Category Archives: Customer Service

“Stand in the Place Where You Live”

R.E.M. said it…I should have listened.

A while back I wrote this…basically an epitaph to my retail job.

I had started a new job in the recovery field. It was a one of the most prestigious rehabs in the country.

I’m back in retail…

WHAT???

Here’s the deal…it’s a two-fold deal actually: in order to maintain my position at the rehab, it would have cost me nearly $1000/month out of my own pocket to provide a modified/basic health insurance plan for myself and my two kids. Incidentally all 3 of us are in or will be in college in 2014. This is versus $300/month to provide FULL health care benefits and FULL Dental…it was a no brainer. When I saw the rate sheet, I put in my two weeks notice the next day.

But it wasn’t entirely about the benefits…in fact I’ve decided to drop my Addiction Studies major at school and concentrate exclusively on obtaining my BA in English. The rehab field isn’t for me, for reasons too numerous to enumerate here. Suffice it to say that when money enters the picture, the whole ball game changes. I love recovery. I love the purity of one alcoholic helping another. But I detest what money does to that. I’m not calling out the whole industry…there are some great facilities out there I’m sure…it’s just not for me. I didn’t have the core passion for that business I saw within some of my colleagues…and I wish them the best.

This is the second time I’ve left the retail job to pursue another career path, only to be stymied by the exorbitant cost of health insurance.

Look, I’m not the brightest bulb in the world, but this time I got it. I’ve made a minimum six-year commitment to the retail job to I can provide quality health care for myself and kids while we pursue our academic goals.

Retail is a bitch…it’s fraught with petty commission fights, angry and entitled customers, and long days on one’s feet. It’s also the home of tremendous benefits, both retirement  and health care.

From the day I got that job, I was looking for an out. This time, I’m making a commitment to stay for a while and it’s made all the difference in the world in my attitude. Perspective…in essence, putting my big boy pants on, hunkering down, and being an adult.

So I’m back in the trenches, not necessarily in a job I love, but in an occupation that provides killer benefits and with some people who have become the fabric of my life…people I truly love and care about.

 

 

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Hip Check…

BirminghamHip

Happy Birthday hip…you’re one year old today.

In fact, exactly 365 days ago, you were inserted into my left hip.  On August 5, 2012, I had a procedure called a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing performed by Dr. Iqbal Anwar at Kaiser West Los Angeles.

I mention him by name because I will be the first to complain about substandard health care and as a result, feel compelled to give praise where praise is due.

Let’s back up a moment…okay, maybe a little more than a moment…I’m 3 or 4 years old and I remember I suddenly can’t walk.  I remember my mom carrying me everywhere, I remember a hospital, I remember talcum powder, I remember a cool red Tonka truck I got when I was released from the hospital.

What happened then? I didn’t know…

Fast forward…

I’m in a job in 2010 where I’m sitting at a desk and I notice if I sit for too long, my left hip keeps hurting and literally locking up.  This goes on for awhile and I decide to see my doctor, who refers me to an orthopedic doc…

This clown summarily dismisses me and my x-ray by telling me I’ll need my hip replaced sometime in the next ten years…end of story.

So this doesn’t sound real high on my list of priorities, so I ignore the hip…

But my hip chooses not to ignore me.  The pain continues and I realize I can’t stall. I ask my primary care physician for another orthopod referral at a larger hospital.  This new doc takes one look and me and says “shazam” I’ve got just the guy for you…

He tells me that there is a new procedure for folks under 55 called a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing that is less invasive and destructive to the joint…and the killer news is that very few have to be redone, compared to the 10 year warranty on the traditional hip replacement.

So sign me up…I see Dr. Anwar, one of an elite number of surgeons performing this surgery and I’m scheduled to go under the knife. And what’s more, he finally tells me what the hell happened to me as a child (based on my description).  It was an acute synovitis:  an inflammation of my hip socket caused by a virus.  Apparently the fluid was withdrawn as a child and I was good to go until that episode ultimately led to end stage osteoarthritis in my hip.

Why am I boring you with this? Because today, one year later, I’m riding over 100 miles a week on my bike and played tennis yesterday for the first time in well over a year. And because Dr. Anwar and this procedure deserve the kudos. Having been a paramedic and seen the nightmare scenario played out in lots of people after hip surgery, it’s safe to say I was apprehensive.

But today, I feel like a youngster and have no intention of slowing down. In fact, I think I’ll kick it up a notch…

Thank you Dr. Anwar…


By the Skin of My Teeth

I escaped. I got out. My sentence was commuted.

Well, I still have 9 days left of the obligatory two weeks notice.

I got a new job. A real career. Something I WANT to do.

And I got out of my old one with enough of my sanity intact, that scientists may be able to stem-cell match the remnants of my DNA and return me to a state of “normalcy”.

I worked retail.

For those of you who have traveled this path…waged this war, you can stop reading. Everything from here forward will be redundant.

For those of you who have not, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

I was a Personal Wardrobe Stylist at one of the top three department stores in the country…an immediately recognizable name associated with luxury clothing.  And my fashion and sales background consisted of saving lives and putting out fires.  In other words…none.  I was able to acquire the knowledge in a relatively short period of time and was blessed with an eye for spatial and color relationships…and I was smart enough to listen to folks who knew more than I.

I applied for the job because I was an unemployed man in his late forties whose savings was running out and for whom the State of California fortuitously decided would be better off without a driver’s license for a year.  And this place was close enough that I could sling my suit jacket over the back of my bicycle and ride to work.

I am forever grateful for the job and the opportunity it afforded me. The company was top-notch and I met some wonderful people along the ride.

But it was retail.  And the greater the heights in the retail scale you go, the greater the level of entitlement of your clients. One more caveat before I launch into my rant…I met some incredibly decent human beings as clients and hope to retain personal relationships with them all.  But…

There is the clearly dysfunctional man with money that walks in and unconsciously laments the regrettable size of his penis and hopes to rectify it by summarily abusing the “help”…in other words, the sales staff.  He’s the guy who generally doesn’t have a clue about fashion or fit and has stumbled through his shopping experiences by pissing off all who are unfortunate enough to greet him. He is the ultimate douche-bag.  The guy looks down his nose at you (though he is often vertically challenged) as he barks out his demands.  He is never satisfied and is not clear on the concept that he is buying off-the-rack clothing. It was not made by a higher power specifically for his dimensions and yes, there will be some imperfections.  He will not hesitate to point them out.

There is the celebrity or athlete that demands your immediate attention, and after having busted your ass to accommodate their “needs”, will unceremoniously return said merchandise, resulting in yet another deduction from your paycheck.

Oh, did I forget to mention it’s a commission gig?

There is nothing quite like the highs of a big sale, or the soul-crushing low of yet another return.  Our favorites were the women who bought several of the same or similar things and flat-out told you most, if not all of it, was coming back.  “No problem ma’am, we’ll gladly return it” and you can go fuck yourself under my breath…

Other than douchebag #1, described above, the worst possible customer is the guy coming in to buy a suit for his son. It’s a rite of passage that Dad feels the need to demonstrate complete and total control.  And for me, this generally entailed keeping my ego at bay as best I could for an hour or so as Dad turns the experience into a train wreck for all involved, because A) He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and B) Because he’s too proud to admit it in front of his son.  These always turned out bad.

In general, men were much easier to work with…were willing to listen, didn’t return as much…and didn’t see shopping as a sport, like a lot of women do.  I hated serving most women.  These soulless retail leeches would walk in with their vacant stares and black Amex cards and proceed to slam the retail version of heroin…all while using you like a spoon and a bic lighter while they heated their black tar hauls and fed another spiritual fix.

I was a drug dealer. I provided a route and a product for a lot of mentally and spiritually ill people.

It was sad.

On August 6th I begin an entirely different journey in a critically important field and I am so excited. To the co-workers I leave behind I say this: I worked as a Paramedic and a Fire Captain for 21 years and my 5 years in retail were, by far, the most physically and mentally demanding years of my life.  Hang in there and get an exit strategy. To those of you with no ethics and whom are driven by fear…you are living in hell already…Karma is a bitch and I implore you to find some peace.

There is life after retail…


I Speak For Service Workers Everywhere When I Say…

…quit being a dick.  Just stop.  You’re not better than we are, you’re not more important…just stop being the self-important fuck-stains that you are acting like.  It’s getting old.  Just stop.

I’ve been blessed (tongue firmly entrenched in cheek) to have been forced into the service industry after a long career as a first responder; early on as a paramedic, then most recently as a Fire Captain.  In that line of work, people were generally pretty damn happy to see you…or dead.  Either way, I don’t recall a lot of attitude from my “clients”.  In fact, if someone gave me shit, I was generally able to convince the cops to either arrest them or grace them with an attitude adjustment.

Now that I’m a Personal Stylist in the fashion industry (a really fancy way of saying I’m in retail), I don’t have that luxury…in fact, we are so accommodating of the pathos of our clients, it’s quite amazing that the vernacular hasn’t changed to “going retail” on someone.

Look, it’s not that tough to treat your waiter, or your stylist with respect.  Simply don’t be a douche and guess what?  We will go out of our way to help you and make your experience with us fantastic.  But come in and trash our displays while joking that “oh, huh huh, I’m probably creating more work for you” or come in and literally treat us with abject rudeness and disrespect and I promise you we will strive to make your lives as miserable as they already clearly are.

It’s not that tough to be kind and respectful to those of us in this world and if you do encounter a douche among us…go to management…it’s very likely we hate working with them too.  Just don’t generalize and treat us all that way.

Thanks…Happy Fucking Holidays…and just stop.


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