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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode Seven - You Want To Do What?...With What?

My days are filled with questions at my day job. This is ok, since the biggest part of my job is customer service, and I actually enjoy helping people for the most part.

But sometimes, customers are extremely vague about what they are looking for, yet expect me to know EXACTLY what they need. As if I can use my super powers to see inside their brains. If I had these super powers, I really don't think I'd be working a retail job.

So on occasion, I get to spend time with a customer, playing twenty questions and wandering around the store in order to figure out that "that stuff that looks like felt, but isn't felt" IS indeed felt.

Whatever.

Other times, customers are so confused, they don't even know where they are. I get asked where the shower curtains are, or the bedspreads. I find myself having to explain that we do not carry these items in an arts and crafts store, and that maybe they should try Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Usually, they nod, their eyes glazing over as they try to recall where they are shopping at the moment. I've even had them laugh and ask me where they are.

And since I am at an arts and crafts store, I get alot of questions from people who are trying to figure out how to something themselves, even if that isn't the best way. This can be fun, since I get to rack my brain with ideas to help others be creative. But sometimes, the questions can be a little, well...disturbing.

For example, a few years ago, I was asked by a man for something clear that you could preserve something in. Of course, I asked what, exactly, he was wanting to preserve. He then proceeded to explain to me how he wanted to preserve his recently amputated leg, because he didn't want the hospital to dispose of it, and he didn't want to bury it. Instead, he wanted to be able to look at it whenever he wanted, because it was a good leg, and deserved the best.

I swallowed hard and convinced him we did not have anything that would be sufficient for that. And then I ran to the break room, too weirded out for words.

Sometimes, I really just want to show someone where the ribbon is, and leave it at that.


*A new one for the list - A customer asked a coworker of mine for a glue that would be sufficient for holding on a toupe. Not at an arts and crafts store, people!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode Six - Black Friday Blues

Black Friday.

Such an ominous name that retailers have for their best sales weekend of the year. Given such, because the sales made tend to shift each company from the red to the black for the year.

Last year was my tenth year of working Black Friday at my job. And the company started early, opening for three hours Thanksgiving evening as a preview. Since it was the first time we were open on Thanksgiving proper, no one knew exactly what to expect.

All I have to say about it is...Holy Crap.

There were so many people in the store, every cart and basket was in use. You couldn't walk down an aisle, it was so packed. The store did over $16,000 in three hours. And there were only nine people there to handle it all.

And Friday was even busier, as usual. You couldn't tell from the crowds of shoppers that there was any problem with the economy at all. Two stores down, people camped out in tents in the parking lot in front of the Best Buy to get an XBox 360.

Whoa.

In all my years of doing this, I still can't think of one item that I want so badly that I stand in line or sleep in a parking lot for a chance to get it.

And forget the whole "season of cheer and giving" thing this weekend. All politeness goes out the door as people complain, argue, and shove each other around to fill their carts with holiday gifts.

And I lost count of how many things crashed to the floor in a dozen or more pieces, casualties of the chaos. You Break It You Buy It is a thing of the past.

I don't hate people - I don't hate my job. I just get disgusted at the hipocrisy of it all. Customers descend like vultures, trashing stores and being rude to the sales people that wouldn't be there if they didn't have to, all under the guise of gift giving and holiday cheer.

What a crock.

Nothing like ten years of retail to turn you into a complete cynic.

If you can't tell - regardless of my schedule - I don't shop on Black Friday weekend. It's a principle thing.

*This year - I will be working Thanksgiving Day once again, as well as Black Friday. I'll be sure to come back with a full report for you after all the chaos!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode Five - Wood Glue To You! And A Scrapbook Paper Too!

Through my years in retail, I've often wondered what happened to common courtesy. It seems like all manners and politeness have taken a back seat in people's lives.

I was always taught to be courteous to others. Ask politely if you need help, and always thank the person who aided you.

Some customers try to adhere to this policy. "Could you help me please?" "Can you tell me where something is?" I have no qualms helping these people find whatever they need.

But there are those that can't even take the time to form a complete question. These people walk up to me and simply blurt out items. "Yarn." "Glue." "Candles." As if I'm supposed to know from one word exactly what they need and why.

It's like they are using some kind of secret greeting, a substitute for "hello" or "hi."

One of my coworkers gets this even more than I do. One day, he'd had enough. He was working in an aisle, and a customer walks up to him and blurts out "wood glue!"

He smiled politely and waved. "Wood glue to you, too!"

Luckily, the customer had a sense of humor and laughed, then asked in a complete sentence for help finding a certain kind of wood glue.

So, in his honor, wood glue, everyone! And a scrapbook paper too!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode Four - Five Yard Penalty For Too Much Information!

I'm a nice person. (Mostly) And a friendly person. (Usually) I work face to face with the public daily, so I keep my snarkiness in check and plaster on a smile so wide my face hurts most days. I make small talk. I help customers. I'm very good at my job.

But would someone please tell me why there are people out there who have this urge to share more than is really necessary during these typically brief encounters?

For example - When asking me for help in finding a photo frame - I expect the occasional story about grandkids, or family life. That's a given. But I've had people go on and on, their mouths running like leaky faucets about divorces, surgeries, affairs, diseases, deaths-there seems to be no end.

Do I really need to hear about your knee surgery and actually see your scar to help you find a frame?

Do I need you to spend fifteen minutes telling me about your neighbor's affair and subsequent divorce to direct you to the silk flowers?

Do I have to know what happened the past six months of your life in order to recommend a good craft paint for wood?

I REALLY think not.

Have we become a society so devoid of emotional contact with others that we have to find a captive audience and pour out the intimate details of our lives to strangers that we've known all of thirty seconds?

WHAT is up with that?

Just the other day, my coworker helped a man fit a poster into a frame. At the end of the transaction, the man decides to share that rainy days make him horny. I hardly think that's appropriate conversation.

A simple "thank you for helping me" would suffice nicely, don't you think?

But again, maybe it's just me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode Three - The Horrors Of Glitter Lung

One day about three years ago, now, I arrived at work like usual. It was the start of the peak holiday season for us, (which means it was sometime in October.) I was working with Jon that day. Jon's a great guy - a very talented artist - but not very talkative. It was like pulling teeth to get him to speak sometimes.

But that never stopped me from trying.

Determined to always make the best of every situation, my mind raced for things I could try to talk about with him. I looked down and saw my slacks sparkling in the light.

"Now how in the world do I already have glitter on me? I just got here!" I brushed my slacks off in vain. "I swear, this stuff is everywhere this time of year!"

Jon looked across the table at me evenly, his expression unfaltering. "I think everyone who works here is going to die of Glitter Lung." Jon looked back down and resumed his work, as if his statement was something said every day.

I stared at him, open-mouthed. First, because he spoke without having been asked a direct question. Second, because he hardly ever tried to make a joke.

The giggles were coming. I felt them churning in my gut, clawing their way to the surface. I knew once they escaped, they wouldn't stop for awhile.

You see, in my store, EVERYTHING sparkles for the holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas most of all. Glitter adorns the silk flower bushes, the stems, the made arrangements, the ornaments, the wreaths, the stockings, anything and everything you can think of shimmers with the stuff.

And so, my co-workers and I shimmer with the stuff as well. We get it on our hands, our clothes, our shoes, our hair - nothing escapes the sparkly stuff during peak season. We track it home with us, so it invades our cars, our carpets, our laundry baskets. My poor husband glimmers almost as much as I do every year.

We make the best of it at work. Everyone is resigned to shimmery sheik for peak season. Glitter fights have been known to ensue. We've even swept it up in piles and saved it for future use.

We make our own fun.

Jon has since moved on to better and brighter things, but I'll always remember his observation about Glitter Lung, and how he stared at me in confusion while I struggled to breathe through my laughter. I shared his statment with everyone else at the store.

Needless to say, Peak season is now always Glitter Lung season.

Thanks Jon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode Two - What Month Is It Anyway?

Ever since I started my career in retail, my sense of time has become a little...skewed. The retail calendar differs greatly from the calendar that most people follow.

A great deal of the product in my store is seasonal, and switches out rapidly from one season and holiday to the next. This is to be expected, but our timeframe for such things is slightly different from how we live. Therefore, I constantly find myself in a conflicting set of environments.

You see, when everyone is celebrating winter and Christmas, my store is putting out the spring, Valentine's Day, and Easter items. Barely into spring, the summer flowers flood our sales floor, along with all the kid crafts that parents seek out to keep the little ones busy while out of school. Summer is usually when fall and winter start to rear their heads, pumpkins and santas piling into the store at an alarming rate.

Before retail, I couldn't imagine anyone needing to buy Christmas decorations in the summer. But sure enough, customers flock to our doors, asking for the ornaments and giftwrap before the school year even starts.

Why?

Don't we spend enough time commercializing each holiday already? Do we really need to drag everything out months and months in advance?

Not to mention the confusion it causes those of us that deal with this juxtaposition daily. Smelling Christmas Pine candles and listening to the animated santas all day, then stepping out into warm September weather is a bit of a shock sometimes. Not ot mention how utterly fed up with the holidays we retails workers get because of having to stare at the stuff months longer than necessary.

I used to decorate for every single holiday. My mother always made sure our house reflected every celebration - no matter how small. But as each year passes, I find that I care less and less, and my Easter bunnies, fall leaves, pumpkins, ornaments, etc. never make it out of their dark homes in the garage. I just can't seem to face them at home as well as at work.

It's almost as if the constant exposure has made me desensitized to the effects the holiday items have on other people. I no longer "ooh" and "ahh" over things like I did years ago.

Instead, my retail-muddled brain thinks:

We're putting out Christmas flowers? Must be August.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Retail Rant Revisited - Episode One

I originally posted these rants on my Myspace blog last year, and have decided to post them again, and add a few things, since we are heading toward the peak retail season.

I think they're funny, and well, this is my blog, so I can do what I want!



Though I am trying to establish myself as an author, I do have a day-today job that I must have to pay the bills (especially in this economic climate). Since February of 1999, I have worked in the retail business for a large arts and crafts chain, predominately in art framing.

Almost ten years of experience in this area has been eye-opening for sure. When you deal with the public daily, you hone your observational skills and become witness to things you never ever expected to see. And you hear things you never wanted to hear.

I've dealt with people at their best, but more often, people at their worst. To be honest, I never really expected to be doing this job for so long. But I have collected MANY thoughts and experiences.

I often toyed with the idea of putting some of these things into a book. Since I already have a dozen book projects in the works, I decided that I will just hit the high points over a few blogs. I will share my rants, my WTF moments, and anything else I can think of.

Maybe through some humor, I can brace myself for possibly the worst peak season in retail I've ever had.

So sit back, read, laugh, and shake your head in disbelief. I promise - it's all true.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving is almost here. The time where everyone is supposed to stop and take a moment to count their blessings.

With the stress of everyday living these days, I find it increasingly difficult to stop and smell the roses. This time of year is especially hectic in my retail day job. Longer hours, looming deadlines. More to do and less time to do it.

But at least I have a job to be stressed over. So many people don't even have that right now. Even when I want to pull my hair out, I make myself stop and take some deep breaths, because not having this job would give me a whole new set of problems.

Having a full time job with a commute does make the process of being a prolific writer a tad difficult, though. My time is very limited outside of work. And my husband has a multitude of health problems that keep us busy going to the doctor.

Despite all this, I know I'm blessed. I have a job. I have a home. I have a wonderful husband who's been madly in love with me since we were seventeen years old. I found a great publisher who believes in me and my work (when I can get it done-LOL) And through them, I have a fabulous group of author friends who keep me somewhat sane and definitely laughing.

And I'm thankful for readers who buy and read my books. Just today, I looked and found that my first release, Second Chances, is #2 on Sapphire Blue's contemporary list, and Summon Me Swiftly is #4 in the Romance/Erotic category.

I really do have alot to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lots Going On!

It's been a truly hectic couple of weeks for me! I have lots going on, which I'd like to share with you!

First, my new erotic short story, Summon Me Swiftly, is out at Sapphire Blue Publishing!



After a disappointing night fending off drunk suitors at her friend’s Halloween party, Amanda Swift is completely disenchanted with the dating scene. She’s even more fed up with being alone, and wishes she’d finally find that perfect guy to sweep her off her feet and make her toes curl with ecstasy. But Amanda’s evening quickly switches gears when she walks into her bedroom and discovers a very handsome — and very naked—hunk, who wants to please her in every way. But is this a case of be careful what you wish for?



I really enjoyed working on this story, and have plans for more fun short stories in the future. It was aslo a hoot to write spicier than I normally do. Of course, I had to pair it with alot of sarcastic humor as well!

In other news, I now have a book trailer for my first release, Second Chances. The fabulous people at www.scarletv.com held a contest, and I won! They were a pleasure to work with, and I'm sure I will use their services in the future. Have a look!



It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks, but I'm having a blast on the ride!

And on a final note - Happy Veteran's Day to all the men and women who work/have worked to keep us and our country safe!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Cover Art!

Well, I told you guys I was working on a short story with Sapphire Blue Publishing, and last night, I got an email with my cover art in it!

Take a gander!


Blurb:

After a disappointing night fending off drunk suitors at her friend’s Halloween party, Amanda Swift is completely disenchanted with the dating scene. She’s even more fed up with being alone, and wishes she’d finally find that perfect guy to sweep her off her feet and make her toes curl with ecstasy. But Amanda’s evening quickly switches gears when she walks into her bedroom and discovers a very handsome –and very naked— hunk who wants to please her in every way. You really do have to be careful what you wish for…


The release date might be as soon as next week, but I'll be sure to let you guys know when I know for sure.

It's a fun, snarky, sexy story that was a blast to write! I hope everyone has as much fun reading it as I had writing it!