Thursday, June 30, 2011

Live And Let Live

My wife and I were sitting in our neighborhood Applebee's last night eating an unhealthy dose of sodium and saturated fat (otherwise referred to as food on the menu) when the topic of Walmart arose. The news was reporting about the current lawsuit that the women employees brought against Walmart. Walmart won the initial ruling and my wife commented, "It will be appealed." Trying to put a personal spin on it, I replied, "At least Pencils doesn't decimate entire towns like Walmart." After a moments pause, she offered her view, "No, Pencils only decimates all the Mom & Pop stationary stores." Our local office supply store, established in 1921 and was/is the oldest business in South Florida, is now only a shell of its former self. There are also a few other stores barely hanging on, how I do not know. I'm proud to say I refuse to shop at Walmart. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you Pencils sells toilet paper.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Please Squeeze The Charmin

Now I'm wondering who determined that a store that sells office supplies should also sell toilet paper. They are either marketing geniuses or another example of out-of-touch corporate imbeciles.
After Tom, the inventory associate, asked me to help him stock a shelf with 900 rolls of Charmin, I couldn't help but to ponder who comes to Pencils to buy toilet paper. Judging from the use of our bathroom facilities by the general public, this in fact may be  a form of subliminal advertising (see related postings from April 24th and April 9th). Often I get asked where Matt, the assistant manager is. The most common reply is, "In the back office." This response is sometimes perplexing to my co-workers, so I clarify it by adding, "He's in the can." I try to say this loud enough so at least a couple of customers will hear it. Looking at the bright side, if I use my 10% employee discount, a 16-pack of Charmin might be a deal. As a good Samaritan, I'd leave a roll or two in the men's room for Matt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Animation Abomination

Yesterday I spent my entire shift watching animated training videos. Initially the thought of sitting in a mold-encrusted spider hole (also referred to as the training room) for 5 hours appealed to me as I wouldn't be mindlessly stacking toner cartridges or answering stupid customer questions all night. But once the videos started, I could hardly watch the monitor. In a half-assed attempt to be politically correct, Pencils featured an African-American character that appeared to be suffering from Stage-4 Leukemia. The voice was a combination of Fat Albert and Sir Richard Burton (from Othello). I'm not black, although my wife's Nordic family considers me a "dark skin minority," but I would be definitely taking offense to these videos if I was of African descent.
When there was only 15 minutes remaining on the clock before closing, I emerged from the bowels of Pencils and was immediately approached by a woman and her teenage daughter near the laptop display. I could tell from her accent she was Haitian and she told me she wanted to buy the Acer Laptop that was on sale for $350.00- I knew Pencils would be loosing at least $50 on that sale if she wasn't persuaded to purchase any of the bullshit add-ons, so I told her to make sure she only buys the computer. I informed her that her daughter can download free anti-virus and Open Office for text editing and to forget the extended service plan. As the pair walked out as the last customers of the night, Steve, my associate at the tech bench turned to me and said, "Thanks Mitch, that really brought our store numbers down for the day." It was my pleasure.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Cart Runneth Over... Not.

I got a pep talk from my manager Matt yesterday. For some unknown reason he thought I would be interested in "going over the numbers" and where I could improve the store's ranking. "Mitch, we loose money on every computer and printer that goes out the door that doesn't have an ESP (extended service plan), software, ink, paper or anything else in the basket." I guess he couldn't tell from the expression on my face that I couldn't give a rat's ass. About ten minutes later a couple came in and asked me, "What is the cheapest printer you have?" I pointed them towards an HP that was on sale for $49. I asked them if they needed an extra black ink cartridge and they said no. As I was ringing out the sale, Matt looked over at me from behind the tech bench and gave me a thumbs up. When I returned to the tech counter Matt, with a shit-eating grin on his face, asked me if I sold them the ESP. "Why the hell would anyone pay an additional $15 on a $49 throw-away printer?" I responded. I also neglected to tell him I refuse to even mention the ESP to customers, it's a total rip-off. I later noticed that my work schedule for next week was cut to 5 hours.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dressing for Success: Pencils Style

Leave it to another moron in Corporate to come up with a dress code that stipulates "... black socks must be worn by all employees." First off, who the hell can tell what color socks you are wearing when wearing pants? And since employees aren't allowed to sit down, the chances of anyone actually seeing your socks is slim to none. I recently read an online posting by another Pencils' employee who was sent home to change her white socks. She stated it wasn't worth the effort to return to work that day. Can't say I blame her. As for myself, I maintain that I have a medical condition that requires me to wear white socks... an acute toe nail fungus. I'd be happy to show my toe to the store manager, and if push comes to shove, get a note from my doctor, but I have the feeling he'd take my word for it.