A Day In The Life


Management 101
September 20, 2007, 10:15 pm
Filed under: My Life

Those of you who regularly read my mundane fascinating stories should recall that prior to becoming a teacher, I was a business executive.  I was employed by a large, specialty retail operation as a store director.   As a director, I was in charge of and responsible for the day-to-day operations of a multi-million dollar business.  I had a staff of two to three managers, depending on the size of the store, at least five department heads and various numbers of full- and part-time hourly employees.   Of course, I did not begin my career with the retailer as a director.  I began as a lowly trainee and as I climbed the corporate ladder, I moved from store to store.  Over the years, I worked in five different stores. 

In the late-eighties, I was at a Maryland store just north of Washington D.C.  This particular store wasn’t the physically largest I had been in charge of, but it was the highest volume store in my career.  Yearly sales were somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,000,000.  It was also a store with some problems.  The shrink was incredibly high with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise unaccounted for at inventory.  The high customer volume made keeping merchandise on the shelves a daily nightmare.  Keeping the store neat and clean with good merchandise presentation was also very difficult.  And there were other issues to be dealt with including some dishonest employees and underachieving managers.  I fired so many people at this store that I often felt like Bloody Mary of the house of Tudor. 

We sold an extremely large amount of diapers at my Maryland store.  The diapers moved so fast that we had one employee on every shift whose sole responsibility was to keep the diaper area fully stocked.  Diaper inventory levels were carefully monitored by the department head in charge of that area of the store.  The diaper stocking employees reported to the department head who in turn reported to the floor manager who reported to me. 

One day the floor manager came to me with a problem.  It seemed the full-time, day shift employee who was supposed to keep the diapers stocked wasn’t doing an adequate job.  The department head and floor manager had worked together to try to solve the employee problem, but they weren’t getting any positive results.  When I asked the manager what the problem was, I was told that the full-time employee couldn’t keep up with his work load because he had to pray for fifteen minutes out of every hour.  Now I am a religious person and I firmly believe in the power of prayer, but having to stop work to pray for fifteen minutes every hour of the day seemed somewhat excessive to me.  Upon further investigation, I found that the employee was not only praying in the stockroom, he was also eating snacks during his 15-minute prayer periods.  He was also taking his 30-minute lunch break and the two 15-minute breaks required by law.  Do the math and you will easily discern why this employee could not keep up with his assigned job task.  To make a long story somewhat shorter, I fired the employee.  I did try to reason with him and work through the problem for about two weeks, but I was as unsuccessful as my department head and manager had been. 

The day after the diaper stocker firing was my day off.   I had just barely gotten out of bed when my phone rang.  I picked up the phone to hear the somewhat hysterical voice of my floor manager telling me that the diaper stocker was staging a protest over being fired.  The ex-employee had come into the store and chained himself…..yep, you read that right……he chained himself to a swing set in our summer display area.  I rushed through the 35-mile commute to my store and arrived to find this little man with a chain padlocked and wrapped around his waist.  The other end of the chain was wrapped and padlocked around one leg of a swing set.  The little man was praying loudly and refused to acknowledge anyone who attempted to speak to him.  I felt terrible for him, yet I had no choice but to call the police.  The police had to cut the chain and literally carry the man from the store.  It was a very stressful and somewhat sad event, but it was hilarious at the same time.  Never, in all the hours I spent in management classes, had I received any instruction on how to deal with a problem like I faced on that day.  

A week or so later one of my employees told me that the little praying man was working at another retail store.  I went over to check it out and sure enough there he was stocking shelves. 

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You poor thing! I think some management classes could be more interesting if they did talk about some “odd” things you “might” encounter. 😀 Some business classes are boring anyway..and this could spice it up. 😀

Comment by Debbie

haha – people come in all shapes and weirdness.

I know there is a law that says previous Managers of an employee can’t give “bad” recommendations to potential new managers – but it seems in cases like this they should be allowed. It would sure save the new store time and energy having to deal with him!!!

Comment by Karmyn R

LOL What a guy!

Although in today’s world of being ultra PC, I can’t help but wonder if he would’ve sued for religious percecution of some such.

Comment by Susan

I was wondering the same as Susan!

Comment by chrisb




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