward walk. 

We were about halfway to the office and had just stepped off the escalator when she asks me "Um, am I fired?  If I am, please just let me know now."

"Honestly, Jennifer..." I said trying to grow a pair in about half a second, "Yes. Yes you are. But I really think we still need to discuss the why in private because I don't think it's something that we should discuss out here."

I had noticed that there were already people who worked in the store starting to stare even though we hadn't been loud or dramatic.  They totally fucking knew.  Great.

"It's my numbers, isn't it?" she asked me as we made our way into the private room.  "I thought that my performance had come up and that things were finally starting to go a lot better."  I could hear the tears she was holding back in her throat.  Damn I hate this part of my job.

"No, dude," I said sympathetically [And yes, I really said dude because I couldn't fucking help it.  It's like my word that I have to use to make myself come off as relate-able.  It's not a conscious decision.  It just kinda happens.]  "Your numbers were doing a lot better..."  And five million years later we finally got to the damned office.

I told her to have a seat and started to spout out the speech that corporate had told me to give.

"The reason that we are here today having this discussion is that, um... Well, you see, since there had been so much theft in your studio with equipment, home office had to have loss prevention install some cameras and--"

"I swear!  I didn't take anything from the studio!" she cried out pleading desperately as though she thought she could save herself.

"Yeah, Jennifer, I know you didn't take anything," I sighed. "But the thing is that--"

"There might have been that one purse that I had in the back, but I never took it out of the store!  I was just putting it aside until payday!  I will--"

"Dude!" I interrupted her, "I don't know how else to say this, but they caught you having sex in the studio!"

I didn't mean to blurt it out like that.  It just kinda happened.  Her eyes got so big and her face turned so red.  She dropped her purse and just went into shock.

"Oh God...." was all she could muster.  I gave her a minute to collect her thoughts and I handed over her final check.  "This is so embarrassing... How did they find out?  I mean, where was there a camera?"

"I have no idea," I told her.  "The host store's loss prevention just called home office and they said they saw everything..."

"Oh my God..." she cried.  "I can never come back in here ever again!  If those bitches in LP know, then everyone fucking knows!  Oh my God!"

She was so upset.  I know in these situations that it isn't anyone's fault but their own, but I can't help myself.  I work with these people everyday and no matter how shitty they are at their jobs or if they say bad things about how I'm running things or whatever ill-will occurs, they are still people at the end of the day. And I know that people fuck up and that if I was in any of these situations that led to me getting fired that I would be balling my eyes out too.  So I gave her a hug and helped her get her things together.  Yeah, we didn't get along very well in the workplace, but I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone.

As she was leaving she told me that she was sorry for putting me in this position and said her goodbyes, but the last thing she said was "You aren't going to tell my family about this, right?"

I told her that I wouldn't let anyone who didn't need to know, know and she thanked me and left. 

Then I thought about it for a while and was wondering why she would even ask something like that.  It made me feel kind of weird about the whole thing.

I cleaned out the studio when I left and the whole time I was wondering where she could have possibly had even had the capability of having sex in the studio.  They aren't exactly designed with privacy in mind.  None of the rooms even have doors. Then while cleaning out the prop room I looked up into the ceiling and saw where the covert camera had been installed.  It was actually quite obvious that it had been put there.  Maybe she thought that it was fake.  But when I looked around the room for a "base of operation" in sight of the camera I finally saw it.  She had taken a posing platform which is about the size of a full size bed cut in half and covered it with blankets and pillows.  Yuck.

The associate who was helping me in the studio that day who had no idea what was going on tried to help me clean up the back and I found myself saying "Oh! Don't touch that!" quite a few times and getting weird looks in return.

When I went to leave the store someone from the host store came up to me and said "Hey don't you work up there in portraits?  I heard they fired that lady for hookin'!  That's hella crazy!  My buddy works in LP and said they caught her with a few different guys up there and they all gave her money!  What the fuck are people thinkin' these days?"