Friday, September 30, 2011

Break Room Leaves A Bad Taste In My Mouth

There is a vending machine in the Pencils break room, and I've never seen anyone use it... that should have been my first clue. The room itself is a dark, dingy and dirty hole-in-the-wall and that should have been my second clue. Well, I found myself entering a hypoglycemic funk and made the mistake of plugging my spare change into the machine for a package of those radioactive peanut butter crackers. One bite and I had to spit the stale, nasty tasting manufactured food-like product into the trash bin. I didn't think it was possible for that sort of crap to go bad, but it had. Now, as a matter of principle I wanted to get my sixty-five cents back. I noticed Matt, my manager, pacing towards the Copy Center and I immediately got his attention by shouting, "Matt, I think I just got poisoned in the break room!" I then told him I wanted my money refunded from the vending machine because of those shitty-ass, date-expired crackers. He looked at me and said, "Why the hell did you buy anything from that machine? Tom saw a rat crawl out of it 3 months ago and we never eat anything that comes out of it." Well, I guess I should of known better.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kracked Kindle

Three months ago I purchased a hydraulic  door closer for my back porch door at the local Ace Hardware store. The instructions were so convoluted I had to ask a friend of mine who is a general contractor to help me install it. When all was said and done, the contraption didn't really work as well as I expected, primarily because I mistakenly bought the "hold open" model which doesn't allow the door to automatically shut behind you once it is open past 80 degrees. Eventually I said to hell with it, disconnected the attachment arm, and moved on. Yesterday I was thinking that maybe I could write or call the manufacturer and explain my problem. Possibly they would swap me out for a model that doesn't have the "hold" feature. So I drove over to Ace Hardware and asked them if I could see the packaging for the door closer I purchased as I wanted to write to the company. The manager of the store came over to speak with me, and I again explained my situation, making sure he knew I didn't expect anything from him as it had been three months since my purchase, that I installed and used the product, and I didn't have a receipt. "No problem, I'll order you the model you want and I'll swap it out, no charge," was his response. I relate this experience because of a encounter at Pencils.

A very dapper, well-dressed older man comes up to the tech counter and tells me he purchased the Kindle in his hand late yesterday, got home, opened the box, and noticed the screen was cracked. He explained it was too late for him to return that same night, so here he was back the next morning. He asked, "Can you exchange this one for another?" The packaging was all intact, he never turned the Kindle on, and he obviously wasn't one of our usual meth-head rip-off customers. I couldn't see why giving him another Kindle would be an issue until my douche-bag manager Matt comes over and tells the gentleman, "You shoulda' bought the extended service protection. Pencils can't take this back now since you already opened the box." I knew damn well that Matt could of accepted the Kindle back as a "broken in shipment" product and was just being a dick. The man asked to speak with the manager, which he unfortunately he didn't realize he already had. I wrote down Matt's name and the store number on a piece of paper and told him he should contact corporate immediately and complain. I said, "The way you were treated was total bullshit." He looked at me, obviously disgusted, and said, "That manager of yours is a fuckin' asshole and I'll never buy anything in Pencils again." Too bad he had to learn the hard way...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"High" Tech

Catchin' a buzz in the Pencils' Break Room
Marty, one of the new hires in office supplies, seemed to be extremely irritable and I had to ask him what his problem was. "I didn't get any sleep last night. Pete called me at 2 AM and woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep." The Pete he was referring to is Pete, "The Crack-Head Tech" who is so amped up its a miracle he can hold a job, even at Pencils. I then asked Marty why the hell he gave Pete his cell number in the first place. "I guess it was a lapse of judgement," he replied. I then informed him he can block Pete's number, which everyone else at Pencils has already done. Pete's employment longevity is a testament to Pencils policy to help those less fortunate, even if they don't have any means of transportation, a previous criminal record, and a voracious drug habit. I'm not sure where someone with so many strikes against them can find meaningful employment these days. I've discussed Pete's "situation" with some of the other associates and the consensus ranges from pills and meth to alcohol and crack, or a combination thereof. The reason Pete has retained his employment was evident when I came into work today and Matt, my manager immediately confronted me. "Mitch, Pete had a $1700. basket last night! He sold the top end Toshiba, 3 year-extended, Microsoft Office Suite, HP 6500A printer, extra ink and some other shit." He was so excited he was starting to drool. Like I could give a rat's ass about any of this. Matt would obviously earn some extra bonus incentives from corporate and Pete still gets his $7.80 an hour. Forget "Undercover Boss," now I'm thinking we can get Pete on "Intervention" and get some positive publicity for Pencils.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Good Jobs Go Bad

Johnny Depp and Celebrity Stalker/Make-up Artist Angie in NYC
My friend Angie, who is a makeup artist and celebrity stalker of some renown, recently contacted me after reading this blog for the past several weeks. Our phone conversation started, "Mitch, I know you have a suck-ass job at Pencils, but wait until you hear about my latest job." In the past, Angie had worked with all the big stars in Hollywood and was even pursued by O.J. before he married and killed his wife, Nicole. Over the past few years Angie's workload has seen a dramatic decrease and she, like many of us, has resorted to taking jobs she never would of considered doing in the past. "Mitch, I was hired by a photographer to do the hair and makeup on a local female athlete. Once I was there, I discovered she was to be photographed nude, which for me isn't usually an issue. Unfortunately, the young lady decided to vigorously shave her pubic region the night before and now she wanted me to apply makeup to hide the inflamed hair stubble." Once I stopped laughing, Angie proceeded to tell me there are "places she just won't go," and being a compassionate friend, I supported her decision. At least my manager Matt hasn't asked me to clean the restrooms or mop up the urine in the aisles left by incontinent customers. I guess we all have our limits.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pencils' Telephone Customer of The Week

The following phone conversation I had with a customer last week has been transcribed verbatim.

Mitch: Hello, this is Mitch, may I help you?
Customer: Yes, my HP Printer stopped working.
Mitch: When did you purchase it?
Customer: I don't know.
Mitch: Do you have a receipt?
Customer: I don't know.
Mitch: Did you pay for it with a credit card?
Customer: I don't know
Mitch: What Pencils location did you buy it at?
Customer: I don't know
Mitch: I don't think I can help you.
Customer: Why?
Mitch: I don't know.

I then hung the phone up hoping the customer wouldn't remember the number she dialed. Sure enough, the phone immediately rang and it was her again. She asked if she could speak to someone about an HP Printer that doesn't work.

Customer: My HP Printer doesn't work.
Mitch: That's a shame.
Customer: What can I do?
Mitch: Throw it in the garbage or try to contact HP.
Customer: I'd like to speak with a manager.
Mitch: The manager is the can at the moment and probably won't be available anytime soon.
Customer: OK then, do you have a telephone number for HP that I can call?

By this time I had all I could take, but I didn't want to let an opportunity pass by. I put the customer on hold, and "Googled" the phone number for our local strip club on my iPhone.

Mitch: Hello. Here is the number for HP. They have a local repair drop-off, so ask whoever answers the phone for their address.
Customer: Thank you so much.
Mitch: The pleasure is all mine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The First Annual Reader's Contest Winner

I'd like to thank all those who submitted their stories to "The First Annual iWorkAtPencils Readers Contest."  I received 35 entries, and deciding the winner was a daunting task. Many of my "associates" who took the time and energy to participate deserve recognition for their efforts... literally, mentally and physically. In the near future I hope to expand this blog, and with their permission, include their stories as well. The winning story was submitted by Cara, who works at a national office supply retailer in Southern California. Since she articulated her plight so well, her story doesn't need an introduction. Enjoy!


I am a single mother who is trying to support myself and teenage son. The problem is, I work at Orifice Depot and the store manager, whom I'll call Jose, is a real prick. He is constantly making sexual innuendos at me and several other female employees, but he knows how to fall short of it being considered sexual harassment. For instance, he'll say, "The A/C is really pumping cold today," while obviously staring at our nipples. We put up with it because we need our jobs. Last week he pretended to brush by me, rubbing his fat, disgusting groin against my leg, when there was obviously plenty of room in the aisle to get by. I decided he needed to be taught a lesson once and for all.
Some of the ass-lickers at Orifice Depot bring in baked goods, especially on payday, and leave a plate of cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies on Jose's desk in the office. I'm not much of a baker, but a few weeks ago I bought a box of Duncan Hines Brownie mix along with a box of chocolate flavored Ex-Lax at my neighborhood Albertsons. I slowly melted the entire box of laxatives into the frosting mix, and put six of the freshly baked brownies on a plate and covered them with a piece of Glad Wrap. The next morning I left the plate on Jose's desk. Around noon I noticed Jose making a beeline to the bathrooms, and when I peeked into his office I saw that the entire plate of brownie's was gone.
While baking the brownies, I kept one aside that didn't have the toxic ex-lax frosting and carefully packed it away in my pocketbook to bring to work. When Jose, looking a bit pale, was back on the floor later that afternoon, I whipped out the brownie and walked up to him, slowly taking bites of it. He stared at me probably wondering if I too was about to crap my pants, but I just smiled at him and let him see the enjoyment on my face. Later, I think he got the message, because the harassment has finally stopped, and Jose hasn't touched any goodies left on his desk since that fateful morning.