Monday, December 26, 2011

What Is It With Sneakers?

The re-release of the Air Jordan sneakers and the chaos across the country last week on people stampeding to buy them is baffling to me. Of course spending $180 on a pair of sneakers is equally baffling to me as well. Sorry, I just don't get it.

But these incidents of fighting, stabbings, gunfire, and arrests over a pair of shoes did remind me of something I've always wondered about. Working in a mall setting can be interesting at times, especially a mall with a lot of shoe stores. The store I work in is sandwiched between two shoe stores and a shoe store across from us so I see a lot of shoe shoppers.

The one thing that baffles me is young African-American males and their shoe fetish, so to speak. They buy a lot of sneakers. It's not uncommon to see them leaving a store with several pairs of sneakers at a time. Many of them will sit on a bench in front of our store after purchasing new sneakers, remove what appears to be new sneakers from their feet, then proceed to debate which pair of new shoes they just purchased are worthy of wearing out of the mall. It's equally baffling and comical to me to watch this process. They seem to take this process very seriously though.

I assume sneakers are some type of status symbol. One I don't understand, especially since the shoes they came into the mall wearing look fine to me and not in need of replacement.

I dunno.

Maybe young white guys have a fetish of some sort I just haven't noticed. It doesn't appear to be sneakers though. Perhaps it's video games?


Maybe I'm just getting old and it's just something I'm not ever going to understand. Just seems like such a waste of money to me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sometimes Big Brother Needs To Be Watching

In August of 2010 a fatal accident occurred in Missouri killing two people and injuring dozens of others. A teenager was texting while driving and slammed into a semi- truck and two school buses then piled into this wreckage as well.

I was reading a recent news article where the kids of a school in Missouri now have vowed not to use cell phones when behind the wheel of a car since losing a classmate due to this accident. Chalk one up to common sense.

Then I started reading through some of the comments to this news article. Some of the most ignorant people on the planet decided to weigh in with their opinions on this article. There has been a lot of debate about banning the use of cell phones in cars. I'm not sure what there is to debate about though. Common sense should dictate that a driver should be driving, not texting. There are enough distractions to worry about while driving without having to worry about someone on a cell phone.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. Too many people don't see it that way though. Naturally cell phone usage isn't the only distraction that causes accidents. Drunk drivers, people putting on make-up, reading while driving, etc... all cause accidents. Too few people think about the actual responsibility and power they have when behind the wheel of a car. Their actions cannot only affect themselves but anyone else on the road around them, sometimes with fatal results. It's truly a lack of common sense and act of selfishness on their part.

Getting back to this news article and the comments. Most of the people responding feel texting is alright while driving and many of these people claim they have mastered this act well enough that they're not a danger when driving. They rail that "Big Brother" has enough laws in place and they don't see the necessity of more laws banning cell phone use in cars.

Personally I agree that it's a shame that "Big Brother" has to enact laws when common sense should dictate that it's just pure stupidity to text and drive. Since so many people possess little to no common sense "Big Brother" has to enact laws in an attempt to protect other drivers from the morons. This also protects the morons as well.

The trouble I have with the laws being proposed is that the punishment isn't harsh enough, nor is law enforcement enforcing current laws well enough as it is. (The same thing can be said about drunk driving laws as well.) Texting and drunk driving both impair your ability to drive, period. The fines and the "slap on the wrists" that are currently in place aren't enough of a deterrent. Loss of driving privileges for a significant time need to be the punishment, with the possibility of house arrest and electronic monitoring to ensure offenders won't/can't drive while being suspended. Honestly I see no other way to deter this because too many people are too damn stupid to obey the law without a harsh punishment.

With the current laws and enforcement of said laws we wait until someone dies before a harsh punishment is handed down, or considered for that matter. A lot of good that does the person who died though because of irresponsible behavior of people with no common sense.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sometimes Stupid People Are Incredibly Close To Home

I had a post in mind for today about a stupid person. I thought about it off and on yesterday and had myself convinced to do it.

Even the best of plans change though. Oh, I'm going to write about a stupid person today, just not about the one I was thinking about yesterday. This one is all about me.

I'm a smoker. A smoker who lives in a smoke free building, which is alright with me. The building wasn't always a smoke free building but since the rebuild from the tornado of last spring it became one. Since I had to virtually replace all of my furnishings lost in the tornado I was all for a smoke free building. I figured since I had all new furniture there was no sense smoking inside and having the furniture smell like an ashtray.

I'm also an early riser in the morning for the most part. Sleeping until 5 am would be considered sleeping in for me and I'm often awake at around 4 am, or earlier, such as the case today. I crack open a Diet Coke for a little caffeine and then decide to slip out the patio door for a cigarette.

So far no problem.

45 minutes later I decide another cigarette would be a great idea. When I slipped out the patio doors earlier it was a bit chilly out, with a breeze blowing directly at me, and drizzling. I decided I should go outside one of the apartment building main entrances for this cigarette to stay out of the breeze and rain. A logical decision I thought on my part.

So that's what I did. I grabbed my lighter and a cigarette and headed out. As the door to the building clicked, and I mean audibly clicked, shut behind me panic set in. I was standing outside with nothing more than a cigarette and a lighter and no means to get back into the building at a little after 4:30 am. As I stood there smoking I contemplated my situation. I wasn't happy.

This building has a total of 24 apartments with only 6 of them occupied as of now. It's been slow filling up as it reopened apparently. I knew one person well though and her apartment was on the first floor and close to this exit. So I spent the next 45 minutes or so wandering around the building hoping to see a light on in one of the apartments that was occupied. Finally I saw a light, and in the apartment of a lady I've known for 7 years.

I went to her patio doors and knocked quietly and she heard the knock.

I was saved!!

And then not so much. I could see through the blinds that she was moving about her apartment, but not toward the patio doors.

Have I mentioned yet that the drizzle had turned into a steady rain as well? Yeah, my luck pretty much sucked this morning. But, it was going to get worse.

After knocking on her patio doors a few times and getting no result I commenced wandering around the building looking for another light on and another savior. No luck there.

A car then pulls into the parking lot on the other side of the building and I sprint around to that side thinking someone is finally home and I'm going to get into the building. It was the police, responding to a call from the lady I know, to an intruder at the building.

I've got to correct that sprint thing used in the previous paragraph. At my age a fast walk is considered a sprint. It's hell to get old.

I walk up to the police car and the first thing he asks for is some identification. Showing him my lighter didn't impress him much. I'm soaking wet, chilled, and a bad case of bed head matted down. To say the cop was skeptical of my claims of actually living in the building would be highly accurate.

The lady I know finally pops her head out her patio doors when she saw the police had arrived. The very first thing she uttered was a question to me. "Did you get woke up by someone trying to break into the building too?"

Um... no, actually. That person was me. I locked myself out of the building and saw you had a light on so I was just hoping to get back inside.

At least she had the decency to verify that I actually lived here and the cop lightened up considerably and I got back into the building. So today's stupid person is actually me. But I'm happily stupid, warmed back up, and in dry clothes so the day is starting to look up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Well, She's Back: Part Four

Hopefully we'll get this last bit of insanity with the Worthless Co-Worker wrapped up today.

(Why yes, I can hear the chants of about time quite clearly.)

We last left off with this piece of drama where the Worthless Co-Worker threw the boss under the bus. She and the district manager went on a 2 1/2 hour journey through the mall where the Worthless Co-Worker aired every grievance imaginable she had in her little demented mind.

They came back into the store where she was all teary-eyed and he was visibly upset. He left saying very little and she was uncharacteristically close mouthed. (Something she never is so I figured she really went to town on her complaints.)

I didn't really need her to say what she complained about though as she had been spouting off for two months about real, and not so real problems in the store.

Initially the district manager bought into everything she complained about. The boss was in hot water. Apparently he had created a hostile work environment in the Worthless Co-Worker's opinion. She complained he, and I for that matter, had been harassing her.

This actually stemmed from her religious beliefs. (Now I'm all for people believing whatever it is when it comes to religion, but in her case she's a loony tune and phony when it comes to being a Christian.) She spouts off all the time about the bible and her beliefs. She's a homophobic bitch as well. As a parent of a gay daughter I quite frankly get tired of hearing how my daughter and all gay people are hell bound. She always starts this nonsense when a gay couple, or I should say, a suspected gay couple in her mind, comes into the store and she doesn't want to work with them. I usually keep my mouth shut because she isn't worth arguing with, but I'd finally had enough of her crap so we pulled a joke on her. While she deserved it, in hindsight the boss got a little too carried away with it.

After one of her diatribes about gay people I told her that we had an upcoming off site sales event in January. An off site event she had to work. I told her we were part of a Rainbow sales show event. This sent her over the edge naturally. The boss picked up on this and went out of his way to talk about this fabricated event every day to her telling her she had no choice in working the event.

This is the main thing the boss was in trouble for, along with her many other complaints. The next week was crazy. Not so much for me as I was mostly a bystander, but for the boss and the Worthless Co-Worker. Conference calls and visits occurred and no one was talking to me about what was going on. Slowly but surely though things were coming out about her litany of complaints though.

I was told by the boss that the district manager was going to talk to me about what was going on, as well as the personnel department, but no one actually did for over a week. I suspect the biggest reason for this was the fact that the district manager dislikes my boss and wants to get rid of him. He bought into everything the Worthless Co-Worker told him. My boss in now on the thinnest of thin ice with the company now. He's basically on a last chance written warning of sorts. Somewhat deservedly so, but not for her litany of fabricated complaints.

Last week the district manager shows up and we're all working. He has a cryptic meeting about following company policies and no grey areas and that this issue is now closed and no more discussion is to take place about it. I was fine with that truth be told because I was tired of the drama. He leaves, the boss leaves a few hours later and it's just me and the Worthless Co-Worker left in the store.

What does she do? She gloats and states how she has the ear of the district manager and how she has control of whether the boss gets to keep his job or not. I told her several times to shut up, but someone like her can't seem to keep her mouth shut. Her aim, by fair means or fowl is to get the boss fired. When I told her people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones she was bewildered. She had never heard that phrase before I guess. When I explained to her that someone who really isn't doing their job complaining about someone else not doing their job is very ironic she went over the edge and spent the next ten minutes screaming at me. I spent the majority of that ten minutes laughing at her.

She threatened to call the district manager and tell him how I was now harassing her which I replied was just fine. She waited until the next day, when I was off, to do so. This was a mistake on her part because now the district manager was forced to actually speak with me about the situation.

I came to work the following day and the boss told me I was supposed to call the district manager. It ended up being quite a heated phone call, mostly on my part. I finally got to hear more specific details about the situation and all I'll say is the Worthless Co-Worker needs to be institutionalized. Her sense of reality is skewed and off the charts. When the conversation ended I believe he was starting to realize just how mentally unstable she is. I think one thing that convinced him of this was the fact I wasn't defending the boss necessarily. Quite frankly he hasn't been doing his job, but he had been making improvements. I stated whether these improvements were enough or not was up to him to decide upon, not I or a mentally unstable Worthless Co-Worker to decide. Especially since the Worthless Co-Worker has a hidden agenda.

I also let him know that by buying into everything the Worthless Co-Worker had told him he had actually hamstrung the boss on doing a part of his job. That being making sure the Worthless Co-Worker did her job. Ever since this charade started she was just getting worse and the boss was treating her with kid gloves because he was scared of losing his job. Something had to give.

The Worthless Co-Worker was off that day and the next day. When she came in she received a call from the district manager. She trotted off to the store room for privacy and was gone for about thirty minutes and when she returned to the sales floor she was once again teary-eyed and upset. She kept her mouth shut for the rest of the day.

The next day however was different. It probably killed her to wait a day to whine. When I got off the phone with the district manager I wasn't positive how much of what I said was believed. That came out on this day though. Apparently he spent the thirty minutes yelling at her and the more she tried defending her demented views and fantasies the angrier he became with her. I was left with the impression now the district manager knows how crazy she is, as well as how lazy my boss is.

Honestly, what I see happening is two people losing their jobs before long. She's bat shit crazy and will self destruct eventually and I'm not sure my boss is going to get his act together enough to maintain his job either. I'm sure it's going to be an interesting ride for awhile though and I'm just going to stay on the sidelines and avoid as much of the bloodshed as possible.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Well, She's Back: Part Three

In the previous two posts we've established that the Worthless Co-Worker has been rehired and is as loony tune as ever. Actually I believe she's even more mentally unstable now than when she worked here the first time.

I think everyone knows someone who is mentally unstable, or bat shit crazy if you will. There are some people who actually get more unstable as they age. It's almost like Alzheimer's where a person starts out getting a little forgetful and progressively gets worse. That's the best way to describe her in my mind. The first time she worked here she was a little bit unstable, and now is even more unstable. I just see it getting worse as she gets older.

We also established that my boss is in hot water with his new boss in the last post as well. To some extent this is warranted because he's been allowed to coast and under perform in the past.

The Worthless Co-Worker went through the 30 day probation period on her best behavior. There weren't any signs of the shit storm of a tsunami approaching once she got past this 30 day probationary period. Oh yes, there were signs of loony tune there, but it all related to her personal life, which the boss and I really didn't care about. As a matter of fact we expected that to be the case because that's just her.

In hindsight two and two should have been put together. If she couldn't get along with anyone, and I mean anyone in her family, why was she getting along with us so smoothly during her first 30 days here? This applied to any friends she had. Well, friend any way, I only know of one person who tolerated her who could be classified as a friend to her, and that friendship ended in this time frame as well.

No, we were simply amused by her tales of woe when it came to her family and friend(s). The thinking was "Yup, she's still crazy, but no trouble here, so whatever." It was entertaining in a train wreck, non-lethal way to us.

Once the probationary period ended it all changed. The boss was her main target. She knew his boss disliked him and in her demented mind she thought if he was fired she was the logical choice to replace him. She knew I had no interest, and never have, in being the manager of the store.

All of a sudden when I was working with her, her litany of complaints about the boss grew. As they grew they took on a life of their own, becoming far worse to her than the reality of the situation. While some of her complaints had validity, most were overblown and way out of proportion. When she wasn't receiving a sympathetic ear from me all of a sudden I was a problem to her as well.

When she made a mistake it was always my fault. Most of her assertions were so outlandish I spent most of my time simply alternating between being amused and irritated with her.

She'd ring up a sale using a wrong finance option and it was my fault because I told her it was okay. Never mind I was off the day it occurred, it was still my fault.

She'd screw up inventory when product shipments were received and it was my fault because I told her not to worry about updating the system. (Um, yeah, not so much. The company takes inventory control anally serious.)

She left a product bin outside the gate on the mall floor one night when closing and apparently I once again was at fault because I told her it was okay to do something like that. Never mind that what was actually said by me to her the next day was that this had happened in the past by a previous employee and we were lucky to have nothing stolen overnight. (And seriously, how does one close and lock a gate, kneeling down right next to this product bin by the way, and not realize that maybe you should pull it back into the store prior to locking the gate?)

Naturally she uses these excuses when confronted by the boss and he sees through her absurdity. She then goes off the deep end and declares she doesn't appreciate being called a liar. My response to her is to simply quit lying then and take responsibility for her own actions. As you might have guessed this doesn't go over well either.

One of her biggest complaints about the boss is that he never cleans. True enough. Sadly she thinks she's the only one who does any cleaning though. The truth of the matter is all she does is talk about cleaning and by simply talking about cleaning it suddenly transforms into actual cleaning on her part. I've never seen her do any cleaning, ever. When I pointed out to her that talking about cleaning and actual cleaning are two different things she goes berserk. Bat shit crazy berserk.

If she's not selling well it is the fault of the boss because naturally, in her mind, if he's not doing his job, she can't sell anything. Now I'm willing to concede the boss is lazy, although he's improving because.. well... he has to due to his new boss and his demands. I also know that neither his laziness nor her craziness for that matter, have never inhibited my sales.

There have been many instances of property destruction since she's returned as well. A towel rack in our bathroom has mysteriously been pulled off the wall. One of our phones has had its phone cord damaged and the phone rendered unusable. While it can't be proven she's responsible for the damage, both items, in her mind, didn't work properly and she has wanted them replaced. Since there was nothing wrong with either item they weren't replaced, until damaged of course.

Any way....

Her complaints and whining were falling on deaf ears here. This enraged her, more so than a normal person could ever imagine. The week of Black Friday rolls around and in the retail world this is a huge event. Our district manager decided to show up on Monday of that week when it was just myself and the Worthless Co-Worker working to cover plans and strategy for the week. The day was going well and the Worthless Co-Worker was behaving and acting reasonably sane for a change. Right when the district manager announced he was satisfied with what we were doing and he was leaving she speaks up.

She informs him she needs to speak with him privately and off they go out into the mall and they're gone for over 2 1/2 hours.

And once again, as this post is long enough as it is, the next post will continue this seemingly never ending drama. As you may have guessed she threw the boss, and myself to some extent, under the bus. She came back into the store all teary-eyed...... to be continued.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Well, She's Back: Part Two

Note: Reading the previous post prior to reading this one is recommended.

As mentioned in the previous post my boss has a new boss as of last July. There were many reasons for this change which I'll attempt to layout as follows:

1) We're a profitable store but not growing as fast as the average company store has the past year or two.

2) The previous district manager was too hands off and too far away from us to hold my boss accountable for store operations. He's close to retirement and is just basically on cruise control.

3) (This probably should have been #1) My boss, who is a nice guy, is probably the laziest person I've ever worked for.

4) The fact that we were short handed for the better part of 10 months does fall directly on my bosses shoulders. The lazy factor played a significant role in this.

5) His last hire, before bringing the Worthless Co-Worker back on board, was his brother-in-law who possibly was the nicest guy on the planet. He was probably the dumbest guy on the planet as well and couldn't give product away, much less sell anything. Hiring family is a violation of company policy as well.

6) My boss loves his laptop and always has his head buried in it watching sports on weekends and his head buried in facebook and yahoo games during the week. Naturally this is against company policy.

7) My boss is also a social butterfly who wanders the mall yapping at people in other stores and just generally goofing off rather than doing his job.

I think you guys get the picture by now.

So.... the new district manager:

1) Gung-ho.

2) Asshole, which honestly doesn't bother me much, and is definitely needed at this point.

3) Pretty smart guy, and pegged my boss from the get-go as a slacker.

4) Has zero tolerance for bullshit. (A trait I'm very fond of actually.)

5) Has a strong dislike of my boss.

Unlike our previous district manager who we saw for one day every quarter this guy shows up quite frequently. And usually unannounced, something the previous district manager never did. There's no doubt in my mind he's trying to catch my boss not following policies, and he has caught him at a few things, but nothing that would call for terminating him.

This district manager pretty much knows what is going on and is looking to catch my boss not doing his job. He's talked to people who have worked with my boss in our district in the past and has a pretty clear picture of what is going on.

Back in August this district manager called me 3 times in one week trying to wheedle information out of me about my boss and didn't like my response(s) to his calls. I neither confirmed, nor denied anything he'd heard or thought. I don't like to lie, but also didn't want to throw my boss under the bus. On the 3rd call I blew up at the district manager and told him to get off his ass and get down here and find out for himself what he was asking of me.

Basically my boss has been in hot water since this guy took over. But I can also say he's finally waking up and getting his act together. He's got a ways to go though and I'm not sure he's going to keep his job. It's a shame in one way because he's very capable of running the store if he'd just get off his ass and do it.

Adding insult to injury, so to speak, he hires back the Worthless Co-Worker. Her only redeeming quality is that she sells fairly well. She's also mentally unstable. I chose to describe her as mentally unstable rather than bat shit crazy because a lot of people will say someone is crazy. While I possess no degree in psychology I'm positive she's unstable.

So now the table is set and with the next post I will layout specifics on her actions and antics that is probably going to get my boss, and herself, fired before this circus act is over.

Stay tuned.... and stuff.