Saturday was a day of stupidity and greed. This time of the year is no fun working retail. Understaffed compounds this issue, but I've accepted it as it's one of the facts of retail that the Christmas shopping season involves ridiculous hours, understaffed or not. (While I've accepted it I still reserve the right to bitch about it though.)
This is my ninth year of working retail. Our mall has shut down twice due to snow storms in that time frame. They have no regard for the safety of employees, or customers for that matter. It's all about money. Saturday was no exception. The following is the weather warning I saw when I returned home from work. Note that it says an additional 2 to 5 inches of snow is expected. That doesn't sound so bad does it. That "additional amount" is going to be placed on the 15.9 inches we received as of 5:30 pm Saturday though.
BLIZZARD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST SUNDAY... A BLIZZARD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST SUNDAY. * DANGEROUS BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AND WHITEOUTS WILL CONTINUE INTO SUNDAY MORNING. WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 45 MPH... COMBINED WITH HEAVY SNOW...WILL CAUSE ZERO VISIBILITY...WILL CLOSE ROADS AND POSSIBLY PREVENT EMERGENCY SERVICES...AND MAY PRODUCE POWER OUTAGES. * LOOK FOR HEAVY SNOW TO CONTINUE OVERNIGHT...THEN GRADUALLY DIMINISH AFTER MIDNIGHT. AN ADDITIONAL 2 TO 5 INCHES OF SNOW IS POSSIBLE BY SUNDAY MORNING. * SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS TO NEAR 45 MPH WILL CAUSE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW AND BLIZZARD CONDITIONS INTO SUNDAY MORNING. * PLAN ON WIND CHILLS TO DROP TO 15 TO 25 BELOW ZERO AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT AND TO 20 TO 30 BELOW ZERO SUNDAY MORNING. * ONLY EMERGENCY TRAVEL IS RECOMMENDED.
The mall opened Saturday at 7:00 am. No surprise there. At that time we had about 4 inches of snow on the ground and driving was still tolerable. I was scheduled to work from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm. At about 9:00 am the snow picked up considerably and the wind was increasing. I called the boss to tell him I was probably going to come in earlier than scheduled. I knew the mall wasn't going to close so I figured I might as well go in early to have at least a chance of the trip to work being a little bit safer than waiting until my scheduled time to go in.
I left for work at 11:00 am and a normal 20 minute drive took just under 40 minutes. As I was driving to work my thought was that this storm would be the one where the mall would actually close early. The brunt of the storm was supposed to hit that afternoon and go through Sunday morning. That rational thought proved unfounded though.
When I arrived at work I was surprised at the number of people that were actually shopping. No there wasn't a lot of them by any means. I'd estimate that the mall had about a fourth of the traffic it normally would on a Saturday. Road conditions were bad, and only getting worse. Plows were being called off the roads for safety reasons.
The mall manager had apparently been in the mall about 8:00 am to simply announce that there was no way the mall was going to close on a Saturday during the Christmas season for whatever reason. Naturally he was long gone and safely tucked in at home by the time I arrived at the mall.
As the boss and I observed the traffic that was in the mall at about noon I was getting pissed. Most of the traffic in the mall was parents with babies and toddlers in strollers. Now I figure if adults want to put themselves in peril and go out in weather like this it's one thing. I couldn't believe they'd risk the safety of little kids though. To. Go. Fucking. Shopping. Never mind there is still two weeks until Christmas and ample time to shop when the weather is much better and driving is much less risky. Morons to the highest degree.
At 1:30 pm the mall was finally a ghost town. There were a few shoppers left. I surmise they were just stopping by the mall before attending a Mensa meeting since they had to be highly intelligent people to be out and about still. (In all reality they were examples of the demise of Darwin's Theory of survival of the fittest.)
Mall security was having a field day with accidents in the parking lots surrounding the mall. As I went out for a smoke break at about 3:00 pm I noticed three cars were involved in a fender bender. Apparently as someone was backing out of a parking spot another car couldn't, or wouldn't stop, and hit them. This pushed the car that was backing out of a parking spot into the car that parked next to them. A car that looked suspiciously a lot like my boss' car. It was hard to tell at the time though since the car was covered with about a foot of snow and I didn't honestly think it was his. Sadly it was as security called the boss about 30 minutes later to let him know.
The snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing like crazy. Visibility was down to about 50 yards. When I went back inside I told the boss whether the mall was closing or not 4:30 pm was my limit. I figured that would give me about 30 minutes of daylight left to try and get home. He called the mall manager and the mall manager reiterated that the mall was not going to close and that if any store closed the mall would fine them.
Now my boss is a very nice guy, a definite rule follower. He finally grew a set of balls though and informed the mall manager to fine away, we were closing at 4:30 pm. I think the fact that someone hit his vehicle set him off. His car didn't sustain a lot of damage but the dent in his rear panel and cracked tail light lens were enough to send him over the edge. This was about 3:40 pm and he was scheduled to go home at 4:00 pm.
Within 5 minutes of hanging up with the mall manager a security guard shows up because the mall manager called them and told them to come to our store and stress that we couldn't close and that we would be fined if we did.
The boss went into full crazy mode. It was amazing. He told the security guard to get lost and we commenced closing right then and there. As we were shutting down equipment and lights other store personal started to show up to see what we were doing.
A movement was born. It was a domino effect and other stores started shutting down. We walked out of the mall at about 4:10 pm and roughly 50% of the stores were closed, or in the process of closing. Tomorrow should be an interesting day at work I'd say.
And the drive home, you know the one, where it normally takes about 20 minutes? It took slightly over an hour. There were cars all over the place and the ditches were full of them. The only people making any money yesterday were the tow truck companies, because people weren't bright enough to stay home.
It's amazing how greed and stupidity prevail over common sense.