Friday, April 22, 2005


What if it’s David? That bastard never liked me. He’d love the chance to boss me around. It has to be either him or Kathy from the Henry Street store. She’ll be ok I reckon, but she’s not long where she is, so I guess that’s wishful thinking. Of course they could promote somebody to manager; if they did, I wonder who’d be best qualified to run this store…

My body was lacing a pair of sports shoes for a customer. My mind, however, was lost in speculation over who would be taking over from my boss Sharon, who two weeks earlier had been awarded the lucrative post of manager of the new store at the Jervis Street Shopping Center. With each passing day my curiosity grew stronger, so you can imagine how it was by now.

“So does it?”

“I’m sorry?” I said, having been shaken from my daydream.

“Does this style come in different colours? “

“What? Oh, no, well- it did, but this is the newer model, I doubt I’d have it in your size in the old one.”

“Ah, ok. I have to say I’ve never seen someone so devoted to lacing up a pair of shoes!”

“Yeah, sorry,” I laughed, “I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

With that Sharon came bounding up the stairs.


Of course good ol’ glass-is-half-empty me thought she meant the Manchester United jersey she had asked me to order.

“Yeah, I know, it’s on the hanger out the back.”

“What? No! I mean you got this store! I just spoke to Katrina! You’re the new boss! Go down and talk to her now she’s on the phone!”

Apparently I handed the half-laced shoe to the customer without so much as looking at him and ran down the stairs. As I was on the phone down by the cash register being told all about my new position, he came down to make his purchase, stopping to say “Congratulations” as he passed me – I assume Sharon had taken over.

Two weeks later…

Oh no she’s asking me about clothing. I know nothing about clothing. Sharon always let me do the footwear while she did the clothing with Alison. Now I have my new Clothing Manager Julie asking me a question and I don’t possibly have an answer for her. Why don’t I just tell her to do what she wants? Then she’ll think she can always do what she wants. I have to do something different – how can I make a response that’s gonna show I’m the boss?

My body was standing there staring blankly at Julie. My mind, however, was being taken a few times through a spin cycle as I realized that here was yet another snap decision that had to be made. Boy, did they come thick and fast!

“Well?” she said, shifting awkwardly as she held the garment in her hand.

“Um, where did you say you wanted to put it again?”

“I said, I thought they could all go down the front so people would see them as they walk into the shop. They’d also go nicely with that Reebok display beside it on the wall.”

That made sense. Still, I wanted to be ready to understand her next time she approached me with a question.

“Fine, let’s try it out. Hey, tomorrow’s your day off isn’t it?”

“Yes, and I have to take it off I booked it with my old boss ages ago there’s no way I can work it!!!”

“Whoa, whoa, hold the horses there lady, I wasn’t going anywhere near there ok! No, what I was thinking was, since Brian is in tomorrow, maybe I can spend a day down here to get to know things!”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing! Nothing at all! No, it’s just that when Sharon was here she ran things down here and let me run upstairs. Now I have Brian to take care of the footwear section, maybe I can get to know a bit about the clothing when you’re not here! That’s ok, isn’t it?”

“Well you’re the boss!”

“Yeah, I guess I am! You’re taking the 2 o’clock lunch, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, is that ok?”

“Sure, makes no odds to me once you and Brian have it worked out between you! I just need to know because if you’re on the 2 lunch that’s when the security goes as well so I’ll be based down here for the hour that’s all!”

“Yeah, whatever,” and with that, Julie proceeded to set up her impressive display for the new clothing at the front of the shop.

Two weeks later…

Man, that was a good week we did last week. 2nd highest growth in the company! I hope the novelty doesn’t wear off. This store seems to be ticking over nicely, I’m glad I put so much thought into the job when I took over. I have regular meetings with my two assistants, they tell me what’s going on with the staff, I now have a good knowledge of all the stock in the store, and everyone seems to know where they’re going! Wow – is that Julie back from her lunch already? It’s lunchtime? Damn that morning went by fast! Oops better smile at Julie, she seems a bit off lately! OK, so don’t smile back see if I care!

My body was standing at the front door of the shop holding the walkie talkie covering the security guard’s lunch. My mind, however, was still on a spin cycle, though it was much more comfortable with it by now.

Now that Julie was back all I had planned was to get stuck into a Double Whopper Meal asap. What is it they say about the best laid plans?

“Jeff I have to go ok” Julie said from behind me – I turned to see she had her coat on and her bag over her shoulder.

“Why, are you ok?”

“No. I have my period if you must know. I just want to let you know there’s a jersey hanging out the back a Mrs Dolan will be in to pick it up this evening.”

“Um, ok … well….”


And so she walked out. Now, thanks to hindsight which of course is never wrong, I’m telling myself all the things I should have said at that point, but I was literally stunned to silence.

Brian had come down the stairs, offering to cover if I wanted to go for lunch.

“Ah, no, you’re ok, sure Sharon never took a lunch break did she – I may as well see if I can do it too! Go back on up and sort through that delivery.”

Two hours later…

Bullying? What the hell does she mean bullying? When? How? What did I say? And the way Katrina is looking at me, there doesn’t seem to be much I CAN say, it looks like I’m guilty already!

My body was seated in the HR manager’s office. My mind, however, was slowly going completely blank. Apparently Julie did not go straight home due to cramps after all. Instead she stormed over to Head Office and told Katrina she was quitting and could no longer work with me. Seemingly I was bullying her incessantly.

“Katrina, you know me. I have absolutely no idea what she’s on about! How was I supposed to have been bullying her?”

“Well, she was very upset when was here. She says you were always looking over her shoulder, and you constantly made remarks to her when she was just a few minutes late back from her lunchbreak.”

Katrina wasn’t the kind of person you could swear to but damn, I sure felt like it.

“Remarks? Look. Take a look at our sales figures. We are right up there with the best stores. I had weekly meetings with both Brian and Julie, and I’m telling you I never said a cross word to the girl!!!”

“Listen, Jeff, it’s not my job to get into specifics. I just had a girl crying her eyes out here in my office and despite all my pleading she won’t come back. Your sales figures are impressive, Jeff, but Julie was a good manager - she could have run her own store one day. Pat ( company head honcho) won’t be happy.”

Once again the hindsight fairies were trying to scream in my ear to speak up for myself, sadly they have no voice. I got up and sauntered back to my post. I had a replacement Clothing Manager sent to me by the weekend to whom I was afraid to say boo.

Two years later…

Will I stay on the beer or is it time for a vodka or two? Where the hell have the other lads gone anyway? Wait - are those chicks lookin at me? Yeah right they are…he he he. Better make this a double vodka, if only the gaddam bartender can see me…

My body was no doubt swaying at the bar counter in Break For The Border, a well known Dublin pick-up place. My mind, however, was full of happy thoughts as I was still convinced my separation from my wife was a good thing on account of all the lovely single ladies that were now within my reach.

Then there came a tap on my shoulder. It was Brian. Even though I was almost a year out of the company at that stage, I still felt like I was his boss. Actually, come to think of it, he still spoke to me as though I were.

Since I had a good few pints of Heineken guiding my conversation, there’s no need to even try to account for our chat word for word.

Brian asked me how I felt after leaving the company for one of its rivals, to which I replied that I wanted to go somewhere that I felt I had a chance of making it, and despite all the good figures my store was doing, I was sick of being passed over again and again since the Julie incident.

He thought long and hard before he told me this, but since he too was seriously considering leaving, he decided he may as well. Seemingly when Julie had been in her last store she was going around boasting that she was convinced Katrina would make her manager of the very shop I took over. It was a pill too bitter to swallow for her to learn that she would instead be my assistant there.

As for my “remarks”, Brian told me that Julie took offence when I looked at my watch every time she returned to the store from her lunch break, when in fact all I was doing was show surprise that time had gone by so quickly.

I bought Brian a vodka to go with mine and lament the fact that I treated myself to a fancy new wristwatch when I took over the store as manager, having gone without one for over a year.

My only regret about the whole thing is that I didn’t stand up for my belief that I was not in the wrong. It still serves as a powerful lesson for me today.

Click here for a full list of the "Lifeslice" stories


shandi said...

It is "remarkable" how much influence one digruntled employee can have.
Glad to see that you moved on.

Mike Todd said...

You're a good writer, man.

BlondeSense Liz said...

That was a great story again as usual. :)

Some people act like steamrollers. We wish we could be steamrollers too but it's not in our nature... So should at least learn to build tremendous barricades and stand on top of them at a moment's notice so that they can't roll over us.

You should be paid for your writing, JL. I am waiting for the book.

fairygirl701 said...

Isn't it funny how two people can have such different views on the same occurence. You had no clue her hard feelings. You were just trying to do your job well. So much for hindsight.