Okay, I take it back.

Monday, I felt bad for my manager getting in trouble because I didn't get all my work done. I'm over that now. When I clocked in yesterday, I had plenty waiting for me. First, I was to construct a stackbase (essentially a plastic pallet that all "action alley" displays are supposed to stand on since Upper Management doesn't let us have real pallets on the floor during the day anymore) of cedar chip bedding, which we not only had an excess of, but would make a good run of considering last night was the clodest it's been so far since the end of summer. And actually it wasn't even one stackbase, it was two, side by side. Now, this in itself I don't consider a big deal, and it went well since one assistant manager help me get the stackbases from the pen out back, and set up the signing, and another assistant manager helped me by pulling the cedar bedding off the high shelf in the aisle. So, that was the first thing I was instructed to do before my department manager took off. The second thing was the put away the contents of a shopping cart full of stuff that I'd come to understand later had come out from underneath... somewhere. I suspect shelving, mainly. But some of this stuff was so old it wasn't in the computer system anymore, and some was still in packaging we haven't used in at least two years - not to mention how downright filthy a few items were. I also came to know that this cart had been presented much earlier in the day to my manager, and he'd effectively had all day to dispose of this stuff before I showed up. Next, there's the returns. The returns which obviously hadn't been worked all day, since there was a shopping cart packed full near to the point of overflow. I know they hadn't been worked at all because that simply doesn't happen. Pets, Chemicals and Paper doesn't get that kind of return volume during the day, and certainly not during the day on a Tuesday. It took me almost two hours to get all the returns and the cart left for me finished, that after spending forty five minutes setting up those stackbases.

It should be clear that given this, I barely had time to just do a bare-minimum zoning. I couldn't pull anything from the risers, I couldn't stock anything from the back, all I could do was pull stuff forward and dispose of empty boxes. And doing that, I did get done, and finished the fish before the call to go home. But I could have done a much better job if my department manager hadn't dumped a good bit of what should have been his work onto me.


Bad timing.

I feel kind of bad. See, through my own poor management of my time yesterday, I wasn't able to zone all of Pets like I'm supposed to each night. There comes a time at night when the night stockers begin filtering onto the floor, pallets get dropped in aisles, and the major daily stocking operations occur. It is at these points that we of second shift can no longer work in our aisles, even if we still need to. Last night, this time came before I was able to get going on the dog food aisle itself. I had already done the cat food aisle, and taken care of the fish. So when I clocked in today, my department manager wanted to talk to me before he left. See, early this morning, the aisle was a mess. The store manager saw it, and kind of blew up, with my department manager at the receiving end, despite his not really being responsible for it. The worse part of this is that he wasn't even really mad at me about the whole thing. He talked to me very calmly, and I don't even know what word to use to describe how he taked besides calmly. It was clear of course that it bothered him that all this went down, but he wasn't trying to take it out on me or anything. And that's the part that really makes me feel bad. He had to take the blame for my screw up, and suffer the angry wrath of the store manager, including changing out a whole endcap full of little tiny canned things, and he didn't even try to lay any of the suffering on me. He just told me that I needed to be doing something different where I could make sure that I had time to get everything done. He also told me to scrub the fish tanks some, but that didn't happen since I couldn't find the sponge. At least I went and vacuumed them out before I left. I'll have to try and get him to show me where the sponge is tomorrow. I really don't mind that much to be cleaning the fish tanks out at the end of shift, since it sort of pads my hours a little. I can easily and legitimately tack 30-40 minutes onto any shift that they send everyone home early. Like tonight, the manager called it at 10:25, but I didn't actually clock out until around 10:50, since I was doing the fish tanks.

Anyway, I really do feel bad for what my poor department manager had to go through because of me. This is saying something, too, since my previous department manager I'd probably be pretty entertained for him to be taking the blame, but then I'd also have gotten some of that relayed onto me, so I guess everything ends up balanced. Still, it's gonna have to be better tomorrow, since I did get finished tonight, and even ran another load of cedar chips out to the floor without being told, just because I knew it was there and it's cold out and people need it. And more than half of it was gone before I clocked out tonight. On the subject, I got the biggest static electric shock I've ever had tonight as I was wheeling the cart load of cedar bedding out from the back. I swear, it arced a full inch from the metal door handle to my finger. I just wish I would have been looking directly at the spot, since I'm positive the discharge would have been visible.


Drive-Thru Goldfish

So, at one point tonight, I get paged by an assistant manager. When I call him back, he tells me that someone will be over by the fish tanks in five minutes, and I'm asked to have a bag with ten goldfish ready to go when he shows up. Perplexing, eh? So, I make a slight dash for the fish tanks, since most of the time I work on the opposite side of the store (beats me why they didn't lay out the stores to have all the pet stuff together), and begin dipping the fish out. Now, the goldfish tanks are a little bit crowded right now, so it's not hard to get ten of them in just a couple passes with the medium net. Thinking back on it now, though, it might have been faster if I got the biggest net. So anyway, I tie off the bag and write the UPC number on it and hang around waiting for dude to come get his fish. And amazingly, just a couple minutes later, a guy comes tearing out from Lawn and Garden, and about fifteen feet away from me starts saying, "Those are for me!", though he was basically polite. I asked the obvious, and indeed these were to be feeders. And then he asked for a bowl to keep them in, so naturally I take him to our selection of goldfish bowls. Bizzarely, he needs something "flat", and naturally we don't actually have flat fish bowls. Luckily, two or three stainless steel dog dishes had been misplaced in the fish aisle, which he seemed well pleased with. I can't begin to imagine why the shape of the temporary housing was so important, but then I also don't grasp most of this situation.

I talked to that Assistant manager later, and he asked me if I got that guy his fish. He then went on to explain that the guy had called the store from ten minutes or so down the road, and essentially placed an order through the manager. It's not a bad idea, since if the guy is really in that much hurry, he succeeded in cutting off a good bit of time waiting for me to get set up and scoop all those fish. But even so, I've never had to prepare fish as though we were a take-out before. I can't decide whether it's good or terribly sad that this was the noteworthy part of my shift.

Two steps forward...

One step back into Chemicals. Yesterday there was apparently a shortage of physical laborers, by which I mean truck unloaders. They paged me to GM receiving at least three times yesterday *before I clocked in* to help unload a truck. Then very shortly after I did clock in, one of the co-managers grabbed me back to Grocery receiving to start unloading pallets of chemicals into the aisle, since they needed the space and there's not exactly anybody else to be doing it. However, they did send me five truck unloaders to assist in my efforts, since they'd finished their first truck between the times I was paged and the time I was made to haul detergent. Of course, they were only there for about twenty minutes before the next truck came along and they had to go. So I was left just as before to do everything myself. Now, there's some things to keep in mind here. First, the reason I was allowed to switch to Pets was because it's a relatively important department that always needs somebody working it. I don't just mean the fish, either. Pets needs to be "zoned" every night. Zoning simply consists of making the aisles look pretty by removing empty boxes, and facing the shelves as much as possible, among a few other minor tasks. If I'm left to it, I can get that done in maybe two hours if I'm doing it myself, much quicker if I have a second set of hands. It wouldn;t even take that long solo except for all the cans of dog and cat food which get more or less turned on their heads through the day, and that's the most time-consuming part. Also all the chemical supplies, anything from shampoo to flea collars. Basically, all the little highly numerous, really little stuff takes a long time to zone properly. But the work that I would normally do in chunks over a whole shift had to go undone for a number of hours because I was emptying a pallet of chemicals all by myself. (there were actually two pallets, but since I didn't get the first finished until it was time for my dinner break, the second was just gonna sit anyway). So, I had decided once I came back from dinner that Pets would have to get done regardless of all else, so I started working on that. Part of which was also running the returns for three departments, which is more time consuming than you'd think sometimes. So, I run all the "local" returns, and have a box of aquarium salt to go over to the "fish aisle" on the other side of the store. Naturally when I get there someone turns up wanting fish (to say nothing of the ten minute diversionary trip to find the price of a toy for some little kid's grandmother when the aisle scanner won't work). Since I was there, I decided to go ahead and do a dead count. Any fish that die during the day have to be counted, logged, and then of course removed from the tank. It was a bit early, being probably not even 9:00 by then, but I figured it better to just be done with it. It's probably the most important part at night anyway, so...

Finished that, fed the fish, turned the lights off since that generally cuts down the number of fish calls, and took a couple minutes to talk to the cute hardware girl. Knowing the night stockers would be along at any moment, I started a mad dash of zoning, and was actually doing quite well for a bit there. I got all of the cat food aisle finished, which is something since it takes the most time to zone of any of my areas. I tried to get over to dog food, but that was immediately apparent as a lost cause, since a pallet had already been dropped in the aisle, which is a sure sign of the night crew making their way out. So I did what little I could and just collected all the empty boxes. At that point zoning stuff would just mean my getting in the way of the night stockers, so it's better to let it go. Besides, by then I had another damn cart of returns brought to me. Saturday is amazing for the amount of returns. Earlier that night I was helping sort through all the returns at the service desk, and a man getting a money order or something saw everything and asked incredulously, "Is this all from one day?" Silly, unknowing man. I quickly informed him that this was just a few hours worth at most, a remark that left Money Order Man near-speechless. If that didn't do it, the service desk associate correcting me that this had all turned up in the hour or so since she'd gone to and come back from lunch or break or whatever certainly broke that poor guy's mind. And really, it is amazing how much crap comes through there on the weekends, both actual returned mercandise, or things left in people's aisles as people change their minds or whatever. And it was slow last night, since we've got the World Series going. As of 7:00, there were at least ten shopping carts, most full to the top with returns waiting to be picked up, as well as several plastic bins behind the counter with grocery and things from other departments that we didn't have carts set up for. It's nuts.

I suppose the point I was getting at before is that I really hope they get someone hired into chemicals before too long, because I can see that I'm gonna get tapped in the meantime to move that stuff whenever they need space cleared in back. Though, if it happens again, I'm gonna have to say something to somebody. I can't keep getting pulled out of Pets like that, or stuff that *needs* to be done just isn't going to get done. Already yesterday there was conflict about my reassignment, since Co-Manager wanted me to move the chemicals, and Assistant Manager wanted me to go unload a truck. Fortunately, Co-Manager overrides, so I was able to get out of that, but it's totally obvious there's gonna be problems with getting my work done, since I don't think some of these people understand exactly what work has to be put into Pets to get it finished every night.