Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

Treating the Human Being

September 17, 2011

For my 200th entry, I want to switch gears a little, to get back to the roots of my stories, of why I tell these tales, sometimes of horror, sometimes of jocularity, because there is always some sort of rhyme to the reason–even chaos has order. One of the greatest problems I have with humans and humanity is our utter disregard for each other. It is the way we walk through the streets every day of our lives, and you know how it goes–you don’t care about the other people you walk by, drive by or pass by–they are totally anonymous until they get in your way, until you are forced to interact with them. Honestly, the most conscious I am of people is my want and need not to get in people’s way, not to disrupt the flow of their day, and to allow them to continue on without interacting with me. I digress.

I know it is how we are, how we’ve been trained, it’s been instilled into the essence of how we are–when we walk into a retail store, or any place where we make a purchase, we look at the people whom serve us and we don’t see humans. At least a majority of us act in this way. They see, they act like there is an object, something worth a monetary Capitalist value standing in front of them, something they potentially own or control. The customer is always right, right? Consumer confidence is the power that rules the economy, right? Is it really right, or like time, have we forgotten we created this concept and now we allow it to control us as if it were a spiritual conception outside realm of reality.

You see, there are many people who walk into a retail store and they automatically believe we belong to them, we are their servants. There are people who believe they can act however they wish, because we are just there to serve them, their money makes us less-than-human. They will yell and insult, they will demean and act rudely to the full extent of their abilities because they believe it is their right to do so as customers. And somewhere, somehow, someone empowered them to believe this, someone allowed this thought to emerge and become reality, as much as drinking beer and eating solves problems, as much as the belief that low self-esteem is normal. None of this is, we created it, we can control it, we can let it continue or we can make it stop. That is in our power as human beings.

So what do we do? Obviously, we can’t break people’s habits. If you grew up thinking smoking is cool, you aren’t going to suddenly stop. If you grew up watching television which gives so many wrong answers to problems, yet you believe they’re all correct, what is there to do? The only thing we can do is take a step back and remember we are dealing with human beings. During this age of dehumanization, desensitization, where we don’t even touch other human beings, let alone hear their voices in person, we have an obviously growing separation. Yet, I believe the future of our species, our people is based on learning to treat each other with respect, with dignity, by learning to treat everyone else as human beings. We’ve spent decades, centuries learning how to stop treating humans as different categories, different levels, redefining what it is to be a part of society. We’ve spent so little time focusing on being human, on seeing each other as human beings.

The future of our society is as human beings, together as human beings, treating each other as human beings. It shouldn’t be a hard fight, or a hard ideal to live for, but I can promise you the kind of people who live in this world will fight as hard as they can to not treat other people as people. Because they’ve only learned to see other people as objects, as a worth, not as human beings.

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Credit Card Slap

November 7, 2010

Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about credit cards. Personally, as a young adult, I was ‘convinced’ to sign-up for one to get a ‘free bag’, hey, “Everyone else was signing up.” Why not? Then, I lost my job, I was struggling to survive, my debt got out of hand, I didn’t know what to do–nor did they actually give you many options–eventually, they wanted it all paid. This was a bill which was a couple hundred, and compounded with their various fees into thousands of dollars. By the time I found a job, I still wasn’t making enough to meet their demands, so they started to call me and my family, demanding to know where I was at all times, and calling me everywhere–and I mean, everywhere I was. They would call the store asking for me daily, and when I wasn’t there, they’d ask for a manager demanding all of my personal information, which my manager told them was illegal and asked them not to call anymore. Asking them not to call my workplace did little good. Eventually, they started to garnish my wages so if I thought I was barely surviving before, well I was in for a new surprise! Eventually, they stopped garnishing me, my paychecks went back to normal, etc., etc. Either way, I have no personal fondness for credit cards, and believe it was created by a crude capitalist society whose only interest is keeping the rich rich and the poor poor. If they were evolving society, they would create a system which empowers people to grow instead of recreating paupers and their new version of enslavement.

All this aside, people also know I’m a good salesperson. One day, I helped build a $900 sale. The next day, alone, I made a $400 sale. In this time, I also got two people to apply for credit cards–it is a job requirement for me, and honestly, I’m always rated ‘down’ because I don’t pursue credit cards enough. Either way, I make $1300 in sales (in just two sales) and I barely get a congratulations, thank you or any sort of recognition. I get two credit cards, and they give me a $5 gift card for coffee. Yes, I got two credit cards and I got a $5 gift card. I make $1300 in sales, and I don’t even get a thank you. Should I go over it again?

I mean, of all things, this was the hugest insult anyone could give me–with my beliefs, my pride, and who I am and how I have been treated by credit cards; with my background in selling and sales management, I was slapped in the face. I went to a manager, throwing it on the ground, telling them to, “Give it to the other guy, he got two credit cards in one hour!” We’re in an economic rut, my coworkers aren’t getting enough hours to feed themselves, and I get congratulations for credit cards? Helping a new breed of people to go into debt? Thanks. Let me know when Retail is about making sales again, I’ll be sleeping.

Turtle Pull

November 5, 2010

Once again, I find myself stuck helping a snobby duo–two women who are dressed like they want to impress, but just look excessive in the act. Can you guess they aren’t pleasant, they’re demanding, and treat you like you’re just there to serve? Very good, then you may proceed.

I help find a turtleneck sweater, after she lists a laundry list of requirements which it passes. Is it wool? Is it cotton? How heavy is it, I don’t want it too heavy. I don’t want it too thin either. Do you have a lot of colors? How much does it cost? Is it expensive? No, yes, light, not too light, lots of colors, on sale, not expensive.

So finally, she tries on the sweater, with her friend giving positive and negative comments–which is always useful, don’t we always want friends like that? “It looks good, not great, just good, do you like it? It looks like it will keep you warm enough, but are you going to be cold wearing it?”

Either way, the woman grabs the neck of the sweater saying it’s too tight. As I watch, she starts to pull on it as hard as she can, pulling, stretching, yanking, tugging. I can hear threads breaking from where I stand. “It’s too tight! It’s so tight, don’t you have a looser one?” I think to myself, “If it’s looser, it isn’t a turtle neck.” I say, “I only have cowl necks,” which I gesture, too. These look like stretched out turtle necks–just like what she’s doing to my new sweater! “No, no, that’s too wide!” So after stretching it out, breaking the threading, she hands it back saying she doesn’t want it, and they leave saying, “It’s just so hard to find what I’m looking for. This place usually has it.”

What, we have what dreams are made of? Once you’re actually rich enough to act like that, you can buy your own tailor.

Customer Types: Capitalist, The Questioner, Tailor-Made

Diminishing Returns

April 3, 2010

This will be a more thoughtful post, revolving around the idea of prices, mark-ups, and mark-downs. You see, I often hear people saying, “This costs just two-dollars for them to make,” which is true to an extent. If you could go down to the various factories where clothes are made, and people are paid pennies, then yes, I’m sure you could buy it for two-dollars. But then, oh wise Capitalists, would you travel all the way to these third-world countries in order to buy those products? No, not really.

So, we have to pack and then ship the product to a local store. The costs for packing, shipping across an ocean on a boat to a sorting factory, then shipping to individual stores and locations by plane, in order for a guy to carry it to a store near you, then someone unpacks the boxes, sorts the clothes, hangs them, and displays them… I could go on, but each of these people get paid for your convenience–for our convenience. If you could go to a shipyard and buy it off the boat, that’d be great, but would you? Ha-ha, not-so-much. If, and totally if, you could buy it right after it was processed and ready to sell in a store, then it is worth the price on the tag. This is rarely the case.

The entire process, for me, ignores the Brand price, which you really ‘should’ keep an eye on. Made in Italy means the people are paid a lot more to make it compared to Made in the Philippines, so the final cost is multiplied. Yet, some companies still make their stuff in ‘those’ countries that you’d never want to visit, and then mark it up because they are “The Big Thing”, so they can mark it up, because people will buy it–supply and demand.

Back to the topic on hand, once the price is tagged and the items are on the floor, sure, it cost two-dollars to make and then more to get it where it is, but what then? Then people try it on, and someone else has to re-fold it, re-hang it, and replace it where it was. Someone is paid each and every time this happens, over and over, until that piece of clothing is sold. If you look at the minimum-wage in your state, if this item is worked on a total of one hour, how much is it currently worth? I actually think the more a piece of clothing is touched, the more it is worth, but these are the diminishing returns. Eventually, the items are marked down, which again takes time and effort to move it around as it becomes less-and-less of the ‘main product’ being replaced by newer products. Then they sit ‘on sale’, actually worth more than they were worth when they first touched the sales floor because of all the extra time and money used to upkeep it (it even costs money to have it on display where a store pays rent). In the end, you might sell something for twenty-dollars, but paid all sorts of people so much, you just make a profit of two-dollars on that product.

So when a snotty genius lifts a shirt, ruining the fold, and throws it down, saying, “This costs two-dollars to make,” I wonder how shallow their minds really are. I can learn to accept the rude, but respecting the dumb is a different story.

Penny for Your Thoughts?

April 3, 2010

We have four people that come in, you can call them the Four Horsemen if you wish. In general, we try to avoid them, and I enjoy throwing unsuspecting co-workers into their clutches. Today, they requested every single pair of a size of pant to try on–they’re all the same size, amazingly enough. They were all-too-happy when I gave them seven pairs. This was after they rammed into mannequins knocking off legs and arms in the store, without a care. Most amusing was when they came earlier–because they came several times in one day.

At the start of the day, they found a hoodie, which was once on promotion, but has since gone on sale. They wanted their money back, a price-adjustment, but it was beyond the date of a price adjustment. They also admitted to washing and wearing the items–of which, they bought two hoodies. Yet, they were adamant in getting the difference they paid versus the current selling price. So one manager gave, “The benefit of the doubt”, which in some cases has somehow meant “You are fat” in one customer’s eyes. Either way, he said, “If you bring in the hoodies, you can return it and buy it back, but only this once.”

In truth, we didn’t think they would return, but a couple hours later they did. Again, they encountered the same confusion in their price-adjustment, with people asking me, telling me it’s old, washed, and worn. Then, they asked for the manager from earlier, who was just returning from his break. Of course, he remembered them, and after a long transaction, which I was too far away to overhear, the four horsemen walk away from the counter and continue to shop–knocking legs off mannequins.

Once they were gone, he stated for everyone to hear, “Okay, our net-loss was two cents.” Why? Because the items in question were one-cent cheaper marked on sale than they were on promotion. Yes, one hoodie, one cent; two hoodies, two cents. That my friends, is how you save a penny–at the cost of driving home, finding the item, driving back, and going through all that trouble. Totally worth it.

Don’t ask me. I don’t make these people up.

Teaching the Kids

February 16, 2010

Do parent’s know their children watch them, witnessing how they interact with other people in different situations thus developing an understanding of how they will eventually interact with the world when they grow up?

When parents walk into a store, ignoring a kind hello with a cold-shoulder, their children see this and they’re learning; when a sales person offers them help, when they are obviously looking for something, and they are rudely brushed off with “I’m just looking” even though they actually do need help; when parents treat salespeople as slaves, only existing when you need them, and essentially less than human, just mobile fixtures in a store, only useful when you acknowledge them and need something only a salesperson can ‘find’ for you–your children are there watching every moment, growing and understanding that is how they should act, that is how they should treat other people, acting like this is right not wrong. Treating another human being like garbage is fine, because mommy and daddy do it all the time. Yes, you are obviously a good parent. They say parenting doesn’t come with a book, well common-sense doesn’t grow on trees either.

One day, these children will be adults, pushing their strollers through stores treating sales people in the exact same way, passing on these valuable, unconscious lessons to their offspring so that your grandchildren will be rude, unconscionable human beings. Do you not think these lessons are passed on beyond the retail world? Do you not realize you set a bar for how people can be treated? You may not be hitting or abusing them, but treating them like they’re worthless is still terrible parenting. From what I know from social teachings to religious beliefs, human beings are important, special, unique, etc. but the way we have developed our meandering society which belittles being human based on ridiculous situations based entirely on monetary value, not human value.

This is a perpetuation of a lack of respect, a rudeness which makes no sense. You wouldn’t walk into a doctor’s office acting the same way, walking into a bank treating tellers like this, yet certain sectors of the ‘service’ industry have grown and developed into an accepted avenue where mistreatment and degradation is a norm, is accepted and expected–that treating someone like they don’t exist, that they are less than human, that they only exist to serve you–this is good, this is right, and this is okay.

The customer is always right. No, I’m just looking, can I shove my hand in your face? If I meet you outside the store, then you, salesperson, are an equal, a human being, you exist and you are real, but once you clock into work, you’re worthless, insignificant, invisible, and useless, unless I need you. If I meet you outside the store, how many of your rude, disgusting humans look away or pretend you don’t recognize me, when your reaction says you do? Compare this to kind, good, respectful customers who engage with sales people, talking to them. We actually recognize each other outside the store, wave, and say hello. This is a huge difference, almost a revelation of what it would be like if everyone treated people like human beings and not modern-day slaves.

Remember that son. Remember that daughter. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t talk to strangers. Salespeople are modern-day slaves, you don’t need to give them any respect.

Because you know, if you did give them respect, then the entire structure of sales and retail would be worthwhile, enjoyable, and not as much of a life-draining, self-esteem crushing, pride-absorbing industry that makes you feel so shitty inside. If you actually went into a retail store and treated people as human beings, what a difference you’d make; what a difference everyone would make.

Remember, it’s so simple to just say hello when someone greets you, your children are watching.

President’s Day, Better!

February 16, 2010

So my coworker was cashing out customers from California. Today, our store had some super-sale, when all other stores seemed to have rather weak sales. The customer was talking about how busy it is in our store.

My coworker replies, “Today, it’s worse than Christmas.”
“It’s not worse, it’s better,” the woman corrected her.

Actually, she made the perfect example of why it actually was worse. The difference between Christmas sales versus today’s sale is that people are shopping for themselves, they aren’t buying gifts for other people. They are being as selfish, self-centered, and demanding as possible for their own personal benefit. There isn’t generosity in their hearts, not that there is much going on during Christmas, to be honest, but their aims were totally personal during today’s sale–I want to get the best deal for me!

People were trying on dozens of outfits for themselves. They were waiting impatiently to get into the fitting room, pushing in front of each other, getting rude and irritated because of other customers–taking it out on the salespeople. Dozens of stock-checks every minute, all for ‘me’. Find me more sizes. Find me more colors. I want to try on everything. Clothes piling up everywhere. Me, me, me. That is the perfect President’s Day celebration, the perfect example of what it is to live here. Forget Christmas, go President’s Day!

No, today wasn’t better, it actually was worse than Christmas. She had it right the first time.

Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 2.

February 15, 2010

I am standing at the denim wall. We are having a sale on certain colors of denim–old washes out, new washes in. They won’t let me move the sale denim from the wall. So I can only put a sale sign at the top of the column.

“Excuse me, which of these are on sale?”
I show the woman which columns are on sale. (You know a column goes up and down, and a row goes left and right? You’ll need to remember this vocabulary for later.) The denim is arranged from light to dark between each style, each in separate and very clear columns. I try to keep it as organized and obvious as possible, by telling people and showing people.
“So it isn’t everything?”
“No, just the column with the sale sign on top.” I show her the two columns with sale signs above them. Out of sixteen columns, there are only two columns on sale.
“So this one isn’t on sale? I thought it was the whole row on sale.” She points from right to left. Even then, the signs are on the same row, they are not staggered, nor are the colors arranges into rows, so this would make no logical sense.
“Oh, no, it’s top to bottom, each column has different washes, and only certain ones are on sale.” I wonder again how she can think a row is on sale, when each stack is a different color.
“Why?!?” She begins to raise her voice at me.
I don’t know what to say exactly. I wonder if things have become too obvious to me. I always try to think how someone walking in would think when the see our displays, how confused can they get? Yet, I walk around the mall, and everyone else puts their denim in columns, not rows. Why? Because what if it was arranged in rows, and your favorite color is on the top row, where you can’t reach it? How sad would you be?
“This sign is totally misleading! This is false advertising! It makes no sense! It looks like the entire wall is on sale!” Now she begins to yell. Again, just two columns out of sixteen are marked with any sale sign.
I try to point out how the colors are different in each column. Because obviously, I”m not dealing with logic here.
“No, you aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, that sign up there, looks like everything is on sale!” Now she is yelling and pointing her finger in my face.
I try to explain that I tried to remove the sale from the wall, but they wouldn’t listen to me.
“No, stop! You stop talking! Right now! You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me! Why don’t you put these denim in rows, it would be easier to follow! It wouldn’t be so confusing! I’m not stupid, don’t treat me like I’m stupid! I know! I know a lot! Don’t think I don’t know! Do you understand me? The way your denim is set up makes no sense! You don’t understand! You have no idea! You’re not doing anything right! What’s wrong with you? You’re going to lose so many customers like this! You have to change this! This is false advertising!”
I have nothing to say, but my eyes are watering. I tell her again, the walls have always (and I mean always) been set up in columns (including any store that sells denim). The sale sign is on top of each column that’s on sale, what else is there to say?
“You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, right now, you tell your bosses they need to change this, because it makes no sense! This wall is misleading. How can anyone shop here? Listen to me! You can’t treat customers like they’re stupid! Do you hear me! Don’t tell me what I know or what I don’t know! Because I know! You’re the one that has everything wrong! You don’t understand anything! You don’t tell me I’m wrong! You hear me? Don’t tell me what I know! Do you hear me? I know! I know!” I do believe, she’s already spit on meĀ  in her rage–not on purpose, I hope. If I had the freedom to act, right now, I would definitely do more than spit. Do people really think they have the ability to speak to other people in this way? In what situation can I walk into any place of business and start acting this way? Is this seriously how society sees retail, as some invisible border where you can suddenly lose all manners and responsibility, and just be totally rude, disrespectful, and ignorant?
I stand there for almost fifteen minutes listening to her telling me what’s wrong and what needs to be done, how much she knows about things, and how much I don’t know about things; how much I don’t understand anything about customers or marketing, or what customers think or need. She told me everything I needed to change, everything I needed to stop doing, everything that was wrong with our store.
I know my face was red, my eyes were watering, and I was shaking, because the last time someone did that to me, I almost broke their fingers–one at a time. I actually just wanted to quit, so I could slap her across the face. After she left, I wanted to leave the store, so I could find her in the mall, and give her my peace of mind. These are people that would have much less backbone outside, where they’d consider me an ‘equal’, but just because I have a crappy retail job, they ‘think’ they have some superiority that makes them better than me. That is one of the greatest follies of the state of retail. Why do we empower customers with this ridiculous, in-genuine sense of power?

If you actually think you’re better than someone because you have money, then you actually are worthless and truly need the money to give you a delusion of grandeur. Amazing people are superior in many ways that don’t include money. If you value yourself totally by the money you possess, then you are a sheep of society who has little idea of the true worth of things around you–when you find the one thing you truly want that can’t be bought, you’ll understand.

I do all I can to try and benefit the customers, I do all I can to try any make it easier for them, I even challenge the management to change things to make it easier for customers (which of my coworkers actually do this?)–of all the people to yell at, to belittle, and treat like a child–I am the last person to do that to. After her, I stopped trying so hard, I stopped working as hard to try and help out the customers–taking their crap, dealing with their stupidity, practicing patience in the face of insolence. I gave up, and I was no longer the guy that ‘wow, nothing ever bothers you, whatever you’re on, I want some, too’. That person was officially dead.

Later, I told my manager what happened, and they all gasped, saying, “You never need to put up with that! Ever! If anyone ever does that again, you have every right to turn and walk away from them. And if they don’t stop, tell a manager and they will be taken off the property. We don’t accept that kind of treatment to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Ever.”

Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 1.

February 15, 2010

This will be one of my few two-part blogs, which is only meaningful, like season finales, as telling a longer story and having an inevitable movement, development, and transition. You see, I don’t stand against customers. I actually stand for customers, which makes their insults, attacks, and actions that much more offensive, because it actually matters to me–they matter to me.

I have always stood on the side of the customer, to benefit the customer, because of my backgrounds in marketing, selling, and psychology. I actually do believe we need to set-up displays, marketing, and even customer-service to benefit the customer, to help them buy what they want to buy; in contrast to trying to make people buy what they don’t want to buy through coercion and trickery, i.e. credit cards. In order to do this, I have always pushed for improvements. Once, I went to the district manager, just to ask her if we can alter the order of our sizing, so it’s easier for customers to reach–i.e. smaller sizes near the bottom and larger sizes near the top of columns. She agreed to this, saying, “We already have a language barrier with our customers [like Japanese tourists], what does it say to them if we put their sizes out of reach?” Exactly.

I always move things around, as much as I can, trying to help out the customers. I try to train my co-workers to know things which will best benefit the customers. I put marketing, not to be pretty, but to be helpful and easy to read and recognize. I do what I can to remove confusion from the workplace. I don’t step into the store as an employee only, but also through the eyes of the customers.

I do realize and understand the majority of customers that are rude and irritating are, in fact, also stupid, some abnormally so. I just take greater offense when they take out their stupidity at me, as if I did things to make their life miserable, that I don’t do anything to help them. Even when I’ve met regional vice-presidents, I tell them the things customers tell me, I ask for solutions to problems that seem persistent and unresolved. I am one of the few people to consistently fight for better selling, to work out ways to help the customer. I actually do try to do something about problems, I don’t believe in complaining for the sake of complaining.

Don’t complain about things that can be solved.
Don’t complain about things that can’t be solved.

Why am I writing all this? Well I could write more, but honestly, I’m writing this so you don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to hate all the customers. I actually want to find solutions to these problems, and I do believe these problems can be solved. I do believe this society, this culture can actually evolve to remove this abscess of needing to think, needing to be respectful, and turn retail into an act of social interaction that is enjoyable and not riddled with the lacking points that capitalism seem to instill within it. People don’t need to be idiots, companies don’t need to come up with hundreds of rules and clauses to control rampant idiocy, and people can be respectful to each other, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Now, I will write about the customer that broke my resolve, the one customer of all the customers that made me want to cry on the sales floor and made me stop taking their crap, their insults, and their attacks upon my intellect, my self-esteem, and my pride…

I don’t want this anymore

January 29, 2010

This will possibly be one of my shortest stories of all, and then I’ll make it unnecessarily long. So we have a complex sale going on, which makes us take forever getting through transactions, especially when someone buys a lot of special items. Well, we had all our registers running, and trying to process people as fast as possible, and I tell the next person, “Hello, I can help you here!”

The customer comes up, and dumps a pair of super-sale items on the counter, scowling at me, “I waited so long, I don’t want this anymore.” And then she turns and leaves.

Oh. My… I’m devastated. I’m crushed! My world, my world is over! How could you do this to me? I can’t believe you’d hurt me so badly! *Rolls eyes*

Seriously, if you wanted to make a statement about the fact we were working as fast as we could, and that we’re losing out on your very important five-dollars, perhaps you could have asked for a manager? Even better, you could have grabbed at least some full-priced merchandise which cost a couple-hundred dollars, and then said, “I waited so long, I don’t want this anymore.”

Seriously? Even my mother will put a can of tomato sauce on the gum and candy shelf, leaving a grocery store instead of going to a cashier and saying, “I waited so long, I don’t want this anymore. Here is your can of $1.00 tomato sauce back!” Because you know, they’d do all they could to stifle their laughter and try to remain professional, saying, “I’m so sorry, please, please come back. Please buy this can of tomato sauce, because it really matters! Your purchase makes a difference! Please, I have children to feed!”

Seriously, get a life. You should have left after your first sigh, and saved yourself all those precious minutes waiting in line, to go outside and waste your life in other ways. Or, if you were smart, after waiting so long for your awesome deal, you could have… *gasp* bought the item! So at least you didn’t waste your time, genius. Wow, what a revelation! Seriously.

Customer types: Capitalist, The Dumb