A Retail Horror Story, As Told By A Starving Otaku
This is a story that I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to (and one which will especially explain my absence for so long) when it comes to working in the retail industry. I originally thought of just writing this as a personal Facebook post, but it would be too long… So why not share with the general public to inspire one another to get through their own struggles? Just in time for the Retail Holiday Season of 2018, I bring you a story of struggle and eventually triumph.
As I explain this story, I will be withholding this company’s name and any real names, and altering titles involved with this retail store. I was an employee with this store for a year (and a year before that I worked in a fulfillment warehouse, but that’s a different story for another day), and now that it’s the new year–and that 2014 was an emotional year for me as I went forward with this particular job in 2015–I just want to get this off my chest so I can look forward to what the future has to offer with my current career, as well as my efforts to find the spark in publishing the content I enjoy publishing.
Warning: this story might distress some people due to certain familial issues and the aftermath involving said issues.
During the Summer of 2014, I went through a family crisis involving the hospitalization of my mother. There were times it seemed like she was getting better, but her condition got worse over time, leading into the Winter of 2015. During my visits to see her, I went through the unfortunate experience of meeting doctors who were poorly trained in the area of socializing; one of them greeting me with a “what are you doing here?” despite my obvious relationship to the patient. I’d get talked down on like I was much younger than I was, which led to them thinking that I’m unfit to handle such a crisis, turning me into the bad guy. Having dismissed their services–because it happened so suddenly and I did not deserve such treatment–there were better doctors who understood what we wanted. However, her illness was too serious despite all efforts.
During the 2014 holiday rush, I had to find another job to help with whatever was going to happen as she had just weeks left to live. I had left my previous job at the fulfillment warehouse as my temp contract expired right before my mother fell ill. I applied for a job at a retail store… the second (or third, depending on opinion) most popular retail store next to the biggest retailer in the US. (You will be surprised to know that it’s actually not Walmart.) I feel uncomfortable working with the general public as most people can get into an employee’s business because they can’t get away with what they want; e.g. cashiers or sales floor–though I guess that’s a NEET‘s general nightmare. But there was an opening for Stocker that I applied for. I had already put in applications at other places, but this one in particular I was called back two hours after applying!
I started the job a week later as a Seasonal. And as with any new job, wondered how long I would last. Despite being stressed out about my mother’s condition and everything else, I did a good job during my first month of work and was kept on as a full part-time associate. Unfortunately, my mother passed away in January 2015. I had accepted the fact that everything was done to save her and I had to look forward to the challenges life has to offer.
When I was hired as a permanent retail associate, my supervisor said I needed to work on my productivity into the new year–of course, in the most professional way possible. As you’re about to read, that was no longer the case.
The Climb Down The Retail Ladder
My first month at this store seemed like it wasn’t a problem. I started in hardlines-which are merchandise that go on a shelf, such as Health & Beauty, Kitchen Appliances, Groceries, and so on. I was also trained in softlines–or apparel… basically clothing merchandise–where I spent most of my time employed. I had the feeling that I was put in softlines because I wasn’t fast enough for our Team Supervisor, though he told me his goal was to put me back into hardlines, where I felt I did better.
After the holidays, I spent the next several months in softlines. It seemed that if this one employee wasn’t let go due to their tardiness, I would have stayed in hardlines a little longer… and having to deal with a coworker whose personality was filled with gloom to due personal issues outside of work, and in turn seemed to let them out on me. Fortunately, I did not have to deal with this person for the reminder of my employment…
The following was taken from a personal diary entry:
“Weird things are happening at work. It seemed our Team Supervisor was irritated from what happened Saturday when, for some reason, we thought our Executive Supervisor said to focus on smaller items than the rack of clothes, since we were short on people. When we were done with what we thought were supposed to do, the ES got upset because apparently he never said anything like that, despite me checking with him to make sure this was correct.
I should have known better… because there’s this person on our softlines team who doesn’t trust this ES for some odd reason (I think he’s done nothing wrong), compared to our TS who said this first, thinking that this was made up to get out of work early… which was why I asked in the first place. Hahaha… sanity-wise, I hope I can make it through Christmas.”
About a month later, things were going downhill towards my eventual departure from this store. The following text is something along the lines of what I originally posted on my personal Facebook account since it was so long, displaying my frustration:
“Serious question for those who have workplace experience, especially in a Stock position… Is it normal to be “thrown into the fire”, having to learn something on your own, only to have someone come back and tell you “someone else can do better than this” when clearly you were not properly train on the task by said person?
The long version: the situation I have at work is that our Team Supervisor threaten me saying he’d find someone else better (but hopefully not just leaving me out of the job completely) to work up and down the line while helping another Associate out. But there is a communication problem… I do help this guy out, but sometimes he will say “I got it; just let it go down the line,” making seem like he’s saying just worry about my end of the line. It seems he has an idea of where things go than the other Supervisors. He also has limited mobility, so there’s also the fear of offending him whenever I try to help with him something heavy.
Also, whenever I don’t have anything to take off the line on my end, I’ll grab a box or few to take down to the other end, so it’s off the line. That’s the goal, as we get shouted at every morning, to “MOVE IT! GET IT OFF THE LINE!!1″ Our supervisor said that every time he walks by I’m just standing in one spot, when there’s much more going on…
It bothered me so much I went to HR and then to our Executive Supervisor to talk about transferring to another store, but I calmed down and told what was going on. Come to find out that the supervisor didn’t train me properly, or at all in this case. I was just told to put this here and put that there on the flats and pallets.
It really hurt when the supervisor said what he said of finding someone else… It’s not like I’m on my phone playing a game. Now that I think about it, I think it’s this supervisor’s similar attitude that made another employee walk off the job two weeks prior. I hope I can make it at least ’til Thanksgiving. o_o
TL;DR Version: I try my best every morning to help on the line but my supervisor obviously doesn’t pay attention to my training and the situation.”
Crossing The Line
Not long after the experience of unloading the line I was told to stock the toy aisle… alone… within two hours, or whenever the store opened. For the next month I did this with little to no help. As with many jobs, especially in retail, there’s a time limit of when to finish the truck. I tried my best, only to get my time wasted by the supervisor of him complaining about my productivity.
“You need to work faster,” is what he said. “We’ve had this discussion for the third time,” which had been three days at this point since I was assigned to the area. When he showed me how to open the box and stock it on the shelf–like I didn’t know how for the past 10 months, despite working in softlines the majority of the time–he told me I “wasn’t at his heels,” when I was confused about what he was doing, holding a shopping cart with 10-15 boxes to open.
He said he was going to watch my performance for a week, but it went on for a month. The first week, after the third conversation, he used a timer–which he didn’t tell me about the first day he used it until I was almost finished, and counted the boxes I had opened already in either a cart or a trash cage… whatever they had available for me right then. For the next few weeks, I was miserable. And through this misery I was able to work faster; “You did a little better, but you slowed down towards the end, he said.” The way I felt was like I was working at a larger, well known US retail chain. (Again, not Walmart!)
After feeling like I was going to get fired (and I was there 6 months longer than I should have in general), I found another job at a shipping company, where I am currently employed! I thought to myself, “since this new job is in the afternoon, I’ll stay here for one more month while I work this new job–extra Holiday cash FTW!” It turns out it wasn’t worth it after the following happened.
Fortunately, I was able to work in softlines on certain days, but when the ES was on duty and the TS was off that day. However, the TS went on vacation, and the days I would work softlines during that month, the ES wanted me to do–you guessed it! Toys! He did this for the next two days before I was sent back to softlines as we started two hours earlier for the holidays, and the associates that normally work softlines didn’t show up until their usual time, since it was so early in the morning for them due to other commitments.
Those two days with the Executive Supervisor were the worst. I really didn’t want to tell them (the higher-ups) that I found another job, since it seemed they were trying to get rid of me. Earlier that week, when I had the job interview, I told him I had to leave early. That wasn’t a problem. Then I had the first day of orientation, which happened to be on my off day. The last two days I had to do toys, the second day of orientation happened. I was told to be there at 9:30 AM. When I told the ES I had to leave early the second time that week, he asked: “Well, did you know that you had to leave early before yesterday?” in a condescending tone. So I said I’d work up until 8:30 AM, giving me just an hour to get there for the orientation.
Wanting me to do toys again, I asked how many cases there were. He came back 20 minutes later after supposedly finding out, and asked “do you want the company’s timeline, or mine?” Without thinking into it, I asked for his; “finish them before 8 AM, that’s my timeline. The Team Supervisor and I had a discussion about your productivity. No excuses.” So I did toys again, putting on my best miserable face and got through it so I could work towards getting the hell out of there. Then came the final straw… the day that convinced me to put in my two weeks.
Unloading the truck, I did not have enough pallets to put the remaining boxes of toys on, so I had to put them under the line, keeping a mental note to get them, as well as to analyze if they were to be backstocked as I bought out the first flat, when I finished stocking the bulk of them. About an hour into the stocking, the ES came by and reminded me of the boxes, and I told him what I planned on doing. Well, he came back a few minutes later, and said the following…
“I went back and took a picture of those boxes and compared them… they go out. [Sanjo-chan], this is unacceptable. I’m not paying you to go against what you were trained to do.”
At this point, I blanked out, especially after he exaggerated that he was paying me out of his own pocket, and not from the retail chain. I wanted the conversation to end, and it did. After he walked away, I finished stocking what I had bought out and was to go back and stock the remaining boxes under the truck…
…I started crying. Not so loud as to attract attention, but enough to pour out my frustrations. Considering what I went through when I got this job, it felt like I let my mother down. I honestly felt like walking off the job right then, but I took deep breaths and looked through the dark clouds. I had to keep going through the final two weeks of my employment with this company.
Life Beyond Retail
I was so glad to be put back into softlines after that. I was so distressed by it that I talked to my coworkers about it, where they thought it wasn’t fair of them to do that to me and they didn’t feel like staying longer that day, or that they make it where the company isn’t wrong and the higher-up just care about their big fat bonus at the end of the year if everything is done as told back at HQ.
When I left, almost all of my coworkers knew I was going to move on at my new and current job, except the supervisors… thankfully. Although, I did tell them on my last and final day with this company that I was out of there. The Executive Supervisor, in particular, said he wasn’t told by the HR Manager that I had put in my two weeks and seemed saddened (or at least wanted to jump up and down and cheer). He thanked me for all the work I have done, and I was able to rest my mind for the first time in a year and a half. I’m sure that my mother is proud of me of my decision.
As of September 2018, I have ran into a few people I’ve worked with at that store: the Team Supervisor who hovered over me with a timer is no longer a part of the store! However, the Executive Supervisor remains, and even a couple of friends who have been employed there at least in the past year say that he’s still up to his bitter, two faced deeds. Half of everyone I worked with have moved on to bigger and better things, and the ones I enjoyed working with are still employed, hanging in there.
Never again. I suppose what happened to me is just an everyday retail horror story, but it hit me harder, considering what happened prior. But I am soon approaching my third year at my current employer, and I am a potential candidate for a higher tier position in the future! And of course, you get treated better, and with benefits!
Do you have a retail horror story? What did you do to rectify the problem? Tell us in the comments below! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!