Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 37

"I'm half the naked distance between hell and heaven's ceiling, and it's almost pulled me under."-The Indigo Girls.

Ah to be the fixture manager. Thats a cute title by the way, fixture manager. As if I in any way make decisions about this nonsense. Okay for those who don't know what this means, i'd refer you to day 15, in which your faithful blogger answers the question "are you agressive?" spoilers, the answer was no.

Anyway apparently my karma needs an enema, because somehow I became stuck with this foolishness. To say the culture of liquidation is different than Borders is sort of a lie. Liquidation doesn't seem to have a culture, and if it does its one of mutual distrust and contempt. Especially between the two "consultants" assigned to my store.

OH i haven't really discussed him, have i? Okay, each store gets a "Liquidation Consultant" and a "Fixture Consultant". This consultant tag is the most orwellian title i've every come across as consultants are people you go to with questions in your business. Then, you judge the merits of their information and choose to use it or not. In the liquidation business they just tell you what to do and are your boss. So, words...not so much the strong suit of the liquidation people. Perhaps at a previous job they liquidated the meaning of "consultant", i don't know. Anyhow, the Liquidation consultant is in charge of selling off all the Merchandise and closing down the store effectively. The Fixture consultant is in charge of maximising the profit from the sale of everything that can be removed from the store without the land lord suing you after the fact. The fixture managers, thats me and $$$ are the people in the store in charge of making sure the fixture consultant can achieve his goals. And to do that we are given a sizeable bonus, sizeable if you think less than i make in a full day is sizeable. I think they also liquidated the definition of "incentive" as well. Even borders, who sucked at that, did a better job. These guys apparently work on commission, you'd think they would understand that you don't incentivize people by offering them an insult. Considering they bought the company for a song, i think they could have spared a few notes.

Anyway, the FC and LC do not "work at crossed purposes". It's cute they believe that. Our stores is one of the "best" in the "company" top 50, actually. Our store is also lagging behind in fixture sales. I would think, any person capable of discerning information from data would look at that and see a logical correllation. If you are busy selling merchandise you don't have the time to sell fixtures. Makes sense right? People come in and look around and it's chaos because of all the shopping, their not really going to whip out their tape measures and start dickering over the price of 3 chairs versus 4, are they? Seems to me to be logical, but apparently not to the cabal of Stonecutters who judge these glorified grave robbers. So the pressures on to get fixture sales up up up! And of course the Loris, and the FC who i will call "The Fighting Eagle" have radically different responses to pressure.

So the fighting eagle is a nice guy, If I weren't biologically incapable of liking him, I probably would. He likes the ramones, he wears doc martens with an expensive suit, he lives in Europe a good part of the year. Whats not to like? oh right, he eats cadavers for sustenance. He also appears to have a massive coc....acola habit. He is wired for sound all the time. He compulsively repeats himself at least 3 or 4 times, like some kind of Austin Powers villain. He is constantly talking on his headset to ...everyone it seems. I will say this for him, regardless of who he's got in his ear, the second he sees me he gives me his attention. He says what he wants but in incredibly vague ways. When I clarify and ask for precision, he squirms and equivocates. But he's pleasant so it doesn't really annoy me. I just kind of take that to mean he trusts me to do what I think I should. Problem is his bosses don't trust him because we are lagging behind on his responsibilities (the fact that it makes perfect sense to anyone who has ever read a us hist report doesn't matter to them). The other day he came to our store 2 days in a row. He's kind of fun so thats okay. But we don't really accomplish anything we wouldn't accomplish if he wasn't there, and just gave us the instruction. Hes so scatter shot and he gets so distracted by the smallest thing. The other day he abandoned a hand truck full of shelving in the middle of the store to walk into the vestibule and look at the 8th grade science fair picture board of fixtures we have stationed there. Just walked away, left it there. I came up behind him grabbed it brought it to the cafe or as he calls it the "fixture area" and left it. 2 and a half hours later he came to me and asked me if I'd seen it.

Later that afternoon He told me and $$$ we would be cold calling people out of the phone book and telling them we got shit to sell. "So are you comfortable with that?" He asked at the end. to which i replied "no, not at all. But I'll do it because it's my job. I've spent my whole career avoiding that, i've never been and never wanted to be a telemarketer or sales person, and I certainly don't want to start now. But if you tell me you want me to call 40 people a day, I will because I'm a professional, and its my job." I mean, truth is they have me by the short and curlies and they know it, so asking me questions about my comfort level are a niceness that means nothing. Thats a Loris move, The Fighting Eagle, not cool. To his credit he thanked us, and sincerely so, and made a point to ask the Loris if she would spare someone else to do the calling as well, someone more suited to it. So, he didn't have to do that and that was cool.

Unfortunately a lot of the communication from him comes through the Loris, which is tiresome. She is incredibly impatient, when she says something in a way that sounds vague and off in that future middle distance she really means right now. If you suggest that you will do something, she means now. Giving a moment to consider the smartest way to tackle something is anathema to her. Frankly borders had started moving in that direction recently. I'm sorry, but I'm dyed in the wool old school, I have quaint middle 90's corp speak etched on my soul. I will always work smarter, not harder, so that means everything I am asked to do will get due consideration, and tackled in what I deem the most efficient means possible. If you don't think I'm efficient, thats something we can discuss, but efficiency and immediacy aren't the same thing. If you interfere with that purpose you are micromanaging me. Too many fantastic bosses have put too much time into me and into my learning how to be GOOD at what I do, for you to show up and decide you're going to question my judgement on something as trivial as when a sign gets put up. I got this, back off.

Also she is constantly teetering on the brink of this strange panic, like she just saw someone breaking into her car and she doesn't know what to do. and she interrupts you all the time. Let me finish a fucking sentence and you able to relax for a second. Today when i came into work, it took me about 45 minutes to get around to seeing her. I decided i'd talk shop for a few second.

"So we did pretty well with fixture sa-"

"We need to get all that stuff from in back out here."

"Out ba-"

"The office."

"Be precise, what stuff."

"The fixtures."

"specificially which fixtures."

"The plastic one-"

"Because the fighting eagle told me just to put one of each one in the fixture area as an example and replace them as we sell them, are you telling me to do something else, because i will i just want to be sure"


Yeah, Oh. Listen for 10 damn seconds and you might get some info. I know...shocking.

"Well you need to call The Fighting Eagle."

"okay i will do that." So i did. and he confirmed everything he had told me the day before.

Then of course apparently while me and $$$ were at lunch she had a panic attack/cranky pants fit about both fixture people being out of the building at the same time and our sales manager having to field a series of questions about prices. Okay first of all, it had better not be a question of capability because our sales manager, you remember her...Moonshine, is on IT. I would trust her to remove a kidney from me with nothing more than a box cutter, a few appropriate medical flash cards, and some whiskey. Seriously i don't know many people more capable of just dealing with shit. She is one of the gravitational forces that keeps our store from flying into the sun. So I think it was just the idea of one of her merchandise people being forced to sully themselves in the fixture slum. Like The Fighting Eagle was taking time away from her because i happen to be scheduled that day. I honestly don't know if she thinks that I'm some kind of strange time anomaly and I just exist at every second of the day to sell people old syrup pumps. I only work 36 hours a week. We only have 48 hours scheduled for fixture time, thats about half my schedule. And fixture time is supposed to be hard core, devoted to fixtures, calling people selling to people, stickering everything not moving in the store. Not fixing sections until i'm called up to do a fixture sale. So there will be more time when i'm not a fixture guy than when i am. So she needs to relax and cope. Eat some berries and chill out on your branch little mammal, all will be fine.

So another affront to me is that they don't appreciate the imposition they are putting me and $$$ through. I never asked to do this. I was never ASKED it was just assumed. And it's too late to pass on it, who does it go to? My GM? Moonshine? no, I'm not having that. I won't do that to them. For some reason, some part of me, feels like this is something I should shoulder. I feel like,the person who should take that bullet. I can't explain it. Maybe someone else can, but I can't. At no point does the Loris acknowledge that I'm doing them a massive favor for almost no extra money. And worse they act like I have some real responsibility here. No, I'm need to examine your reality here. I have no job when this is done, I don't care if you make your numbers. I don't care AT ALL. I will never care. Don't mistake my good humor and willingness to make the best of a shit situation for buy in. None of this is on me. I do it because someone has to. I do it because I probably have the best working knowledge of about a third of the product I'll be selling. I do it because it guarantees me employment until I don't care to have it any more, or it runs out, whichever comes first. But you will never convince me that somehow my success is tied up in yours. It isn't. Check yo self. Because you are about to wreck yo self.

Sometimes I sit down on a chair from the "fixture department" and I look at my emptying kitchen and I try to summon positive thoughts of rebirth. That my ice machine is going to make some small business bigger. But i know the reality of the situation is that 5 out of 6 independent businesses fail. So I sit there contemplating what has become of my life. How did I become the guy wheeling and dealing trying to get top dollar for stuff I know isn't worth it, but has an intrinsic value that far outstrips what we're asking. How did I become the guy responsible for committing this commercial war crime? I'm a profiteer and freedom fighter all at the same time.

Today I gave honest thought to whether or not I would be here to lock the door at the end. This place has become so dark, for me. What joy I thought I'd take from being there until all was said and done and all my friends and family had moved on is being spent selling their bones before they are dead. I've become a pawn to the prince of darkness. I'm the friend who gets turned into a vampire and needs to get staked before the end of the movie. I'm Satipo dropping Indiana Joneses whip and running off with idol saying only "adios Senor".

Worst of all though is that team:liquidate doesn't even acknowledge how it's killing me to do this. Every time someone tries to haggle with me over the price of something and they say stuff like "it's 10 years old, or i can get that for almost new" or as was the case tonight "the customer if always right". A little fire burns inside of me and consumes something. I don't know what yet, but i have to think it's something good, because I feel its loss like it's my breath. My GM sees it, she's told me so. But the liquidators just seem only too happy to liquidate that part of me as well.


  1. "Giving a moment to consider the smartest way to tackle something is anathema to her." Spot on.

    Its weird how the Loris cannot seem to appreciate that (and I'll speak only for myself at this point) I could not give a flying f*ck whether this crap we're putting on the stuff sells. I will do my job to the (almost) best of my ability, because that's who I am and I know if I don't my co-workers will have to. But the Loris seems delusional that I care that she meets her sales goals or any other goal. Amazing that she cannot perceive that.

  2. It is to your credit that you're doing something completely opposite your nature and trying to do it well. I did sales cold-calling for two days ONCE, and never again.

    Yeah, it's odd that people whose job it is to break down a corpse can't see that people who used to be organs in the formerly functional body have only slight interest in how fast or efficiently it happens.

  3. Clearly to do a job like the Loris does you need to have a cold and removed heart. That all those around you are experiencing a death and mourning that escapes you completely. How sad for her. In many ways the death is preferable to the loneliness of a cold, cold heart.

  4. I really would prefer to avoid going the route of explaining why I stayed until the end of our liquidation with "for the little people". But it was. I felt like I would be abandoning my little working family to a pack of ravenous wolves and I had to stay there to protect them no matter the cost to me or my psyche. In the end, I'm glad I did it. It gave me a sense of closure that I don't think I would have had if I jumped ship beforehand.