This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More on Bosses

Since I'm trying to cheer myself up, I figured I'd remind myself of how much crazy bosses suck.

I actually forgot one of my places of non-legal employment, which is silly, since I worked there the longest of any job. That would be the now-defunct Computer Superstore, or as we lovingly referred to it, as CompUSuck.

It wasn't always CompUSuck. When the store first opened, there was a pretty awesome group of managers, who treated us very well. But eventually they all left, and we were left with a group of assholes and idiots to take their places. (Oh, and I should also mention that, from the previous post, when I first got the job there, they had called the county schools for a reference, and apparently Butter Face intercepted the phone call. She gave me a very bad reference, and said some pretty nasty things about me, also claiming she'd fired me for performance reasons. The retail manager told me this later, and laughed about it. Apparently it was so bad and so different from my other references, he called back and talked to the technology director, who gave a completely different story of my job performance. Seriously though, what a hateful old bitch.)

Anyway, the first group of managers was awesome and fun, and the store performed very well. However, that group also had some trouble with the sexual harassment. Strangely enough, the one manager who had never made even any sort of sexual comment to me was the one who actually got fired for sexual harassment. There was a company policy that managers could not date other employees. He started dating the receptionist, who wasn't even his direct employee (she was technically corporate and he was retail), and he got fired for it. They ended up getting married. It was just sort of stupid. Anyway, the rest of the guys there were a raunchy bunch, although none of them ever crossed a line with me and never discriminated against me in any way. I think ultimately I was more of the kid sister they just liked to pick on, as though I would be shocked by their lewd comments and clutch my pearls in horror, and they were amused I could throw down. Anyway, those managers left and then came the replacement group. The new store manager and the new retail manager was a slime ball and a spineless weasel, respectively.

When the store first opened, I worked a short stint in the tech department. As a young female, this was often unpleasant. Not because of management, but because of the customers. And it was mostly female customers who would question my credentials and second-guess my recommendations. I would constantly have to get the tech manager, who barely even knew anything about computer repair, to come out and convince the customer that I knew what I was talking about and that the customer should either authorize the repair or just buy a new machine. Eventually, I got tired of it, and transferred to corporate sales for the store, which had the opportunity for a lot more money. Also, women do a lot better in sales. Especially hawt young women, in short skirts and tight shirts. (Yes, I made many sales with dirty old men staring at my bewbs, and no, I have no shame. Utilize the assets you've got... before they need to be lifted and tucked a decade and two kids later.)

My group (of which I was eventually made supervisor) were hourly sales staff who also earned commission after making a certain amount in sales each month (if we didn't make our quota, we didn't get any commission from our sales). Because we were so good (our profit margins were excellent and we had the highest sales in the region), we individually made very good money, and would easily triple our base pay each month.

Well, for some reason management always tried to screw with us, I don't know why. The better we performed, the better the store looked. We got all kinds of praise from the regional manager for our department. But, sabotage nonetheless... our group only worked during store hours so we weren't required to stay and stock/clean the store after hours like the retail employees. Part of that is because instead of wearing khakis and polo shirts, we wore business attire (as we met with business clientele), and we had cubicles in the back of the store. And it's a little difficult to climb a ladder and stock merchandise when you're wearing a pair of stilettos. But more importantly, it also cut into our sales time. Unlike the rest of the staff, we were commission-based. If we're losing 7 hours each week to stocking merchandise, that's nearly an entire shift of our group not making sales (and we were not allowed overtime, not to mention, the store liked to try to cut our hours anyway). So, I was pretty aggravated when the store manager told us we had to start stocking merchandise after hours. It reduced all of our sales at least slightly, which reduced our paychecks, and in the first month, it resulted in one of my salesmen (almost) not making his sales quota, which would have cost him his month's commission. He only made his sales quota because I came in on my day off and (illegally) worked off the clock to make sales and rang them under his sales number instead of mine. But I figured that's what a good manager does; a good manager doesn't screw you out of money, he helps you make money. Eventually I won the battle with the store manager on the issue, and he didn't much like me after that.

Also, our direct department manager was definitely not a good manager, either. He was this shady little man with a Napoleon complex, who did asshole things to "keep people in line," like writing me up for clocking in exactly 1 minute late to work. (I am absolutely not a punctual person, so the whole 1 minute late thing is more like 10 minutes early for me.) He would also steal sales from me. I worked this really big deal with a rather prominent local horsey organization that purchased machines, networking services, training, etc., and the final bill of sale ended up being well into the six figures with a very high profit margin (services and warranties really boost those margins). It was the biggest single sale our store had made, and it was my sale. I made first contact with the organization, I prepared the sales quote and designed the pitch to the board of directors, I "second chaired" the sales meeting with the tech manager running the show... and my asshole corporate manager stole the sale from me, taking credit himself, and only gave me something like a $200 commission on the whole thing. I actually made less money that month than I normally would, because I had spent so much time working with that client, including being off-site to schmooze with the horsey people and do a walk-through of the place to "assess" their needs, which only I was qualified to do because of my background in tech/networking. My asshole manager? Couldn't even use his own computer. Stole my sales commission. Asshole. You think the store manager did anything about it? Hell no. Asshole. Stupidly, I didn't make a stink about it and go to the regional manager, because I didn't want to rock the boat. I should have knocked those assholes out of the damn boat. (Yet another example of how I don't stand up for myself.)

Anyway, back to the corporate sales manager... the worst thing about him was that his idea of "client development" was to take potential clients out to the strip club to "wine and dine" them. Gross. He even hired a guy who was still working as a bouncer at the local strip club, so he could get free VIP passes. Against my wishes. And the guy was a crappy salesmen. And he sat at his cubicle across from mine and spit tobacco juice into an empty Pepsi bottle that he left sitting on his desk for me to have to stare at. Really gross. Hated them both.

Finally, another one of the incompetent new "redshirt" managers in the store lost me my biggest regular customer. That manager was one of those obnoxious jerks who loves to be in charge and everyone's boss, regardless of whether you work for him or not... until an actual decision needs to be made, and then suddenly he doesn't have any authority, he can't make that call. He actually wanted to be a police officer, but couldn't pass the physical fitness test. Thank goodness; he would have been the stereotypical bad cop who gets off on pushing people around and violating your civil rights. Anyway, one day he was the "manager on duty," while the other managers were off doing whatever. My customer calls me, who is a big important attorney in the Eastern part of our state, and says she's coming to the store, needs these items, and she'll be in around lunchtime to get it. I pull the order, which is around $7K, I unbox these gigantic workhorse laser printers that she's been buying up (we would unbox them for her because she couldn't fit them all in her car otherwise), and set them up front at the corporate pickup desk ready for payment and ready for one of the big strong boys to put them all into her car. Way ahead of her time, she took her office big into technology, and revamped everything. Including that they printed their own checks. Problem was the firm checks never got approved by Equifax, and a manager always had to sign off on the check to complete the transaction, which wasn't a big deal. Being a partner at a prominent (and wealthy) law firm, we established early on in our business relationship that it was not a problem, and she came in quite regularly with these kinds of large orders. However, when she came to pick up the order, Faux Manager refused to sign off on the check, because he said he didn't have the authority (which was a load of crap), and wouldn't let her take the merchandise because he didn't know if her check was real, so she had to wait until the store manager returned. It wasn't like it was possible for her to come back in an hour when a real manager was there, because she lives/works three hours away (which is why she'd called ahead). When I got back from lunch, one of my guys from the corporate pickup desk calls me to tell me what had just happened and that the customer is furious and she's never coming back. I told him I'll sign off on the damn check myself, but it was too late and she had just left, and I couldn't reach her on her cell. I ripped Faux Manager a new asshole, and then when the store manager returned, he tried calling my customer and begging forgiveness (and a return of her business) and she ripped him a new asshole. She's always been lovely to me though. (Small world, I'm now friends with her son, who went to college with my husband, and he's married to another friend of mine.) Ultimately, couldn't blame her the way she'd been treated by Faux Manager as though she was handing him a fake check (even though several other employees tried to tell him that she was a regular, and very wealthy, customer and her money was good).

Anyway, eventually CompUSuck's managing imbeciles drove the company into the ground. One of the first ways they did this was by shutting down the corporate sales divisions in each store, and instead, opening a "call center" in Dallas. The way we operated was that we had on-site sales staff to cater to the business customer. We could negotiate down prices (to a certain profit margin) as we saw fit, to get their business. Some larger companies would get better deals than that due to the volume they purchased monthly, and paid on net 30 accounts. As anyone knows, corporate bigwigs love to be pampered, have their hands held and feel important. So, even though they could probably have ordered the stuff on-line for the same price and had it shipped, they wanted the special attention, the face-to-face. When the in-store corporate sales divisions were closed, CompUSuck's great idea was to place a big red phone at the corporate pick-up desk, where the bigwig important customers were expected to pick up the phone and talk to someone in Dallas to tell them what products they wanted, so that us recently-demoted corporate desk monkeys could either pull it off the shelf for them if it was there, or take prepayment for it if it needed to be shipped. Yeah... the customer couldn't stand there and tell me what they wanted, they had to pick up the ugly red phone, talk to someone in another state, wait for that person to place an electronic order, for me to fulfill it.

Hmmm... I'm sure you can guess how well that went over. It was rather ugly. I was the only one who didn't take the severance package and bail... I went down with the ship by taking the supervising position at the corporate pickup desk for a massive paycut. Cora's godfather took his severance and unemployment benefits and escaped with his life (that's how we met, we worked together 13 years ago). I should have done the same, but I honestly didn't know what else to do with myself.

As the stream of corporate customers came in to find out their regular salesperson had been let go and they had to face the Big Red Phone, I got yelled at quite a bit. Which I thought was rather rude, like it was my genius idea or something. "I'm sorry, Mr. Corporate Bigwig, that you're inconvenienced by having to place your order on a phone. Here's the number to the corporate headquarters, where you can yell at someone whose name does not peel off their nametag, pinned onto their ugly, frumpy, red polo shirt. Someone whose salary wasn't reduced by 2/3 because she was replaced by a damn ugly red phone and a call center full of imbeciles in Texas hired by another group of imbeciles in Texas determined to run what used to be a profitable company into the ground." I received a record number of customer complaints, as the Big Red Phone didn't even connect to the call center half the time, and when it did, they'd just screw up their order. The Weasel retail manager would kiss the angry customer's ass, and manage to blame whatever the problem was on me, and the customer would leave the store anyway without purchasing anything. Eventually, the Epic Fail of the Big Red Phone became obvious. CompUSuck closed the call center, they closed the corporate pickup desk, and the entire company was either retail or mail-order/online store, no more corporate sales. I think at one point they resurrected the corporate sales department in the stores, but by then they'd lost all their corporate customers, each store had to start from scratch with customer building and a lot of bridges had been burned. The company lasted about another five years before it was no more. The online store still exists in some capacity, I believe it was purchased by another mail-order company, and maybe a couple dozen stores still exist. Ours does not.

After I left the company in 2000, my mom ended up working there in the cash office. She worked for this horrible woman who I had also worked with, but fortunately I was able to avoid most of the time, who was the front end manager. Talk about your sexual harassment. She would tell horrific stories of her sexcapades, including those involving coworkers and other managers. She was a great big fat lady, which made detailed descriptions of her sex life that much more disturbing. She was also a back-stabbing bitch and would try to get people in trouble because she had nothing better to do. Cora's godfather had many unpleasant run-ins with her, since the corporate pick-up desk was in her airspace, even though he'd never actually worked for her. She once tried to write me up for a check being missing (which was in the drawer), and was not pleased when said write-up didn't take. She probably didn't like my mom because she didn't like me. Like that's a great big loss.

That ended my career in retail/sales. Finding myself underemployed the summer of 2000, I went to a temp agency to look for work. I waited tables for a couple months, but just wasn't making enough money. I was a history major, with very little direction in life, and could only afford to go to school part-time, getting absolutely nowhere towards graduation. So, I asked the temp agency if they could place me with a law firm. I thought maybe I'd like to work in a law office, maybe I'd be a lawyer someday.

Oh, the bad choices we make. I should have asked them to place me in a flower shop.

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