Sunday, May 29, 2011

Change For A $100?

Saturday afternoon, 1 PM. Customer wants to purchase a 8GB Flash Drive, on sale today for $13.00. Since the store is empty, I walk him to the register and offer to cash him out. He hands me a $100 bill, and I jokingly ask him if it is real. Corporate policy dictates I check to see if it's counterfeit, but I don't give a shit. He says its real, which is good enough for me. The till opens and all I see is one $20, two $10's, a few $5's and $1's in the drawer. I shout over to Mary, the other cashier, and ask if she has change for a $100. She says, "No, page Ken the manager and he can get some change from the office." I page Ken and wait 10 minutes until he shows up. I ask if he can get change for $100 from the office, and he says, "No cash on hand today, ask the customer if he can pay with a credit card instead." Pencils, with 25 BILLION dollars of revenue in 2010, doesn't have enough cash on hand to make change for a $100 bill. I'm thinking to myself, you've got to be shitting me, but instead I say, loud enough for Ken and the customer to hear, "What kind of half-assed company is this?" I want to tell the customer just to take the fuckin' flash drive and walk out the door, but instead I have to ask him if he can use his credit card instead. Fifteen minutes later, he takes his receipt and is gone. If he has any sense, it will be for good.

Friday, May 27, 2011

DUMB-ASS CUSTOMER OF THE WEEK: Who The Hell Still Uses A Floppy Disk?

Woman comes up to the tech desk, all in a panic. "I need a file from this CD put on to this floppy disk! It's an emergency!" My first reaction is: "Who the fuck still uses an floppy disk?" then, why would she think we would have a computer with a floppy drive. As I'm about to tell her to take a hike, Matt the manager steps in and says, "No problem." Well, I'm just about to crap my pants when I hear that, then Matt informs me the computer we use under the tech bench has a floppy drive in it. Pencils, the company at the cutting edge of technology, still uses a PC with a floppy drive. I guess that shouldn't surprise me. To make matters worse, the customer then explains to me that the embroidery machine she uses uses a floppy disk and she wasn't able to transfer a file because her CD drive was on the fritz and she has an important job that needs to get done tonight. I guess she couldn't tell from the expression on my face that I couldn't give a shit about her embroidery machine, her broken CD drive or her hemorrhoids.
Matt transfers her file from the CD to the floppy, then tells me to ring her out for  $10.00 at the register. I input the SKU Matt told me, and the receipt reads $10.60. The customer asks me what the 60 cents is for, and I tell her tax on the $10.00. She then starts screaming, "There is no tax on services!" She's one second from getting that stupid "EASY" button rammed down her throat when her husband steps in and hands me the sixty cents. When she's out the door, I say to Matt, "Ungrateful bitch... but she was right about the tax."

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Dazed and Confused
Today my neighbor Danny stopped by Pencils. I've known Danny since he was born, which has been 14 years, give or take a week or two. We've had a longstanding joke that I'm his biological father, something he would tell his classmates at the bus stop when I would occasionally drive by and offer him a dollar "for lunch money".  The fact that he looks more like me than his real father adds to the deception. Danny had the good sense today to ask the manager, Matt, if he could get the family discount, being that I'm his "biological dad". Danny told him he lives a few streets away from me with his mother and her husband. Later, Matt asked me what was up... I assumed he was referring to the question of paternity, and I told him that Danny's family was so dysfunctional, that the "father issue" was the least of his problems. Matt then inquired, "You mean his mother never asked you for a DNA test?" I told him that she had two other children, and she didn't want to open up a can of worms. I then added, "She never asked me for child support either. Not that I could afford it given my salary at Pencils."

Friday, May 20, 2011


I had no idea how special this weekend was at Pencils until I walked into work today and saw all the associates wearing blue jeans. I immediately inquired about the about the new "wardrobe" and Mary, one of the assistant managers responded, "Mitch, this is Founder's Weekend! Tomorrow we have free subs for lunch and on Sunday you can wear any color shirt you please." Holy shit!!!!!! I haven't finished celebrating Mary Hart's retirement from Entertainment Tonight and now this!
If I had only been so insightful 25 years ago to realize America needed an "office stupidstore". Instead of working for something only a bit higher than minimum wage, I could be sitting on a pile of Pencils' stock worth several million dollars. Looking on the bright side, a customer blessed me today after I showed her where the ink cartridges for her printer were. According to the Rapture, if I wake up on Sunday, I'm in Hell. Actually, I'll be working the 9 to 3 shift, so hell won't be that far off.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pencils: Harassment in the Workplace?

When I showed up for the afternoon shift yesterday, the store manager Ken asked me if I would mind going to the training room and watch a forty minute video about harassment in the workplace. "What training room?" was my first question. "It's the small room off the break-room," he replied. OK, so now I knew what that shithole was. I then commented that 40 minutes seemed like overkill. Ken, who also seems to have a dry sense of humor, then said, "Just watching the video is harassment." He wasn't kidding. The graphics were worse than the Super Mario Brothers and the production values looked like a 1980's middle school project. I was able to waste over an hour on this training session and when I finally emerged from the spider hole it seemed everyone had forgotten I was there. I then noticed the check-out line was backed up so  I jumped on on Register 2 and rung out an attractive young lady who had that "sexy librarian" look about her. Back at the tech bench, my supervisor Matt, who I noted had glanced over at the customer earlier, quipped, "That was very interesting." I couldn't help to add, "And a nice rack too."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Get Up, Stand Up

A Jamaican fellow walks in with an HP Printer, plops it down on the tech desk, and says, "Mon, dis printer no work." I plugged it in and sure enough nothing happened. I looked at his receipt and he had only purchased it 3 days ago, so I was sure the manager would swap it out for a new one. The customer then told me he had previously bought another printer 2 weeks ago, and that one hadn't worked, so he brought that printer back and got the one sitting on my bench. "Two trips back and forth, and two printers that don't work, Mon... I should be compensated for my time and gas too." I now saw an opportunity, and egged him on to demand money from Pencils for his aggravation and expenses. "Damn right," I told him. "Bob Marley wouldn't have put up with this bullshit." When I left the store he was still arguing with Ken, no doubt telling him the Bumbaclot at the tech desk said he deserved something extra.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dragging The Ship Down

Yesterday I stopped by Pencils to buy envelopes and shipping tape, when the new assistant manager asked me to step into the office. Sitting at the desk was Matt, my tech boss. He had an ominous look on his face, then proceeded to say, "Mitch, you're like an anchor here." I didn't know what the hell he was referring to or what he meant until he continued. "Mitch, you have over 25 training videos you need to watch, then take a test on."
Obviously "management" was on his back to get me up to speed and if they wanted to pay me to sit around and watch tutorials on how to stack toner cartridges on the shelf, what did I care. The problem was I already watched a half-dozen videos and failed the tests. Out of frustration Donna, the old assistant manager, gave me a sheet with the answers. I told Matt taking tests was an issue due to my Aspergers and he'd need to help me with the tests. He then said, "Just start with the easy ones. Some tutorials have just one yes or no question or just a box to check to confirm you watched it." He then inquired if I had some free time to do this in the next few days. I replied, "Not really," and split.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Assistant Manager: Lock and Load

Donna, my favorite manager who has worked at Pencils for 10 years, was transferred to another store last week. Yesterday, her replacement showed up. Charlie previously worked for a national sports retailer and I jokingly asked him if he had a concealed weapons permit. He immediately opened his wallet and showed it to me. I didn't ask him if he was "carrying", but it might of come in handy earlier in the day when a guy "boosted" a Motorola Xoom from the display booth. The brazen thief cut the wire security cable, stuffed the tablet down his pants, and tore out of the store. My feeling is if someone wants something that bad, let him have it. As I told Charlie, "Don't expect me to take a bullet for Pencils..."

Monday, May 2, 2011


I recently asked Matt, the assistant manager, if Pencils had a portable defibrillator, "Just in case someone has a massive coronary while shopping for toner or paper clips." He had just returned from his lunch break at Chick-fil-A  and was still sipping on a gallon-size cup of Coke. He looked up and said, "No one has ever died in this Pencils, but some guy did bite the dust in the parking lot a few years ago." I didn't make any further inquiries, but I had to assume the death he was referring to was from a fatal gun-shot wound from a car-jacking gone bad.
One of the biggest drawbacks of working at Pencils is the limited choice of dining venues. The so-called "break room" resembles the bathroom... only instead of a toilet there is a table. The closest place to catch a quick bite is Renno's Subs, which is only marginally preferable to the pet store next door. Which leaves Chick-Fil-A as the only game in town, which I can proudly say I've refrained from setting foot in. I opt to endure bouts of hypoglycemia and hunger pains to cholesterol-clogging chicken nuggets. In a moment of weakness, I grabbed a Kit-Kat Bar from the candy rack the other day and rang it up on the register. Donna, the MOD (manager of duty) ran over and screamed, "What are you doing?" I replied, "Paying for a Kit-Kat Bar." She then exclaimed, "Don't you know you could get fired for doing that?" I wanted to say, "For eating a Kit-Kat Bar?" but I realized she meant for ringing myself out. Matt, who had been observing this fiasco, came over and told me, "Don't do that again." He reeked slightly of fried chicken tenders.