Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Crazy work week

December 10th, 2005

Whew! Glad this work week is over. We had a visit from the regional manager at the bookstore yesterday (the regional manager is the person who is over the district manager -- there's only seven regions in the country, so she's a pretty high-up muckety-muck in the company.) So we spent all week trying to get ready for the visit. The district manager approved overtime for our store (since if the regional manager saw our store in its normal state, she might be fired along with all the rest of us), and the store manager decided to take full advantage of this. I ended up working all my regular hours, coming in Monday for a few, and staying overnight after my regular shift on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm still staggering around bleary-eyed.

What I find ironic is what we spent so much of our time trying to fix. The company's inventory system (I forget the acronym) is a mess. It continually sends us more stock than we sell, and often more than we could ever reasonably expect to sell. It frequently sends us enormous quantities of books that we couldn't give away here (and of course nowhere near enough of some books that we could sell in quantity). Case in point: after the Red Sox won the World Series, Stephen King and another well-known writer from the Boston area published a book about the season (they had actually planned the book from the start of the season, with no idea that this would be the year the Red Sox would finally beat the Yankees in the post-season and go on to win it all). Since it was by famous writers who usually sell ridiculous numbers of books, and it was about a great come-from-behind-and-break-the-curse sports story, which also usually sells tons of books, the company sent us tons of these books. "Tons" used very nearly literally. We had so many of these books sent to our store, we didn't have anywhere to put them all. But they forgot something. We live in NEW YORK CITY. Home of the Yankees. Whom the Red Sox beat in a historic playoff series. The only thing most New Yorkers would want to do with a book about this is burn it in effigy. I think we might have sold a grand total of four of those books. And I think two of the people who bought it were beaten up as they left the store by angry Yankees fans (my friend Jay, the wrestling coach, also bought one, but was not beaten up, for obvious reasons). I think the remaining customer bought it to make origami voodoo dolls of the Red Sox team and Stephen King. But for months, we had mountains of boxes of this book sitting in our back room, and mountains of copies of the book in the store.

Anyhow, there are very few people in the company who would actually have the authority to change much of anything about the inventory we get. And this regional manager is probably one of them. Yet we spent nearly a week trying to hide, cover up, and remove all this extra stock cluttering up our back room (it's not company policy to have lots of extra stock sitting around the back room) because our new store manager was afraid that it would reflect badly on her if the back room was a mess (even though she has absolutely no control whatsoever over what books the inventory system sends us).

The upside is that the visit apparently went very well, and everyone is very happy about it. Everyone, that is, except myself and the other receiver who now have to dig those books back out of hiding and continue to open and deal with countless books that the store can't sell and doesn't have anywhere to put.


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