Reprinted from March 1997
Almost every jewelry store in America has them. They are indispensable. They come in all sizes and shapes, sexes and religious beliefs. They are employees. Over a period of years, I have learned a great deal about human nature through dealing with employees. Most employees are good, honest, willing workers, but in my mind, there are a few incidents that stand out.
One of the biggest ongoing problems was with a woman over her name. She had one of those two part names, and she insisted on being called by both names every time she was addressed. RB did well to remember his own children’s names. The sound of her name was difficult to roll off the tongue, it was something like Candis Lynn, which cause one to have to change the position of the tongue every time to get the name out; you know push the jaw forward and back.
RB would tend to snap out, “Candis, please run this order up to the drop box before pick-up time.” By then, RB’s mind would be on something else, and she’d respond in a rather condescending way, “My name is Candis Lynn,” and RB would respond, “What?” She’d repeat it, and RB would go back to working on something else until the next time he addressed Candis and it was the same thing all over.
I wonder how Candis Lynn would have held up if she worked in a restaurant where they assign silly names so customers can remember them better. “Hi, my name is Snow White, and I’ll be your waitress tonight.”
As I recall Candis Lynn stayed for five years, and RB and I were still not using her second name when she left. Both RB and I took the Sam Carnegie course, but we seemed to have failed where names were concerned.
Another employee who worked here, ah, I think her name was Molly. It took me a week to figure out any difficult, dull, or time consuming job for her to do. I’d ask her to type some past due lay away cards, and she said, “I can’t type.” I then suggested she write them by hand. She threw up her hands and said, “Oh, I couldn’t do that, my handwriting is too bad for anyone to read.” After I insisted she do this, regardless of her handwriting, she had a stack of cards to go out in the mail, and I went through them. “Where are the zip codes on these?” I asked. “They weren’t noted on the original slip, so I don’t have them.” “Look them up,” I insisted. She brought them back. On postcards, she had put 32 cent stamps. “Why have you put 32 cent stamps on these cards?” “Because I didn’t know what kind of stamp they took.” “Why didn’t you ask?” I pried. “I dunno.”
Another touchy problem we seem to have is getting items like charms pinned down on a velvet display with the right side facing our and without the pin buried in the display so far you need pliers to get it out. One girl got everything on the display and when they didn’t hang straight, she took double-sided tape and taped them so they wouldn’t turn.
I was late coming in one day and one of the girls, can’t recall her name, had been polishing silver baby ware. “Look,” she told me, “I got all that yellow stuff out of the inside of al these cups.” She was referring to the gold plating on the inside.
Another wonder we had work once couldn’t dust the bottom shelves of the showcases because she was wearing a short skirt, and it would be immodest to bend down to do that. God pity the employer who isn’t sensitive to the needs of the employees.
Another girl was asked to take the invoice price and double it and put the items on display. Instead, she divided by half and put that price on the tickets. I’ve had employees bring their children to work expecting they can remain there all day. I’ve had them invite their friends back of the counter like they are one of the family.
I don’t know if it is a custom in any other area, but here in the southwest employees wear a corsage on their birthday and people who come into the business are expected to pin money to the ribbons. I have become very unpopular because I don’t permit this here. I can’t say I enjoy going to a restaurant and having the waitress who serves me laden with a flow of dollar bills trailing from her corsage.
A few years ago, I thought I was doing a really good thing when I took an older woman who was working for her citizenship and learning English, which meant I would be inconvenienced in verbal communications because of the language barrier. When Christmas came, I gave her $50 on her paycheck as a gift. She didn’t mention it to me, and I thought she must be overwhelmed and happy, but another employee brought it up for her. “Maria felt the gift of $50 was chintzy,” she reported. “Chintzy?” I should have given her a turkey. When I worked at a starter job for a bank years ago, they didn’t give us anything. They would take us a huge box of unshelled pecans and put it in the middle of the coffee shop and we could take some.
I had an employee, what’s her name, who would do something wrong and then cheerfully say, “Oh it’s okay, I’ll do it over.” Who could ask for a better attitude? She didn’t have time to do it right, but she had time to do it twice…on my time!!