Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Again, Co-Workers

Some more of the people I worked at Barnes & Noble with.

MARK was the recieving manager, so he was my direct superior. He was a cool guy, though, and he was very cool about playing music in the recieving room. His favorite singer was Lou Reed, but we both shared a love for David Bowie's music, and this is the time when I bought all of Bowie's albums (when the Ryko remasters were out; sadly, they're out of print now). Mark was a good guy, but he was an extreme doormat. His girlfriend was a total bitch, one of those controlling types who wants a husband just so she can get married. Her parents never liked Mark, but Mark was willing to give up his apartment (to me, actually) so that he could move in with her--he lived in the basement at her parents' house. Can you guess what's coming? Yeah, they broke up. They were supposed to take a trip to Jamaica or something, and she ended up going with some Latin dude. Mark, ever the nice doormat, took care of her cat while she was away. That was too much for me and Carl to withstand; we gave him lots of suggestions about what he should do with that cat. I can't remember which one of us said it, but the favorite was writing the word bitch on the cat with Nair.

When Mark was given a lateral promotion and became a floor supervisor, I became receiving manager for a couple of months. Then I was demoted because they felt I wasn't working fast enough (wrong) and that I didn't respect authority (correctamundo). So, they took a part-time worker from the floor and promoted him. And that was...

ARLO, the Great White Hope. The management loved Arlo, and even though he couldn't actually, you know, work five eight-hour days in a row, he was promoted to recieving manager. Arlo was a pretty cool guy, up until he was promoted. Then he became a hardass, a real prick. I still hate myself for not quitting when I was demoted, but I had an apartment and didn't think I could find another job. Arlo was alright; he liked eighties music, he took me and Carl to Boston Market occasionally, and he kept us happy for awhile. What we didn't realize at first is that he was doing it to show the management that he could inspire our loyalty and keep us in line. Ray, another recieving worker, and I were written up for something completely arbitrary, and because of Arlo's schedule, he had to have other supervisors do it for him. Then, when we finally did get a chance to talk to him, he did it with two of the managers present. Showboating prick. After he moved, the managers kept talking about him as if he were the Best Manager Ever. Here's where it gets totally unfair to me: I was receiving manager from January to May. This is the heavy post-Christmas return season, and the returns take up almost complete attention. Since we had a heavy influx, things tended to pile up, and they would keep taking Carl and putting him on magazines, so I was shorthanded there. And I was also manager during a major inventory. Then Arlo comes in and, during the summer (when stores have their lowest point of stock influx), looks like a champion by cleaning up the mess. Fuck you, Arlo.

RANDY made my life a living hell in a completely arbitrary way. He was an alright guy, but he could be a real high-handed prick sometimes. However, as a manager, he was completely lazy. He liked to sit in the office and reorder books. Which meant that everything still sitting in a box in the recieving room waiting to be checked in was reordered! Kafka, Orwell, and Terry Gilliam working together around the clock couldn't make up a beauracracy more infuriating than the one I had to deal with... At least Randy cut off that embarrassingly eighties gray-haired ponytail.

DAN was the worst manager or person I have ever worked with. Michael Scott on the American version of The Office could be considered a more efficient and better-liked version of Dan. He wanted to be everyone's friend and pal around, but then still be taken seriously when he needed to bark orders. Somehow, this masterful plan never worked. He was in charge of making the schedule, but he would never have it finished until the Friday before the next week, leading to a lot of confusion. In America, you're required to have a schedule posted two weeks in advance. One time, one of the other managers made a schedule and put it up; Dan petulantly took it down and put up his own; lots of missed shifts that weekend, I'll tell you that. I used to infuriate him, because I didn't take him seriously and didn't do what he said. Here's a couple of favorites.

After the district manager had told Dan she would write him up if he didn't start doing schedules on time.

DAN: When do you want to work on the 23rd?

ME: I have no idea, Dan; my schedule is open.

DAN: Well, I have to put you on my schedule.

ME: When I was hired, Dick told me that as long as I worked 40 hours a week, he didn't care when I worked. That was the understanding, and that's how I've been working. Now, because of that, I have a pretty open schedule that changes occasionally, but I've always made it clear when I was going to be here, and it's pretty predictable.

DAN: Well, Dick doesn't work here anymore.

ME: Look, Dan, it's cute how you wanna play manager, so here's what we'll do: you put me on to work 6 to 2 every day, and I'll continue to show up whenever.

And I walked off. Here's another from when Dan told me he wanted an exact count of how many boxes were waiting to be recieved. Now, the boxes were stacked in three long rows, making at least the middle row impossible to count. There were easily 1100 boxes, and I wasn't about to count them by hand.

DAN: We need a box count.

ME: What, now?

DAN: Yeah, right now.

ME: I have no way of knowing that, Dan. I can't count the middle row, and stopping to count now is just going to take time away from trying to check them in. It's impossible.

DAN: We need a count.

ME: I'm not going to do it.

DAN: I need a count.

ME: Then dive in and count them yourself.

Later, I counted one row and multiplied him by three. He told me that "dive in" was not an appropriate response. Naturally, I told him that insisting on a box count was an inappropriate request.

One last one: I didn't want to work with Ray one day, so I decided to help Carl with magazines, something I had been doing for a few days. Dan came up to us and tried to tell me what to do.

DAN: I think we're caught up pretty well on magazines, so... (makes head shaking motion)

ME: What the hell is that?

Dan does the head shake thing again.

ME: If you want me to do something, tell me what to do.

DAN: I want you to go help Ray recieve books.

ME: Good. See, it doesn't do anyone any good trying to make them guess what you want. You're a manager, try and act like one.

Rounding out the bad management, we come to LINDA K. She was ineffectual and a terrible person. As a manger, she was weak and incompetent. Well, that pretty much says all you need to know about her, actually. She was much more concerned with her inability to have children and the husband that everyone could tell was gay than she was with managing the store. As a result, she had weak assistant managers and a badly organized store.

More to come later...