Outlier Worries

To be an outlier in a retail environment means a.)  Your store is so far out of the district’s main territory that the DM does not visit much and b.)  Your store will have to be on an outlier call, which is a “come to Jesus” thrashing where you better explain why the store did not meet sales, did not meet credit, did not meet payroll, did not meet receiving, did not meet training and generally did not meet, just, well, “did not.”

Retail is more than shopping.  Retail is more than Black Friday.  Retail is more than racks of clothes, shelves of toys, appliances and electronics all set to a corporate plan-o-gram.  Real people with goals, hopes, dreams and families work retail and sometimes their lives do not fit in a plan-o-gram.

Here is what it was like to work HR in an outlier store of a major retailer:

An all too common and, sadly, often repeated conversation with my married, 47 year old boss who perpetually and pathetically pursued 20 year old women associates went something like this:
Me:  Why is she texting you?
Boss:  I don’t know.
Me:  How did she get your number?
Boss:  I don’t know.
Me:  This does not reflect well on you.  This is making other associates uncomfortable.
Boss:  -blank stare-
Me:  Well, just stop it or it will need to be documented.
-I leave-  His behavior was documented on more than one occasion, but corporate did nothing.

Every month the P&L would print.  One sheet, tiny print.  The store stubbornly entrenched in the bottom 10% of the company.  Every month I would stare at this paper with the tiny print looking for something positive.  Every month I would bring the paper with the tiny print to my boss who would wearily smile, because he knew what was coming next.  I would proceed with my thoughts on how we could, maybe, with hard work and dedication, get ourselves out of the bottom 10%.  Every month he would tell me the same thing:  “You don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.”
Toward the end, in desperation, and totally disobeying the company policy of not giving proprietary information away, I brought the P&L home to show my husband.  My husband knew we were breaking rules looking at this paper with the tiny print, but he was probably as weary as my boss and simply decided to take a look.  My husband has a finance degree, 30 years of management experience and has mentored dozens of interesting, fabulous people, so surely he could help me lift the store up, set us straight and, if nothing else, for God’s sake, tell me what all these tiny numbers mean.  With his best patient smile, he went line by line, category by category and percentage by percentage until he finally said, “you don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.”

When former employees see me in Kroger, after they give me a hug, they say, “you probably don’t remember me.”  Oh, but I do.  Your daughter was getting her master’s degree in education.  Your husband was in a car accident.  You had to leave at two o’clock to pick up your grandson.  You liked working in jewelry, but not returns.  You had diabetes, but still drank a liter of Pepsi at lunch.  You wished your ex-husband would reconcile.  Your mother-in-law fell and broke her hip.  Oh, yes, I remember.  I was with you.

I was in charge of attendance records.  Your dog died.  Your aunt died.  Your third cousin died.  Your neighbor’s hamster died.  Any relative, friend or acquaintance you ever knew, did not know or even remotely heard of died.  All of them.  Everyone of them died four times over.  I was with you.

I was in charge of store morale and psychiatry.  Would I call someone to cover your shift?  Can you take a leave of absence and still get paid?  Do I think you should buy a house or get a dog or have a second baby?  How do I establish my credit?  Would I look good as a blonde?  What would you do, Ms. Diane?  I called corporate looking for employee assistance when we had a tornado.  I called corporate looking for medical bill assistance when a baby was born premature.  I bought birthday cakes, retirement cakes and anniversary cakes.  I was with you.

I worried myself into a promotion.  A promotion I did not even apply for, because I spent so much time worrying about whether I should apply…or not.  And when I accepted the new position, I was told I would need to do my old job, too.  When a new individual was hired for my old position I would need to train them, and by the way, it would be great if you would coordinate the corporate volunteer program.  But there was still that pesky P&L with the tiny print.  When I expressed concern about the challenges of trying to attempt three jobs and raise the tiny print of the P&L, I was nonchalantly told, “oh we never meet those goals. You don’t need to be worrying about that.”




The Old People I Know Remember Five Digit Phone Numbers


The old people I know
tell stories
about finding parking at the Christmas eve service
about (mis)adventures at the AT&T store
about why they won’t go to Charleston, because they are afraid they will fall and break a hip.


The old people I know
paint with watercolors
read poetry
and go to the doctor.


The old people I know
eat at McDonald’s
follow baseball
and remember Guadalcanal.


Uncle Harry fell asleep
at my father’s memorial service.
Death becomes so common
that you fall asleep
at your brother’s funeral.


The old people I know have
a marvelous, silly grace
a quirky insight
and a decaying body.


How wonderful, the old people.
God save the old people.
But he doesn’t.
The old people I know go to church, though.
Maybe they are saved
and I don’t even know it.


The old people I know
remember five digit phone numbers.
RE 4-2543 is what my mom used to say.


The old people I know have driveways.
And when I back away I wonder.
Is this the last time I will see this house?
Is this the last time I will see you?
But we act casual.
Like it is nothing, really.


Good bye old person who I love so much.
With forced smiles and
guilty good byes
we make it seem like
no big deal to
the old people I know.

Thursday’s Doors/Too Much Fun

A poet at heart
Oh how I start
Seeing doors everywhere
Over here.  Over there.

Just a month’s worth of posts
And I want to boast
I love this camera thing
Both its creativity and bling

My birthday’s in September
I told my husband to remember
Maybe a Nikon for a gift
So through door pics I can sift

So thank you Norm 2.0
I just wanted you to know
My world I see all fresh and new
Doors do provide a wonderful view

Have You Ever Seen A Turtle Run?

My husband called me
from the mall parking lot.
Someone left a turtle
in a box.
Come get it
he instructed.

Red-eared slider
what a beauty.
Big, too
maybe ten inches across.
Shifting about in the box
as we leaned over to admire.

Turtle rode shotgun
in my Maxima.
Jostling around, agitated
wanting out of the box.
Maybe he was thirsty,
thirsty for freedom.

I plopped Turtle
in the warm, green grass
near the warm, green pond.
Off he went!
Sprinting toward that mucky water
surely setting a turtle land speed record.

Have you ever seen a turtle run?
I have.


Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge #142

Robin sings for rain

Morning songs of joy and worms

Night songs of chagrin

It Is Not The Bed

The sheets are on fire
Not a slow building ember to flame
A searing, blistering chemical burn
I swear it is the bed, not me

I am spread over the untouched cool middle
A flash of lightning
A low rolling rumble
I swear it is the bed, not me

The dog’s marshmallow jowls on my side
Peering, worrying, sniffing
Sweet brown eyes checking in
I swear it is the bed, not me

My hand on her head, she drifts off
Dreaming of fields or cats or belly rubs
Maybe I am approaching this all wrong
I swear it is the bed, not me


My grandmother wrote on envelopes

Glass jars
Olives, mayonnaise, jelly
Lined up on windowsills

Aluminum pie plates
Parker House roll tins
A haphazard tower of foil

Berry baskets
Derelict stacks
Cornered on the back porch

Ten year old instant pudding boxes
Betty Crocker Butter Brickle cake mix
Tang, neon orange cement

Grandchildren called three names before landing the correct one
Cousins named Bell
Friends named Viola, Pearl and Clarence

All best displayed around
The Sunday dinner table
Covered in floral print oilcloth

My grandmother wrote on envelopes


Every month I turn
the calendar early
This might be bad luck
I turn the page anyway
Why am I in such a hurry?

Every Sunday I cheat
at The New York Times Crossword
The clue was chum
The answer was pal
I thought it was bloody fish guts

Every day I write
on a MacBook
Could have bought the pro…for who?
Not me.

Can’t Outrun My Dog

Outrun tv facebook and twitter
What are zombies but
521 bestest closest friends
posting questionable videos
on a little blue bird

Outrun insanity ignorance and politics
Wonder at diversity   open the gait
Marvel at accomplishment   in a hijab
Lace up a strong spirit
Pin on a vivid goal

Outrun fatigue worry and doubt
Mysterious how expending energy invigorates
Certainty seeps in as sweat pours out
Honor belief   in all forms
A starting line is nothing but hope

Can’t outrun my dog
Four legs are better than two
Effortless jubilant unflagging enthusiastic
Never questioning
Our glorious contentious throbbing world belongs to us all

My Mother’s Name

I cannot run and cry
I tried
In a 5K to benefit breast cancer research
Names of women lined the road
Some survivors
Some not
My mother’s name among them

I cannot run and cry
I tried