Self care day 10:Sharing Happiness

Once again, thank you for joining me on the grand undertaking. There is going to be a lot of work for me and  I hope to be able to keep up. Please make sure to comment, share and follow along as I share some simple things to better your life!

I have worked retail for many years along with many other jobs. Retail has taken the most toll on my brain and body. I remember most of my horrible customers that came in and screamed at me and cursed me out. It took all my energy to get up in the morning to go in to work to deal with lots of horrid people. I try my hardest to forget them.

I do remember, the good ones.

I had a mom and daughter come in to my store every 2 weeks on payday. They would walk around and talk to me. I would ask about their day and life. The daughter would always ask to give me a hug. They were genuine nice people.

I remember the regulars who would come in and see me busy and they would go straighten up the walls or grab some trash on the floor.

I remember the military vets and how I would give them free stuff for their service and how they called me brother.

I also remember the time when I first started as a manager.

I was 2 weeks in being in a new town, new district, new store. I was struggling to make friends with my peers and most of my staff were angry that I had gotten the position. I had 5+ years of paperwork to sort through, a back room that looked like a tornado tore through it, and I had almost no support.

I this opening one morning to my disaster and my first customer walked in holding a box. It was a mom who had called the night before and I had set aside an item for her. I greeted her and grabbed her stuff and proceed to ring her out. She paid and handed me the box when I handed her her bagged goods.

I was confused.

I told her it was my job to hand her stuff and we both laughed. She told me in the box was a few donuts, a breakfast taco, and an orange juice. She wanted to thank me for helping her and she wanted to welcome me to the community.

It blew me away.

A simple kindness. It is all it takes sometime. To make someone else feel better.

To change a day and sometimes a life.

Helping others can help you as well.

#hugapony my friends

The last day.

My computer has been out of commission the last week or so. I have finally gotten back up and running and lo and behold, I am back to share my stores with you, dear reader!

It was my last day in retail. That in and of itself was a shock and change. I was busy most of the day handing off keys and getting the new manager set up with what he needed. I ended up saying goodbye to my staff and customers.

This was all made tougher as they decided to move my Assistant Manager to another store as well.

My staff was exceptionally kind to me. I was given several gifts (all ponies!!) and I was touched beyond words. Seeing the kindness that was given to me by someone, anyone else is always a shock for me. I honestly had trouble accepting it. I couldn’t say anything to them of course as I would never want to offend or upset anyone. Its just the thought of someone giving me something that I didn’t earn ( or felt I earned).

I was just being myself.

The day grew rougher as it seemed every person I had gotten to know as a regular at my store came. I call to mind two instances that broke me.

The first was a husband and wife who were not on the young side (or as they put it, “We are as old as dirt and then some!”). They were some of the few that did not make it in but I felt I needed to call them. The wife had been going through chemo for months and is still one of the most spunky, strong, and enduring person I have had the privilege knowing. Her husband was the Ying to her Yang. They would walk in the door and I would say the same thing each time.

“Here comes trouble.”

And there never was. They brightened every day I saw them and I will always remember them.

And then came the final customer of the day, and my career there.

To provide background on this transaction I will explain. I had a mom and daughter who would come in to shop with me. They had been shopping with me since the time I had moved to be a store manager. The daughter had a few mental disabilities but it didn’t stop her from being nice to everyone. The mom worked hard to make sure they had everything. I knew what games they played and what they would want before they stepped out of the car.

When I had first met them, the daughter was upset because she had seen quite a few people come through the store already. I took the time to explain who I was and let her know that I would be taking care of her and her mom. She got to know me and my family and never forgot to ask how my girls were doing.

Now some people saw her as a burden or a bother in the store (none of whom lasted long at my store). I made sure to take a bit of extra time with them so they were completely happy when they left my store.

Now back to the last day.

I was about to call this pair of favorites as I could not leave without saying goodbye. I was in my back room explaining to the new manger who they were and the special requirements they might need. I happened to look out of the corner of my eye to my security camera and saw them enter. I took a deep breath and asked the manager to follow me as I wanted to hand them off to him as it would help the transition.

The daughter saw me and lit up (as always) cheerfully calling out my name. I greeted her warmly and answered her questions about how I was doing and how my girls were doing. I said they were well but they were busy. She asked why and I told her that it was because it was my last day and I was having to move for family reasons.

She broke down crying in the middle of my store.

The other manager had to step away in an effort not to cry as well. She asked me why, and I explained it to her as best I could. She gave me a big hug, still crying. I told her she would be OK and that I was leaving a few people she knew. She told me that it wasn’t the same. I said that I knew but that she was going to be OK. She took me to her mom, still tears in her eyes and told her. Her mom was in shock. Slowly the daughter explained it to her and the mom understood. I took that moment to introduce them to the new store manager. He did a great job introducing himself and making a personal effort to let them know he was there for him. The daughter, then was drying her tears, comment on some of the pins on his lanyard. This was a sign for me that she was now thatching herself to him.

My heart almost broke in all this. I even for a moment questioned myself leaving, still knowing I had too. I rang them out for my last transaction. I then went to back room to collect myself.

This for me was why I did customer service. This is part of who I am. I have tried to show kindness and love to everyone.

And it hurts sometimes. If done right.

And that is OK.

I soon handed over my keys, clocked out, and said the last goodbyes to who was left. I will never forget my time in retail. I honestly believe that everyone should work a holiday in it to understand just how to treat other people. Life lessons that carry over to everything else.

Here’s to my staff and customers. I will never forget you.

Hug a pony my friends.

I want to thank Shop girl at http://shopgirlanonymous.com/ for all that you have done. It has been amazing working in retail at the same time as you. Sharing stories was always a favorite for me. If you hadn’t yet check out an amazing blog that I plan on still reading.

#hashtag #brony

#Brony

I have had so much fun with this the pat weekend and week. I just got back from my manger’s conference and I totally rocked being a brony. I got to show off my love for my fandom and got to pass out some new business cards. I have a few awesome stories to tell and thought I would share here. I would like to apologize for not posting much but life is overwhelming at the moment.

First off, I had the random stranger encounter in Viva Los Vegas! I was walking through the New York New Your casino, showing my roommate how to play craps. As we were standing there, I was approached by a wonderful couple who started listening to me explain the game. The husband saw my shirt and his mouth fell open.

“Is that a My Little Pony shirt?!?”‘

I replied with an affirmative (thanking my stars that I was wearing the ONLY pony shirt I had).

“Are you a Brony?” Came next.

Again I replied with a resounding yes.

“I didn’t think that you guys existed. I thought you were an internet myth!!”

I didn’t take offense. We talked for a few minutes and I answered some questions and explained a little bit of why I joined the fandom and dispelled some of the myths (crazy what people think of us as bronies!). I gave them a card, and if you are reading this Hi you made my day, and went on my way. It was a really cool encounter. One of the reasons I am so outgoing in my support of my passions is to be that liaison that we need. I can speak both normal and fandom and I feel I am a great way to bridge the gap for those who don’t know.

This started a rash of Twitter post by me for my work. They had a nice big screen that if you put in a #hashtag of a certain word, it would show your post on the big screen. I saw this as a great opportunity to do what I do best.

Post ponies.

So the following happened to be the 4 pictures that made it to the big screen, ALL THREE DAYS OF CONFERENCE!!! I was so proud.

CN6AgzzUwAA0RF_ CNw41MEUwAADrau CN8IFBeUEAEoIX- CNvrQiJUEAAIgur

All I can say is I was super stoked! I got a few replies to my tweets and I want to give a shout out to the rest of the Bronies who posted back or came up to me in person. Thank you all! It was so much fun to share a moment at my work like this.

And now, I need to rest as my hangover passes.

Hug a pony everyone!!!

The “Big” one.

So. I have teased this long enough. I said I had an announcement a bit ago and I have been dragging it out. I have lead many of you, dear readers, along this merry journey. I have gone back and forth about telling you anything. I am doing it right.

And I am still doing so, for my own amusement.

OK, enough is enough. I have have decided to go back to school.

OK, settle down with knives and pitchforks, I know it wasn’t the earth-shattering news you wanted but this is a big step for me. This is especially hard for me as I will be still working a full-time job (more so being salary in retail [YAY mandatory 44+ hour weeks!]).  I will still be a father of two very active little girls. I will still have to help a wife who is starting to take off in her side job, after being a stay-at-home mom, by selling awesome nail wraps (which are really awesome, so awesome I will plug them here http://www.gale.jamberrynails.net/ [LOVE YOU SWEETIE]).

This was a choice that I had made a few weeks ago. I have had enough of retail at the store level and I want to get out. This makes me sad as I really enjoy helping people. I read a beautiful blog post a friend on WordPress pointed out (Hi, http://shopgirlanonymous.com/) . You can find it here https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/82926123/86/ .  It talks about those exceptional customers that make your day. People who bring a smile to your face. Making customers for life because YOU helped them find that perfect item that just made their son/daughter/parent/friends day.

I know I have had more than a few.

Encouraging the little boy of his enjoyment in little pastel colored ponies.

My wonderful husband and wife couple who comes in every week. They came to see me for the first few months at my store. I was a new face at the store and they encouraged me when I saw them. We got to know each other, she had battled cancer, he was retired helping her. They are good people. We laughed and joked at new things, old things, and everything in between. I almost lost it when He came in one week and I asked where his wife was. He calmly explained how she was back at the hospital, the cancer had come back. A few weeks later they both came walking back into my store, she had lost about 30 lbs, he was helping her. I was close to tears when she saw and stopped me. She told me to dry my eyes and that she wasn’t dead yet and If was going to cry on her, I would be useless to her. She made a few VERY off colored jokes about death and had such an amazing attitude about it, anyone would feel better.

There are moments like these that make customer service beyond worthwhile. I treasure each and every one of these. But, I feel a change is needed. For every one of these there are ten more of some rabid customer who is practically foaming at the mouth to sue you over not having the right color item that no one has ever made.

It makes me sad.

And So, I will continue to pursue this education. I think it will help me further my career path and want to expand my horizons. I ask for your help and encouragement in this endeavor. I will be walking that path with a plush pony in my pocket. Thank you all.

Hug a pony my friends. Spread some cheer.

Rough Weekend

So work was killer this last week. I have so much going on, it is not even funny. Let me list this out for you.

1.My RD (regional director, My boss’ boss) left the company. This was a man who I respected and who gave me a lot of encouragement. He had been with the company for over 26 years and had come up through the ranks and took care of us. There is much fallout to be had over his leaving and, not only a new person, but a Vice President of the company now is over us.

I am worried.

2. One of my employees broke down crying on Saturday. People just don’t realize that we are humans in retail.  She had a customer in our store doing a difficult transaction for 2 hours only to be followed up with the general mad rush of a weekend day, and then topped it off with a customer who, I believe, is crazy.

This final gentleman had a son who traded in some items to put toward some other items. He told my employee that his son did not received all the items he had purchased and that we needed him to give him his sons items. He also said we need to give him $40 in exchange for the items that he had brought in, along with the credit those items were given for the purchase he made. He also did not have a receipt or know what day his son did this but we had better take care of him.

My employee made it to the back room before breaking down on the phone crying with me, asking me to come back to the store to help her take care of the customer. My assistant manager was stuck on the highway, due to the highway being shut down, so no one else could help her.

I come in and talk to her and calm her down. She tells me whats going on and I approach the customer. The customer tells me a new story that involves his son buying a item, us not giving his son his item, and us telling his son we would hold his item for over 2 weeks until his other item that he had a special order for came in and we would give him both.

And we owed him $40 for the credit on the items his son traded in.

And no, he did not know the date or have a receipt.

And we better take care of him.

After a long process of looking through days of receipts, I find his son’s original transaction, and show him that: We gave him the proper credit for his items, his son placed his order and paid it off, we gave him all the games he purchased, and that we did not have any items for his son. The gentleman looked at me, smiled, and said that is exactly what he wanted to hear, turned and walked out without me saying another word.

I still do not know what crack he was on.

3. We ran a contest at work to promote growth in an area of business. Simple right? Hit this certain dollar goal, and all the managers in the store get a bonus.

AWESOME, right?

So, me and my team attack this with a vengeance. It is difficult because the contest runs through the holidays. We enter January just a little behind goal. We have to the end of the month to hit it. The dollar goal is $98,467 for what we are tracking. We enter the final week and I get an email about how much we are short.

$847

We got this.

We bust our butts and go all out to hit this goal. End of the week comes.

$3,259

About four times what we needed. We celebrate and cheer and wait for the money.

That never comes.

Two weeks later, we get an email saying we did a great job but that we fell short of our goal. Confused I ask my boss about it (who was also keeping track of everything) and we looked into it together. Turns out the goal they gave us was the wrong goal and that, while we did amazing for having one of the highest overall goals in the area, we fell short $347. The final week goal of $847 was an approximate amount and not an accurate number.

$347 out of $98,467

My team was crushed. I was crushed.

I went out and took $60 bucks and bought a $20 dollar gift card for each of my managers from my own personal money as a thank you. Still, it was hard looking back and kinda feeling like we got the rug pulled out from beneath us.

Rough week for me overall. Time to hug a pony.

Quick shot 3

“Can you help me with my service?”

“I can do my best ma’am. What is the issue?”

“Well my daughter’s service is not working, the bill isn’t due, and we don’t know whats wrong.”

“Well, I will not be able to assist you with that. Here is our support number and they should be able to take care of you.”

:Five minutes later:

“Yes I just called and you said you would help me with my service.”

“Yes ma’am, did you get it fixed?”

“No, no one would help me. Can’t you just fix it for me?”

“Ma’am, I have no way to troubleshoot your problem.  What did they say the problem was?”

“Oh, it was an automated system and I didn’t want to do that.”

“Ma’am, you have to go through that system. I cannot assist you. Did you not hear support options?”

“No, I hung up after it asked me to press a button. I didn’t want to go through that to speak to a person.”

I am trying to not bang my head against my desk right now….

Hug a plushie, hug a plushie, hug a plushie, repeat.

First day back.

So I have been enjoying some time out of my store, both with my vacation and with helping out some other stores with my manager mentoring. I had enjoyed my time off immensely and was looking forward to coming back to work.

I should not have been so excited.

All in all it was a good day. Numbers for everyone was good. We were very busy but we were handling it well. I was training a new person, saw an old manager of mine.

You know, a good day.

Should have been my first clue.

It was about an hour to close and I was helping a regular customer when the phone rang. It was from a private number. Now, if you remember a blog post I did a couple of weeks ago about the prank calling through a private number, you know I am always a little leery. I answer the phone and am immediately greeted by an adult male who is upset to the point of yelling. He asks for one my other key-holders who is not working at the moment and I inform him that they are unavailable. I ask them what the call is about and he interrupts me and says he can only talk to one of the managers. I inform him that I am the store manager and asked if I could help him. He tells me that his son came in a few weeks ago and bought an item from us that requires an ID to purchase and that his son is not of age and was able to purchase the item from my employee without being carded.

Now the employee in question is one of better employees and has never, EVER not followed this policy.  He is one of the better ones.

So I ask him the date of the purchase and he says he doesn’t know. I ask for the receipt and he says his son lost it. I then go to ask him another question and he interrupts me again and tells me to stop stalling and to help him. I told I was trying to and asked how he paid, and he said cash. He then asked why I would let this happen. I told him this was not store policy and I would be starting to look into it but I needed information, only to be interrupted once again by him saying that I was trying to just to protect my employees and that I must approve of the practice of selling items to minors. I told him that was not the case and that we took every one seriously but I needed to do an internal investigation. He asked if I was calling him a liar, to which I was confused and said that I was correcting him on the statement that I do not approve and take the matter seriously.

He then started to demand his money for the game back. I told him I would do everything I could to take care of him but I needed to know some information. He told me that his son had bought it in September (different date now) and that he paid case so there was no way for me to look it up. I asked if his son had a loyalty card with us and he starts YELLING at me that his son was under age and that he was not old enough for a card. I informed him that you only have to be 13 to be a member and he heatedly told me that they did not have a membership. He then insisted that I give me the cash back for the game and that my employee fired.

Now, it has been 15 minutes on the phone. I have a line of customers waiting, a new person on the register wanting help, and a customer that I am in the middle of ringing up waiting patiently. I have been yelled at, called a liar, and told I have to do something because a customer wants it.

Did I mention that I had had a good vacation with no headaches?

So I proceed to tell the customer to bring in the game and I would see what I could do but that I needed more information to start an investigation. The customer told me that that was not good enough and that he want my employee down there, the employee to apologize, me to fire him, and have his money returned in cash. I told him the that I would have to look into the matter before I fired ANYONE. He then demanded his money back. I told him to bring the game back I would see what I could do. He then told me that was not good enough and that he wanted me to say that I would give him his money back. I told him that, Yes I would give him his money back. He then hung up.

Now for the rest of the night, I am stressed out. I am depressed and cannot focus well. My head starts to hurt me and I look at every person who comes in my door with fear in my eyes, waiting to be yelled at some more. At 9 o’clock we close and I start to think it really was a prank call. I think back at how I was torn down. I think about how horrible it is that someone wanted someone fired, and it was a “prank”. How time was wasted and energy spent and people hurt for what? A prank call.

And there are no repercussions.

People are horrible. I see them everyday. I weep for those around me. I rejoice at those who give me a smile because I know how rare that is.

Tonight, I will be clutching a pony for comfort. I will try and unwind and relax enough so my muscles don’t cause me grief tonight. I pray that I can relax enough to sleep. What is sad is I am now dreading tomorrow. I now look at it in fear of what will people say next. All that time off wasted.

Hug a pony my friends.