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?"


Poo Story 2: Droppin' the Deuce!

Oh yeah, I went there with that title!

So like I said in my intro, some of my favorite retail stories are not things that happened to me, but things that happened to people I know.  When my middle sister was working at Hollywood Video [because yes, I got her a job at a nearby store] she was working in the fuckin' hood.  Straight up, no doubt.  It was in a part of this particular town that the locals all called "Little Mexico" and although, yes, there were a lot of Hispanic people living there, there were other fun things like drug dealers and prostitutes that used to hang out in the parking lot of the store.  And they all liked to offer their many services to the employees there.

And though that adds a colorful background for this one, it isn't totally relevant to the story.

My sister came in to start her shift at the end of the afternoon and asked her fellow shift lead how the day was going and this is what she said:

"Oh my God! The dumbest thing just happened!  There was me and this guy and his kid in the store and all of a sudden he comes up to the front and asks me if I have any paper towels to clean up a mess.  I tell him that I did and he asked me if I could clean it up.  So I was like 'Hell, no' and handed this guy a roll of paper towels.  I thought that he had like spilled his soda or something like that, but it was taking him a long-ass time to clean that shit up, so I went to the Kid's section and this fuckin' guy is sitting there trying to clean crap up off the floor!  Like, literally, crap!  And he is doing a hella bad job with it and he is like smearing it on the floor and I was just so disgusted with him that I told him to take his kid and just fuckin' leave!  It smelled hella bad and was just a hot fuckin' mess!  So he leaves and comes back all offended and says that he wants to talk to the manager and I tell him that I am the manager right now.  And this dumbass asks me 'Well is this normally how you treat a customer in this situation?' and I tell him straight up 'Well, I dunno.  I've never had anyone shit on mah damn floor before!'  And he finally left for good.  Carpet cleaners should be here tomorrow morning.  Dumbass."

So of course my sister had to call me and tell me what happened and this has become just the quintessential answer to any stupid question that is asked in any of our conversations with one another. 

"So what do I do with it now?"

"Well I dunno!  I've never had anyone shit on mah damn floor before!"

Good times.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

This lady comes into Hollywood Video and says that the copy of Spongebob that she rented wasn't working.  I tell her that I can go grab another copy of it, but she says that she doesn't want another copy because her child didn't want that movie in the first place.  I tell her we can't do that, but then I look and we are out of stock of the Spongebob movie, so she wins anyway.

I go in the back to go test the movie and I come out thinking that my manager had already taken care of her and got her out the door.  The store was dead at that moment and there was no one in the store at all, so I walk out and tell my manager without any kind of volume control:

"That bitch was so full of shit.  This movie totally works!  I hate it when stupid bitches come in here thinking they--"

And then the lady totally cleared her throat in the kids section and a bright red, mortified me crept back into the office until she left.

So awkward.  Plus we ended up giving her another free movie for my stupid mouth.  Lesson learned.

I Quit!

I have seen some dramatic quitting moments in my time.  And of course almost all of them happen in front of mass amounts of customers.  Here are just a few:

"No, fuck you!  He can NOT look at me like that!  Yeah, bitch, look at me again you bald-ass mothafucka!  And she sure as hell can't talk to me like that!  My boyfriend is gonna come in here and kick your ass and your ass AND your ass!  Fuck all of you!  I quit!... " *returning five minutes later*  "You know, I spoke a bit out of turn there and while I feel that I have some differences with my co-workers, I really feel that I have a lot to offer to the company.  Could I transfer to another store?"   "Nope"  "I see... Is there some company policy against that?"  "Dude, you just made a huge scene in front of a lot of people.  There is really no coming back from that.  You quit and I accept your resignation."  "I see... Can I use your phone to call my boyfriend?"

"Fine, I didn't want to be the assistant manager anyway.  I'm just going to go ahead and turn in my name tag."  Then she goes in the bathroom and smears crap all over the walls and on her way out the door of the video store she pushes down a bookshelf of movies in the middle of the store creating a domino effect that levels half of the shelves in the store.

"Okay, Matt.  We know that you removed the cash and product from the store without authorization.  We have you on camera."   "Listen, I know in my heart that I didn't steal anything and I am appalled that you would even accuse me of that.  I just can't work for a company that would spread just lies.  I quit."

"You have changed since becoming the manager.  We never hang out anymore and you are always telling me what to do.  You have sucked all of the fun out of this work place.  So I'm leaving and I'm not coming back.  Don't try to stop me.  I mean it."

"There is no way in hell that I am working for you.  You are going to let all of the power go to your head and I am finding another job."  So instead of giving me a chance, she leaves her job that was paying her $22.00 an hour for a retail job in the middle of a recession, gets another job at a place that said they would pay her more but didn't and then got fired from the new job because of her shitty attitude.  Then a year later she asks to work for the company again. Ha. Nope.

Best Excuses Ever

I can't come in to work because....

"I have explosive diahrrea and I'm afraid I will crap my pants at work."

"I'm in jail. Will you guys be able to hold my job for me?"

"I hate you and you ruined this job because the last manager didn't care if I was late!"

"I am so drunk right now!"

"You know last night was the midnight release of Halo 2.  You can't possibly expect me to come in now!"

I was late because....

"My sister took my kid to work with her this afternoon, and that bitch is a professional ho, fo' real!  She had my five year old waiting outside in the hallway while she was getting paid to fuck!  Then that ho shows up at work in the parking lot!  You know I was gonna be on time, but seeing her there I had to whoop her ass! And that's why I was 45 minutes late."

"I was riding my bike to work and it was windy outside and I swallowed a bee." (Poor kid's tongue was super swollen!)

"I thought today was daylight savings"  (It was January.)

I left work early without telling anyone because....

"I told you I was gonna crap my pants, but you didn't believe me!"

"I threw up on a customer."

"My shoe was filling up with blood."

"I sneezed and I figured that you wouldn't want me here if I was sick."

I gave that customer free/discounted stuff because....

"She looked like if I didn't she was gonna eat me."

"You just don't understand how mean she was!"

"That's my boi!  He hooks me up with free shit all the time and I had to return the favor!"

"You could bounce a quarter off of her ass.  I mean, seriously, damn."

"They asked me if I could give them a discount."

"They were black."  (/facepalm)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


As a district manager, it pisses me off to no end when you have a manager who is supposed to be in constant communication with you and with their staff members and they say they don't have a cellphone.

You know that their happy ass has a cellphone and they just don't want to give you the number.  Everyone and their grandma has a cellphone now.  And I hate it when people that you know have a cellphone give you that crap line about "Well if I'm supposed to have a cellphone then the company can get me one."  Fuck you!  At least have the decency to tell me "Yeah, I have one but I don't give the number out because I only have a limited amount of minutes." or something!

Anyway, I had this older guy working for me and he was adamant about the fact that he did not have, nor was he ever going to get, a cellphone.  And he said I could get the company to get him one if it was that important and the whole song and dance, and it was just really stupid.  Every time I needed to send a mass text out to my team I had to send out the text and then call his house phone and maybe someone would pick up.  Irritating as hell.

One day there was an emergency at his store and I needed to get a hold of him.  His wife picks up the phone and says "Oh gosh, he isn't here right now, but let me call his cellphone and I will have him call you back as soon as possible!" 

Arrrgh!  Okay, fine, lie to me.  I will call your ass at all hours instead of sending you a text that you can view at your leisure.  Whatever.  I confront him about it and he says that his wife must have been confused and that she was thinking of his son's cellphone.  Uh huh...

Then a few months down the road he calls me all up in arms and I ask him what happened and he says "I was at the front register and a customer went into the back room and stole my Palm pilot and my cellphone!" 

"So, you didn't have a cellphone and now suddenly you have a Palm pilot and a cellphone?"

"Well, um, I just got them both last week for my birthday," he tells me.

His birthday was actually four months earlier.  He is lying to me again.  You've gotta be kidding me.  So he files a report and never hears back from anyone because frankly no one cares.  Especially me.

So a few weeks later I call him at his store and ask him if I can get his new cell number and he says he didn't get it replaced.  He had just finished telling me how his store was really slow that day and that no one was there except him.  So of course the damn phone goes off right while we are on the phone.


Poo Story

'Cause hey, who doesn't like a good poo story?

So, the most fucked up shit--no pun intended--always happened to me at my fast-food job when I got out from behind the safety of the front counter.  I went to go clean the bathroom in the ladies restroom because the person on janitorial duty was a dude and couldn't go in there while it was so busy, but it had to get cleaned because some lady told us that it was gross.  I really, truly wish she had given us details.

I get in there and it isn't so bad.  The mirror had a little lipstick kiss mark on it [Yuck!  Why would you kiss the mirror?], there were a few rogue paper towels and it smelled like a bathroom, but I didn't see anything horribly wrong.  I cleaned up stall one and stall two and then when I got to the handicapped stall, that's when I saw it!

 Right next to the toilet was a steamy hot puddle of liquid doody.  Oh yeah.  I don't get how you could get that close to the toilet and just leave that for someone to clean up, but yeah, liquid poo.  And, yeah, I was really grossed out, but more than anything I just couldn't believe that it was happening.  So of course I did what any respectible sixteen-year-old would do and I had to go tell everyone.

I get up to the front and I have tears welling up in my eyes because I am all giggly and stuff.  And like six people working gather up at the front and just watch me standing there cracking up and all I can manage to get out is:

"Hahahaha!  Someone... Oh my Gawd!  They... Someone... Psssssh!"

And that's when some little girl comes out and yells, "Mommy there's poo all over the floor and I stepped on it!"

And I look and sure enough there was this little trail of poo prints for about five feet out of the bathroom and we all just lost it!  The kid was all upset because she thought we were making fun of her and I felt all bad, but it just made me laugh even harder.  The girl's dad didn't think it was funny at first, but then it got hard for him to keep a straight face because the kid was so upset over something so dumb.  I was laughing for a little bit longer, but then the gravity of the situation hit me.

Dammit.  I still had to clean it up.  Poo tracks and all.

She's a He

So I have to be kind of careful with this one because this company is still one that I'm involved with.  Let's just say I work for Good Times Portraits.  That sounds pretty generic, right?  Well I get customer complaints all of the time that I have to field for different studios and they seem to get more and more ridiculous every day, but this one is one of my favorites.

"Hello Ma'am, my name is Susan Smith and I need to talk to you about a very serious issue that is happening in one of your locations."

Oh this is going to be fun. I'm guessing listening to the rest of this message she's going to tell me that someone was rude to her.  Fun stuff.

"This particular issue is so very upsetting to me that I felt that I had to call you immediately!  And I really and truly hope that you will take this matter seriously and call me back as soon as you receive this message."


"My daughter, I mean, my son..."

Um, what?

"I mean, my daughter who is now my son...."

Um, what???

"Tried to pick up his, I mean her, I mean his pictures..."

Oh my God.  Okay.  This will be interesting.

"And they won't give them to him.  These were the last pictures of my baby girl in a dress and I am absolutely disgusted that Good Times Portraits will not hand them over because of the fact that his driver's license says Jessica and he is now a Joseph."

Holy crap.  Well this is going to be fun.  And that's when she got all emotional and crazy.

"This is the most deplorable thing I have ever witnessed in all of my life!  Good Times Portraits is in a strip mall and I am going to return everything that I ever bought from that strip mall ever!  My vacuum cleaner, my dishwasher, my dog food!  All of it!  They will run your crappy store out of there!"

Are you fucking kidding me?

"I will tell all of my friends and family about this and they will also return everything that they ever bought at those places too!  And they will never shop on that street ever again!"

Are they on the same crazy pills as you?

"If you do not return my call and give my son his last pictures as a girl I will get a court order to have them removed from your store by the sheriff!  So you damn well had better call me back because this is absolute bullshit!"

Wow.  And then in a completely different cheerful tone she says:

"Thank you for your time. Bye!"

So after all that I am laughing so hard that tears are running down my cheeks.  The lady was bat shit crazy.  But putting all of that aside, I genuinely did want to get her her portraits.  I immediately called the studio and they didn't have anyone under that name, but they said some crazy lady had called asking for her daughter's pictures.  I called the lady and come to find out, she hadn't even had portraits taken with us, it was at a completely different studio.

Some people kids these days.

Monday, April 9, 2012


During a shift at my high school fast food job I was taking out the garbage and there was a really good view of the whole restaurant.  This family came in and it looked like they had been travelling for quite a while on the road because they had that walking zombie thing going on.  They had this super cute little girl with them who looked like she was about five or six and she had these perfect little curls and was wearing a lacy white dress and was all made up.  I guess they had just stopped to use the restroom because they didn't go up to the front.  A lot of people do that.  I always feel guilty using the bathroom somewhere if I don't at least go buy a drink or something.  I dunno. 

Anyway, so this family is walking to the restroom at the end of the building and the little girl's curls are all bouncy and cute and this family is all clean cut with the perfect kids when all of a sudden the mom is taking the little girl into the women's restroom and the dad calls out to the little girl right when they are in the doorway and the little girl stops in the door frame and the mom somehow loses her balance turning around and grabs the handle to the restroom door to try and regain her balance.  The girl has her arm right by the door and I see this perfect tiny child's arm just absolutely destroyed.  I ran over when I heard the scream and as soon as I get there and this poor kid's arm is just limply hanging there with the bone poking out through the skin.  Her white dress was just soaked in blood and it was one of the scariest things I had ever seen. 

The dad asked where the nearest hospital was and I told him where and before I could say anything else to them or my manager they whisked the little girl and her hysterical brother and mom to the car and sped out of the parking lot.  There was blood all over the place and my manager was freaking out.  We cleaned it all up, but the rest of the shift everyone was super quiet.  For the next few days I couldn't help but think about what happened to the girl and wondered if everything worked out alright.

But then ten years later I am sitting here typing this out and thinking to myself, "Well I guess that's what you get for just trying to go in and use the bathroom without paying for anything." 

I am a bad person.

Favorite Hollywood Video Interviews

In the years that I was a manager at Hollywood Video, there were all kinds of crazy people that came through our doors looking for employment.  Most of the time we attracted college students and young adults whose parents told them that they had to get a job, but every now and then we would hit the psycho jackpot.  I swear these are all things that people have really said to me in actual interviews!  Here are some of my favorites :)

Why do you want to work for Hollywood Video?

"'Cause I need a job that's why!"  

"'Cause my mom says if I don't look for work she's going to throw away my Xbox."

"I don't really want to work here, it's more of a needing to work here situation and you are the only ones that called me."

"Well you get free movies, right?"

"My friend John [who we were replacing for stealing and who made it very clear that he stole stuff when he left] just got fired from here and I know I can do this shit better than he can."

"My ex-boyfriend works for this company and he says it's just great."  [In the most deadpan voice ever!  And then I call her ex-boyfriend who says she was a literal fucking stalker and lied about her mom dying to get him to come to her house! WTF!?  Did you think if you name drop we won't check up on that!?]

What are your best and worst qualities?

"Well, I am hella cool to have at a party and there ain't nothing wrong with me! Yeah!" [Then his mom asks why we didn't hire him and calls me racist... /facepalm]

"I think it's really important to pretend to be polite, so I'm always very polite."

"I think my best qualities are that I'm hardworking and I never stop.  And my worst qualities are that I'm hardworking and I never stop."  [Really?]

What can you tell me about yourself that's not on your application?

"My mother gave me these pearls that I'm wearing.  I never take them off.  And I mean, never, if I have to get fired for violating dress code, I would because they never come off. Hahaha!"  [So creepy!]

"Well, my dad is really sick right now and I am the only one who can take care of him.  I mean he could probably be alone for like an hour, but I will have to go home like at least once an hour.  That's okay, right?"

"I am a proud, proud mother of four beautiful children!  They are all waiting for me in the car right now.  They are my world and I love them to pieces, but sometimes Mama's gotta get out the house!"  [And when the interview is over I look where she parked and there are four fucking dogs in the backseat of this minivan covered in dog stickers.  Holy crap!]

What the hell are you wearing??

Pigtails, rolled-up capri jeans and a collared shirt tied in a knot in the front exposing the middrift with sunglasses on her head and a lollipop.  She looked like a reject from a Brittney Spears video.

Black and red corset that had her cleavage spilling over the top of it, bright red lipstick, bright blue eyeshadow and stilletos.  Did she think a man was going to be doing the interview?

Full business suit and tie, polished leather shoes and a briefcase.  Way over the top for a video store.  But the interview actually went really well and I hired him.  Just thought it was funny.

You have to love movies to work here!  What kind of movies do you like?

"Oh my God!  I just absolutely love movies about powerful women!  Have you ever seen Glitter?"

"I really like comedies. And Schindler's List was just so good.  I mean, not like that-- I mean it's good but it wasn't very funny.  I mean-- Can we start over on that question?"  [And he was so serious!  He was nervous the whole interview and I was just dying inside!]

"I don't know.  What kind of movies do you like? [Response]  Oh yeah, I love that kind of movie.  Those are great."

We also carry lots of video games?  What kind of games do you like to play?

"I'm really into RPGs, FPSs, RTSs and S&M.  See what I did there with that?"  [Why yes, yes I do.  I see you talking yourself out of a job. But seriously, it was crazy funny and I laughed afterwards.  Too bad he was a walking sexual harassment case.]

We are in the middle of an interview! What the hell are you doing!?

Eating your pen.  Yum.

Looking down your shirt for half the interview.  Seriously?

Sweating profusely.

Farting like every two minutes or so.  That was so hard not to laugh!

Tapping your feet and hands and showing me how crazy hard it is for you to be in a room with me and I make you that nervous.

Being a dude sexting with another dude and not paying attention to my questions because you're so confident that you got the job and then leaving the phone out on the desk so I can see it all while you go leave to use the bathroom midway through the interview.  

So why should I hire you?

"Because, really, I'm just an overall good person."  [Who just finished a stint in jail for domestic abuse.]

"Because I'm just that awesome, haha...  But seriously, I am pretty awesome and you should hire me."

"Why should you hire me?  Well, um, you should hire me because... You should hire me because... Um... You should hire me because I can really think fast and I'm good at talking to people and stuff."  [I didn't realize the interview had turned into the Short Bus Spelling Bee...]

"You should hire me because I am a hard worker, a fast learner and clearly the best choice for the job.  But that guy that has been staring at me through the window the whole time and the other guy who kept trying to touch my hand when I was waiting are creeping me the hell out.  Sorry."  [I didn't see any of that and neither did the security camera!  She wasn't even that hot! That was a major case of WTF just happened?] 

So those were my faves from this job. I thought those were the best I'd ever see.  But I was sadly mistaken!

I'm a 35 Year Old Man!

So when I finally got my first management position in retail I was working at Hollywood Video.  I can outright say that it was Hollywood Video because they are all closed now, so it really doesn't matter.  Management was basically doing all of the work that I was doing anyway but actually getting paid more to do it.  Plus people have to listen to you when you are the manager.  At least that's what I thought.

After working there for about two years I became the assistant manager.  My store manager, Lynn, was on her way out in a few months because she had been going to law school for the last few years and this job was paying the bills.  So at this point in my career she was there but we were more like co-managers.  Lynn was still doing a lot of the hiring before she left and she hired this guy named Dwayne.  Dwayne was kinda creepy.  He used to be like an insurance salesman or something like that and he thought he was pretty hardcore.  We thought he would be a good match for the store because he liked movies and he seemed to be able to sell stuff.  But it turns out his douche factor was turned up to maximum.

Back in the '80s Dwayne had been an extra in the Digital Underground video for The Humpty Dance and he thought he was hot shit in a champagne glass because of it.  He loved to tell everyone that he met Tupac and by the way he told it you'd think they were besties.  You could see that he was totally struggling with his workplace identity because he was a black guy who was a little bit older than the rest of us and it was like he couldn't decide whether he wanted to be the tough and suave black guy or the super white-washed and non-intimidating black guy.  But no matter what issues he had going on, he was still a douche. He was really nice to all the guys that worked there, but it was obvious that he didn't like working for women, despite the fact that Lynn was really cool.  I was cool too, but still getting my management legs, so, uh, not exactly the most effective manager at times.  And he thought he could just eat me alive. 

If he ever worked for one of the male shift leaders he would do anything they asked and totally kiss their ass.  But they always let people break the rules on their shifts and I have always been a stickler for rules. One big rule was no cellphones were allowed.  Dwayne thought that because he used to be in a job where he always had his cellphone on that it was okay to do that at Hollywood.  I explained to him rather plainly that it was not.  He thought he was so damned slick.  He would have it in one of those tacky belt holsters and tell me it was off but it wasn't.  I told him he couldn't wear it anymore in the holster and he would say that he put it away but you could see it clearly in his pocket. 

One night Dwayne told me that he put his phone away and I couldn't see it anywhere on his person.  I thought he had finally ended Battle Cellphone.  There were about two customers in the store that night and I saw them in plain sight all by their lonesome, but I could hear Dwayne talking to someone while he was shelving movies.  I headed towards the back of the store and he must have heard me coming because I heard "I'll talk to you later" and then he pretended to be putting movies away again.  I asked him who he was on the phone with and he tells me that he doesn't know what I'm talking about.  Once again I can't see the phone on him anywhere.

About an hour later he and I are the only ones in the store and I hear a phone go off on the salesfloor.  I tell him that I heard his phone and that we have talked about it before and that he can't have it on him.

"You know, I've had enough lip from you.  You are always trying to tell me what to do and there isn't even anyone in the damn store right now!" he yells at me.

I was totally shaking because I really hate confrontation, but I held my ground and told him to put the phone away one more time.

"Dammit!  You can't tell me what to do!  I'm a 35 year old man!  I'm a 35 year old man and you are some 18 year old girl tryin' to run me!  I don't have to put up with this!" he screams grabbing his phone--from his fucking sock!   Who hides a phone in their sock?

And with that he walked out on me and quit right on the spot.  I was floored.  I had never had anyone that I worked with talk to me like that and I had never had anyone quit on me.  Two management firsts in one night.  I wish that was the last time that I had a cellphone debate with an employee, but it wasn't, sadly.

On the plus side, for about a month we had a great new catch phrase at work whenever one of us asked another to do something.  "You can't tell me what to do!  I'm a 35 year old man!"  Yeah, that one never gets old.

Pickle Races

I fucking hate teenagers.  I especially hated teenagers when I was a teenager because I was what some might call "awkward."  I don't know if I ever really stopped being awkward, but I made it through things alright.

Working at a particular golden-arched fast food chain during high school I clearly remember one incident where these boys from one of my classes decided to come in and see how far they could push the awkward girl before she would meltdown. 

When I applied for the job I was pretty nervous because I had only ever worked for my mom before aside from some volunteer stuff.  We were living in the Central Valley at the time and being one of the few white girls with glasses in the place made people remember me.  They looked at me kind of oddly when I handed in my application but they did my interview right on the spot and told me I was hired right after that.  Major confidence booster.  I soon found out that the main reason I got the job was because out of the thirty-some odd people that worked there, only five people spoke fluent English and they were having issues with finding someone who could take orders.  Good times.  I ended up staying at that job for about three years and worked there all throughout high school.  I still say it was one of my favorite jobs and taught me a lot about a lot of different things.  Plus I loved the lack of responsibility that I had!  It was very Kevin Spacey in American Beauty.  But anyway, back to the asshat teenagers!

I usually ran the front register and sometimes cleaned the lobby when the dining area attendant was on break.  One weekend when I was running the front register three boys from my English class came in and thought they were real hot shit.  I think guys thought that because I didn't look like the traditional "homecoming queen in the making" girl that if they paid me any attention I'd instantly start falling all over myself to keep getting attention.  Not so much.

"Hey, Piper," one of them said in a rather slimy tone after ordering the cheapest burger on the menu. "How about you hook it up with a free soda for me and mah boys?"  He even smiled and winked at me like some cheesy '80s movie.  Truths.

"Sorry, Rhett.  Not happening."  I told him very matter of fact.  I could tell he was a little taken aback.  I also distinctly remember overhearing something about me being a carpet muncher or some bullshit like that after they walked away.  How dare I not give into the charms of some moron with his chonies hanging out about four inches under his pants.

"Fine, fine.  I see how it is.  Can I get extra pickles on that burger?  And, uh, Jose wants extra pickles on his too."

They all kept looking at each other and smirking and just carrying on with general douchebaggery, but I placed their order and got them their food.  A few minutes later Lupe, the lady who was on lobby duty, had to take her lunch break and since I was low man on the totem pole, I got to take her place.  Lupe was not a small person and when I went out to change the garbage bags I heard the guys from school saying all of this really classy stuff about her.  "Oh shit dude!  I didn't know your mom worked here!"  "Damn!  Did you see that?  Hand to God, my water cup started shaking like Jurassic Park when that bitch walked away!"  Really classy stuff.

I tried to ignore them, but when I had to sweep the lobby I heard them saying some things about me that made my ears turn red.  The three of them were sitting in a booth in the corner facing one of the biggest windows in the store, but it was hidden away from the cash wrap.

"Hey, Piper!  I got a fun game to play with you!  Come tickle my pickle for a nickle and the rest of the ride is free!" 

Fucking really?

"Seriously?  Why don't you guys just eat your food and leave?"  I asked them.  Fifteen year old me was not incredibly confident.

"It's cool, Piper.  If you don't wanna tickle my pickle we can just have some pickle fun of our own," he said.  And yeah, he really said that.  That didn't sound gay at all.

"Okay then..." I said about to walk off.

"Pickle races!" two of the guys yelled to each other.  I had absolutely no idea what the hell they were talking about but I was getting frustrated and I needed my manager to kick these guys out of here.  

So I huffed and puffed and got my manager to tell them to leave but by the time she got off the phone with her boss they were gone.  And they left behind a huge mess for me to clean up.  Apparently Pickle Races are when you take the pickles that you don't want on your burger and you soak them in catchup and fling them on the window and see whose pickle slides down to the bottom first. 

Guess who had to clean that one up.  Bastards.


So this blog is just about crazy shit that I see on practically a daily basis. I called it "So, Yeah, That Just Happened" because that is a phrase that I find myself saying whenever one of these great things occur.  Some of these stories are funny, some are fucked up and some are just really mundane unless you, like so many others, have lived through the fun and exciting world of retail or customer service.

I have worked several jobs in my lifetime and there have been crazy people at every last one of them.  I started working with our family business when I was about ten and officially joined the workforce when I was fifteen and I haven't stopped at all since then.  I've done everything from scooping poop to fast food to selling movies to taking professional portraits.  It's been an adventure and there is just too much to not share.
I am trying to keep the identities of my characters relatively confidential because God knows I don't want any lawsuits or anything of that nature, but I can assure you that everything in this blog has either happened to me or someone that was in the trenches with me. I write like I talk and I make no apologies for sounding like an uneducated valley girl at times.  It's in my brain and I wanna get it out.  Enjoy.