Archive for the ‘ Schlaples ’ Category

All Good Things

On Friday afternoon, I went in to the conference center to shadow a couple of AV techs, who were remarkably candid about how much they loathe their jobs and their boss (I later had to be reminded that I did the exact same thing to a newly-hired coworker at Schlaples). One of them actually, if sort-of jokingly, asked me “Are you sure you want this job?” And, of course, both of them noted with outrage that forcing me to work without pay before being hired is quite brazenly illegal.

Saturday was my last day at Schlaples. There was no fanfare or cake; only a handful of coworkers were even aware that I was leaving, as I believe my propensity for shutting myself in my office in an effort to avoid pesky customers and peskier managers allowed my four-month employment to go virtually unnoticed by most of them. I suspect the “Antonette*” tag has already been peeled off my locker, which has likely been reassigned to my replacement by now. Although two managers were present in the last few hours of my employment, neither of them even acknowledged that it was my last day or said goodbye as I left. Considering that I’m usually an insufferable suck-up to authority figures and pride myself on being a thorough and efficient worker when given the opportunity, I suppose my decision in recent months to serve my customers over my employers was noticed, if not by the former, then by the latter. Sidebar: Why was this a conscious choice I had to make? What the fuck kind of business model requires that of employees? And how sustainable can that possibly be?

Although I had intended to bonfire my Staples uniform this weekend, the opportunity passed me by and I was forced to settle for dumping it in my municipal garbage can and tossing a bag of dog crap on top of it. It wasn’t nearly as cathartic as I’d hoped.

*Yes, my name was publicly misspelled, noted, and never corrected. Because they care, that’s why.

[expletive deleted]

I haven’t written much about Staples lately, because I’ve had this rancid, bile-filled rant building inside of me for the past several months and I’m afraid that if I start to let it out, I won’t be able to stop, and I’ll end up cursing at my boyfriend and my dog and my neighbors and eventually they’ll have to escort me from Staples in handcuffs because I just tried to strangle a customer with a CAT 5 cable.

The rant is so enormous that I don’t exactly know where to start, so I suppose instead of attempting any kind of cohesive narrative form I’ll just start with tonight.

Tonight I spent a significant portion of my shift unloading the truck. Why would the people in charge have the shortest, weakest, and most accident-prone employee hauling 400-pound printers up an extremely tall and marginally stable ladder, you might wonder? Because they wanted to see me totter and tumble to my death, after which they would no longer have to deal with me nagging them for a key to my own office.

Have I mentioned that I don’t have a key to my own office yet? I’m too lazy to check the archives, so I’ll just re-explain it. If you’ve heard this before, and I’m sure all five of you are really sick of hearing about it by now, feel free to skip ahead to the part where I get arrested for threatening to commit a violent crime on the internet.

The Staples tech department is brilliantly split into two locations on opposite sides of the store. At the front of the store is the tech desk, which has a desktop for tech use, a register set up for intake, and enough desk space to work on one computer, maybe one and a half if you’re really persistent about bending the rules of geometry. At the back of the store is an office, which has another desktop and plenty of desk space, so that you can work on up to five or six computers at once. If that sounds pretty sweet to you, here’s the rub: the front desk computer has the internet, and there’s an ethernet cable for the computer being worked on. In the more spacious tech office, there is only wireless internet available, and the desktop in the office only has Staples intranet, which means only one website is accessible. If you’ve ever tried to perform desktop support without access to the internet — no wait, no one has ever voluntarily worked under those conditions! EVER.

Because one location has the internet and the other has all of the computers, I have to run back and forth between them quite a bit. This is only exaggerated by the fact that I’m a total flake, and will usually forget something I need in the last location I’ve been. The door to the tech office locks automatically when closed and is supposed to stay locked whenever it is unoccupied, including five-second jaunts to the front of the store because I forgot the entire left hemisphere of my brain up at the tech desk. And I don’t have a key to that door, because if they were to give me a key to that door, it would unlock every door in the entire store — including the cash office. Thus, any time I need access to the office, I have to page a manager to let me in to the office. The managers, of course, are usually hiding under the display desks so that they don’t have to answer pages.

Allow me to illustrate:

As you can plainly see, this is completely fucking ridiculous.

Speaking of completely ridiculous things, that allows me to seamlessly segue into the brief yet tragic story of how I was pushed over the edge today and forced into my current rage-y state. A customer wanted some pictures burned to a CD. Nothing in our list of services even comes close to describing this. A coworker asked a manager how to classify this service; the manager responded that it would be a data transfer and should be charged as such. Guess how much a data transfer costs? $99.99.

One hundred fucking dollars to burn some pictures to a CD.

I’m fairly confident that I don’t actually work for Satan and his minions, but sometimes that confidence is gruelingly tested.

“Is everything we do here evil?”
-Lem, Better Off Ted

Staples claims to only make 60% profit on its tech services. This statistic requires an enormous suspension of disbelief to swallow, considering that they pay their techs barely above minimum wage to work on up to five or six tasks simultaneously, and that chances are at least three of those five or six people are grossly overpaying for simple services that we don’t have the tools to adequately perform. And despite the ridiculously high profits coming out of the tech department, no one — not the managers, or the associates in other departments, or the higher-ups in corporate — concedes even one iota of respect to the tech workers. The managers think we’re too demanding, the other employees think we sit in the back and do nothing, and corporate thinks that they can slap a degrading uniform on a rabid squirrel they caught in the parking lot and call it an Easy Tech.

Do I sound bitter? I may be a tiny bit bitter.

I need a better job. And a life. And a beer. At least I can fix one of those pronto.

Shenanigans.

As you may recall, a while back I was tricked into filling out a lengthy employee profile only to discover that I was jumping through hoops for a job at Staples in Chicago (I’m giving up on the Schlaples/Staples thing; it’s getting old, and I don’t give a hoot if I get fired for blogging about my employer. In fact, it would be an honor to join the likes of Chez Pazienza). A few weeks ago, in a weak-willed moment of desperation, I half-heartedly applied to the job. I figured I had an in with the company, was definitely qualified, and was not in a position to be turning jobs away.

This morning, I got the standard form rejection email from Staples/Quill. This was not especially interesting, if slightly disheartening; however, the far more significant email had arrived twenty minutes earlier.

Dear Jamie:

Thank you for your interest in employment with Quill.com/Staples, Inc. We enjoyed discussing your background and how it relates to the Editor opportunity.

Although we were impressed with your accomplishments, we have moved forward with an offer to another candidate whose background and experience more closely aligns with this position and the hiring manager’s needs.

Your resume will be kept on file and considered for appropriate opportunities should they become available. Also, please continue to monitor our career opportunities at http://www.staples.com/jobs.

We would also like to let you know that Staples is a member of AllianceQ – a partnership of companies collaborating to increase our ability to find talent.

We would like to invite you to join this free and confidential service today. Simply complete your profile and what you desire in a new job, and alliance members will continue to consider you for future positions that match your profile.

To join AllianceQ or for more information, visit:

http://www.allianceq.com/staples

Again, thank you for considering employment opportunities at Quill.com/Staples.

Sincerely,

[name redacted]
Recruiter, Staples, Inc.

Please note:

1) I received someone else’s rejection letter.
2) Staples seems to have a bizarre relationship with this Alliance-Q company. It reeks of spam, such that Mail actually flagged it as junk. (Junk, indeed.)
3) Evidently the mismanagement I have witnessed in my store is not limited to the retail functions of Staples.
4) I wasn’t even worthy of an interview? But this Jamie person was, huh?
5) Seriously, they sent me someone else’s rejection letter. How incompetent do you have to be to manage that?

In conclusion: My god, I hate this company with all of my little black heart.

Just Let Me Count Your Change and Go Home

Adventures behind the cash register yesterday:

1. An elderly couple came to my lane to check out; he was wearing a turquoise amulet and she was wearing an “I Voted” sticker. After I’d already rung them up, announced the total ($27ish), and run his credit card, he was about to sign for the order when suddenly he became outraged over the total. He started to yell at me in accented English while I tried to explain that at this point I couldn’t see the items’ prices anymore; that he’d have to sign and then I could see what they rang up as on the receipt. His wife piped up to try and explain the cost of the items, when suddenly he turned to her and yelled in French “Don’t you dare contradict me in public! Fuck you!” Her face fell and she suddenly became very interested in her shoelaces. My face turned completely purple and I froze, wishing like hell that I hadn’t understood him. I haven’t had many awful customers, but this asschapeau definitely topped the charts.

2. On the other side of the customer interaction spectrum, later that night I was ringing out a customer when I looked up and recognized him. I had to sneak a peek at his credit card before I remembered his name, but I knew immediately that he was the university opera director. Before he left, I summoned the courage to tell him that, although I’m sure he didn’t remember me, I was in his symphony when we did Leonard Bernstein’s Mass several years back and it was one of the most incredible, transformative experiences of my life. We went on to have a brief conversation about how I was no longer a musician, and he kindly pretended to remember me and pushed me to start playing again. It was a bit awesome.

Inspiration

I just lost an hour and a half of my day off for a company meeting wherein I learned that I am expected to lie to customers and aspire to Walmart’s standards of customer service.

Also, the first time someone calls me on not having my shirt tucked in, I will quit on the spot. That shit didn’t fly in middle school, either.

A Few Thoughts on Being Laid Off From the University, Which I Have Loyally Served for Four and a Half Years

1. It took a great deal of willpower not to punch a Schlaples customer in the face today because she was wearing a GEO pin. Congratulations, graduate students: thanks to your November strike, you guys get raises while the staff that supports you gets kicked to the sidewalk. Fuckers.

2. In my first job (of three total) with the University, I was being groomed for a cozy administration job come graduation. (Said grooming was being done by a lunatic, but still.) One of the many, many, MANY* reasons I left this job was that I didn’t like the look of that future. I figured I would rather be creative and homeless than sell out for a salary and a parking space. Note to prospective employers: for more than $25,000, I could be talked out of the parking space.

3. Did anyone else read somewhere last year that college towns were the place to be during a recession? I would like to find the person/people who said that, so as to punch them appropriately.

4. If there were to be a silver lining to losing one’s job, it would be that this gives me a conveniently prepackaged deadline. If I don’t have a real job by May, Schlaples will be all I’ll have. And there is a clause in my contract for continued existence that forbids that possibility.

5. I’ll have to find someone else to talk to about arcane / nerdy television, movies, and literature, to replace my boss. Who introduced me to Joss Whedon and is the only other human being who has ever agreed that A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was overrated (my apologies to Eggers fans, but the hype kind of killed it for me).

6. You know, I really only work for about 15-20% of the time that I’m paid to work. The rest of the time is spent dorking about on the internet, or doing work for other people. I really should have foreseen this eventuality.

*There really weren’t that many reasons why I left my first job. My boss bathed in crazy sauce, and they wouldn’t pay me enough to compensate for having to put up with it. That’s pretty much all.

My First Day / WOOOOOOOOO

My first day at Schlaples was short and boring. I learned from an instructional sales video that you’re supposed to make eye contact with customers even if they’re in a wheelchair, and from the safety video how to climb a ladder. The safety video also contained some appallingly bad safety-related poetry, almost Vogon-like in quality.

I also applied for a freelance job writing dictionary entries for an ESL (English as a Second Language) dictionary. They had me send some sample definitions and sentences as a writing sample, which turned out to be problematic thanks to the progressively morbid words that I had to define. It was hard enough to get through all four definitions of “abandon,” with sentences such as “He had to abandon his house because he could no longer afford it;” “The child was abandoned by her parents at the state fair;” and “After two weeks, he abandoned all hope of seeing his dog again.” Then I got to “abattoir,” which is a synonym for “slaughterhouse.” Desperately needing to inject some joy into my sentences, I tried “Having lived long and happy lives, the cows were sent to the abattoir to become delicious steaks.”

I think it needs some work.

EDIT: With a little back-and-forth and revision, I got the job.

But none of that matters, really, because while my life may be a cycle of depression, depression-related food activities, and sleep, my boyfriend has been getting busy getting himself a job. A real job! Details are sparse, I just found out fifteen minutes ago. What I do know is that it pays quite well and I can stop worrying about how to pack for eviction. Woot!