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Monthly Archives: January 2007

As I sit here, sick as a dog and probably just as good looking, I feel the need to write a new post in order to avoid going insane. I can’t breathe, it feels like I have someone standing on my chest, my sinuses are surely going to explode, my whole body is extremely hot and my throat hurts.

Lucky me, huh?

Here’s a thought that came up to me quite a bit in the past few days (as I’ve been ill for the past few days): who in the HELL thought Heelys were a good idea? Who sat down one day, and said “Say, let’s make a product for kids that could easily make them slip and fall, strain ligaments, break bones and pull muscles BUT make it look fun and ignore the obvious medical maladies that could occur!” In case you don’t follow the link or are just too lazy to, Heelys are those kids sneakers that have the wheel imbedded in the heel, and if you pick your feet up in a ridiculous fashion, you can roll around pretty easily. Only a few inches of rubber on the sole of the shoe prevent them from being full blown roller deathtraps…I mean skates…rollerSKATES.

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The above is how you’re supposed to stand when riding the things. That’s not a split just waiting to happen, right?

Now, I never really thought these would pull off. When they first came out a few years ago, I figured they were going to be a huge flop. I just told myself that people would realize how really dangerous they are. I thought wrong. It seems as though every kid in America has them and uses them EVERY chance they get. I can only imagine the innumerable and STUPID uses the kids have come up for them. I know in the fitting room, kids use them for everything. They could be walking into the fitting room…just walking in…and they’ll use those little wheels to skate over and crash into the water fountains, and then wheel back out of the fitting room and continue walking again.

Yes, it looks as stupid as it reads. I’m sure kids use them at home (where the only places you could probably use them is outside, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom) and zoom around with mom’s good china because they couldn’t walk 3 feet over to the shelf from the dishwasher. Apparently, skating over there is MUCH cooler.

That’s another thing. They don’t exactly look comfortable to wear. In fact, they look pretty stupid when worn. They probably have some of the worst shoe designs imaginable, but people will buy them for just the little wheels. And those little wheels seem to make walking a chore. The kids’ feet will be tilted at an awkward angle and they waddle when they walk simply because it’s so damn hard to keep balance. Imagine if you were stepping on a 1/2 inch ball bearing every step you took. Again, it looks just as stupid as it reads.

There are two types of kids when it comes to Heelys: those that are so frickin’ smug that they own them that they wait until they just happen to show you using them (for example, they will walk in with clothing, and I’ll take them down to a fitting room a bit further from the door…they wait a few seconds, and then ROLL after me, and I know they see me notice them in the mirror) or the kids that think they’ll be shot on sight while using them. I get those timid kids all the time. They will wait until I turn my head just a bit in order to use the shoes to get out of the fitting room as fast as they can, like they’re stealthy. Yes, I hadn’t noticed the 80 pound body rolling around just on the edges of my vision. The FBI really needs to get in on the Heelys market; these kids are a gold mine for covert spies.

Now, granted, Heely wheels ARE removable, but that just makes way for a slew of other problems. First of all, I never have ONCE seen a kid with the wheels out of the shoes. I mean, look at a kid’s mindset: A. Be a danger to myself and others while vaguely looking cool; B. Be safe, smart, and not be able to show off to my friends. Hmmmm….

Second, what if you hit a bump really hard, and the wheel pops out? Can we say ouch? Good. Now just let the weight of that hit you. Really, there are a number of ways that the shoes will give you a sudden stop, such as tapping you foot on the ground by accident. I saw a kid (outside of work) smash his face into the ground because his ankle gave out and the front of the shoe touched down. Yeah, that’s not a lawsuit waiting to happen or anything.

My favorite memory of these cursed abomonations is this one little boy. This kid did NOT know how to use these shoes. I think a quadriplegic had a better chance with these than this kid did. I watched him vainly attempt to follow his mother around men’s clearance, and he was literally falling back with about every wheeling attempt. I caught him at one point because he actually did fall and nearly smashed his head on the metal of the doorway in the fitting room. I’m sure if the kid had hurt himself, she’d be more likely to sue our company than Heelys simply because she wouldn’t want to face the shame of actually admitting she bought the damn things for her son. As I picked the kid back up and sent him on his way, I told him to be careful. He did one of those “kid thank-yous” (y’know…they look away from you and say “Thank you” as if they had a mouthful of food) and went on his way. He then zoomed straight into a table. He just pushed off from where I set him, and BAM…on the ground. It took a TON of willpower not to burst out laughing at the kid. Really, just give it up man…if you can’t do it when you’re 10, you never will.

So now the product that is oriented for kids IS MADE FOR ADULTS TOO. You can get Heelys whether you’re 8 or 80. I think we all should get them at the store; our productivity would increase quite a bit.

Although, I worry that people wouldn’t like our new “In Your Face” attitude because we keep crashing into them.

I’m going to go lie down and die for a while. Hopefully I’ll make a better post next week. Until then…keep on a’rollin’.

After working for a bit today (though I’m direly ill now), I realized something: people that come to retail stores look at us as a lower form of people. Seriously. After much deliberation, I have determined that we are somewhere between “gum on shoe bottom” and “underwear with holes in them.” (This also applies to secretarial work, which is one of the most grueling and unforgiving job markets; god bless you people).

Please don’t mistake me; some people truly are appreciative of what we do for them, and for that, I thank you. Despite what you may hear, most of us like to hear when you respond to something we do for you, like searching long and hard for that one last medium t-shirt you wanted. It’s the little perks that keep us going a lot of the time. It makes us feel like we’re actually doing something.

A lot of people, however, look at us as just “doing our job,” as if donkeys could replace our work output if need be. These people irk me so. And what’s worse is that no matter how hard we try to improve our situation, they continually look down on us. It’s disheartening. It’s cruel. What’s worse is that we’re even less inclined to help you.

For example, a coworker of mine (we’ll call her Suzy) was replacing me on my break. It was absolutely crazy in the first place because we were having a big big sale, and she had her hands full. Usually, both of us work as attendants so neither one of us gets overwhelmed. It’s a pretty fluent system, and she’s a pleasure to work with…probably one of the biggest sweethearts to all the customers, too. Sometimes niceness wears thin, though, and it becomes more and more difficult to save face.

Now, generally on days like this, we get the families that like to use the handicap stalls. If we don’t have anyone occupying it, we try to put someone with one or two items in there to get them in and out as fast as possible. One of THE most annoying customers, though, is the demanding mother. I call her this because she basically demands everything from us, as if we’re not being considerate…again, we’re just “doing our jobs.” Usually, these mothers have a whole bunch of clothing and only one child with them, and they’re just too lazy to pull everything out of their cart, so they ask to use the big stall to steal and/or move around and/or bitch at their kid(s). It’s rare for one of these mothers to have more than one child.

So while I’m on my break, Suzy encountered one of these mothers. I wasn’t personally there to listen to the whole conversation, but I’d imagine it went something like this:

Suzy: Ready to try on?
Mother: (acting a bit flustered because of the line building behind her) Uhh…yeah…uhh…I have to ask is the…uhh…big one (points at the handicap stall) open? (Note: This is a PATHETIC ploy of innocence. The mother knows EXACTLY what she is doing, she’s just playing dumb so we feel bad for her. It never works; we just try to be nice in general.)
Suzy: Oh, sure. Just keep in mind that, if anyone has a baby or is handicapped, we’ll ask you to move. Is that alright?
Mother: (Really not listening, just eyeing what things she’s going to try to squeeze into and/or steal) Absolutely. Thank you.

Please bear in mind that the mother has a full grown daughter, around 12 or 13…needless to say, both of them could have just as easily gone into two separate smaller rooms and made all of our lives a little easier. But nope; she’s looking to buy (and return) a lot of things, so she has top priority, apparently. She’s also sweet as sugar, as she should be. After all, she’s our focus and the most important customer because she has the handicapped stall. I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought a god-like radiance was beaming off of her.

Suzy returns to her duties. A short while later, a person with a baby came in, and the demanding mother had run out to grab some other size or something (generally, these people will ask us for a size, and when someone doesn’t magically appear with said size within 30 seconds, they will wait until we turn our backs, run out, and bring the size back; meanwhile, another one of our associates will have been searching long and hard for said size, and the mother will usually just say “Oh, we already got it.” without so much as a thank you.) So Suzy knocked on the handicapped door and asked the daughter if she could kindly move to make it easier for the mother with the baby. The daughter said it was fine, and waited for her mother to return in the little waiting area.

This is when I came in.

Suzy briefly explained the situation to me, and that was perfectly fine with me. We occasionally get the nice mothers who actually listen to our little speech about asking them to move. We both worked hard for the next few minutes, and kept two rooms open just for the mother and daughter. We were trying to be nice…really, we were. We know it’s an inconvenience to ask someone with a lot of items to up and move, but we were trying to accommodate them and make their lives easier.

This didn’t work.

At all.

The mother came back and looked bewildered at her daughter, as if saying “What the hell are you doing out here?” The daughter tried to explain what happened, and the mother looked at her like she was an idiot. I decided to intervene; I felt bad for the girl. After all, she was being really cooperative and nice. I went up to the mother and briefly explained the situation to her. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey there. My apologies, but someone with a baby needed that room, so we just asked if it would be a problem to move, and your daughter seemed very happy to. We’re sorry about that, but we do have two rooms right across from each other so you guys can still look and criticize each other. (I said this in a joking tone; I always try to keep things light.
Mom: But all of our stuff is out of order now.
Suzy: Sorry ma’am, but I did ask if it was alright if you moved should we need that room. I’m sure it’ll be easy and fun to sort your stuff out.
Mom: (stone cold face) Not really.
Me: As I said, I’m really sorry about that. Suzy here will help you to your rooms. Anything I can help you with?
Mom: (completely ignores me, walks towards Suzy)
Suzy: (motions towards both obviously open doors) Here you are, ma’am.
Me: If you need help with anything, you can ask Suzy or myself and we’ll be happy to help.

Now, get this: both doors are RIGHT ACROSS FROM EACH OTHER. But the mother, being bitchy because she was ousted from her precious handicapped stall, proceeds to shove the cart into the room. Now, you can fit the cart into a room, but generally we try to tell people it’s easier to keep it outside the room because of how much space is actually in there. I’m sure the mother realized this, but proceeded to do so anyway. So imagine a full grown woman, a tall and lanky teenager, and a huge mound of clothing in a cart squeezing into a 5 x 5 foot room.

Yeah, not a pretty picture. She knew what she was doing, she was trying to make us feel bad and exhibit her anger at the same time. She struggled to slam the door, banging the cart and grunting and cussing a LOT more than she needed to. She then slammed the door “accidentally”, and we heard a quick “Sorry.” Suzy shrugged her shoulders, and rightfully so; she was being a bitch for no reason at all, and we were just trying to be nice.

We heard nothing else of this mother-daughter combo for quite some time. Finally, their door opened…again, with much banging and grunting, and Suzy was putting some clothing to be processed back in our processing area. I was nearby, so I ran up to them and started another conversation:

Me: Hey guys, was there anything you didn’t want? I could take it off of your hands for you.
Mother: (without so much as a glance at me from the moment she left the room and her back facing me) It’s in there. (Points over her shoulder).

I looked in the room to see where the stuff was, and when I turned back to wish them a nice day, she was furiously stomping towards the door. The daughter, being a bashful teenager, looked like she wanted to apologize, but her stomping mother ultimately won out. I really felt bad for the kid; she was probably going to have to put up with a lot of bitching of how rude we were and that they were first and blah blah blah. Not only was the mother extremely rude to us, but she left the fitting room a mess, and you could tell it was purposely done. Clothes were hanging on things that couldn’t have possibly been convenient, and there were hangers, tags, papers and various riff raff just strewn about. Lovely. And ultimately, Suzy and I are probably going to be complained about for what we did. Yes, I’m sure the company is going to look down on us because we did the right thing. How dare us.

I really would like to have one day where we could give as much attitude to our customers as they give to us. Some are genuinely nice, as I said…and we have a good time. A lot may just have a bad day, and yes, you can be snappy…but don’t make it personal. After all, we’re just “doing our jobs.”

And you know how I save face? Because I can simply look at Suzy, and we’ll have a good laugh about the whole situation. As I said, she’s a real pleasure to work with, and that’s because she’s thinking exactly what I am:

“Please, kill me now.”

Alright, so I’m in a sort of ranty kind of mood today, so I’m going to go with a soon-to-be infamous blog post. I call it the creeping terror, and the reason is that it is entirely based on the concept of our bathrooms. Yes, we have public restrooms in our store. I think this was a big mistake on our part, but we’re not gonna quit now.

We have a women’s restroom and a men’s restroom. I know, you’re shocked…we’re pretty high class to have TWO bathrooms. Anyway, the men’s room has a handicapped stall and a urinal, while the woman’s has a handicapped stall and a regular stall. No, it’s not cramped; the rooms are actually quite spacious. They have all new fixtures and such, as everything gleams when you walk in. Well, one of my responsibilities is to make the bathrooms look this way. We also have a person that cleans them during the day, but they’re not always in, so I usually clean it at the end of the day anyway.

This is probably the most horrifying porition of my job. Even past all of the screaming kids, annoying mothers, and other terrible stories I have posted, nothing is worse than dealing with the bathrooms. Alone.

The men’s room isn’t so bad, really. We get the urine trails on the ground of the little boys who can’t aim well yet, or the occasional block in the toilet (which happens, surprisingly, more often than in the women’s room. I suppose using the toilet all the time has its advantages.) It’s relatively clean, and it’s easy to tell that men wash their hands much more frequently in our bathrooms (I often have to refill the men’s soap dispenser 2 or 3 times a week. It’s lucky if I have to do that every 2 months in the women’s room).

Women that use our restroom, however, have ATROCIOUS habits. Some of the things I have found and/or endured in that bathroom have been burned in my brain forever.

There is frequently the odor of sweat upon entering the room. That is understandable in some instances, although I would expect most women like to smell like perfume rather than B.O. Well, whatever…to each their own. This isn’t really a problem. What IS a problem is the maintaining of a clean restroom. I understand that, in many places, there isn’t a placd to dispose of things. However, we do have a corteousy trash in each stall so women can dispose of health hazards properly. These are there for ANYTHING, though. If you have gum, you can toss it in there. Tissues, socks, shoes, BBQ chips…anything. But NO. Anything even remotely resembling a piece of trash and not a womanly product is instantly thrown on the floor. I go in there to see paper towels, toilet paper, seat covers, chip bags, hats, socks, hair (non-pubic), questionable edible items, spilled liquids and the ever infamous toilet paper roll. I find the TPRs ALL OVER THE PLACE. It’s not that hard to place them someplace easy to pick up. Again, this has to become complicated, as women seem to stash the rolls everywhere they can that is NOT visible, as if someone is going to see them place the roll in the trash and say “HEY! SHE’S DOING THE RIGHT THING! KICK HER ASS!!”

Frequently, I find odors eminating from both restrooms that would make you cry. If you’re using the toilet, please be considerate towards everyone and FRESHEN the place. If you come out of the stall, and there is a smell there that wasn’t there before…then you’re not fooling anyone. In fact, people probably think you’re a jackass for ignoring common concepts, such as “Don’t smell up the joint.” We have air fresheners for your use in there. Please, be considerate.

I often worry about the strain our toilets take on a day to day basis. I understand that they are porcelin, and are very durable, but everything has its limits. Kind of like a “straw that broke the camel’s back” sort of concept. We also have 2 stalls. Patience is a virtue. FIGURE IT OUT PEOPLE. If you are so physically large that you have to enter a stall SIDEWAYS…use the bigger stall. Do not put strain on the door, or any more strain on that toilet in the little stall. It gets enough uses from the 100 lbs. women. It does NOT need any more 500+ lbs women on it.

There is the little matter of bodily rejections, however. I have had so many ridiculous problems regarding this, it’s not even funny. Underwear left on the ground that were soiled (in both ways) from a little girl.

Yeah.

Couldn’t pick that up, could you? Nahh…it’s not a “womanly product”, so it’s instantly thrown on the ground.

But the worst story, by far, is the one day a coworker of mine looks in the little area with the water fountains (where the two restrooms branch off), stares for a second, and then says “What’s that?”

There is no easy way to say this: it was a little piece of poo.

Yups. Little piece o’ poo. Just sittin’ there in the middle of the rooms. Another closeby indicated it was in the women’s restroom.

Only God knew then what horrible things awaited inside. Fortunately enough for me, I was on duty in the FR, so one of our female managers took care of it. I could only assume it was horrid, as she stood outside the door dry heaving and gagging. She was mopping, and changed the water several times. She took a pretty good half an hour to just mop one little area. (Later, she told me it was everywhere…on the walls and everything.) She sprayed air fresheners in there (using 2 cans at the same time!) and it STILL smelled rancid. Now, you would think with the big “Caution” sign and the “This restroom is closed” sign would dissuade people from using the restroom, right? WRONG. Women still went in there, just stepping carefully.

What…the…hell.

I have also found out that many people come into our store JUST to use our restroom. The one day, we had a water main break from a pipe nearby that lead into the shopping center where our store is located. Neither we nor any other store had running water, and people flipped out about it. Many asked me accusingly why the restrooms were closed, as if I said “MWHAHAHAHAHA!! MY EVIL PLAN TO STOP ALL RESTROOM USE IS COMING TO FRUITION!!” It ain’t my fault people, so don’t blame me, alright? I watched a good third of the peole that walked into the fitting room turn right around and walk out the front door when they found out we had no bathrooms. I really do think that they should charge for use of our bathrooms, like a quarter per person and have a little turnstall to let one person by at a time. We would make a FORTUNE.

Hair in the sink, blood in the sink and ground, on the toilet seats…urine on the UNDERSIDE of toilet seats in the women’s room. I’ve seen it all. But every time I clean them, I make sure the bathroom is sparkling when I leave. Some part of me enjoys this job, because I guess it feels like I’m actually doing something rather than trying to fold all the shirts in women’s clearance for an hour and looking like I got nowhere.

Lord knows I need to set up the canvas for the horrid masterpiece about to come the next day.