Natural Selection Has Failed
When less than an hour into your shift you have to say “Is that baby DEAD?” you know it’s not going to be a good day.
I have recently taken a job in the photo lab at a place we’ll refer to as “Store-Mart”. We no longer offer the one hour film development, but focus solely on digital prints. We do, however, still offer to develop your film at an out lab in Tennessee if you want to wait a week instead of driving across the street and paying an extra dollar to get them in an hour. We’ll be discussing this out lab shortly.
Already irritated that I’d been shorted eight hours of work this past week, I start my shift in our tiny photo lab with four buggies full of shit. Where did this shit come from? Where does it go? I need to “PI” the “OS” so I can “bin” it? I DON’T UNDERSTAND! I’m sure that your personal phone conversations kept you busy all morning so that you couldn’t stock the overstock (OS!) that wouldn’t fit on the floor anyway. I’m sorry for the inconvenience of your job, especially because I actually still like you. I see this changing. Oh, you get to go home earlier than expected? Awesome. Thanks for not telling me what needs to be done with this stuff or what the hell this new screen/program is on the computer that just suddenly showed up without any explanation (to me). I’m so much less confused now.
Random lady walks by, thrusting a box at me. “This needs to be binned for Site to Store.” Wha? Binned? Why are there bins, where are they at, and what does this have to do with me? I only go back there to pick up heavy boxes, maybe climb the shelf like a monkey to reach other boxes, and then hand them to people. There’s a shelf. There are no bins. How do I bin binless things? So many questions I have!
In the middle of this I discover that this new, unrecognizable system software has decided that this customer’s order has printed when, in fact, it has not. Enter twenty minutes of frantic clicking, cropping, un-cropping, remaking, re-processing, and printing fifteen additional copies that I didn’t need because my brain hurts. I don’t understand… My job is supposed to be mind numbingly simple. I can’t handle the stress!
When I finally figure this shit out and the program decides to actually print things instead of just saying it did, I make my way around the electronics section, looking for things to do or people to help. Enter tiny Mexican man who barely speaks English, but is incredibly polite and smiles a lot. Nothing about this man is screaming “I’M ABOUT TO RUIN YOUR ENTIRE DAY!” But that’s what he did. He handed me two copies of the same photo and tried to explain that he wanted them enlarged. I take the photos and make my way to the digital photo center, conveniently not located in the photo lab. As I’m walking, I look at these pictures. It’s a cute baby. It’s in its christening gown, just chilling in a frilly bassinet….
OH. MY. GOD! THAT’S A DEAD BABY! That’s not a bassinet! Is that a COFFIN? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!
I continue to smile and nod at the tiny Mexican man and power walk over to a co-worker, violently thrusting the picture into his face.
Me: “D! Is that baby DEAD?!”
“Uhh… Oh my God. Maybe… Maybe it’s just a cute picture?” D says with his face contorted in horror.
“That is NOT cute. That is sad… that’s really, really sad”, says S, shaking his head and walking away.
I had to enlarge and make copies of a picture of a dead baby. A. Dead. Baby.
I understand that what I was feeling wasn’t even remotely comparable to what that man had to have felt. I get that. That is, in fact, the saddest thing I’ve had to deal with in awhile now. I can’t even imagine the pain and horror of losing a child, especially a baby. I get that that was probably one of the only pictures they had of the child. But. BUT! Was it really necessary to make me scan pictures of it? This is not what I signed on for. It’s creepy enough that people take pictures of their dead relatives, creepier still that they bring them to me to print out and copy, but this is a whole different level. No one wants to see that.
Now I kind of feel bad about complaining about my bad day. Someone always has it worse and all that jazz, but they shouldn’t bring me into it. Just sayin’.
A woman comes in with, what else, a CD full of pictures that were either from a funeral, or to be played at a funeral. She wants music on it and for it to play as a slideshow. She’s picked out songs, songs that she conveniently couldn’t remember the names of (or the artist’s names for that matter) because M told her our kiosks could put in background music if you wanted it. She decided to conveniently overlook the fact that the songs she picked were copyrighted and you need a release in order to have us burn them onto a disc… and the fact that we can’t do that anyway.
Lady: “Oh, you know that song. It’s called ‘Sissy’s Song’ or something like that.”
Me: “What kind of music is it? What genre?”
L: “You know! Sissy’s Song!”
Me: “What kind of music is it? Country? Pop? Rock? What?”
L: “It goes *insert garbled song lyrics*.”
Me: “What. Kind. Of. Music. Is. IT?”
Me: “How does it go?”
*Garbled song lyrics*
Me: “Well, without knowing what kind of music it is or how it sounds, I can’t help you.”
*Starts singing the song*
Me: “I don’t know that song.”
L: “Sure you do. I think it’s by Miley Cyrus. What is that other song she sings? Something about looking down from heaven.”
Me: “I don’t know. I don’t listen to Miley Cyrus.”
L: “It’s something about looking down from heaven.”
Is this what hell is like? I can never have these moments of my life back! You’ve ruined my entire life.
S is trying to help me help this woman. She starts writing down song titles and who she thinks sings them and decides to leave that and the CD behind so we can DO IT FOR HER! We’re not supposed to do either of those things, but living in fear of the additional twenty minutes that it will take to explain this to her, we just go with it and tell her to call back after 5:00 when M comes in because he knows more about this than we do. I also tell her that the music on the kiosks is canned music and that you can’t pick your songs, just the style of music you want. She chooses not to hear this. She called back twenty minutes later after she remembered her Miley Cyrus heaven song and I’m sure that S had to sit through another five minutes of her confusion.
I’m already an hour behind to take my break and I finally have to throw my keys at someone and make a mad dash out the door to smoke before I kill someone. The shortage of hours lead to a shortage of employees and our department(s) were severely under manned and happened to be filled with people that needed “special” assistance for at least twenty minutes for the most basic of requests.
I come back from my break and find out what “PI” means and how to scan things in for inventory only, how to box them, and what the mysterious binning was. It’s sticking shit on a shelf in case you were wondering. I return from this mission just slightly less confused because there are still two buggies full of crap that no one gave me directions on what to do with sitting there, eating up my precious and valuable floor space. I end up getting caught up with a line full of customers and someone that needs fish. Fish apparently fall under “Photo Lab” when there’s no one in Pets, which is always. I can’t find ANYONE to help this lady get her fish. She has five million questions. I spend forty-five minutes with this woman and her daughter talking about water temperatures, what fish need to be in warm water or cold, what they eat, will they eat each other, do I need this product, how about this one, how many fish can we get in this tank, how much is this going to cost, are you sure you want THOSE fish and not THESE fish, can we get the ‘suckers’ today instead of next week, can we get two ‘suckers’ instead, what do we feed them, will this fit in that, do I need a heater, are you ready to blow your fucking brains out because these fish are probably just going to die in a week anyway and you’re pulling these facts out of your ass or reading them off of the God damned stickers that are in plain sight that I could have read myself? You made me late for my break. If I could strangle these fish, I would do it, right in front of you so your kid will cry and you might experience just a small fraction of the abject misery you have subjected me to.
I finally had someone find a person that might know something about fish to come and save me. I then find out that this manager has been bitching because I’m so hard to find since I don’t stand right beside the phone and wait for them to call looking for me because I’m doing someone else’s job because you sent them home earlier and told their replacement not to show up. No, I do NOT need to carry a walkie. You could have walked fifteen feet and turned your head. I was right there. The whole time. For what felt like fifty-six years. I’m not ashamed that I handed you the net and ran. I feel like that was a positive life choice and I stand by that decision today.
When I came back from my shortened and very late break, I thought I was home free. I only had forty-five minutes left! I could all but taste my freedom!
It was not to be.
An elderly black gentleman that had previously asked me a question about a TV was still standing there almost an hour later, looking at the same damned TV and trying to figure out if it was worth it to buy the better TV with built in DVD player, or buy this craptastic off -brand one and a separate DVD player in order to save twenty dollars. Apparently in my absence, he had been helped by another associate. He found out that we didn’t have any of those televisions in stock besides the one on display, no, that one isn’t for sale, and these are the stores in the tri-county area that still had them in stock as of yesterday.
EBG: “Well, Locust had three in stock yesterday.”
Me: “Okay. Chances are good that they still have one.”
EBG: “What’s their number?”
Me: “I don’t know.” I don’t memorize telephone numbers to every Store-Mart within a 100 mile radius. I’m not a fucking automaton.
EBG: “Look it up and call them. See if they have any. They had three YESTERDAY, you need to see if they have them today.”
I break out my phone and use the Yellow Pages app to look up the number.
EBG: “Go ahead and call them.”
Me: “We’re just going to walk over to that handy-dandy phone right there because I’m not using my minutes to help you.”
I call the store, they have one left.
EBG: “Can they hold it?”
Me: “No. We can’t hold items for anyone.”
EBG: “Well, ask HIM.”
Me: “Sir, they can’t hold items either. It’s Store-Mart policy.”
EBG: “Okay then. Say, what’s the number to Albemarle?”
Me: “I don’t know that either, sir.”
EBG: “Look it up on your phone right quick.”
Me: “I’m not going to use my phone for that anymore; I’ll look it up on the computer.”
EBG: “Do they have any?”
Me: “I don’t know, I’ll ask. No, sir, they don’t have any.”
EBG: “Are you sure Locust can’t hold it for me? I’d hate to drive all the way up there and them be out.”
Me: “Sir, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to sell out before you get there if you leave now.”
EBG: “Well, go ahead and call them again and tell them I’m on my way.”
Me: “It won’t make any difference, if someone walks in and wants to buy it two seconds before you, they can’t stop them.”
EBG: “Well, just go ahead and call anyway.”
Me: “Sir, I told them you were on your way. That’s all I can do.”
EBG: “Call them anyway.”
Me: “Sir, I have to clock out now. I’m already over my shift and they don’t like for us to do that.”
EBG: “Can’t you just..”
Me: “No. I can not. The faster you leave, the faster you’ll get there and the better chance you’ll have of getting your TV.”
EBG: “Well, okay then. Are you sure you don’t want to call? No? Well, can you just have them ring up this DVD player there or do we have to do that here?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
EBG: “Can’t you have them ring it up there so I don’t have to make two purchases? Can I not pay there and take this with me now?”
Me: “Uhh…. No, no you can not. You can pay for it HERE or you can pay for it online.”
EBG: “Do you have a computer I can use to do that?”
Me: “No, no we do not.”
EBG: “How far is it to the store on Independence?"
Me: “No idea. Indian Trail isn’t that far away though.”
EBG: “No, they’re sold out too. Isn’t there a store in Weddington?”
Me: “I. Don’t. Know.”
EBG: “Can you find out?”
Me: “Sir, why don’t you just try the store in Locust? I really have to go home now and the quicker you get there, the quicker you’ll get your TV.”
The amount of money he spent on gas and the amount of my life that I’ll never get back was way more than he would have spent if he had just bought the other damned TV for twenty dollars more.
The Miley Cyrus funeral CD lady called back right as I was going to clock out. I had left her a message about an hour before explaining to her that we couldn’t use that music, we had no access to it, and that it was illegal but there were a number of video editing places in and around Charlotte. This apparently needed to be repeated to her fifteen more times before it began to sink in. Seeing that I was over my time for that day and realizing that I would probably stroke out soon and die, I had to pass her to M for further explanation of why we at Store-Mart could not assist her with this particular project. M had tested the CD and found out that it was in video format instead of individual pictures and that our machines couldn’t read, much less burn, her pictures onto a new DVD with or without music. It took fifteen more minutes to explain why we couldn’t do that and for him to name other places she could take it, apologize that there weren’t any closer, and to tell her that she needed to come pick up her CD as soon as possible before we “lost” it. It was still on the counter when I came to work twenty-four hours later.
All of this happened in six hours. Six. Hours. Half of my day was wasted to these people. I’ve not even gotten to the out lab portion of our evening because that happened today and I’ve just wasted an additional hour agonizing over yesterday.
Tune in next time for the next chapter of our stunning saga.