And then, the fish story

On Sunday, Billy mentioned something about leaving a note for our department manager in the fish book. See, we have a notebook back at the fish tanks in which we record the dead fish removed from the tank each day, as well as any other important information that needs to be brought to the attention of the next shift. In theory we should all check with the book as soon as we come on shift in case there's any special instructions or anything. Anyway, since I didn't see Billy for even five minutes Sunday despite that our shifts overlapped by an hour, I ended up going and checking the book, only to find some of the tanks weren't getting any pressure. No pressure = no fresh water entering the tank. That means no cleaning and no aeration, essentially reducing the affected tanks to little more than over-glorified fish bowls. Billy wrote a note in the book and didn't say a word to anybody, even me. Now, when he wrote the note, apparently all nine tanks in the first block were getting no pressure. That changed after a while, since it ended up just being the three tanks on top that remained with no pressure. The situation had become less severe, but still needed attention. So I grabbed the Assitant Manager over Pets and explained the situation. Unfortunately all she would do was talk to the department manager the next morning. Meanwhile everytime I had to dip fish out of those tanks, the water level would drop and not recover, which would have been trouble if many people wanted a fish from there. Plus, I couldn't clean those tanks right because of the irregular water pressure. I couldn't use the siphon since no water would be returned and all the fish would have ended up dying even quicker.

So, I come back to work the next day at 4. Randy the department manager had not been in all day, so nothing had still been done. Somehow all my fish were still alive, but I knew they were on borrowed time, as cloudy as the water was looking. I grabbed another manager and explained what was going on. Now see, he actually did something. He started playing with what plumbing we could reach from the front and eventually produced a very clogged intake cover piece thingy. A big PVC pipe with slots cut into it that apparently has suction enough to draw sediment from the resivoir and get stopped up. Once I cleaned that piece and we got it reattached, pressure returned to normal or thereabout. To accelerate the filtering process and get more water cleaned quicker I went and siphoned the formerly stagnant tanks. It helped since the water became visibly clearer very quickly. All was pretty much well for the most part, though I still warned off anybody wanting fish from there, since it couldn;t have been healthy for those fish to be sitting in that water for probably a good 24 hours, condition worsening the whole time.

Then, later that night, I notice an odd, brownish puddle near the fish tanks. Looked like cola that had been spilled. So I grab a bunch of paper towels and wipe it up. No big deal, people spill crap all over the store all the time. Thing is, when I came back an hour or so later, the puddle had reappeared. It was only then that it occured to me that this was not a simple spill. In fact, the goldfish tanks were slowly leaking water all over the floor. The floor underneath the rug was completely wet and soaking into the carpet, and the mess was expanding out to the side as well. Once again, management was called to this, and could really do nothing except promise to keep maintenance after it so there wouldn't be standing water everywhere. Randy was finally working today, and when I went in I found out that a similar thing was going on with the goldfish tanks as was messing up the A block before. A part of the plumbing was clogged (with snails!) and the water was backing up and out of the system. This resulted in me getting a new instruction: Get rid of any snails I find in the tanks. I also got instructed to scrub out the fish tanks better, which is fair enough. I hadn't cleaned them especially well the two previous nights given that there were mishaps occuring all over the place with them. To correct the damage, I spent a good half of my shift scraping, scrubbing, and siphoning the tanks, and wiping down the outside surfaces. In short, the tanks are as clean as I can possibly make them. It helped too that I had a quick night in the dog and cat food aisles, which I got finished earlier than normal. It allowed me the extra time I needed at the fish tanks besides the half hour or so I spent when I clocked in doing some early corner scraping. In fact, it was a good night in general. They let us go home at 10:30, since it was a slow night everybody pretty much got finished early and quickly like I did, and I even had time to go and help zone Toys when I finished with my fish. I like doing Toys every now and then, especially since I wanted to work there to begin with. Now with two days off, I'll be very interested to see what those tanks look like when I go back on Friday.

I'm either lying, or I'm stupid.

I'm sure everybody's played this game from one side or the other at some point. Customer comes up to you and asks for a somewhat specific thing. This thing is not carried in your store, and you know this for a fact. You may even be aware that this never existed in all the time you've been there. You relate this experience to the customer. Now, the reasonable response to expect would be something like "Okay, thank you." or maybe even "Do you know who does have it?" But no, more often than not, customer responds by saying "No, I get this here all the time." At this point both parties are thinking the same thing: You're either lying, or you're stupid. Customer is either lying to me to perhaps cover up that they're misremembering something, or is possibly stupid in thinking that there is a magic phrase, a secret code word even that will make me suddenly produce additional items from a secret location that only the select few in-the-know can purchase from. This is of course not the case. And with exception of items that are truly out of stock, what's on the shelf is all we currently sell. Meanwhile, customer thinks the same of me. I'm either lying because I'm maybe lazy and don't want to help (probably goes along with the thought that we have all kinds of stuff in back that we won't bring out for anyone), or I'm stupid and don't know what's in the aisle I'm working.

This tends to come up pretty frequently to some extent, especially when someone does ask if we have more of something in back. If we do have stuff, and I can get to it, I'll usually happily go and grab one for somebody, especially if they're reasonably polite about it. I don't have a problem with that, and it is my job and all. On the other hand, most of the hours I work they're unloading trucks at the same time, and it's not actually possible to get stuff out from the Pets bin in back. I explain this fact to people, though I know they don't always believe me. Still, the incident that really set me off here was a couple nights ago when a woman simply refused to believe me when I told her we did not carry a certain variety of Ol' Roy dog food in the 22 ounce cans. What she wanted was what's called Chopped Meaty Combo - a revolting combination of beef, chicken and liver products (I'm almost curious as to what this liver component comes from, since if it's a cow liver wouldn;t that also fall under the extremely vague definition of "beef" that dog food is constrained to?) that we only sell in boxed six-packs. We don't have it in single units in either 13 or 22 ounces, and we have not for as long as I've worked at this Wal-Mart. But no, the guy working in Pets doesn't really know anything about the goods he has to work every day, and the woman maintains that she buys that flavor in that size at that store "all the time", and since I'm really not allowed to say to anybody that they're out and out wrong or whatever, I just have to stop talking by then since I'm not going to be able to convince this woman of anything within the bounds of conduct I have to follow. Eventually she settles on a few cans of just beef and just chicken, and a third kind that I don't remember. And it probably wouldn't have bugged me except that she had such a bad attitude about something she was entirely mistaken over. And yet, I can remember more than one instance where I've done the same thing. Oh, true, I may not have treated the poor retail slave so badly over it, but I can't say I didn't think the person was either lying or an idiot, and I start to feel bad about it. But then, that's why the saying is true: Everyone needs to work retail at least once in their life. Until you do, you just have no clue what these poor people have to go through every single day of their working lives.