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03 November 2005 @ 09:55 pm
Work angst and rambling -  
Here's the thing...

I've been working at the bookstore because 1. I love working with books/talking books with others and 2. the (mostly) flexible schedule has afforded me the opportunity to do CP gigs, joust train and work at the New York Renaissance faire. It is retail. I am not, despite being offered such a position, in any wise 'management.' It is not a career. At my age, I really ought to have one (a career, that is) but that is another story. In any event, I've been at the store seven years. I have a ridiculous work ethic that ensures I do a kick-ass job in spite of retail pay. I am NOT one to stand around, slack off or avoid responsibility.

All of that being said... I think I am done. Part of the reason I've stayed so long, aside from the aforementioned flexible schedule, is that my B&N has been a fun place to work. Enter MANAGEMENT CHANGE. In a big way. Now, this has happened before. Only last time, it was decidedly for the better. Not so much now.

There is a management hierarchy at the store that trickles down through Store Manager to Assistant Managers to Department Managers to Lead Booksellers. Lead Booksellers are in charge of certain sections of the store. They are responsible for maintaining their sections, ensuring that frontlist titles are brought out to the floor and shelved/displayed in a timely manner, setting up endcaps and displays, pulling returns and doing 'Zone Maintenance' (scanning each book on the shelf to make certain it is in the proper section, alphabetized and that the proper On Hand number is reflected). They are also responsible for - first and foremost - helping the customers in the store and answering the phones. We have six sections on the book floor. For this they get paid a damn sight more than I - a part timer who goes where needed. There are eight Lead Booksellers. Of those, one answers phones consistently. Another has finally started answering phones. Sometimes. The others? NOT AT ALL. They are involved in their ZM, their projects, sometimes doing their frontlist. Some are more assiduous than others. One sent a person to the customer service desk rather than help her because said Lead was busy looking at a list on the computer.

What the hell?

It is the damned phone thing that bothers me the most. Now, I am a plain old bookseller who is also nominally, though this is not reflected in increased pay, a shelver. I come in at 7 a.m. and bust my ass to get any shelving done before we open at 9 (or damned close to that time). It ain't rocket science, and I am a fast, thorough worker. Again I refer to my ridiculous work ethic. Why do something unless you're going to do it properly? I do that, slam out frontlist, do any reshelves and work on any projects the managers hand me (many of those tables and endcaps that Leads would otherwise be doing). I do all of this WHILE helping people in the store AND answering phones. Even when I'm doing the tedious Zone Maintenance.

Well, finally I snapped. "Apparently," I said to myself, "it is all right to ignore the phones if you're busy with something else. Silly me! If those getting paid more than I am are cool with ignoring the phones, seems only right I should be too!" And this worked for about two days, because Stupid Work Ethic reared its head and snarled at me to not keep those poor folk waiting, dammit.

Here's another thing: with new management, every hour of an employee's day is broken down on the Daily Assignment Sheet (DAS). For example: shelve until 11, ZM until 2, straighten and do reshelves until 3. I've already said I'm a fast shelver. I get it done, and reshelves, in short order. Then, I'll take it on myself to straighten or realphabetize a section, what have you. I get the required work done. Every time I work. While answering phones.

For some reason, I wasn't put on the DAS this week. Tuesday, I did my shelving and, as I had no specific assignment, moved on to do ZM in Manga/Graphic Novels (the latter gets all kinds of messy on a daily basis). Wednesday, same thing - only after my shelving and a heap of frontlist for two different sections, I moved on to SciFi/Fantasy. Good work, Kel. Right? Ummm... maybe not.

One of the Assistant Mgrs. pulled me aside. "I have to say something that will take about fifteen seconds. After that, take as long as you want to reply."


"You're scheduled to shelve until 11 each day. You don't want to get into Zone Maintenance until that's done."

What I said, after blinking and opening my mouth to speak only to snap it shut no less than three times was, "I finished my shelving - and frontlist - by 9:30."

What I should have said was, "Gee, my bad! Instead of taking initiative and getting more work done, I ought to have stood around with my thumb up my ass. Won't happen again!"

The manager nodded. "Okay." And that was it.

Later, he called to tell me that, starting in mid-November, I'm going to be on registers for most of my shift.

This was the final nail in the coffin.

I've not been on registers with any regularity in three years. Screw that - five. During the holidays, I am a fiend on the floor. I sell mad amounts of books, especially in YA/Teen. I am an asset. I get the customers what they want and what they didn't even realize they wanted and I get people coming back looking for me at holiday time because my recommendations were spot-frelling-on. And - I will say this again - I answer the gods-be-damned phones. You want to pull me out of that and put me behind a counter? Thanks. I'm feeling awfully fucking valuable to your store.

That's when it hit me: I am done. I will desperately miss talking YA/Teen books and Graphic Novels with customers. I will desperately miss getting ARCs. But this is NOT a career. I don't need to have fun at work, though that is a plus. What I do need is for the environment to be pleasant. It is very much not. I'm going to work on my resume, try to think of what I want to do*, and stick it out for a few more weeks. My original intent was to stay through the holidays. After yesterday, I'm ready to go now now now. As it is, I'll stay through mid-December at the very least. Damned if I'm not going to get my 40% discount.

Today, I casually asked one of the AMs if they kept our yearly reviews on file (I've chucked my copies immediately after getting them, without fail). She gave them to me to make photocopies without question. I'm sure she knows, but - meh. She'd give me a kick ass, glowing and superlative recommendation any day of the week.

One last thing: there are other employees that bust their butts. adrienne429, K. (much as he can be a poohead, he is a hard worker), L. at info, M. (new guy - I like him a lot!) and others. Of course people in the satellite departments are exluded from this overall rant. It is mostly the Leads who get away with doing so much less... gah.

*Maybe this is a huge kick in the ass to really focus on my writing. To try to be good - better than good, if I am able - and to write consistently, and to submit said writing.

Oh, and aranturas, I adore you. I'm wearing that pin for the entire month of November. Maybe forever. Here's hoping!
Stealth Chaos Butterfly: sisterhood is stronger than blood ; lovebunnymcfoo on November 4th, 2005 04:01 am (UTC)

I love you Kel, and I have every confidence that you will thrive whereever you end up.

If you want to talk, am here.
Sarah: HP Ron bitchplz (airport_exit)kachi113 on November 4th, 2005 04:11 am (UTC)
Your new layout is sexy.

But wow, those people need to stop being stupid. I thought it was bad when staff stood around talking instead of working, but I've certainly never gotten a talking to for doing extra work.
Ratesjul: world booksratesjul on November 4th, 2005 05:13 am (UTC)
*glares at the idiots who don't appreciate you*
You're damn good at selling books. I know this. Anyone who thinks you aren't is stupid, or isn't interested in buying books.
rrr: marian runragganald on November 4th, 2005 06:30 am (UTC)
that stinks :O( maybe you should have all your fans come in at random times asking for you to help them with books and storm out in a huff if your unavailable :OD........on the book writing front i've been toying with a crimson pirates comic idea since last year, but i don't know which of the cp's would be the person to contact about it. could you please aim me at the right person

(icon is for you btw)
Ilena Ayalanetsearcher on November 4th, 2005 07:38 am (UTC)
Stupid manager. :( Way to demotivate people!

It's their loss when you go. I'm sort of hoping the manager will get the boot in the butt by THEIR manager they so richely deserve.

Karma does tend to catch up with folks like that.

You did the right thing, you should not be getting punished for it. That's messed up. :(
Adrienne C.adrienne429 on November 4th, 2005 09:24 am (UTC)
Thanks for the mention.
You know my opinion on all this.

I believe it's time for a couple of us to take stock and realise that this is not for us.

My mantra is:
I'm/we're better then this and it's time to move on.
Jobs, baby, Jobs!picoland on November 4th, 2005 12:16 pm (UTC)
I love your new layout Kel....

hehe, I said layout....

Seriously I feel your pain. I was working for one of the best companies in the world, but it was still retail. The hours were killing me and missing out on family stuff and faire cuz I had to work was just getting to be too much. I sense a change coming for you....
(no subject) - trongersoll on November 4th, 2005 01:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kelladyjoust on November 4th, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC)
Likely not. I can only take retail for so long, and I have long since hit that wall.
(no subject) - trongersoll on November 4th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Julietfair_juliet on November 4th, 2005 02:51 pm (UTC)
Retail is the devil!! You're right to think that you're better than a place that doesn't appreciate you. I know the hell that is register and that's not where you want to be.

Maybe this is a time for your to focus on your writing. As scary as it sounds I KNOW that you have finished works, maybe it's time to actually bring them to someone and get them published. The worst that can happen is they say no and you keep writing. The best is that they take them and then ask to see more and you're on your way! And then those Fu*#$rs at the store will have to stock YOUR book as you look down from mount olympus with a huge smirk on your face!!!!

pass the ambrosia!
Mairearanturas on November 4th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC)
Wow -- I wonder what the possible reason for you being at the registers could be.....lots of things that I've seen since I've been back have been making me wonder....too bad. And speaking of references -- you know you can use me as well.
aryianaaryiana on November 6th, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
I truely believe things happen for a reason -- that includes jobs screwing you up down and sideways when you have gone way beyond the call of duty. I have never been one to like change... or to be the keeper of my own destiny in being the one to be proactive and make that change (well except for resigning from Children's Hosp of Phila when they wouldn't let me take Thanksgiving week last year to go to Israel for my wedding....).
I'm sure once this is in the past (as opposed to the present), it will make sense as to why you are travelling in the direction and making those decisions that you will be making. Your happiness and your husband are much more important than a "job" (versus a career) - albeit one that you love (job OR career).
Just as you love jousting and performing at faire, if your heart isn't happy anymore, it's perhaps time to move on.... besides, at B&N, the problems are not going to remain yours!!