Thursday, August 20, 2009

I am the sharp dressed shit-shoveler with the sexy stoneface. Welcome to my real world and join the rampage. Did I ever tell you how much I hate you and your shopping order? You may have wronged me or smiled and never crossed me. Maybe I didn't like the way you look. Most likely, we've never met and I damn sure like it that way. This is the Mad Cashier reminding you that humanity is contemptable and it's dragging down us all. Allow me to elucidate with this joyfully fulminating litany of hatred.

I took my meds and left the knife at home, what more do you want? I'm capable of being happy and jovial, but y'all won't let me drink on the job. That's me in the hat bagging groceries for the tasteless and the hopeless. Surely some of them are great people and keen minds, but I don't give a damn. I keep checking my Timex and popping pills because I can't stand you, them, or anybody.

Management counsels me about my people skills, but nobody knows which screws I've got loose. I've got a natural stoneface; people think I'm pissed even when I'm feeling good. I didn't mean to suggest that you screw off but I'm glad you did. Maybe I need therapy, but you should get liposuction and a clue.

At my first retail job I became born again disgruntled, infamous for angering customers and known by the closing shift as a master fulminator. Some people think I should be more positive, but I know how foolish that would be. Sure I'm a pessimist, but they must be living in a dreamworld rather than reality.

I'm well-adjusted in my own way, particularly when I'm fighting through acid reflux to chug down a magnum. You know what else brings me joy? Petting kittens and telling humanity to kiss my crazy white ass.

Intoxication is the spice of life and vitriol is all I know. I've been laying down invective since 2001, punch-typing the truth to loud music while I'm getting drunk. I write for a limited audience because this is what I am and I don't care who doesn't like it. Candor doesn't appeal to most, but they're just collateral damage.

I'm not special, either. I'm one of many lurking in broad daylight and seeing only darkness. You never know who might be one or what we're thinking. Case in point; I haven't been fired or committed recently. I might have bagged your order yesterday or sold you a quarter pounder back in 2000. No, I didn't spit in your food like a coward. I smashed your fries and destroyed your sandwich.

Maybe I was the psychotic ex-Green Beret grill cook who did time for felony assualt. He was a cool guy who shared good weed and claimed to have brutalized some customers at Burger King. I could be the wholesome, pig-tailed girl next door ... who plans to screw your virgin son and daughter while you're pretending at church and then burn your vanilla house down. Chill out, I'm no arsonist. I'm a vandal.

Damn right, I should never work with the general public. Pull your head out of your happy place, we don't all get the dream job. I got beat down by a man in the mouse suit at Chuck E Cheese when I was a little kid. He should never have worked with children. The difference between him and me is that nobody ever got hurt when I flipped out. If we all had it made, there would be nobody to sell you groceries. So what if I scared a few customers and employees?

I'm living it up at the poverty line. Guess what, I'm not a shiftless pothead and I'm not on the dole. A distinguished gentleman I work with spends his money on weed rather than food. Nevertheless, he'd have a full fridge if the lazy bastard could be bothered to get more food stamps. Genuine losers surround and sicken me. A poor worker can stand proud, but only scum leads the low life with his hand out. From Main Street to Wall Street, we're ruled and served by scum from every echelon.

Cashiering nearly got my head blown off. I was all alone with a masked gunman and his lookout, but my working life has seen worse days. An average day in the fast food maelstrom pushed me closer to insanity. So what if violent crime gave me a little PTSD? It was a calm, deep night and the salt of the earth didn't aggravate me. I've burned in Hell and haven't feared death since I worked at Jack in the Box. We called the cops on dopeheads every week at that grease trap.

It doesn't end when I clock out. Drivers and passengers have thrown drinks and cussed at me just for walking down the street, but never accepted my invitation to get out of the car. Some little suburban bitch ran a red light when I caught up with him. Kiss this, Rowlett, Texas.

Am I sober or are you just horrifically insufferable? People always want me to explain myself. Why do I always wear an ivy dress? I like hats, dumb ass.

Why did you assail me with pleasantries? I don't care how life is treating you, either. “Doin' good” I always respond. I could have been suicidal that day. We're all inveterate liars.

People speak for no reason and pretend to care when they don't have to. Fine, engage in velvet gloved mutual masturbation, but don't expect me to join in. Why suffer the exhaustion of mindless happy talk when dismissiveness will suffice? I'm not the prick, I try to mind my own business and keep getting accosted. My street clothes are dress clothes but my only fashion statement is that white lapel pin flipping you the bird.

Hell yes, I meant it. You pushed me too far and I'm going for broke. Don't like it? Yeah, and it would take a team of psychologists to determine why I might give goddamn. Nevertheless, I hope this rant finds you well and God bless. A parting thought and my final offer—kiss my crazy white ass.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A dream come true is a delusion to be medicated. I went to the asylum in cuffs. My dream was to break free from cashiering and hence society by becoming a night stocker. Grandeur is a state of mind and socializing is slavery. After many rejections spanning several years, I was made one of grocery's elite.

Many times we climb the mountain and find nothing at the apex. Annoyance is inescapable and we're always free to live in our own world. Escape isn't a reality: the world won't be through with us until we succumb to it.

Imagine freedom from small talk and faking smiles. I dropped out of civilization, living where thought is unadulterated. As I walked past people talking and spectating aimlessly, I wondered what asinine world they lived in. What's the point of inviting people to a party when you've already got booze? Simply incomprehensible. Intense drudgery followed by daylight in my leisure was the price. Boredom doesn't kill, it rapes.

I dazzled them in dairy and was recruited by night crew in October, 2007. The driving force behind the three-man crew was our boss, a kind homeless man. He stocked like a maniac with a body wrecked from 40 years of manual labor. He led us to success and we had some laughs — until he got fired for moving freight out the back door. The crew disintegrated without his leadership.

New hires disappoint under the baton of an idiot. Upon being fired this week, the deaf new hire sporting a battle flag belt buckle shouted a diatribe featuring the racial slur that has become an American fetish. Good riddance, I hated the way he looked. Third shift's jackass in charge, renowned for stocking like an incontinent drunk, successfully campaigned to have me banished for my slow and inconsistent performance. After one year on nights, I was back amongst the customer slime. Demons never die.

Courtesy clerk is the ultimate joke job, skillfully performed by the prepubescent and mentally retarded alike. As if bagging groceries wasn't simple enough, the teen slackers even get to sleep in their cars. The night was mine once more on the shift I know best. My first shift started at 3 pm and I was back to a 6 am bedtime. The night can take me anywhere.

My hands fly as the fire in my mind screams for a release. Is the fake smile showing or am I still stone-faced? I can almost hear Beethoven and Ozzy. Excited by the violin, my eyes roll as my brain melts into my nerves. I've got to calm the deepening intensity in my stare, it might look bad. Desperation and distortion threaten to overcome. To ward off the onslaught, I work furiously while focusing on the guitar screaming in my head.

What cacophony drills into me? I tease the beast and look up. Straight chaos widens my eyes and pours inside. The overbearing legion of moving mouths and eyes tear at me . . . sounds like a farm animal being brutalized. Just like old times, I'm becoming a little disoriented. My nerves grate with a screech and fray like an electrical wire. Maybe my caffeine pill could have helped. I don't want to run away, I just wish I could pace the floor. The comfort of fading away soothes me. Front end's maelstrom is unreal as consciousness ascends to another plane. I look back down and see only a torrent of groceries to be bagged like a puzzle.

At 8 o'clock the store went dead. Piece of cake. Front end veterans called it the busiest day they had seen in months, which abruptly became the slowest. That's the unpredictability of evenings in retail. I talked with an Egyptian cashier who claims he enjoys dealing with customers. Yeah, and he probably thought this little rush was bad. I also bagged for a cashier who used to bag for me at a previous job. We joked around yet I somehow neglected to mock his new receding hair line. Being the only courtesy clerk on duty, I juggled three registers that day. Just another screwed up day in the gutter of Hell.

It was almost invigorating to confront the action once more. Crowned with high praise from managers who were totally blown away to see a bagger actually work; I won't get another raise in this decade, so who gives a damn? No customer complaints; survival is success.

Pedaling hard on a bike with dead brakes, my mind was dark as night and a free man's life is divine. I needed the kind of thrills that satisfy only geeks and addicts, only in public this time. At the risk of hearing sports nonsense on TV or being accosted by a patron, I strolled out to a bar for the first time since 2007. My pen needs some action — time for some real work.

Fire charring my mind, sentences in Times New Roman scroll through my brain and caress my nerves. Wherever they come from, they always bring me closer to something ostensibly unattainable or unreal. Dopamine for the soul. I'm sucking tar like a fiend, but the gorgeous smoke can't give enough nicotine. Entranced blue eyes glare beneath a stern brow as an indulgent mind lays napalm on paper. Why are there mirrors behind the bar? Nervous system writhes in beauty and splendor. Times New Roman stays etched in the brain, so I pocket my notebook and shift from beer to bourbon.

The bartender couldn't hit me fast enough. I slammed the McCormick home and quelled the pain in my vengeful esophagus with a Coke back. Forty or so dollars later, some European freak started asking me about cocaine. Just try to get the drop on me. I don't know any peers, much less dope peddlers. In the same sentence as "methamphetamine," he directed my attention to a table of young ladies. Wasted and fully reminded that women exist, I'm intrigued. Rather than tell the shapely girls what was on my mind (the implosion of the free world), I asked them who they "liked" for the playoffs. Football is obviously in season . . . and maybe basketball or something, whatever.

Euro-freak passed around some Xanax bars with fat bonus for me, probably for buying him a shot and not for insulting him with a laugh. Back on earth, I told the foxy blonde majoring in business to blow off her "future" in light of the impending uber-depression. Seems like that was the wrong line. I lost the last brunette standing to a dullard who probably uses his cell phone to tell time. Even happily intoxicated, the charm that got me fired from Taco Bell shines through. After last call, I was escorted out by a fat man with orange hair. In retrospect, I don't think that bar has a bouncer.

Savoring the crisp air, I smell the old foreboding of desolation in the wind. Deserted streets are my red carpet as the city's far north sleeps. Under infinite blackness, the dead of night is sublime and pure. Now I'm eager to blast that violin sonata and see my cat. The best part about working evenings is spending the nights in sweet solitude.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Money for nothin', narcotics for free. While dopeheads are content to rob mere convenience stores, drug dealers hit licks at your friendly neighborhood pharmacy. What does it take to steal tens of thousands of dollars in powerful narcotics and get away clean? Astoundingly little. An overnight robbery in November revealed laughable security failures at an average supermarket pharmacy in upscale North Dallas.

My night manager was talking to me as I threw stock on the dog food aisle when the booming pharmacy alarm sounded. Being the responsible nocturnal steward he was, my boss ran towards the imperiled dope department. Having been robbed as a nightshift cashier months ago (as detailed in the May 5, 2007 edition of Mad Cashier), I was thoroughly disinterested in the action. I kept working steadily as I tried to shake the ludicrous fear that yet another masked gunman would come after me.

After a while, my boss approached me with a grin on his face. "I hope you brought your book," he cackled. During my lunch breaks, I had been reading an investigative book about domestic surveillance after Sept. 11. Upon being notified of the break-in, loss prevention gave one lucky member of night crew an interesting assignment. The boss laughed as he handed down orders to have me posted by the pharmacy until loss prevention arrived should another break-in occur. My tension melted as I laughed at this asinine assignment.

After 20 minutes of droning, the alarm was shut off. The unlucky night stocker who would get back to the grindstone was eagerly talking to police as I passed by en route to the pharmacy. What a rush this little ransacking must have been for him.

There I was, sitting on my narrow ass, reading my book and eating a free jelly doughnut. I went ahead and checked my blood pressure just for laughs. Thrilled with my luck, I looked through the pharmacy pick-up window and whipped out my handy notebook.

Mangled mini-blinds from the drive-thru window had been cast onto the floor. The flimsy drive-thru window was the point of entry, pried open in an instant with an ordinary crowbar. Even McDonald's drive-thru windows guarding petty cash have lock bars. Not here, where a wealth of popular narcotics are at stake. A cabinet which looked like the one holding swabs and examination gloves in your doctor's office was opened and empty. There were absolutely no pry marks on the cabinet, which contained all of the pharmacy's high-dollar dope. If the cabinet ever had a lock, it was clearly not being used. Guess where the brain trust put all this; right next to the drive-thru window.

Morphine, oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl were among the narcotics stolen according to labels on the cabinet's shelves. According to my night manager, who saw the bandit exit through the window, the robber was a bulky Latin man wearing all black with the archetypal black ski mask and armed with a crowbar. Passing by the pharmacy on my walk home as usual, I saw deep crowbar marks on the windowsill. That was all it took. Management made it too easy--for the second time.

My night manager identified this man as being identical to the robber who knocked off the pharmacy in a nighttime raid three months prior, according to video footage. That time, the pharmacy alarm was out of commission and the robbery was not discovered until the pharmacist arrived that morning. In his debut lick, the robber scored $20,000 to $30,000 in dope with an estimated street value upwards of $1 million.

The disconcerted store manager waltzed towards the pharmacy waiting area; my 45 minutes of company ordered lounging was over. I slowly marked my place in the book with a pipe cleaner and deftly half-smirked at the store manager's aghast demeanor. Despite their true role as petty corporate tools, store managers typically respond to incidents with a grave sincerity born of managerial self-importance. If some desperate vulture had struck the pharmacy once more, I would've ran for another doughnut.

Were all these security failures even legal? An assload of serious dope made its' way onto the street, apparently with little effort or risk on the robber's part. One has to wonder how many pharmacies get pillaged after dark. This crime is infinitely safer and more lucrative than common robberies. Supermarkets would never get the reputation as crime magnets that convenience stores do and nobody but us would ever have to know.

Incompetence is costly and dangerous. A presumed drug dealer procuring that much dope causes an obvious chain reaction of street crime--and it's all management's fault. Pharmacy security should be held to a higher standard, and the vanguards of criminal stupidity should be held accountable. Then again, if the job were harder, the robber might have brought a gun. Perhaps we'll see him in another three months. Yet, I still see no lock bar on the pharmacy drive-thru window.

Monday, December 31, 2007

The sound of suck is coming after your psyche. Whether you find it insipid or you're tasteless enough to feel the groove, we're all forced to hear the music played at retail establishments. More than an annoyance, music is a mind control tool employed by the grocery business. Typically, service industry corporations operate radio networks, punctuate their third-rate playlists with asinine promotions and play the cacophony 24 hours a day.

Marketers' old school of thought was to play cheery music to induce feelings of well being and thus increase customer spending. Playing fast music towards closing time to make us shop and work faster is an obsolescent yet famous trick. The old butcher knives have been supplanted by surreptitious scalpels. Newer research has shown the tempo and giddiness of music to be practically irrelevant. For example, Kroger now plays Simon & Garfunkel every day. People simply stay longer and spend more when music they like is being played.

Some sucker ambling along and whistling to the music is a common sight where I work. Question this: are you thinking what they want you to think when you go shopping. Ironically, when front end was rocked by my favorite Rolling Stones song, I was more likely to listen to Mick Jagger than to my customers.

Christmas is the most nauseating time of year as McDonald's takes the lead in offending sensibilities. My first December under the Arches was especially harrowing, as putrid renditions of Christmas favorites drove my coworkers and I to the brink of madness. Our survival instinct kicked in, inspiring one cashier to sing along with some creative revisions. His ballads of destroying the store and making lowlife customers suck on our vengeance gave the crew a desperately needed laugh.

Like automatons, we zealously heil the ubiquitous corporate beast. Rather than celebrating good will and generosity or the summertime birth of Christ, we hoggishly wallow in our self-imposed slavery to the corporate powers that be. These masters to which we have surrendered our minds and lives are the very con men who have shrewdly decreed that we be serenaded with ballads of holiday warmth and cheer in the hopes that our beleaguered credit card accounts succumb.

Human decency forgotten, my employer commenced their noxious holiday onslaught on Nov. 10. I wonder if any customers heard me muttering obscenities. Shattered, but not broken, I brought a Walkman to work the following night.

Surely, we've all suffered through too many Decembers to have any remaining appreciation for the holiday classics. The Christian world is plagued by Christmas "carols" for some six weeks out of every year, yet albums of this chirpy, irksome drivel keep on selling. Then again, there are still Rush fans out there--misguided souls.

Nothing unsettles an actual classic rock fan more than some crap artist shrieking like a little bitch. That and the shitkicking magic of country music was part of everyday life working at Albertson's. Yeah, that company is on the brink of collapse. My current employer thinks the spoof soundtrack of The Wedding Singer is the way into a deeper relationship with America's disposable income. Of course, no talent hacks who charge lower royalties appear to be the mainstay of every company's playlist.

The sickest part of our plight? The most mind-raping songs on their playlist are by far the ones played most often. Hearing some Starbucks-ass little punk sing like a pansy about true love on a first date just makes me want to whip out my box cutter and end it all. I'm constantly subjected to this. It's all candy ass, all the time.

Classical music would be an attractive solution to the annoyance problem. Hardcore favorites like "Toccata and Fugue" or "Beethoven's 5th" would be unlikely choices for retail radio. However, unnerving besetment does not result from even the most listless, piss poor classical tune--shrieking opera scores aside. Simply put, I'd rather abandon my shopping cart and sprint for the nearest exit than be assailed by "Achy Breaky Heart" as I was as an Albertson's cashier. Each slaving day, I looked forward to going deaf with George Thorogood and Motzart while swilling caustic Chardonnay. Vivaldi ain't great, but he won't drive you to drinking.

Ignoring the music would be great if your subconscious mind would allow it. A tight budget and a wary mind guard me from psychological tricks ... I think. Whether you abhor the music and shop or whistle along and buy more, we all lose. Small, everyday victories are how the ruling class stays on top, screwing us all from cradle to grave.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Wholesale abuse and rock bottom wages can turn cherubs into guttersnipes. The remainder of the service industry's renegades are simply low-rent degenerates without a cause. From an ostensibly innocent snowball fight to wanton vandalism--whether for vengeance or sport--the job never fails to inspire free thinkers.

Smoking in the drive-thru booth while taking orders, stealing petty items out of anger, painting the walls with dipping sauce packets; those were the days. From vandalism to the proverbial sleeping on the job, I've done my share of screwing around. Truly, it feels great to make a decent living and do the right thing. Unfortunately, corporate makes it hard to care while customers erode our sanity.

I first came to appreciate snow in a Jack in the Box parking lot on Valentine's Day. It was 3 a.m. and Hell had frozen over. The shift leader and I tried to deface and destroy the store's exterior with snowballs. I had been off the clock since midnight, so I put my leisure to good use. Using my shoe, I carved threats and obscenities for the customers' reading pleasure in the snowed-over parking lot. I then erected a Siegfried Line of snow in front of the drive-thru entrance and reinvented the snow angel.

I flung myself onto the snow in the manner of a bludgeoned corpse, creating the impression of a dead body. Strawberry soda from the fountain finally served a purpose--as a pool of Hollywood blood.

Why stay at work three hours past quitting time? I was waiting on my ride. The buses stopped running at 11 p.m. and I desperately needed to keep the meter running for an additional hour. The shift leaders always gave me a ride when they got off in the morning.

A write-up dated March 6, 2004 reprimanded me for staying on the premises after my shift ended. I clocked back in that night to cover drive-thru for the night manager, who became ill while working. While being interviewed for this job, I told the general manager that I had plans to get a car. As she scheduled me for fewer than 20 hours every week, she was pissed because I hadn't made good on that claim.

In the end, I was happy to afford bus fare. My only ambition was to find a decent job and an actual meal. I scammed my way out of paying checks at restaurants and stole provisions such as paper towels and trash bags from my former college. Desperation breeds loathing, just like the assistant manager's constant verbal abuse. Not everyone brings their work home, but we carry animosity around like a tumor.

Our night manager was a brass-balled desperado with a piquant recipe for revenge. This guy actually killed the lights and closed the store significantly early on a regular basis, leaving the crew free for unencumbered screwing around. He was an ambitious man who once respected the job and smiled at every customer. When the lowly "team member" was promoted, corporate screwed him out of his management raise for the remainder of his tenure and declined to give him back pay for his time in management. He was paid like a cashier and was full of acrimony like the rest of us. I was glad to work for him. He even covered my ass when I cussed out a customer.

"That means take your bitch ass home," I shouted into the headset while working drive-thru. After repeated requests to silence his new age putrescence so I could take his order, some little punk kept the music blaring. I then refused him service and was ignored. Every night, my blood ran cold as I tolerated belittling and disrespect from all directions from imps with inferior intelligence.

My aloofness imploded and I shouted at Johnny Punk Bastard. Suddenly, I was heard loud and clear. The driver speedily pulled up alongside a customer at the drive-thru window and fired a barrage of obscene threats at me. He came back the following night to curse to my boss. The night manager told the clown that he didn't know my name and that for all he knew, I no longer worked there.

Management bombarded an industrious night stocker with empty promises of pay increases and promotions. Continuously shafted, the hopeful stocker remained at $6.40 and without the possibility of advancement. Cartons of cigarettes went missing, property was destroyed and a paint bucket was emptied on a backroom floor. In a moment of bad temper, the stocker spontaneously quit during a phone conversation with his department manager.

Whether or not our actions are right, people are products of their environment. Casual observers seldom consider the human side of the service industry. Garbage in, garbage out; it's a matter of cause and effect. From Watts to McDonald's, we all have the need to purge our psyches of indignity and find the peace that only justice can bring. Why steal an avocado from the backroom? Perhaps it's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dueling an agent of America's decay with the truth as your weapon is a rare treat in this world. Rarer still is when bullshit is vanquished by earnestness. Albeit a small battle, the culmination of this wage slave's recent cockfight with big business was a sublime finish to a story of close calls with murder and eviction. Countering the lies of a corporate gargantuan, I testified on my own behalf at a hearing to appeal the Texas Workforce Commission's decision to deny me unemployment benefits.

As detailed in the May 5 edition of Mad Cashier, the road to confrontation began after midnight on May 3, when masked robbers spiced up my nightly tedium at the convenience store I tended. I struggled to accept dying in an unbecoming polo uniform shirt. The armed gentleman demanded I "open the safe." This being impossible, I hoped he'd spare my low-rent life in exchange for the contents of all three registers.

The .38 wielding thug was more magnanimous than my employer. As reported on May 11, I was fired for having in excess of $300 for the robbers to pocket. My termination was unjust, considering that I was never trained to handle a robbery or instructed to keep only $30 in the store overnight. In fact, I was fastidiously trained with regard to receiving and stocking deliveries. The minor detail of preparing a new hire working the high risk third shift for retail's worst case scenario was overlooked by management. Our cash handling habits were lax by corporate standards.

Had there been only the corporate mandated $30 accessible to me, perhaps I would have been gunned down out of anger. Comically enough, upon arrival that morning, my store manager admonished me for not carrying a portable panic button in my apron. Let's analyze this ... reaching into my pocket and groping for some gizmo while a gun is being pointed at me. As I nodded my head, I couldn't help but glare at him like he was a fool. Cleaning up 160 pounds of blown away employee off of surfaces and shelves surely costs the company more than a bloodless robbery. I wonder how many cashiers have been killed by corporate "profits over lives" policies.

I suppose this inane ass-chewing was the boss' special "thank you" for my working two hours late that morning. So ended my seventh and final shift in the convenience store business. I was told not to come in the following night and fired by corporate soon after.

On June 1, I unlocked my mailbox hoping for an overdue unemployment check. The familiar gauntlet of rejection dealt me another bitch slap. A notice informed me that a TWC investigation found that I quit my job upon being reprimanded. Quitting under such circumstances forfeits a worker's right to unemployment benefits. Employers pay unemployment insurance taxes based on the number of their former employees who get benefits. My former employer simply lied to the State of Texas to save on their taxes, a point that was made in my letter of appeal.

Just another day and a fortune to be made for the ever-tarnished top brass. "I am appealing the decision to deny me Unemployment Insurance benefits because it is the product of blatant lies," my letter of appeal stated in part. The appeal was about what matters most: rent money and general principles.

I had to wake up early for the 11 a.m. Appeal Tribunal hearing; the pitiful new job I scrambled to find is an evening shift position. The three-way conference was conducted by telephone and tape recorded by the TWC. Both the claimant and the employer testify under oath. The opposition was a female corporate area manager, another company cog under the influence of misplaced zeal.

At the outset of the proceeding, the hearing officer asked the corporate representative how I left the company. Her response was that I was fired. This was a complete reversal of what corporate initially told the TWC, according to a TWC fact finding report. Was she avoiding perjury or had her organization realized that the lie was no longer useful?

The question then became whether or not I had performed my job to the best of my abilities on last night at work. The employer's argument fixated on the sum left in the registers. I contended that I had not been trained otherwise. In my defense, I testified that I had promptly dropped an estimated $1,700 from money orders prior to the robbery, as had been demonstrated to me.

I was informed the morning after the robbery by my store manager that $50 was "acceptable;" not before that night and not $30, I told the Tribunal. During the same conversation, I was told for the first time that the two other registers' contents should have been dropped upon my arrival each night. "He was given full training," the area manager rebutted. So much for eschewing perjury.

"Why was Mr. Harris fired for his first violation of this policy," the hearing officer asked her with a soupcon of incredulity. "I need more details," the area manager tentatively answered after a few seconds of hesitation. First blood was mine.

The smug area manager then attacked me for opening the two registers not my own for the robbers to plunder. By this point, I tired of my actions being condemned by dullards who clearly know less about armed robbery than drunken redneck viewers of Cops. I brusquely explained that demands had been made for the safe and that they demanded "all of it" after emptying my drawer. I then stated the obvious; I will provide 100 percent robber satisfaction rather than stonewall my way into a pine box. To my glee, her cage had been rattled and I had taken the offensive. I savored the pathetic verbal pauses as my nemesis for the day fumbled for a decent retort that never really came.

Ultimately, an unprepared opponent less eloquent than myself incinerated corporate's case. "I'm just another casualty of corporate America's exploitation of honest workers," concluded my letter of appeal. Not this time. Without till counts of the night of the robbery, the area manager could not testify as to how much was in my register. Thus, whether or not I had violated the $30 policy could not be substantiated. The Appeal Tribunal reversed the TWC's decision and my check would be in the mail.

Victory is like a paycheck--I'll grab it anyway I can. Whatever symbolic blow was dealt to corporate deserves some recognition. We often lose, but the fight is its' own reward. Dammit, let's all throw rocks at the Bastille whenever possible. Tonight, I'm leaving "Paint it, Black" on the shelf and blasting "Ride of the Valkyries."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Get a clue," is the title of a job orientation packet from a major supermarket chain. Despite the best efforts of retail propagandists, all but the most delusional of time clock slaves have done just that. From the painfully dull to the wildly implausible, service industry orientations and subsequent corporate indoctrination attempts are brimming with bullshit. Having worked with very few retarded people and even fewer contented employees, I'm confident that corporations' brainwashing endeavors inspire more laughs than loyalty.

The "Get a clue" packet, otherwise known as the "elusive satisfied customer caper," is rife with lies/punch lines such as: "people are great" and "prices are good." This is in addition to the implication that customers can get what they want "plus a little." However, illustrations of the Pink Panther cartoon grinning at me on every page elevated this clumsily written drivel to the same tier as red letters in the New Testament.

Orientation videos are perhaps the industry's most common brainwashing tool. In 2000, tooth grinding was mitigated by jaw dropping as I watched such a video on my first day at McDonald's. A prominent feature was excessively smiling Asian women and children in essence performing for corporate in the manner of actresses employed by the adult entertainment industry.

Cliche notes of melodrama played tenderly in the background as a doltish regular customer shared her remarkable story of love pure and true served up with her morning coffee. Alleged employees of this store lauded the woefully unattractive woman. They even claimed to have missed her while she was on vacation. Remarkable, indeed. McDonald's coffee sucks while human nature and basic economics prevent cashiers from giving a puddle of grease. The tape even told a story of how McDonald's saved a life. I'm secure enough to admit that this video left me cheering and militantly proud to shovel shit for my millionaire overlords.

The demon came back to haunt me in 2006, when a different Dallas area McDonald's hired me. Computers had supplanted VCRs, but the annoyance was still real. Computerized cartoon characters walked myself and the other unfortunates through the magic of fast food. "Baibrook [the franchise company] is the best company in Texas," the orientation manager proclaimed. The best for whom?

"Number one" was a recurrent phrase in the orientation packet, as were "happy" and "guest satisfaction." Apparently, "guest" is the new, corporate correct word for "customer." Directly after this packet welcomed me to the McDonald's "family," a page was devoted to describing what burgeoning tycoons the franchise owners were. Hiel Ronald!

Actors in a Kroger orientation video used the word "customer" 39 times in a five minute period. As someone who really knows what the "c" word means, this only served to piss me off before I even hit the so-called "sales floor."

Orientations are merely prelude to an intellectual gang bang, with corporate wielding the bull whip and management holding long hair out of the way. Poorly written bulletins likely composed with a third grade audience in mind dominated the backroom scene. If an employee is lucky enough to have a breakroom, his subconscious is likely harangued by company cartoons raving about kissing customer ass. "Being a champion feels great and is easy to become," declared an Albertson's bulletin titled "How to become a champion courtesy clerk." I take my lunch breaks outside.

"Say one "extra" thing" is my favorite. This affront to my intelligence was ripped off of the freezer door at Jack in the Box by yours truly. This smiley-face adorned eyesore gives examples of how to initiate conversation with a "guest." "That's a cool car you're driving!" "Your dog is so cute! Look at him ready to eat your french fries." These are two of seven lines crafted by corporate that I'd rather burn in Hell than utter.

"Cool car?" That is raw, undignified bootlicking. I've never had a car in my life, nor do I use the word "cool" in slang fashion. That is, unless I'm blackout drunk. We are denied full-time hours and disgracefully paid. For this, corporate expects us to give unconditional allegiance to the beast and suck up to customers who treat us like garbage.

Not only are indoctrination attempts insipid, they are condescending. Every orientation, campaign and bulletin treats us as though we were mindless toddlers. Just as well; I've never been paid enough to think. Although everything corporate writes is geared to illiterates, I often see errors and pathetic writing in every paragraph.

Unsurprisingly, corporate's onslaught is in vain. We may notice their propaganda long enough to mock it or deface the bulletins. An anonymous poet changed "service with a smile" to "service with a suck dick." My ballpoint pen graffiti was slightly more cerebral, but with the same spirit.

"A satisfied customer made this paycheck possible," reads the bottom of my paycheck stubs. At the top of these stubs is my pay rate--$6.15 per hour.