The exodus of workers at our store has a lot to due with decisions coming from almighty Corporate; no raises and no new hires. Because of this, we are now short-handed during the important Back-to-School shopping period. I was told that Human Resources had interviewed eleven people, but I've only seen a few new hires. These people are cashiers, not where I work on the sales floor, straightening and picking up after every slob customer. Children's clothes are strewn everywhere while parents argue with their kids about...everything. I also can't believe the number of grandparents(and great-grandparents)buying clothes for their grandchildren. They tear apart the piles of summer clearance, looking for a few outfits their offspring can wear at the start of school, when the weather is still warm. Piles and piles of jeans in the fitting room, but they only buy one or two. What I really hate are the socks and underwear; pairs of panties torn from packages that have to be taped back together, some pieces 'mysteriously' missing. One night, a woman stole two hundred dollars worth of infants clothing. Because of the lack of security, she walked right out of the store, her big purse stuffed. I found the hangers and a pile of sales tags in a back booth in the fitting room. Dear God, no wonder the place is bleeding money.
The young workers quit because they can't admit that the place drives them crazy. One girl can be put in layaway, but is also expected to help cover breaks in jewelry and at the customer service desk. I don't do this, and I think that's why I have lasted four years. There could be a line in layaway, but the layaway associate is helping a customer at the jewelry counter, while the layaway customers patiently(or impatiently)wait, buzzing that stupid bell, carts full of kids' clothes, children running through the place.
The younger employees get taken advantage of the most. If they want job experience, they can get it being run ragged in that place. The lack of employees have the customers wandering the store, looking for help. I feel sorry for them and disgusted with the problems the store is making for itself. Another young co-worker quit last Saturday, walking out after working at the store for almost two years. She was called to a quick meeting at layaway, our general manager waiting. He had to deal with an unhappy customer in layaway. He met the customer there after she called him on her cell phone. He had the pleasure of listening to her expletive-laced unhappy sounds before she left. He then called the meeting. I was out in my car taking a well-deserved break, unaware of the problem. He had told every associate in softlines(my turf)that they were going to trained for layaway, every last one of us. My young co-worker quit on the spot. She already had another job, and was getting ready to put in her notice, but she lost her patience, the poor thing. I had seen her in the parking lot when I got out of my car, my break over. Her boyfriend was there, hugging her outside of his car. I wasn't too concerned, until my GM told me she had quit. He had calmed down by then, and I only learned about the unhappy customer later. I guess she had a real fit having to wait fifteen minutes for help in layaway. Anyway, you would have to be blind not to see the real problem. A company like Sears Holding Corporation is bleeding out while the CEOs keep their bonuses, although Sears and K-Mart can no longer compete in a world of Wal-Marts. The foundation has rotted, so the house will fall. Band-Aids work on human skin, but not on companies.
My co-worker is waiting on the call from her new job, informing her when she can get her orientation. In the meantime, I have been to a temp agency and sending out resumes. From when I was a teenager, the future always seemed like a pitch-dark room, better to be avoided in favor of daydreaming or trying to face my fears, the worst the fear of the unknown. Those old feelings of inadequacy would creep up my back, making me depressed and lazy. I wasn't going to make any courageous moves. Survival is scary enough by itself, but there was always something else, a little voice, singing songs, wanting to create dreams, showing me glimpses of sweeter places. That's where I really want to go, but the dark room is always there, and I have to open the door, being brave enough to step in, and face not only the unknown, but living with the life I have created along the way. These last four years were all about keeping my head above water and helping my mother. Now what? I only let myself dream in my writing, and that makes me happy when I'm doing it, but I wonder if I'll ever really be happy doing anything else that can promise me a living. Maybe happiness is relative, another responsibility to go with the rest. Can a bigger paycheck make me feel as content as writing? No. Will I be looking at the clock, or my watch, the whole time while I wait to be free? Yes, along with so many others. We take our brains and bodies to work while our souls feel trapped, stifled. I know I sound like a hippy, but I was not born a trust-fund baby, either, so I'm caught between love and obligation, the theme of many Russian novels. But wanting more, working for more, is an American thing. Who would we be without it? An empty shell? A lazy pile of crap? What? Our identities are embedded in work, in achieving, and if we all stopped, the fear of the unknown would be too much to bear, so it's better to be zombies with iPhones and hybrid cars, spending decades of our lives working at a computer or some machine. As the economy improves, it's going to be interesting to see how feelings about work and affluence have changed, if at all. Did we become better people during the Great Recession? I think many will be scrambling to just get back what they had, putting the past behind them. That's what my grandparents did after the Depression, more afraid of the past than the future, because the future has to be better, right? Instead, I think I'll just stay in the present, whatever that is. :)