Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

File Under: For Chrissakes, Let UP, Willl YOU?????

I got written up at work today-- yes, I got in trouble again!-- because of three complaints in a row in the last two weeks that I was rude to a customer. I was never rude to a customer. I just wasn't capitulating when :

  1. Customer A didn't have a Father's Day gift for his dad at 10:57 ( we close at 11) on the day before and wanted me to look something up. I pointedly looked at my watch, he begged, I said, POLITELY, "Sir, I really can't" and then a manager saw it, and apparently was upset I had boundaries. (She advised me to go above and beyond in the future and left it at that. I later found out that she disparaged me greatly in the managers daily communications log and was very pissed. Because of that, it was counted as a verbal warning. Never mind that she was sweet as pie about it on the spot and never said a thing to me about it being so offensive to her that I was in trouble! Farking beyotch!!)

  2. Customer B decided to grill/lecture me about why we didn't carry a particular version of the Bible regularly ( even though we carry many many versions, she only found 1 of her preference), since she "bought it for others often". I offered to order it for her whenever she needed one, since I wasn't able to assure her we would always have THAT one on hand, and when she said she "never knew in advance if she needed one, it just happened" (::eye roll::), I pointed out that we had several bibles that were quite servicable should we not have THAT one ( me, the Religious Studies major being quite sure of it). That wasn't good enough, and she was a offended for some reason by my suggestions. THEN she asked me the number to Borders. When I didn't know the number of our competitor (and didn't bend over backwards to give it her), she complained ( Verbal warning #2- at least Mal was clear about it).

  3. Customer C came in and asked for books on her summer reading list ( ALL HAIL the Summer Reading List! Kids from K-12 in there looking for all manner of stuff, some of which we managed to order early in anticipation; others, because the teachers didn't bother to submit a list to our Community Relations Dept., we are unprepared for. Good times!) After giving her one of the books, I told her without looking for the second that her classmate had been in before her shortly to purchase our last copy ( which I understood to be true. I'd helped him the day before!). She went and found someone else, and they managed to dig up the last remaing copy on the frickin' earth for her ( swear to GOD I don't know where he found it!), and her mom called and complained. Because god knows her baby might have been cheated out of the last copy of The Screwtape Letters. Please. I don't think her kid is going to make it through Animal Farm, (the other choice--all 150 pages of it!), by the looks of it. (Whatever. Don't get me started on Kids Today and how stupid and ignorant they are, and how Their Parents are worse. I had a 16 year old today ask me for a book of essays-- on HIS reading list-- by "Steffan King??" Me: No, *Stephen* King. Him: Are you sure? Me: YES. ::thinking to self: have you been living under a rock, or are you just functionally retarded?:: *Sigh* I know, I know--) I'm a bitch and I must be punished! And god help us if she might have had to go to another store ( And this was the straw that pushed them over the edge to write me up.)!!

I make $600 a month at this job ( about HALF of what I need to survive), no attempts of mine to get a second job have taken off, either. And now both of my knees are giving out; I felt a painful pull in my right one just like the one in the left when I bent down today ( I just finished with a visit from the podatrist for my "weak arches" and now I get to go to the orthopedist!! WOO HOO!) and I have just about had it with the bullshit for that much. I don't suffer fools or stupidity gladly, so I am definitely in the wrong place now, since I can't cashier anymore, AT ALL and am confined to the customer service desk all damned day.

Recently, I found this ad on craigslist:

And while money is tight, is it this tight? I gotta tell ya, it's tempting. Yeah, $30 an hour is looking pretty good at this point. I'm just afraid the customer would hear my cat in the background since he's quite demanding when I get on the phone, and I'm fairly sure that would ruin any groove the client had going. That and my cracking up totally would probably ruin the whole experience.

So along with being pissed off royally, and not knowing what to do, except pasting a smile on my face all day long and dealing with being watched almost unfairly closely by my supevisors, I am seriously frustrated. I have sent out numerous resumes and suchlike, to jobs I am actually qualified to do, and do well, and WANT to do. I was recently in a discussion where I was asked to focus on what kind of job I would like other than acting, to pay the bills. I thought for a long time, and while many options were available ( Jack thought I should be a CDAC- a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor, or some such similar; there was the option of a desk job, going back to the spas, trying to get a job closed captioning -- another Jack idea--, etc. etc.). I wanted to pick a job, I said, in response, that would help me feel like my life was moving forward on a secondary track , at least, towards SOMETHING I valued and desired. If it isn't moving forward in ONE way, I want to at least spend the time I'm trying to support that dream and myself moving towards other goals, too. It seems practical and logical, and SMART.

I ended up picking the place I would most like to end up if this whole Hollywood deal tanks: I want to work in museums, in art education. ( Eventually, I want to get my Ph.D and teach, but that's a whole life switch unto itself and there's no way to pursue that now and focus on acting too. It's too intensive and will require a major move across country, etc.) I was trained to DO it, I spent so many HOURS and HOURS and YEARS at the Saint Louis Art Museum. SIX years!! And two at another, smaller museum, consecutively, WHILE getting my degree. I have great references and excellent qualifaications, I KNOW what I'm doing!!!

And I can't get hired. :( Every time someone posts for a teaching position, I apply. I call. I follow up, and I sell it. And NOTHING. Why did I spend all that fucking time doing it and learning about every major art movement since prehistoric times and some minor ones? Why did I spend every available Friday night at boring openings and shows? Why did I look and care? Why was I there?

Some times I think it was all worth nothing. Really, I do feel like that. I have the best education in the world, I really worked and I really cared and I invested and I was passionate, and I not only had excellent teachers, classes and opportunities, I taught MYSELF more than was neccessary because I wanted to know. I wanted to strive. ( Ex: one of my most beloved teachers- I'll call him Kiwi, as he's from New Zealand--throws out references to authors and thinkers when he lectures like we, the undergrads at sophomore level would know. It's not because he tries to be superior, it's because he's on a roll in his head and he's tossing out stuff that applies to the topic, and bringing in all kinds of diverse ideas, and if we catch on, fine; if we don't and prefer to stay at the "gist of things" level, that's fine too. Well, I took it upon myself to look up every. Damned. Reference he made. Barthes. Ricoeur. Derrida. Just so I could see the whole picture. And I'm glad I did, even if it made for some seriously long reading lists, self-imposed.)

And I realize that it's value is in HOW it changed who I was/am so fundamentally and profundly, and I appreciate that, I do. But I'm talking about something else, here. The secondary function of education is to advance your career, or so I've heard. There's that sheepskin. There's that brilliant mind! (There's those student loans, oh yeah.). There's that experience! Tons of references! Thousands of work hours and endless all-nighters and working through sickness and ending up in the ER a week before graduation out of exhaustion and dehydration! There it IS!!!

Where has it gotten me? Who cares? I'm sitting here in my perfect apartment ( it's wicked cheap and huge and location, location,location) in Burbank, with a job for minimum wage I could have gotten IN college. ( I know, because people I went to school with worked at Big Bookseller STL while in school!). I could out-dance, out-research, out-write, out-teach those people who ARE in those positions I want, I guarantee it. I have people in major museums all across the country who would put THEIR reputation on the line to guarantee it. They would all say, "Jessica? She's a force of nature." "She really brings things down to the level that people need to understand art." "She has a unique and dedicated approach." It's all been said, and it's all true. In this I will not bother to be modest.

And here I sit. It was 104 today, and even in the air conditioned store, the heat was palpable. I worked my ass off helping people find books, answering questions, and 90% of them went away happy. The 10% that didn't? It puts my $8 an hour job in peril. I like my $8 an hour job, but it's not worth the stress. How is it worth that nonsense? It's only worth it because I NEED it so desperately to survive. THIS is my LIFE??

What ELSE do I do, Universe, to change it? I seriously want to know. DO I move out of LA and chuck it ( like it's gonna be easier somewhere else?) ? Do I suck it up and deal with the inevitable frustrations and hope that something better comes along? I'll tell you something, God, Goddess, Universe, WHOMEVER: my hope is worn out. Suzanne Vega once wrote her heart was "worn out at the knees/Hearing muffled/Seeing blind/Soon it will hit the deep freeze". That's my biggest fear: the jaded bitterness, the cynicism, the awful despair and detachment from actively dreaming and hoping and CARING-- about others, yourself, your destiny, your journey-- that THAT will set in. And I'm SICK of holding on and trying to change stuff, to make it all work.

I don't know what you want me to do. I'm about busted, so throw me a bone. Let up, okay? Just LET UP!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And finally, summer descends upon us and surrounds Los Angeles with her smothering wings this week, way later than usual. It rained this year a fair amount more than usual as well, with our having showers well into April, for god's sake ( which is a bit like having a 60degree day in July in the Midwest. It *could* happen, yes, but it really would be weird). So those fantastically oppressive oven-like days have been slow in coming, but here they are.

And I am officially dehydrated. I woke up today feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, after sleeping a good 14 hours. I'm pounding the Gatorade and water as we speak, and I feel a tad better. Two days into summer and I'm already blasted by the heat. I can only hope this will be a mild season, keeping temps under 90 and some nice breezes along with them.

Hope springs eternal. People in hell want ice water. I long for a boyfriend with a pool or a house by the sea. How loftily I dream.....and look for low-fat ice cream bars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just an update:

I had an off the record conversation with Mal the ASM who was present for that whole awful altercation on Friday.. He said that he would have left me on registers longer to see what I was capable of, not just yanked me off of them, and would have bothered to let me know about cancellations being an issue far sooner, had he known, and that the way Dil chose to announce that issue in that way was a mystery to him. He said that they only threaten to fire someone without sufficient warnings ( usually at least one verbal, one written, although it varies around, I discovered) if the situation is "grevious" . I asked him if he felt the situation was greivous with me. He said, "Absolutely not".

I mentioned again about the disability, and the legal ramifications, and he said, "Well, we have to treat you like anyone else with a disability, and we can't set you up to fail. It's like hiring someone in a wheelchair to work in receiving, and then saying 'climb this ladder'. " I said, but what you did to me is like saying to the same person, "If you drop those books one more time, I'm going to fire you. Do you understand?" He did. But we did agree that it was probably better this way in the end.

I expressed my extreme discontent at the way I was spoken to, and discovered Mr. Bulldog had gotten a serious talking to this morning by all his ASMs about his utter lack of tact and peopleskills. They apparently felt it was alienating the employees all over the store, but specifically, he had totally bombed with me. They ALL discussed how it could have been handled better, and that they would show respect and privacy for me by not explaining to anyone else WHY I can't ring anymore. Mal said, "We'll just say 'we found something she's better at'. If you choose to explain to them your disability, that's your choice. But it isn't right for it to be ours."
I was relieved to hear that things were handled, and that Dil was critised for being such an asshole, and that apparently, it had caused enough of a stink that everyone was quite unhappy, and that I am NOT on the shit list for not being able to do something, and I DON'T have to explain it or be embarrassed by it if I don't want to. ( I'm not embarrassed by the disability, just by the INability to do a certain task when things get crazy in the store, and having others think I'm a slacker.)

So apparently things DO get handled properly-- on occasion-- without my having to raise too much hell, and because of my good relations with Mal and the others I'm willing to give up reporting Dil to the hotline and move forward. I'm glad I talked with Mal today.
Now, if they'd pay more, I'd be VERY PLEASED! LOL!

And Now A PSA:

I feel the need for a little sidebar about my disability, dyscalculia. For more information, try this:

I've discovered the rarity of anyone really ever hearing of this thing and then really grasping *what* it is. I didn't even know I had it til I was 33. I knew I had some sort of problem with math, but I attributed it to just not liking it very much for most of my life.

I had an awful go of it in middle school. Because I went to a Catholic school that didn't really put much emphasis on figuring out what was going on if specific students had issues-- I recall some of my friends being in a special class if all of their skills just sucked, but nothing was available beyond that ( Sassy's brother, for example, was gifted and there was no consideration for him when he acted out because he was bored. He was just asked to leave. I seem to recall that kids were often regarded as insolent or difficult when there were problems; it was rare to see a helpful attitude. Ugh.) . I had a math teacher who used to have classroom contests with teams to see who could do math the fastest at the board. I very rarely won, and it was quite awful to hear the groans of my peers when I didn't

There were a couple of meetings with my dad, I seem to remember, who was reassured I was indeed smart enough to get it, but apparently was having some "issues". But there was no tutor ( not that that would have helped ALOT, but it might have been good to have different strategies presented), and I just ended up feeling very frustrated. I really hated that math teacher....

In high school, I had to take Intro to Algebra I twice. I took Intro to Algebra II twice too. ( The two together equalled Algebra I, so I was free and clear on the requirements, finally). I was excited because I finally made an A in the latter, and yet no one seemed to realize what kind of effort this required. Alas. I did try to go on to Geometry, which seemed at first like something I would even enjoy, since there were more visual elements. However, as the links above describe, as soon as computations got beyond that, I was lost.

When I got to college it became apparent that other math-related skills ( like drawing in perspective-- flattening out a 3D world onto a 2D plane, and transposing visual maps to be the right direction) were also difficult. I can't tell you the panic and despair I would feel when I was asked to do those things. I recall taking Drawing I twice because I couldn't get past the perspective section. It was pretty humilating. I did manage to pass Statistics ( required) and I feel like I still have a good understanding of it conceptually, and to this day can read a study in a journal and tell you if it's been set up properly, WRT to that issue. (AGAIN, as links above suggest, that's also a symptom-- the ability to understand things conceptually, but not be able to grasp getting there.) Thank god for tutors with patience.

(And I still thought I was stupid because I couldn't balance a checkbook. Still can't. I have other ways of getting around that, though...)

When I was finally diagnosed, I learned that ALL those things are symptoms. And that I wasn't stupid. And that I had likely developed all my highly visual because of it, because thats a way of making math very literal, and all the theorhetical/conceptual skills help with understanding it's broader applications. . It was a relief; I felt understood at last.

I've talked to a few educational psychs who have expressed some shock that this was diagnosed so late, and that all the cues were missed early on. Frankly, I think they're thinking of the conditions NOW versus THEN: it's still not very well known, but it's in the books if you're in Special Ed, and there are strategies presented to deal with it. I'm not so sure it was discussed even that widely when I was growing up. (Plus, I don't fit the profile perfectly; I can read a clock and never had a problem with time, nor am I literal to a fault, which I'm told can happen in these cases, understandably. It's entirely possible that in some ways, where I fall on the spectrum-- moderate-- would have been missed anyway, and all my compensatory skills would have helped to disguise the need for further examination. However, I totally blame that stupid school and lazy math teacher for not making SOME effort....). More importantly, though, I've been reassured that I can still learn skills to overcome the worst of it. I can't afford it right now, but I look forward to the day. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Okay, I love my job, and I love all my assistant managers. By and large, they love me. I get along with all my fellow employees, and we laugh and joke and work very hard. All of us, by and large, with a few slacker exceptions that are present at any job. And none of is get paid well, but we like the job and we stay. In almost every case, that means we have to take a second job, but that's widely known and accepted as a reality, and accomodated.

We have a new store manager who's only been with Big Bookseller for 9 months ( 6 months when I got hired). He used to work for Circuit City and was retired, and then called out of retirement by Otto ( yeah, seriously; that's not his real name, but lemee tell you it ain't much less odd) our District Mgr, --his pal,-- to come and sorta shape things up in the absence of our old SM. In short, Dil-- or as my pal Seamus likes to call him, "The Bulldog"; he's short, round, with jowls, droopy brown eyes and growls alot-- is a dick. He seems nice at first, but then it becomes appallingly clear that he knows NOTHING about books, rarely reads, and doesn't think that's particularly important to sell books, ( the former being witnessed on the rare occasion he comes out of the office to help on the floor, and the latter something he's actually said on repeated occasion. Unfortunately, he's really wrong on the latter. If I had a dime for all the times I've been asked to recommend something, I....well, I wouldn't be working there.)

Furthermore, his management style is take-no-prisoners. He's alienated people who have been at the company for up to 13 years ( ex-collegue Nate, who left last month after an unsolicited chew-out, had been with the company for that long). . About 8 people have quit since he's been in charge, 4 of whom--including Nate--left in JUST in the 3 months I've been there ( Liz, in receiving; Audrina, in Kids; and Jimmy, a cashier-- all fine people, fine employees, all who've been there for 5+ years each.). Why?

Because he's up everyone's ass to perform harder, better, more, with constant critiscism, little of it grounded in actual reality ( he told our receiving/shipping guys who work their butts off -- one staff member short now that Liz is gone---that they were "incompetent" recently.). He's often given to calling people who aren't there every week ( because it's their second or third job) and saying things like " I don't even think you should get an employee discount. Why do you work here? You're never here!" ( He did that one yesterday to a girl who's a teacher full time, who happens to bring us all manner of Book Fairs and Education Fairs in which we make alot of money.) It's like he just doesn't UNDERSTAND certain human relations skills and is woefully ignorant of how things actually work in the store on a day to day basis. He just sees something he doesn't like ( like a pile of books at customer service desk, or alot of shipping that's stacking up to be put out, or lack of Membership card sales) and reacts. Nevermind the circumstances.

Add that to the low pay, and people who formerly were willing to stay on because they loved what they did are leaving like rats on a sinking ship.

He's even got his management team hating him, and while they have to back him up on all his retarded strategies and decisions, they all express disdain about it under their breath, which isn't hard to catch; sometimes they even openly make a snarky comment in an unguarded moment-- and these are NOT unprofessional people. I think they're just at the edge of reason. The other day I was coming in and I heard our fabu Merchandising Manager Andrea talking to him in the office saying "...Really, Dil, I don't want to leave the company either, but you have GOT to stop this. And stay out of my personal life." ( He was freaking out because she and another employee --who happen to be at the same level of management-- are new roomates. He said "You've got to kick her out!"). Andrea rocks and has worked for Big Bookseller for 8 fucking years, and her roomie Cherry has worked there for 5. (And he wont even speak to Cherry anymore. He thinks she should be fired because she broke her foot last fall and resultingly, she's developed a secondary tendonitis due to the injury and has to sit on a stool at the register. He also doesn't like her tattoos-- nevermind that almost every employee has them, visibly. Mix both, and Hoo Boy!! That's just unacceptable! )

On Friday, he decided I was his new target. Why not? It had to happen eventually, I suppose, and the "New Kid" smell has worn off, so.....

So here's how it went down:

Two weeks ago I had a register that was short, by $27.01 . And I had had one that was short two weeks prior to that. by $11.54. An ASM,, Martin, pulled me aside and said, "I have to write you up for this, but tell me, what do you think happened? Because the amout you were short most recently was the exact amount that there was in that crazy exchange/ return you had. " I said that was probably it, but I took the opportunity to remind him of what I told them when I was hired: that I had this learning disability. And that maybe it was because when weird transactions take place, I get very, very confused. He said, "Oh, be sure to note that then, on the paperwork. And if you need help or are confused, page for help, okay? " I filled out the paperwork accordingly, and then asked what the repurcussions of this write up would be. He explained that they would be putting me on a register that no one else could use during my shift to monitor my progress for awhile. If shortages or overages happened regularly after that, I would just be not ringing anymore. He said, "Normally, we might let you go, but with this extentuating circumstance, we'd probably just find other things for you to do. And anyway, we'd have to write you up like, 2 more times to actually fire you. Be careful, and go slower, and don't be afraid to ask questions. It will be okay. "

So I've been really, really careful lately and all week my registers have been coming out perfectly. I even asked another ASM, Mal, how I was doing on Friday, and he said, "Just fine. No worries." I was pleased that that was the case. I went on with my day.

About 6pm, I get a call and am asked to come to the office. There's Mal the ASM and Dil The Asshole. Dil starts off on how I'm always giving him attitude : a customer had complained to him because he felt a book was too battered to be purchased at regular price. I had helped that customer and informed him-- as I was advised in the past to do-- that the best we could do was offer 10% off at the register or order him a new one. ( The book wasn't battered at all, and given the guy's subsequent questions, it was clear he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, so I let it go.) Dil didn't want to give him the discount, and the customer threw a fit, and threatened to call the DM.

**( Note: this happens at LEAST once a week with any given customer when they don't get what they want. If we worried about that all the time, we'd never get any work done. Special Note: I get complaints frequently from customers when Dil has dealt with them, asking how they can contact the corporate office. So do other booksellers. Interesting, non? Tonight Andrea had to take Mr. Bulldog HIMSELF into the office and tell him, "You cannot shame a customer into buying a Membership Discount Card by saying "You're the only person I know without one. Tsk." ) **

Anyway, when Dil had come to me -- as I was mid-transaction, with a line of customers that was wound around to somewhere in Arizona-- and asked what I had told this guy, I was understandably a bit short with him.

SO we haggled over that for awhile. He accuses me, in a subtle way, of LYING : according to him, when he asked, I said I hadn't really seen the book, and then later, when discussing it again later I said I HAD seen it. ( I had glanced at it, but not examined it, and I was distracted when he came to me at the register, so I said no, I hadn't really looked at it. I later clarified that yes, I had seen it briefly. I suppose this could be interpreted in a negative way, but I was talking without thinking in a distracted moment, not giving him a full rundown!! What, are we splitting hairs here? Jesus.) In the midst of this conversation it becomes apparent to me that his REAL concern is that the guy might call Otto and complain about HIM. But finally, after I apologize for not being clear, he lets it drop.

THEN he says I give him attitude when I'm at the register and I need him to come over and cancel a transaction ( true-- because he always wants to know WHY, and then proceeds to blame it on the person at the register. His questions are stupid and his responses are overly critical. But still, that isn't right for me to do. I admit that much. ). I apologize for that. Then he launches in to this full on aggressive attack on how I've had the most cancellations of anyone he's EVER seen in the NINE MONTHS he's worked there, and that's ridiculous, and I had two drawers short and what do I have to say about THAT???

** ( Just an FYI: a cancelled transaction is merely when a mistake is made by the cashier, and with our system, you can't go back and correct; say, someone suddenly wanting a gift reciept after a certain screen, or whatever. It's not a loss of money of any kind. It's just an error, but a manager is needed to do it, because they want to make sure you're not then giving someone a freebie this way. Same with voids or deletions. )**

I was agog. I thought this issue had been resolved, and was currently being observed further, (with my absolute support and consent, no complaints!), for any future problems. As far as the cancelled/deleted transactions being large in number, I had no clue that I had more than the average person, nor had my attention been drawn to it before. Additionally, I was taken aback at the sheer force of his questioning; it's as if I've committed a crime and I was in the hotseat to defend myself.

I said, "I didn't know anything about my especially high rate of cancellations. I didn't know it was an issue." He barks, "Well all the managers have commented on it and on your crappy attitude ". I glance at Matt, who's making a face --out Dil's eyeline-- like "??What?? No way!!", but he can't say anything, being in the forced position of having to back him up, silently. Then I say that I explained to both Martin and Cristal ( another ASM) about my dyscalculia and they were very supportive and that I figured he knew as well, as it was on the paperwork. I explain that I had been doing better, and trying much harder to stay alert to possible problems, and thought it would all be proven out soon enough, and end well.

" Well", he snorts, "so far, so good. But I can't have you screwing up my registers. You understand that. I have to treat you like anyone else: we lose money and all that money has to be accounted for. Anyway, if you make another mistake, you're fired."

That's when I started to involuntarily leak tears. I wasn't sobbing,or making any noise, or anything, but tears just kept rolling down my face like I had an uncontrollable tic. I couldn't stop them. I was so shocked and angry and frustrated, I guess : he kept going on and on about how I'M responsible for that lost money and HE has to justify it to corporate and along with my glut of cancellations and what is he supposed to say? Disability or no, I'm responsible and that's IT. It just doesn't matter and one doesn't have anything to do with the other. He said again, "One more mistake and I'm going to have to terminate your employment." I'm not sure what his motive was there- was he trying to scare me? Was he trying to intimadate me into doing better? Was he just being unreasonable?At any rate, I stopped him and tried to say, "Yes, one DOES have to do with the other! It's very clear!" which only ended up in more circular discussion.

Finally I said, "Dil, that's not legal. You can't fire me when I have disclosed to you at the first write up that this might be a problem area for me. As I understood, it the company was willing to try and work with me and see if I could manage it. I was also told that should I prove unable to do work the register, I wouldn't be fired, but that other tasks would be assigned to me. To fire me if I make another mistake-- with a known disability-- is not legal."

(A brief aside: what is WRONG with people and not getting that that's not legal?? This is the second time that this has happened in my employment history, right in a row. T was just stubborn and ignorant, but Dil? I don't get it. He's of some foreign heritage, -- Armenian, I believe--so maybe he doesn't somehow sync up with this American notion of legal regulations, or has a different personal/cultural attitude towards those things. Still, he's worked in American management for 20 years prior to this. Can he honestly be unaware of such employment laws?)

THEN he says, "Well, I need a witness here because you think I'm threatening you. " ( Mal had temporarily left to help someone out on the floor). Um, dude, isn't that what you just did? You weren't merely informing me of your plans, or offering me a contingency, like the other managers did. You WERE telling me PRECISELY what was going to happen, in a belligerent way: that I was going to be out of a job, and fuck my disability. Mal shows back up and he spins it like he was being so reasonable and I'm overreacting. This makes me cry more. Finally he says, "Look Jessica, you're being very emotional about this, and I can see it's upsetting to you. Here's my offer. You can stay on the registers but if you screw up again, you're out of here. I can take you off the registers NOW and have you do other things. There are many things for you to do in the store. " Oh, NOW he's Mr. Reasonable? This pisses me off MORE and again, the tears are flowing.

I say, "I feel as though by taking me off the registers and making the decision to not allow me to have another chance is a censure. I'm wondering if I will be paying a penalty in this way. Will I lose hours, will I be in trouble? " This goes on for ANOTHER 20 minutes where again, I'm unreasonable for not wanting to accept, carte blanche, his offer. He states that of course not, "I'm a reasonable man" --I will be fine. I look at Mal who adds, "I'll make sure you get the right amount of hours. Although, Dil --::exasperated tone::-- Rachel and Danny are on vacation next week, Jessica is filling in, and she's on registers. You realize I will have to recreate the ENTIRE schedule and call EVERYONE ON IT." They haggle over this while I'm trying to stop crying.

Dil turns to me and says, "What do you want to do?" Finally I cave. I realize there's no talking to this man, and in the end, his needing to take me off registers might have happened anyway. I tell him I meant no disprespect ( lie) and shake his hand and thank him for his time ( lie) and leave the office.

He leaves the office too and heads out to a smoke break. I tiptoe back in, look at Mal and say, "I'm so sorry. I had no idea there were these problems. I'm so sorry about the schedule. I had no idea about the cancellations being an issue, I had no idea it was this bad."He pauses and looks at me like, 'Seriously, now. You didn't fail. ' ( He can't say it, but it was there). And he says, " Well, I've had worse to deal with on the schedule. And as for the cancellations and all that, I didnt know either! I didn't even know he was going to do this untill you were in here. I was like "Uh, what are you doing???" I feel like we totally ambushed you. " I do, too. I feel like something very wrong had happened, even though I couldn't put my finger on it. It felt somehow, out of line, beyond his mere tone and approach, although those were bad enough.

Anyway, I went to Andrea today and said, "Um....I'm concerned about how something was handled the other day. " She said, "I know you were talked to. And I'm going to tell you this: the more people you tell about it at this level, the worse it will be. Don't gossip or complain. And no matter what, I have to back him up, as a manager, like it or not-- even if he IS a dick. But let me just remind you of something: 1-800-WE-LISTEN. It's an anonymous hotline we have for complaints. Dont forget about that. " I felt that was a very pointed statement meant to tell me "This is the course of action I would advise to you."

Of course, I don't even know where to begin with this incident and explaining it to whomever is on the other line at HR. The only things I can think of him doing wrong is that he 1.) didn't give me sufficient warning of being in the line of fire ( it's supposed to be 1 verbal, and three write ups before they can kick you out, I found out from Cherry today. She was totally riled about it. She's totally riled in general about Dil, and plans to call Otto directly soon anyway for her own situation. ). 2.) He lied about the other managers being unhappy with my attitude, and 3.) according to Cherry, he DID know about my disability before he chastised me ( because SHE had a conversation with him about it once when she was closing out registers for the night, and she noted my high rate of cancellation and he said, "Oh, it's probably due to her (sic) dyslexia." Plus it was all over the paperwork!) And 4.) his threatening to fire me because of it, and 5.) the tone in which I was talked to.

Is that sufficient? I dunno. Should I do it? Am I seeing this wrong-- do I actually have a complaint? Will I sound like a whiny employee instead of someone with cold hard facts when I'm talking about his belligerence? Should I find out for certain the policy prior to firing someone that is in place in case he busted it? Andrea did mention that if I'm talking about a specific incident and he's chastised about it, he'll know who made the call, which isn't good. Technically, that shouldn't matter, since if he treats me poorly after that, he'll be in twice the trouble. But what if he makes up a reason to fire me anyway?


I just don't know what to do. I need advice. I'm just not sure whom to ask. Maybe I should talk to Andrea or Mal more in private and see what certain policies are, and see if he's allowed to do x, y, or z. I know they won't tell him about that conversation.

Does anyone have any ideas/opinions/insights?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A few updates on my My Most Recent Rants:

1.) Welp, I read an article today by a fine writer and Ivy-League prof about the over-sexualization of girls these days, and I have to say, no one has said it better, recently. Given my recent sputteringly agog rants about Miley and Lindsay and how not wearing underwear when you the know the paparrazzi are shooting you below waist level is the new PR coup ( Oh, I didn't comment on that? Well, consider yourself spared. I'll sum it up: all over the world, modern-day princesses, pop stars, politicians and fame whores alike have managed to get in and out of cars while wearing short skirts, for decades upon decades without flashing their Lady Business to the Western World, so what's THE FRICKIN' PROBLEM, and, great googly moogly, didn't your mom teach you not to leave the house without underpants? And if she did and you took them off, say, *in a random moment of drunkenness or wild sexual abandon* WHY, for the love of GOD, did you not, say, have even a blurry little moment to wonder where that breeze up your skirt was coming from on your way out the door? Okay, that about sums it up. Ahem.) , I really like what she says.

I also always keep in mind Sassy's continued complaint when shopping for clothes with her DD, who is indeed, darling , but all of 10: "All these girls' clothes look like something *I* wouldn't wear down the street, out of sheer embarrassment. Why would I want my daughter to wear them? They look like I'm shopping at Fredrick's of Hollywood, not Target. And the jeans all say "Flirt" and "Cutie" on the butt. Listen to me: nobody needs to be reading my 10 -year old's butt!!!"

I heartily agree, Sassy..... and so I post this link for all of us in despair over what girls have to look forward to in these times:

As Suzanne Vega once wrote: "Lolita/Go on home/ Amost grown/ Lolita/So young, you need a word of protection/ Lolita/Go on home."

2.) Speaking of sputtering, I'll add inarticulate to the list when it comes to my commentary on the political scene, re: John Cusack, "War, Inc.", Naomi Klein, Blackwater, Iraq, et al. Let it just be known that I don't make a real habit out of talking about politics. It's not that I don't think about them, I DO. I just tend to talk about the politics of other situations, say, the aforementioned gender issues or religion or sexuality. I rarely tend to get into it about Politics with a capital "P", and the fact of the matter is that I find it very much a point of a sort of despairing hopelessness with me. I'm all wizened and cyncial and shit, but what most people dont' know is that I operate, most of the time out of this little interior green thing growing within my spirit called Hope. It's what keeps me going, and what helps me get all riled about that other thing, Change, and they feed each other, and then I can move forward.

Politics, however, feels futile to me on so many levels. I tend to give in to that post-Foucault idea that while yes, we don't need Some Big Authority to watch us all the time, because people will eventually censor their own behavior out of a social notion of What's Right ( as determined originally by Big Authority), the thing is, Big Authority is still calling alot of the shots in that picture. I tend to think Big Authority is impenetrable, except when people like Bono become mavericks of their own time, role and life and remind me it's possible to be annoying enough to get change and charming enough to be heard and not get killed.

At any rate, in some recent internet browsing, I found that Mr. Cusack has a website, and with no financial backing from Hollywood whatsoever, managed to go grassroots and get people into the theatres Memorial Day weekend in the right numbers to get bumped up to the next market. And then again, this week. Which means by sheer force of a MySpace site ( a movie that should have failed ended up #2 at the box office behind the "Indiana Jones and His Hip Replacement Surgery" mayhem.

Dude, that's crazy. I love it. You gotta.

Suddenly, I feel like, all hopefull and shit. About politics, capital "P". People DO want to see a movie about war and sometimes the right people prevail against a system that seems impenetrable, (insert correlations here). Suddenly, I'm hoping against hope about Obama and so on and so forth. Tenatively. Of course.

And definitely feeling more like I'm not the only one, and there's things that can be done. Cynicscism intact, I approach possibility.

3.) And R has the last word, as he has earned it:

After reading my exhaustion and horror infused rant about Big Bookseller Burbank on Memorial Day, and the state of " literary " America, R states:

"re: the bookish world.. You know what Mark Twain said: There's no real difference between the person who doesn't read good books and the person who can't. "

Yah, I'd break it down just about like that, from plain ol' common seen-it myself. Too true.

And after all of that, I DID finally get to shop a bit for some summer clothes, eat some Chincse food, and take myself to a damned movie. Yes, I went to see:

And it. Was.


I don't go to superhero movies as a general trend. (Unless they're about Batman, and only if the Batman is Christian Bale, because the only Batman I like is the pathos-filled "Dark Knight" series, ohmygod, I just realized that I gave myself away as a former-comic-reading geek girl. Dammit. And I nearly got away with letting you think I was a shabbily-chic sophisticate-about-town! ). I don't go to action movies as a general trend. It's not that I'm not a fun person, I just don't consider shallow-characters and things blowing up to be all that entertaining. At $11.50 a pop, I'd better be damned well invested in SOMEONE or SOMETHING, and if not either of those, something on the screen should be visually compelling, or I'd better be on a date with someone who paid for the ticket and will be making out with me later.


I made an exception PURELY because of Robert Downey Jr, whom I have loved my whole misspent youth as a brilliant actor and beautiful man, and have missed greatly during his unfortunate near-death spiral and absence from any project worth his prodigious talent . And I was not, dear reader, disappointed.

Yes, things blow up. Some of the time. Not much of the time. Much of the time, he talks, he improvs, he looks determined, and while, yes, the plot moves along in a semi-predictable fashion, it's damned fun getting to the end, which is somewhat predictable, but has so much life in even RDJr's last line delivery, it's worth the whole preposterous concept to begin with. Plus, it's directed by the endlessly resourceful and creative Jon Favreau, whom I frickin' adore as an actor and writer ( you might recall him from a little movie he wrote and starred in called "Swingers"?) and now, director. He keeps it real. No big CGI. No overblown bullshit; more a down-to-earth treatment, if that's even possible in a superhero situation, which somehow, he manages to pull off.

In the end, a really cool movie to see on a hot summer day and sit back and enjoy. Not too often you get that what with all the noxious "Speed Racer" and "I Am Legend" and "MI: III" kind of Summer Blockbuster pap that's usually rolling around....

Hell, I liked it so much, I might go see it again.

That about wraps it up, kids.......tune in tomorrow after I go head to head with Actor Cop for what hopefully will be the last time, and hopefully will end up with him whipping out a checkbook. I've since collected more evidence to whomp him seriously, but we'll see what out presiding judge, --an LA County Small Claims Version of Judge Judy ::eye roll:: --thinks.

Stay tuned....and remember: good vibes get good vibes in return, so keep sending 'em. I'll post again soon.