So life at an Office Max copy center was just beginning. The first week was challenging. There was a girl working there who had been there for maybe 2 years now who was hoping for the management spot and was a little pissed off that she didn’t get it. I understand, but tough. It is mine now. So she and I got things squared away pretty early and she realized that I could teach her some stuff. I am sure she also thought that I would leave at first chance and could then take over, so we got along just fine.
This being my first experience with true retail, I already hated it. The hours sucked. For 20 years I have had a set schedule. Now I was Monday 8 to 5, Tuesday off, Wednesday 4 to 10 and so on. Plus I had to work weekends. Now some of you are used to that, but when you are NOT, it sucks. Closings especially sucked because you had to reface all the shelves while the drawers were counted down. And if you finished before they did, you waited.
The location we were at had a decent mixture of equipment and capabilities, but they didn’t use them all, mostly because people didn’t really know them. We had a large format printer that was only used to print posters. Nobody really knew that it could print banners and labels, so they just didn’t do it. We had a cutter but they rarely did anything except cut some flyers in half. They had a computer with design software on it (only Publisher, but better than Word!) but sent out EVERYTHING. Corporate had an arrangement with a national printer (They suck. I had a friend who was a supervisor at this NP, and he even said they suck.) to do most of their print work. If someone wanted anything full color and it didn’t run on the color copier, that is where it went. They used a different company for traditional letterhead and envelopes and we just marked it up.
So the first few weeks I contact all the various vendors we use and let them know that I am the new contact, make sure who I get to call when I have issues and clarify what it is that they do for us. This was a good thing because not 2 weeks in we have a customer who ordered something that we had to send to the NP and they were late. So I make a call to my contact at the NP and start to figure out how we can fix this. 10 minutes of phone tree hell I finally get a person on the phone. I explain the situation and then ask what they are going to do about this. Seems that they completely misplaced the order in their system, even though we have the confirmations and job numbers. Their system shows those as open jobs but nowhere in process, just in limbo for no apparent reason. The guy (John) then tells me “OK, we will put those into production and have them shipped out by the 20th”. OK, first off they have had this order for a week now. The turnaround we are supposed to be guaranteed with the negotiated corporate agreement is 3 days. the 20th would have been 8 more days out and to top it off, this stuff was dated for an event on the 17th.
This is unacceptable and I told him that, in those exact words. “Well that is the best we can do” he just flat out says, without even a hint of caring. I stand there for a second kind of dumbfounded a bit. Then I just say “I would like to talk to a supervisor.” If I am going to have to yell at someone I will make sure it is a boss. Without a word I get put on hold and easily 10 minutes go by before a person come on the phone. “This is Paul, can I help you?” he says. I introduce myself and explain my issue to Paul who then tells me “Well if John said it will take a week it will just have to take a week”. No, no it won’t just have to take a week. You fuckers lost the order you will do it at the very LEAST at the contracted time, not longer. “Paul, I can appreciate you trying to back up an employee, I get that. However YOU guys messed up by placing this order in limbo, not me or my client. YOU guys have a contracted delivery schedule with Office Max of 3 working days, not 7. And to top it off the items you are SUPPOSED to be printing for us are dated, and if you do not deliver them to us before the 16th, they will be refused.” I get silence for at least 30 seconds on the other side. Maybe he was thinking that this was a negotiation where whoever speaks first loses or something. Finally he speaks: “Sorry, can’t help you”.
Here is where I got in trouble. Forgetting that I am in the middle of a retail establishment with customers throughout the store, and also forgetting that a corporate representative was in the office talking to the store manager, I decided to let Paul know that I wasn’t happy. “Listen up numbnuts, you had better fix this or I go higher. I know that you have a regional manager and that their job is to make sure that corporate and national accounts are happy. They won’t like hearing about how much of an uncaring asshole you were to a major account like Office Max. I also know that part of your bonuses depend on comments returned from corporate accounts. So if you don’t want that call going to the regional office you will get your finger out of your ass and fix the problem that you caused by being fuckups. This job will be here in the 3 days mandated or I start to fuck with your bonuses. Good bye!” and then I slam down the phone. I am pretty worked up after that so I take a few breaths to try and calm myself down. I look to my right and I see my helper there just staring at me like I just killed a cat or something. Then I turn around, realizing where I am, and notice 3 or 4 customers just kind of looking at me. From where I am at I can also see the manager’s office, with both him and the corporate rep standing there looking at me. The manager’s hand goes up motioning me over. Great. Took me months to land this job, gonna lose it in 2 weeks.
Good news is I only got a mild rebuke from the corporate guy. He said he was appreciative of my desire to do right for the customers but that I have to remember where I am and can’t talk like that in the future. We sat and talked for a bit about my past experiences, himself coming from the franchise print shop world, and then he left. The store manager just looks at me and says “I thought that was fucking awesome what you told that guy, but don’t ever do that again. At least out there. come in here and make that call in the future. Oh, and go play the lottery, you were so lucky you weren’t fired just now”.
Did I ever tell you that I hated retail?