I had to work two whole shifts before my discount card arrived in the mail. During that time, I discovered that I’m not passionate about working in retail, but more on that later. I also learned that my new discount extended to Williams Sonoma, West Elm and the Pottery Barn Outlet store. Jackpot! I called the outlet and they happened to have my recliner in stock. I had no time to waste, so once my card arrived, I headed straight to Tejon, CA. Tejon is two hours outside of LA, and there’s literally nothing in the town except for an outlet mall and a handful of fast food restaurants. In other words, Tejon is Paradise. The recliner only ended up costing me $450, which was more than 50% off the retail price. Since I had spent far less than expected, I stopped by the J. Crew Outlet store and purchased a gingham button-down shirt for $14. Sure, I ended up getting food poisoning from Tejon’s Taco Bell, but I still considered the trip a huge success and I plan on visiting the metropolis again.
Now that I had my coveted recliner, I began to ponder whether I was going to continue to occasionally work at Pottery Barn. I had several weddings coming up, and the discount was fairly substantial. Since I only had to work once every 3 or 4 weeks to hang onto the discount, I figured that I would ride it out until they fired me. I had never actually been fired from a job before, but I had serious doubts in my ability, or desire, to sell home goods.
Before every shift, the manager meets with the employees to explain their “goals for the day.” They typically include opening up Pottery Barn credit cards, obtaining customers’ email addresses, and reaching some sort of monetary sales goal. I smile and nod as I receive my instructions, but in my mind, I know that I’m not going to do any of that. Instead, I stroll around the store and scope out future purchases for my apartment. My favorite place to discover bargains is the stockroom, which is like a treasure trove of forgotten items. I routinely find merchandise that has been hiding on the shelves for years, which means that the prices have been marked down significantly. For these items, I place them somewhere discreet until my shift is over so that I can purchase them before leaving the store. I bought these amazing dice last week for only $2.97!
Another practice that is likely preventing me from becoming Employee of the Month is my tendency to befriend customers. When people come into the store, I trap them into lengthy conversations because it helps pass the time. The other day, I met this really fun couple whom I talked to for almost two hours. They informed me about Dapper Day at Disneyland, which is held twice a year, and everyone, including Mickey Mouse, wears Gatsby attire! They had me at Dapper. Throughout the conversation, my manager paged me twice to see if I could help ring people up at the register. I told him that I was busy assisting another customer. I’m sure he thought that I was in the midst of a massive sale with clientele (I still don’t even know what clientele is). Instead, the couple purchased a $40 picture frame marked 50% off. Initially they had been interested in purchasing a very expensive dining room table and chair set for their 22-year-old son’s starter apartment. Naturally, I explained to them that a 22-year-old would destroy this table playing beer pong, and I directed them to World Market to find a similar style for a fraction of the cost.
I think the managers were starting to notice my ineffectiveness on the sales floor, so they asked me if I would come in one day to help out in the stock room. I spent the afternoon assisting two employees with unpacking boxes and replenishing inventory on the storage shelves. Although these two co-workers had told me their names at least five times, I only remembered that one of them was named Hector. I couldn’t remember which one, so I just opted to call them both Hector until one of them corrected me. In an interesting twist, neither objected to this name, so I wondered if they were actually both named Hector?! The Hectors were nice enough, but I could tell that they were slightly frustrated with my work ethic. In my defense, I had been told that it was going to be a leisurely afternoon of assessing our inventory. But, this turned out to be actual physical labor. Not to mention, the air conditioner was broken, causing me to sweat bullets through my Burberry polo shirt. I was tired of the Hectors suggesting that I work faster, so I opted to hide out on the other side of the stockroom and played Words With Friends on my phone until my shift ended. As I clocked out, I asked one of the sales associates which stockroom employee was named Hector. He looked at me quizzically and then replied, “Neither of them.” Go figure.
The day before my latest shift, the manager called me and asked me to come in early because it was time to complete my 6-month evaluation. Holy crap! Had it been six months already?! I guess time flies when you only work 1.5 times a month. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was a bit nervous about the evaluation. I was certain that the jig was up and that I was going to get canned as soon as I walked into the manager’s office. I even considered going on a hasty shopping spree to use my discount one last time. I sat down with the manager, resolute to accept my fate. As he read the evaluation from his computer screen, I was shocked by what I was hearing. In a nutshell, he told me that I had exceeded expectations and was a “joy” to have around the store. Was I being punk’d? I started to think that he had mixed up my personnel file with one of the other employees. I glanced over his shoulder to verify that my name was indeed on the monitor. It was! Perhaps expectations are just super low in retail?! It looks like I will be shopping for some time to come!