A Good Mail Day

The other day, after a particularly frustrating day at work, I came home to find these in my mailbox:




Terry McMillan’s book, Who Asked You, will be published on September 17th and the new Ikea catalog. I’ve already dived into the catalog and I’m making myself wait a little longer before I settle in with the novel. I can’t wait!

Begging Forgiveness

Please forgive the lack of posting here. I started a new job in February and after  almost 8 months of unemployment (where I settled into a very nice groove), I am still getting used to actually having to be somewhere everyday along with the non-traditional hours of the retail industry.


But this hasn’t affected my reading schedule and I have several books to review and hope to do so soon. Also, I now work in fashion retail and my current wardrobe is far from adequate for this situation, so I may live up to the name of this blog and post some sewing as well.

Thank you, readers, for your patience!

Synchronicity

I was just having a conversation with myself while making a cup of tea.  You see I had a meltdown of sorts at work yesterday and was going over the events again wondering what I could have done differently.  And I was telling myself to let those events go, which is hard for those of us who live under the sign of Cancer because that is what we do.  Then I read my horoscope for today:

“You could be licking your wounds today, but the crucial issue is not about anything that occurs in the present moment. Your obsession with a past event can actually block the flow of feelings. Gently bring your thoughts and fantasies back to where you are now. Keep in mind that you don’t want to miss the good stuff that is right in front of you.”

Talk about perfect timing….

Best Intentions

It has been a whole month since I’ve blogged!
Believe me that has not been my intention.
Every day I have ideas of things that I want to blog about. Crazy customers. What I’m reading. What I see out in the world.
But work has been so crazy & stressful, that I have no energy when I get home. I just want to unplug from everything.
Most people would never think that working in a bookstore is stressful but this economy has made it more so. Less people shopping mean less payroll hours. Less payroll hours mean less staff. But the workload stays the same, so you have to do twice as much work in the same amount of time that you had before. Also, customer’s expectations stay the same and for some reason (even though they read the same economic news stories that we do), they expect the same level of service they always had. And they are upset when they don’t get it.
That disconnect sends me home with a headache most days.
So anyways, still not sewing, but my reading is picking up and there are a lot of great books being released this summer!
Hope to be back on here more frequently!

My Workspace

Seems like my blogging mojo is here, so I am just going to go with it.

I don’t have a fancy job. I am a supervisor at a major bookstore chain. Managers & Supervisors have workspaces, not offices. I am fortunate that a lot of my duties require access to an office and since I spend most of my time there (when I’m not on the sales floor), I have personalized it a little:We had an event a few years ago that was sponsored by O magazine. This was a promotional poster of the issue out at the time. While I am an Oprah fan, the main reason that I have it up is because she has on the funkiest brown suede pants with beige contrast stitching. I love those pants and need to see them daily. Also pasted on the poster are a picture of Prince, Jada Pinkett-Smith along with her band Wicked Wisdom and Roosevelt Franklin, my favorite Sesame Street character.

My mini shrine to my celebrity crush: Jesse L. Martin. I love him because he seems just like a regular dude. And being able to sing doesn’t hurt. I keep the shrine at work because keeping it at home and out of public view is a little stalkerish. Also taped up there is a small bio of Malcolm X from an old page-a-day calendar and a list of the top ten HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) including my alma mater: Florida A & M University.

Promotional posters of Erykah Badu & Amy Winehouse, because I just couldn’t stand to see them thrown out.

Old promo poster of Maxwell (pre-haircut). Attached to the bottom is a While You Were Out Message that a co-worker put up once while I was on vacation. It says that Maxwell came by from the Kingdom of the Attractive and that he was sorry he missed me.

So these are the people that I hang out with every day.

Bright Spot in My Week

A couple months ago, this young woman comes up to customer service and says she lost her yellow sweater. Nobody had turned one in, but a few hours later it turned up at the registers but she was long gone. I grabbed the sweater and went to put it in lost and found. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a button and went “that looks familiar”. The tag inside said Tory Burch. I was so excited, but couldn’t really share it with my co-workers because none of them have a clue who Tory Burch is.

A couple of years ago I went to lunch in the mall across the street from work. This mall is pretty high end – Gucci, Armani, Saks Fifth Avenue. As I was walking through I notice a very stylish trio. They were too well put together to be Atlanta natives, because this is not a very fashionable city. Sorry, Atlantans, it isn’t. I think the upcoming Real Housewives of Atlanta will prove it. I can usually spot New Yorkers and Los Angelenos a mile away. Anyway, as I passed by them I recognized one of them as Tory Burch. She was opening a store in the mall. I went back to work all excited, but that was short lived because I was met with blank stares.

Last week, I rescued that sweater from lost and found (just like I did with the digital camera last year) and brought it home. A few days later on this Monday’s Oprah Winfrey show, she had on the same sweater!

Work Is Why I’m Fat

No I don’t work at a donut shop. Or a restaurant specializing in down-home Southern cuisine. Or Baskin Robbins.

I work in a bookstore. A bookstore that is not doing well because of the economy. A bookstore that has recently made a lot of successful cost-cutting decisions to remain viable. The most recent change has been to our return-policy. You now need a receipt to return any product to our stores. Our main competitor has been doing this for years. In the past we would accept product in good condition for exchange or store credit.

Now, dear reader, to you this may not be a big deal. You just see stores as places to shop. You like for those stores to be well-stocked and offer variety. But to the stores themselves, in these harsh economic times, a well-stocked store is just future money sitting on shelves. If you have future money just sitting on a shelf not being converted into now-money, why would you add more to it?

There has been mixed reaction to the policy. We’ve had people who accept it and our apology and leave. We’ve had people who want to stand and argue with us, ask for the highest up manager available and threaten us with further action. We had one guy yesterday spend 20 minutes of his life trying to return a DVD box set, pleading his case, saying how the policy was unfair, reiterating over and over how much money he spends there and would hate to take his business elsewhere – only to go to his car and produce a receipt. He could have saved precious minutes of his life by looking for that receipt before he came in the store.

A woman came in with her 8 or 9 year old son to return some books she bought over the weekend. We sent her a coupon on Tuesday and she wanted to return the books and re-buy them with the coupon. We don’t do that. Never have. This ain’t Macy’s. The cashier told her this. The customer asked to speak to a manager. During that hour, that was me. As I got closer to her, I heard her say to her son, “…they are not going to be accommodating to us.” She had obviously been getting him a little riled up about the situation, because by the time I got to the counter he was looking a little self-important with a “get her Mom” look on his face.

I smiled and asked what the problem was. I made sure to listen to her without interrupting, because I am never hell-bent on saying no until I hear the whole story. There have been times when the cashier was incorrect and I wound up saying yes to the customer. After she spoke her peace, I let her know that we don’t apply current coupons on past purchases (it is in the fine print) and that especially without the receipt there was nothing I could do. Every time I said “I can’t”, she would interrupt me and say, “You mean you won’t”. This happened about 3 times. I explained the corporate policy and how our hands were tied. She tried to play the “I’ll take my business elsewhere” card. She made a big to-do about putting her books back in the bag. I apologized again and said that there wasn’t anything that I could do. Then her son, yelled at me “You can break the rules this one time.”

I don’t have children, but I can still do “The Look”. The one that your parents gave you when they couldn’t fully go off on you because you were in public place. My look was a combination of that one and the one that the Supernanny gives during her first visit with a family of children out of control. I felt my blood pressure boiling. My co-worker told me afterward that I actually took a step back. That step probably saved my job. We have to eat a lot of crow working in retail – the customers (more than you think) that gladly let people behind him in line go first so they can wait for a white cashier; the gentleman who visits daily wearing racist and misogynist t-shirts like a walking billboard; the gentleman who tells us weekly how bad we are and he will never shop there again, but is back the next week….any many more. But I have never been yelled at by a child.

The mother did mildly reprimand him and left. I went back upstairs to my office, worked my last hour, stopped by the grocery store, picked up some Haagan Dazs and went home. That is what I do when stuff like that happens at work. And that is why I am fat.

I Can’t Right Now

I was going to post about the day I had at work and being yelled at by a child, but I can’t yet.
When I got home, Sex and the City was in my mailbox from Netflix and I am going to get lost in that world for a couple of hours.
I’ll post tomorrow.

Retail Ranting

I don’t rant on here a lot about what happens at my job. I usually leave that up to Doret, cuz she is so good at it. Please visit her blog and read the “scenarios” of what we go through everyday and if you have children you will enjoy her book reviews.

So, those of us in the retail industry realized the economy was slipping way before it started making the news. Our sales have slipped steadily since the beginning of the year as people have less and less discretionary income. Also, returns of items started to pick up, especially those without a receipt. Lately, though, the returns are getting out of hand – it’s almost like the days after Christmas!

Now there are always people who seem to clean off their bookshelves and try to bring books back to us sometimes in large shopping bags. They think we are a library and that they can just exchange their old books for new ones. On the upside, though, they are usually serious readers who take care of their books and are therefore re-saleable. No crumbs in the pages!

This new breed, however, just bring anything in and expect us take it back. Today I get called to the register to approve a return without a receipt. When I get there the customer has left the books there and is presumably browsing the store for items she wanted to get in exchange. She brought back 9 books!

What I Wouldn’t Take Back:
3 books had yellow pages, dirt on the cover.
1 book was a hardcover book from the first year of Oprah’s BookClub – we don’t even carry it in paperback anymore.
1 book that was water damaged.

What I Did Take Back:
1 hardcover book, recently published in excellent condition
1 paperback book, recently published in excellent condition

The Wildcards:
She had a hardcover version of Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet and it’s companion journal.
Both in excellent condition.
But, we don’t carry the hardcover anymore; we only carry it in paperback. I refused that return.
We do carry the journal as a current title.

When people return books you always have to look through the books because people try to bring back books that have been written in (test books usually like the GRE or LSAT), or that their grandfather wrote an inscription in when he gave it to them.
I open up the journal and inside was a card that read:

“Thank you for visiting the Oprah show in November. I hope you enjoy you Best Life Diet set …blah, blah, blah.” signed – Bob Greene
That heffa got those books for free!!! She had money to go to Chicago and see the Oprah Winfrey Show, but now she is cleaning off her shelves!!??!!
Sure enough, the woman comes back to the register dressed to the nines with the new things she wanted to buy. She seemed fine with the way things turned out and wound up owing us 61 cents which she took her time digging out of her Christian Dior wallet!

I did take the journal back because I was feeling charitable. Plus our policy changes next week and no more returns without a receipt…period!! HA!

Help Wanted

Position – Target Chaperone

Rate of Pay – internship
Duties – Accompany me on shopping excursions to Target.
Make sure I only buy what is on my list.

Backstory – I went to Target Wednesday to buy B12 vitamins (I eat a largely vegetarian diet and humans only get vitamin B12 from animal sources).
This is what I walked out with:

and no B12 vitamins.