Monday, March 11, 2013

Stupid Moments In My Employment History- part 2

Shortly after the heart attack incident, our bookstore moved. The property owners were re-developing the property and we were being moved into a 3 level area across the lot from our existing location. We were literally loading carts with books and pushing them across the broken asphalt of the parking lot to the new building and/or hauling bookcases. Well, some of us were. The in-crowd got to sit on stools and supervise.

Much to my amazement, I managed to get through the entire experience without any injuries more severe than broken nails and numerous bruises. So, of course, I tripped over a box in the warehouse of the new building and severely sprained my ankle AFTER we had re-opened for business.

Did you catch the bit about the new building being 3 levels? We now had a customer service desk on each level as well as the main cash register bank on the middle floor. The lower level was the smallest area, the music/video department and not heavily trafficked during the week. The other two desks were where the bulk of the books were and involved a lot of walking to get to anything. Also, the elevator wasn't working yet, so we had to take the stairs to each level. Since I was under doctor's orders (which my bosses had copies of, since it was a worker's comp issue) to walk as little as possible and keep weight off that ankle, I asked if I could either be assigned to the registers or lower service desk as much as possible until it healed. I could sit on a bar stool at either of those locations without it being obstrusive and still work. I also offered to do the jobs most people hated- stickering/destickering best sellers, pricing gift & accessory items and the like, since they needed to be done and it would be easy for me to work on them at either spot since I couldn't run around the store to help customers. Ideally, I would have stayed home until the ankle was better, but we didn't have paid sick leave and I couldn't afford the time off, so I thought I was offering some reasonable compromises.

The first day, good old Cleve (remember him?) took great delight in scheduling me at Main Service and Upper Service for the whole day. We all knew this was deliberate, but I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of begging for a different assignment. I *DID* ask if I could have a stool to sit on between customers and this was grudgingly allowed.

Day 2- Scheduled for the two heaviest service desks all day again. Gritted my teeth, got my stool, and tried to tough it out. Customers saw me limping around as I slowly & painfully made my way around the store to fill requests or show them where things were and asked why my bosses didn't give me an easier job. I mumbled something noncommittal and soldiered on. Until I came back from lunch and the stool was gone. Cleve & Bonnie (our GM) were waiting for me and he had a truimphant sneer on his face. Bonnie reminded me that employees were not supposed to have stools on the sales floor because sitting around was against (unwritten) policy. Um, I have a sprained ankle and I'm NOT supposed to be standing on it. "Did you ask if you could have a stool today?" Nooooo, I kind of thought it was obvious that I was going to need one wherever I was assigned until my ankle healed. "Well, you can't just take it upon yourself to bring stools onto the sales floor. You HAVE to ask EVERY day until you're better. Since you didn't ask today, this is going to have to be written up for your personnel file and we're taking the stool away for the rest of your shift." Seriously?

Day 3- same as before, but I asked for permission to have my stool. "How long is this going to be going on?" Um, until my ankle heals, and every day that I spend limping around this damned store, up & down stairs is going to make it that much longer for it to heal. It might help if I could be assigned to the register or lower service as I requested. "You don't decide schedules or how jobs are assigned, that's our job." And then I was written up for insubordination.

Day 4- same schedule, but amazingly none of the stools could be found when I went to get one. Right. I've had enough of this. So, unbeknownst to me, had one of the other assistant managers. HE called the owners and raised hell. A very panicked Rahm (one of the other owners) raced into the store and saw me limping back across the sales floor to the desk from a trip up to level 3. Cleve & Bonnie were summoned to the offices upstairs. 20 minutes later I was sent to lower service with a stool and told that I would be assigned down there until the doctor cleared me to be running around. Rahm not only read the managers the riot act about violating my doctor's orders, he removed both notes from my file and made them come apologize to me on the main floor in front of everyone. I graciously accepted that (okay, there was some smirking) and reiterated my offers to work at the registers if needed (as long as I could have a stool there) and the stickering projects. Rahm was pleased that I was willing to try to do things to make myself useful while on restricted duty and commented to Bonnie & Cleve that THEY should have thought of things like that themselves. (yeah, still not endearing me to the bosses)

Of course I knew that the ONLY reason Rahm was taking my side is that he was afraid I would file a lawsuit against the store. I found out later that D (the manager who called him on my behalf and who was in law school at the time) pointed out that there could be legal ramifications  for them violating doctor orders, especially on a workman's comp case. Heh.

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