Follow Up To My Awful Company Post From Yesterday – It’s Still Awful

Got this gem of an email this morning.

From: Same fuckface @ My Work
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 11:47 AM
To: Me
Subject: RE: EPP Altras

An Ontario store just e-mailed me about your shoes – not sure how it ended up in Ontario but they are shipping it to you.
Thanks,

Andrew

Oh, you’re not sure, Andrew? How they ended up in Kingston is you mailed them there, Andrew.

And like, you have no idea? But… Shouldn’t you though? Something came through your work flow and got fucked up and you have no idea? I’d be trying fix that, my guy.

And btw, apology accepted. Way to take ownership.

What’s great is my email exchange with Shipping contains this exact phrase, as part of their telling me to fuck off and I copy/pasted it into my email with Andrew to be like, hey look how your staff are telling me to fuck off rather than helping:

we went and asked Andrew and he gave direction on what store it was for so that is where we sent the shoe

So Josh in shipping got a package, didn’t know what to do (great for someone who works in shipping), asked Andrew who told him to ship it to Ontario, then they both blew me off when I asked if they knew anything about this missing package saying there simply aren’t any missing packages and everything gets sent where it’s supposed to go. Only to have Ontario receive the package and email asking why they were being shipped a random pair of shoes and that they were sending them back.

So A) Thanks Ontario for not just keeping and selling my shoes at your location and B) Again, my own superiors at my company had no qualms about fucking me like that for no reason and had no intention of dealing with it.

Yet I’d be endangering my job if I pointed any of this out in official company channels.

Sweet world, thanks crony capitalism.

This Is Just Workplace Venting But Holy Fuck Is It Awful Dealing With My Own Company

Everyone at my work has a go-to horror story of emailing with the higher ups. Here’s my latest.

This is the end of an hour’s work on my part trying to track down a seemingly lost pair of shoes that are already paid for.

From: (Doucheydouchedouche @ My work)
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 1:13 PM
To: (sincere hard working me, also @ my work)
Subject: Re: EPP Altras

 

They had a packing slip with them, I said to ship to whatever store was listed there and that’s the extent I know about it.

That’s the whole email. Thanks top-of-the-food-chain, glad you’re the person I got directed to by everyone else who also didn’t give a shit to help.

Like, you’re not a surly teenager at a record store, you are a high up, central figure in the corporation.

And here’s a summary of the phone exchange with the shipping department from before that:

Shipping: If we got it on the 11th then we shipped it on the 11th

Me: Who did you ship it to?

Shipping: Whoever.

Me: Whoever? Whoever who?

Shipping: Whoever we were supposed to.

And I’m like no motherfucker because I’m who-supposed-to. Then he emails me the tracking info for a different company sending something to Kingston and says he hasn’t seen anything from yet a different company lately.

On the phone before Shipping I had talked to head office reception and even they had this same company-wide attitude of yeah, I probably did my job, who the fuck are you to ask.

They have this not-my-job-don’t-talk-to-me attitude about everything. Like, they have a not-my-job-attitude about things that are their exact job.

And it’s not that they are just not helping, it’s that they actively act like we – the employees on the ground level dealing with inventory and customers – need to fuck off.

Like, what do they think the company does? What is the point if not to enable us to do our jobs? Why aren’t they concerned when an issue’s been raised and supply chain has broken down?

And even still why be a dick about it? We’re on the same team. I’ve met city road crews that aspired to be harder working and more helpful.

I know that to you, dear reader (mostly Heather), this seems an over reaction to a single email but like I said, we all have these stories and stand around baffled by them whenever we have to interact with them.

Like [name]’s story is the time he got an email with a subject line like ‘this still isn’t right’ and then no body to the email just a chart we had no idea what to do with.

It’s like if your boss’ boss sent you a weather map for New Zealand and was like why is this wrong? Answer: I don’t fucking know, why don’t give me any clue as to what you’re actually asking me?

Or [other name]’s story about how he tried to helpfully tell a higher up that something we have a lot of in our inventory didn’t show up as being in our inventory on the public website. To which that higher replied with a screen shot of an actually not relevant page of the website and the words “Sure does” as if [other name] was doubting that the website itself existed I guess? I don’t know, I’m not such a fuckstick that I actively try not to figure out what someone is telling me when I pay them to help me run my business.

Like, we’re always doing the thing that you would punish us for not doing and yet you just act like we’re cunts. WTF? How do you have a business?

Fuck.

 

Author’s note: Still fuming, this was written as a brutal rant and then edited to not violate an NDA or anything. Fucking stupid Boomer company man bullshit.

What It’s Okay to Do In A Shoe Store

Twice a week I’ll get someone in the store who’s hilariously apologetic about the simplest things, this list is truly inspired by and dedicated to the women that I told to try a different shoe on each foot and she said “Can I? I didn’t know if that was okay”

So yeah, it’s okay to put a different shoe on each foot; It’s okay – even encouraged – to bring your insoles or orthopedics and take the stock insoles out; you can take the insoles out and stand on them like ski boots; you can keep trying on the same pair between every other pair if you feel like it’s the one to beat…

And you can come in with no intention to buy anything and still talk to us. What I see a few times a week is someone coming in, saying they’re fine just browsing, then they go stand at the shoe wall with no fucking clue what they’re looking at. It’s a menu they don’t know how to read.

I get it that customers have a feeling of guilt taking up a salespersons time, or a feeling of obligation that comes from taking up that time or a worry about being pressured into buying. But really, coming in to museum-stare at shoes then leaving with a cheery thanks makes us all feel stupid.

So I hereby declare that IT IS OKAY to tell us your concerns, your pains, your hopes and dreams, and pump us for ideas to look up on your own. It’s on the big, stone, OKAY tablets.

In fact, to a degree, to a fucking degree, it’s okay to come in just to feel heard. I use that phrase a lot at work and in life and it all starts with an old guy – Ed, I know him by name now – who came in and at first I was like, this is a talker, an old lonely coot who is not going to find anything he wants or needs at a store that sells 220 dollar hype shoes. But also, I had nothing else to do. I thought of it like sitting next to an old timer at the pub, you just hang out and listen and both have a pleasant time. So I just listened and listened and we came back to shoes a few times and then veered off again and when we came back I dug through the oldest, most neglected sales shoes to find him his grouchy old man wants and needs and he ended up buying them. Now whenever he comes in I’m thrilled to see him – because luckily he’s never come in when it’s busy.

And I even see it, and don’t mind it, when they aren’t fun and don’t buy anything. We had a woman come in – again, while there was nothing going on – and she was told by her doctor to an ankle-supportive hiking boot to protect a new injury. We have nothing like that and told her, sweetly and apologetically, that we had nothing like that and Atmosphere was the best nearby option. She still stayed and went over and over how she got the injury and what it was like to recover and she left visibly relieved. I’m certain from her husband to her doctor to her gal pals no one had just let her get it out that this sucked and I wish I wasn’t dealing with it. And we could have been guilty of the same thing if we’d been busy – we’d have shooed her out the door and even gotten pissy if sh’ed been upset or demanding about.

I’ve had customers get so shitty and livid because I’m not helping them when what I’m doing is trying to tell them that I can’t help them. At the same time I’ve gotten absolutely dug in trying to help people with insanely idiotic laughing-over-coffee-with-my-coworkers bullshit because I had no other priority at the time.

When I look back at any customer-interaction that went badly I can see a moment when they wanted to feel heard and I wanted to rush through the process because I’m busy, I know what all the steps are, let’s just get through this.

And when I look back at a great customer interaction, like a day-highlight home run, there’s always a moment when I was like k, c’mon, hurry up – no, there’s no where else I need to be, there’s nowhere else I can possibly be, so just be here, just listen – don’t wait just listen. Those end up being the people who email head office saying Allister-at-Westhills is just great, love him so much.

Actually, I was writing out my list of things to discuss with each Saturday employee and I put my own name down as well and wrote slowing down, resetting with each person, not rushing.

To bring this back to the title of the post, if not the spirit, it’s also okay not to be the priority. I know you’re the customer and you’re a middle-class white person who’s never been treated as off-center from the center of the universe – or always able to force yourself into being treated as the center of the universe – but man, I get one-a-week characters who come in the door with an about-me attitude like I’m supposed to have been expecting them; like this is their house and whoever is here is obviously a butler.

And you can guess what those people end up writing to head office about me.

There’s no way to bring this post back to the intent it was started with… so… [Sarah-Lynn gif]

Our Shoe Selection At The Store

Disclaimer again that this is going be a bit of a shoe-nerd post, I’m not going to take the time to explain each shoe and what each name means and blah blah blah. There will be context ques for people without this stupid hobsession.

So, shoes in the store:

From New Balance we carry the 840, 860, 880 and 1080 in the current generation and whatever’s left over from the old generations. There are, like, 6 shoes on each wall that are just the NB logo and then some numbers which are all, basically, variations on the same thing in the crowded middle of the shoe spectrum.

And in all the other brands it’s much the same. We carrying the center of the bell curve – which makes sense from a retail POV I know – but our stock space isn’t infinite.

It’s like filling your tiny bookstore with Clancy, and Grisham, and other airport novels at the expense of having any other sections. You fight for the biggest and most fought for piece of the pie for the most mundane of people and serve literally no one else.

It’s like offering someone a drink and having five different colas and barely a juice or a water to be found. So… America. Zing.

People who want a Coke will settle for a pepsi. You’re not serving two markets by offering coke and pepsi – you’re serving one market twice. Offer a soda, a water, a juice, and a beer and now you’re talking.

At the store I’m forced to apologetically turn away so many people with interesting and specific wants and needs, people I like and agree with.

I think it’s why every city has one thriving indie running store but not two (except Boulder of course). There is a market for people who really, really love running and love shoes and collect and experiment and want to talk about it all day but it’s a market you can’t split. You ration the water equally and dehydrate both plants.

But I’ve been trying to get some hardcore shoes into the store since, well, since the minute I got access to the computer. I did what I could do talking to other stores directly to bolster my supplies – like, I transferred-in some Altras under my name as a customer and they got transferred out again the next week for, presumably, a real customer at another location.

And the chain-of-command at The Running Room is fucked. Everyone I work with has had an email interaction with the higher-ups that’s been so brutally stupid and condescending and unhelpful and rude. The story is always the same: Customers want something, I talk to my area manager, he tells me to talk to any of these five people at headquarters, I email them one or two at a time and they all dismissively tell me not to talk to them and CC my area manager. As if to say, why is one of your peons talking to me. And nothing gets done. Nothing good happens for anybody.

My boss, who is a cool guy and wants things to work out for customers and employees alike, told me a story of a manager who put her own shoes on the store wall with a sign saying available for order so she could at least talk about them to people who came in for serious trail shoes.

Speaking of trail shoes, man our selection sucks. When someone comes in asking about them we just say man, sorry, our selection sucks. Our location is basically phasing them out. And it’s a clear story of what I’m talking about actually. We stock a few lame varieties and never restocked the common sizes. Therefore we don’t sell many. Therefore the higher ups think it isn’t worth stocking us with common sizes of the good shit. Have no [blank] to sell? Then your sales numbers for [blank] will be low, therefore you don’t have the sales numbers to justify stocking you with good [blank].

And customers who come in, ask a question, and leave without buying anything don’t show up in any system seen by the higher ups. But man are our sales high in the bloated middle of the spectrum so keep sending them those, boys. Sunglasses are a good example of this: We have Goodrs on display in a dozen colours, most of which we have 2, 3, or 0, but whenever we sell one we tend to get restocked with 3 so we’re overflowing with one or two specific colours.

Like I said, what’s really weird about it though is that they’re dicks about it. Like, if a Private gets in touch with a General (clearly I have no idea of other military ranks that would make a touch more sense but… follow) and says we have no bullets on the front fucking line the General should be like  oh shit, let me get you those because we have the same goal of winning the fucking war but instead it’s the Boer War and the higher ups are all like, drinking tea and reminding us to be courageous for Britain. Or, in the case of the one higher up who pops by the store, saying times are tough everywhere because of yada yada my three houses and my mustang. My mustang that’s never been rained on. What leadership.

Hmm, so it turned out this had nothing to do with shoes and all about just venting about work. Perhaps it’s all from an urge to apologize and rationalize to the people who leave the store unsatisfied everyday, with my face and my voice as the instrument of that dissatisfaction. And for those people I will keep working, keep trying, maybe those early martyrs will never come back and haunt me forever but for the heroes who come in their wake, by god, I will get them their shoes.

And the sunscreen you like. Or at least if I see it elsewhere in the world I’ll let you know. Probably London Drugs.