Oh hello! We’re having sangria this evening. Want some?

There is a very large well-known retailer in this area who usually ramps up staff during the holidays in order to meet customer demand. Additional staff is needed in the store, on the phones, and in the warehouse – picking items from the shelves, and packing boxes to ship. It’s pretty common that if you live in this area, either you or someone in your family has worked for Great Big Retailer.

About 13 years ago, I first got a part time job with Great Big Retailer answering phones for the holiday season. Taking orders from people all over the country. I was young and thought it was fun. For the most part, people working there and people calling in were very nice. It was a friendly environment, and the employee discount kicked ass! I did the phones for 2 years. Then I got a better job, better pay, and thought it was not necessary to work a second job.

Fast forward, to 2 years ago. I decided that money was tight and Great Big Retailer was a good place to get a second job again. But this time, I was sufficiently aged and jaded about people and knew that I would have no patience with people calling in. So I asked for warehouse. I didn’t care if it was picking or packing, but then I knew I would be able to go in, do my job, and leave. It would be brainless, and for a part time job, it payed pretty well.   I became a packer at the warehouse of Great Big Retailer. That year, they hired on about 100 people to pack boxes and get them out to be shipped. We had to match up bar codes with order sets and make the boxes and stick the label on. Really. Not rocket science.

Now, one thing about the 100 seasonal employees… there are a significant number of immigrants that are hired every season. Equal employment opportunities. Great! I’m all for it. However, and this is a HUGE generalization, on average, the amount of work produced by said immigrants was dramatically lower than others. Please believe that I am not a racist. There was a significant number of US citizens who didn’t produce well either. Nope, not racist. Lazist. When it comes to work, if you are lazy, you WILL irritate me. We are all paid the same, we all have the same “quota” to get out. So DO NOT make me pick up your slack.

When I say not rocket science, let me explain. Every item is sent down the shute with a bar code. You scan the code, and sort it into a slot until all items in the order are there. Then  you print the packing slip, and label. The computer tells you what size box to use. And the packing tape is dispensed already cut to the right length, and wet so it sticks. Monkeys could do this job.

I did that the first year and was acknowledged for being a fast packer. (Can you say that? *heh*). Anyhoo. The money was good, so I went back last year. However, last year, there was different management and the vibe was very different. Management initially said that the agreed upon  hours – 6 to 10 – were not being offered. (Since I work full time at the Gas ‘n Sip, I couldn’t start until 6 so that I had time to travel and get something to eat.) I wasn’t the only one who had the hiring agreement in hand that shows we were promised those hours. After a big hoo-hah, we were allowed to continue the season with our promised schedule.

Something else was very different last year as well. The economy SUCKED! Orders into Great Big Retailer were down about 30% from the year before. There was much time standing around. If I’m going to work a second job, and give up part of my life, KEEP ME BUSY! And then there were the changing schedule. We were expected to commit to at least 25 hours/week, and yet we were often scheduled for as little as 4.  Can’t plan on second income that way. Again, I stayed until about a week before Christmas and left, again with a promise that I would be rehired this year if I wanted.

Fast forward again to last week. I got my rehire letter, called, went for an interview and was told that they had “restructured” the schedule this year. The only available hours were 2:30 to 10:30 OR 6:30 to 11:30, and the expectation was to commit to 30-40 hours a week, with the week running Sunday through Thursday, and Friday if necessary. Okay. That kinda suck, but okay. I can’t possibly do the 2:30 shift, but 6:30 is an option. Yeah, but then I can’t start until mid-NOVEMBER. NOVEMBER. Which means only 4 weeks of work. 4. 4 weeks. WTF am I going to do with that?? It’s not even worth it.  So, I will not be back at the whore house this year. I will have to suck it up and either get a job in some retail store (okay, that is so not going to happen) or be good and live without overspending (*gasp*).

So why “whorehouse”? Yeah, it’s just too close to warehouse to NOT call it that. We, the packers, were either “ass packers” or “box packers” and the pickers were “nose pickers” or “ass pickers”. So I just told people I worked at the whorehouse. It made for good stories. I met some wonderful people, had some fun, and who knows. Maybe next year I can again go be a whore for Great Big Retailer.

As for this year? I’ve decided to relax, and live my life. And enjoy the hockey season that’s coming up. And not being exhausted all the time. And now that I put it that way, I wonder why the heck I ever did it in the first place.

More sangria? 🙂

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