Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 40

Hello Irene. Nice to meet you.

People had a panicked look in their eyes this morning. I know a major meteorological event is happening and that the whole east coast is about to lose power, be soaking wet and blown all over the place, but really? Really. What about this scenario says to you: Come out, buy a book and a pet pillow, and a bookshelf...and...drain cleaner? How will all of this help your survival?

Is this darwinism at work? Will these people all be sent adrift to the oceans making the indigenous breeding stock heartier and more well prepared for inclement weather? Probably not. I can't imagine ever having the thought: I should be preparing my home for the wet and windy fury of god, but instead I'm going to get into a slap fight with somebody over the last blu-ray copy of Avatar. Who are these people?

They are like Sims, not people. They do a certain action over and over again because it's a part of their base code. Even if there is something happening that would say to any rational people. Go home, be with your family, secure your pets. Move the stuff on your basement floor up 4 feet so you don't lose 25 years of book collecting...(maybe thats just me). But they just perform the same movements over and over again until whatever event catches up with them and they cease to be. Or it doesn't and they move on, having learned nothing from the encounter.

I have a particular loathing for people who shop in inclement weather. I have always lived in the North East, as a result i've seen many many snowy days where the roads just aren't safe to travel. I mean, you are taking your life into your hands driving in some of these conditions. Worse, if you drive your SUV out into the world to go shopping in a snow storm just because you can, you are taking MY life into your hands. Because Borders is going to be open for your browsing pleasure if they think you're coming in. You will not find a district manager alive who will shut down the store unless it is truly catastrophic and once you've hit that point you're all ready well into the danger zone. I've been standing at info on days that the state had declared nobody but emergency personnel should be on the roads. They don't just say that shit for fun! It's because potentially it is DEADLY out there. At least, it's horribly inconvenient and terrifying. Once upon a time I drove home at 11 oclock at night north over an unplowed interstate 91 in Vermont...through mountains, because ...well those 15 people who purchased something between 6pm and 11pm were somehow important. I'm all for winter hardiness, but c'mon now.

Heres the formula: If snowstorm=Sales, then open, if Snow storm doesn't= sales then not open. It makes sense, we're a business. But to the customers who come out and give our district managers the idea that we are losing business if we close rather than put our staff at risk I say, you are big dumb jerk heads.

The way we do business is so skewed sometimes. Not just, and not particularly, Borders but everyone. Barnes & Noble wasn't any better. I remember telling a driver at Dominoes Pizza i wouldn't allow him to deliver during a snowstorm because his car would go off the road. As his manager I delivered it in my 4wd vehicle and got a 2 dollar tip. Yeah, some asshole thought it would be a great idea to ask me to drive a pizza to his house in the middle of a blizzard and I had to, because it was my job. If I had refused, I'd be the one penalised, because, Hey, you accept having to do this when you sign on. Well that answer is crap.

It's as if because you've accepted to do something in exchange for money, nothing else...not your safety, not your health, not your happiness matters. Because Money makes feelings irrelevant. Its cut and dry. It's math. A simple equation, i pay you, you do this. There are no variables. I was listening to an interesting story about A&P the other night on the radio. Turns out they paved the way for walmart style retail and faded into quaintness themselves. I had no idea. I just thought they were adorable small grocery stores. Turns out once upon a time they were ground breaking in the way they treated employees. They expected a lot from them, but they treated them well too. Over time that has faded. While i would undoubtedly lose any argument about now being better than 1921 (also i wouldn't really make that argument) I would say we have certainly lost some things that we should try to get back. They needn't be a trade off.

Borders treated us better than many, many employers of the same size once upon a time. This is where the wisenheimers chime in "and look where it got them". Our labor expenditures might have been crazy, and perhaps we needed streamlining, and work reduction,but If your ship is taking on water, you don't start poking holes in boards, you shore them up. You have to wonder if borders had spent less money on Ron Marshalls and more money on say, giving decades long employees the cost of living and merit increases they needed and deserved, if perhaps we would have experienced more buy-in from the staff. Maybe, if I weren't making almost the same money now as I was making in 2000, I would have tried to buoy our sales a bit more, because you see that little equation, (You pay me, i do this), it works both ways. You don't pay me, you don't give my well being consideration over a few hundred dollars sales and your precious "open when you want us to be" philosophy, you get what you get.

And to people running out to buy non essentials, I hope you are safe and well during this hurricane, I hope your pets and family come to no harm. I hope you have minimal property destruction and that your pet pillows are comfortable. But I am a bit bored and peckish...maybe for a nominal fee you'd bring me a dvd and a bite to eat...No? but why not?

1 comment:

  1. I heard the same segment on A%P. Hearing about how they expected a lot from their employees...but gave a lot in return made me sad, sad that it pretty much only goes one way now.

    Every single employer I have worked for expected me to drive in ridiculously bad weather to come in and work. Yet they weren't going to pay for car repairs if I got in an accident, risking life and limb to get there. What's wrong with this picture?