Sep 7, 2011

Tales of the Service Counter

The following is a true story from  my retail job. The names have been changed to protect the idiotic...

Usually when I work nights I'm by myself for most of my shift. While this allows me to go about my routine in peace, it also means that I don't get a break unless I want to take it an hour into my eight-hour shift. That just feels like a waste. I might as well come in late for all the good taking my break that early does me.However, last week I was "gifted" with another co-worker who had been scheduled to work several hours into my closing shift so that I would be able to take a break near the middle of my shift. Little did I know how useless this gift would be.

Issac is relatively new to my dept of the store. However he's been with the company for at least two years and, at first glance, seems fairly competent. He's not, I promise. When I got into work that day and saw the schedule I rejoiced. Having Issac at work until 9 p.m. meant that I could take my break at 7:30 or 8p.m.
Sweet, I thought to myself. A little help with coverage means I can get some things done faster and without interruption.

Issac and I worked diligently until about 6 p.m. At which point I told him I needed to take care of a few things in the back and asked him to watch the counter so that I could work straight through without interruption I said it would only take me 45 minutes or so. He nodded and said he's watch the front.  Awesome, I thought. He and I have an understanding. 

About ten minutes into my work in the back, I happened to look up an see a customer waiting to be helped. I frowned, Where is Issac? Why isn't he helping this person already? I went to the counter to help her and then returned to the back, wondering where Issac had gone. About five minutes later, Issac came wondering into the back.

"Hey man, where did you go?" I asked. "There was a customer, I thought you said you would cover the front?"

"I was in the bathroom. Sorry," He replied.

"It's not a big deal," I said with a shrug. "I'm not done back here so just keep an eye out, cool?" He nodded but kept standing, looking at me. "Is something up?" I asked.

"No, I just wanted to tell you that I'm gonna take my break now," he said. I jerked my head in surprise and frowned again.

"Wha... Uh.... I thought..." I sputtered, shock making me stumble over my words. He looked at me like a dog does when it's confused. "Fine, OK. I'll see you in a half hour," I said. I was too caught off guard to argue with him. What about our understanding? I thought?

Thirty-five minutes later, Issac sauntered back in from his break. I spent the entire time helping customers at the counter quietly seething over his blatant refusal to help me with coverage. Upon his return I told him to watch the counter so I could finish my work in the back. As I walked away he called after me.

"Are you gonna take your break soon?" He asked.

"No, not yet," I responded. "I have to finish this work." I waved towards the back. He nodded his head as if he understood, then asked me a question.

"Hey, is it cool if I take off early?" I just stared at him, then turned and walked away, shaking my head.

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