The Week the Wheels Came Off: Part 2

I warned you that I would be back with more and yet here you are. You can’t get enough.

Under normal circumstances, we were plagued with equipment failure. For instance, we had a printer that would jam constantly.  We had an inventory gun that wouldn’t scan things more than a few inches away and would drop more than half of what it did scan. A wheel literally fell off a flatbed in transit…and we just propped it up against a wall overnight. Let’s also not forget that the door to the employee entrance was directly in the line of fire of the lawn sprinklers, which resulted in a lock that would freeze in the winter and rust out.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say that our operatives had a hand in all of this and deserve a promotion.

So, you can imagine how bad things got whenever there was inclement weather.

Our parking lot was very scenic. Not pictured: the gentle stream of employee tears.

There was one year when there was some icy rain overnight.  The roads were fine so no one thought anything of it.  Until we turned into the parking lot and all nearly skidded off the road. After gingerly making it down to the lot and parking, we skated across the lot to the entrance.  Hilariously, the path leading to the entrance was on an incline and any attempt to reach the door resulted in the victims sliding back down the ramp.  We had to form a human chain just to reach the door.

Now, whenever it rained, the persistent, awful music that corporate forced us to listen to even when the store was not open would turn all the terrible songs into Dubstep while the system struggled to deliver the music.  Eventually, it would cut out completely or a manager would silence it.  Usually, it just Dubstepped all day.  In this particular week, it rained so hard that there was literally no music when we walked in.  The speaker system had kamikazed sometime during the night.

But the gifts didn’t stop there.  The registers weren’t coming online – some of them were even stuck in a never-ending boot sequence. Since we all wanted to get paid for our 8+ hours of misery, that meant having to fill out a piece of paper to clock in for the day.  There’s maybe only a few lines to fill out, but inevitably more than a quarter of the staff had difficulty with this.  Many became incensed and would rant about the situation like it would change anything. Clearly, these people were close to breaking.

More gifts!  Certain parts of the store were now considered dead zones – places where the retail guns would simply not work.  You could literally have the gun working right where you stood, take one step to the right then the little hourglass would just keep spinning and spinning and spinning until it threw errors and rebooted itself.  It was the technological equivalent to passing out in your own vomit and drowning.

Quick, turn this guy on his side before he dies. No one gets to escape this misery.

Because the guns wouldn’t work in huge areas of the store, people who were setting up the signs tried to use the corporate app on their cell phones to try to set the prices for the day.  Flaws in the app were quickly discovered.  Like it had difficulty finding most of the products and if the screen fell asleep, you had to get back into the app and go through the process of setting it up to shop “in store” all over again. They eventually gave up and resorted to guess-work.

The people putting stickers on things had twice the problems since you couldn’t print a sticker without the gun.  So, they had to drag entire racks of product out of the dead zones to get their job down.  They literally emptied one department into the hallways of another and slowly put it all back as they worked through the product.

Then the intercom system gave out.  You see, like most establishments, you can pick up the phone at the register and with a magic combination of buttons, make a store-wide announcement.  Each of the phones has an extension number on them so if you need to page someone to call you privately, you could do that.  Well, half the system still worked.  We could make announcements, but that was it.  None of the phones would do anything but call out.  Not one.

This conversation took place in the span of a half an hour:

Bob (over intercom): Rhonda, please call extension 1234. Rhonda, extension 1234.
Rhonda (over intercom): Bob, that extension isn’t working.  Try 2345.  Bob, 2345.
Bob (over intercom): Rhonda, that one doesn’t work either.  Try 3456.
Rhonda (over intercom): Bob, try 4567.
Bob (over intercom): Rhonda, 5678.
Rhonda (over intercom): Bob, 6789.
Bob (over intercom): I don’t think any of the extensions work. Meet you in handbags.

I couldn’t find a picture of beautiful people ready to lose their collective shit on the stock image site. But I did find a photo of this walleyed kitten. That sums it up.

After people kept having to meet to exchange information, they began to use the intercom system more creatively:

Bob (over intercom): Rhonda, I have an entire cage of jeans and no room on the floor for them.
Rhonda (over intercom): Put it back on the dock and I’ll deal with it later.  I need you to go open the door for people to get in.
Bob (over intercom): The cage is jammed in the stock room and we can’t get it out unless it’s emptied.  I’m nowhere near the door.
Rhonda (over intercom): I’m going to kill Sam!  John, get the door.
John (over intercom): Rhonda, please call extension 1234.  Rhonda, 1234.
Rhonda (over intercom): None of the extensions are working, John.  Just say it over the intercom.
John (over intercom): I’m upstairs.
Rhonda (over intercom): Why are you upstairs?  You were supposed to be downstairs!
John (over intercom): I’m trying to find where the water is coming in.

I was probably the only one laughing hysterically at this exchange.  I was getting strange looks from my coworkers.  Fuck them if they can’t laugh at a disaster.

Oh, I promised you an explosion.  Here:

Did John ever find out where the water was coming in?  Did we ever get the phones back?  Did we even open that day?  Were we able to get that cage un-jammed?  Stay tuned for our next installment!


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