Category Archives: Peeves

Adventures in hiring: please, not the flip flops

Lately, one can find a number of thoughtful, helpful posts lately regarding the difficult job market, and how to navigate the maze that is finding gainful employment. This is not going to be one of those posts. You see, I’m one of those assholes known as a “hiring manager” (although that’s not my primary job), and folks, I have some stories for you.

For context, I’m responsible for staffing a retail/customer service-oriented workplace. The positions I’ve been hiring for are hourly, higher-than-minimum wage, and, while not particularly glamorous or prestigious, still fairly decent jobs when it comes to the retail industry. We had five open positions, and I had close to three hundred applicants total, over the course of about three weeks. I did a lot of resume scanning, a lot of interviewing, and a lot of shaking my head in disbelief.

Behold, my list of Things I Never Thought I’d Have to Tell Applicants, But Apparently I Really Should:

  • Don’t show up to fill out an application, let alone for an interview, wearing cutoff jean shorts, a low-cut ribbed cotton tank top, and flip flops. (Please, don’t get me started on the flip flops. Probably two thirds of all applicants I encountered were wearing flip flops. More than half wore them to a scheduled interview. Flip flops are now my sworn enemy, much to the dismay of my fifty zillion pairs of them THAT I WOULD NEVER WEAR WHILE I WAS TRYING TO GET A JOB OH MY GOD WITH THE FLIP FLOPS, PEOPLE.)
  • Don’t be rude to the person at the counter. In a retail environment, there’s a very good chance that person may be the manager. Make no mistake, no matter the industry, if you’re rude to the front line employees (receptionists, front desk staff, cashiers), your application will forever be branded with a Post-It note documenting your assholery.
  • “Why do you want to work for [company]?” “I need a job, and this seems pretty easy.” Wrong answer. At least try to lie to me?
  • Don’t tell me how overqualified you are. If I have your resume, I can tell. I make it a point to interview “overqualified” candidates if I think they’ll be a good fit, because I know how horrific the job market is right now. Telling me you’re too good to work here, but you’ll settle because you’re desperate, though, is just not a good idea.
  • Don’t apply to a company with which you have a history of being a bad customer. If you’ve berated, insulted, or abused the staff, why the heck would you want to work there? If your name is flagged as a frequent returner or a check bouncer, maybe you should move on to the next “Help Wanted” ad.
  • Don’t insult me. “Oh, I could never work in retail as, like, a career! God, that’s so depressing! Who would do that?” Me. That’s who.
  • Don’t spend the entire interview talking about your kids/dogs/spouse/herb garden/novel. If you can’t focus on the job for a twenty minute interview, I’m not confident you’ll be able to focus on it for an entire shift at a time.
  • Don’t send an email resume when the job posting says, “Apply in person only. Email and phone inquiries will not be considered.” I have to help customers during this whole process. I’m not in front of a computer, able to sift through ten zillion emailed resumes.
  • Don’t call and ask why you never got called for an interview after you emailed your resume.
  • Don’t: A) chew gum throughout the entire interview; and B) pop it intermittently to punctuate whatever you were saying.
  • FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY IN THE WORLD, FIND SOMETHING TO PUT ON YOUR FEET BESIDES FLIP FLOPS. I honestly would prefer someone walking in with live crocodiles strapped to their feet than flip flops. I’m not asking for $400 Ferragamo pumps. Payless loafers are fine. Ballet flats are fine. If it’s nine zillion degrees out, dressy sandals are fine. FLIP FLOPS ARE NEVER FINE. Ahem.

(This post also appeared at Persephone Magazine.)


Valentine’s Day can suck it

I hate everything about Valentine’s Day. Setting aside that it’s smack dab in the middle of February, which is my least favorite month, everything about it is just plain awful. I have no objections to the fact that it’s a “Hallmark holiday” or an attempt by the greeting card, candy, and floral industries to create yet another day where people expect gifts. Hell, if I had the power, I’d start National Cheese Fries and Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, and make sure that everyone paid proper tribute. I have no issue with the dubious origin of V-Day as a modern holiday, or the massive influence of consumerism in making it what it is today.

What I object to is everything else about it. It is the worst “holiday” ever. It sets everyone up for failure and disappointment. Single? Well, here’s a huge, obnoxious, pink and red reminder that you’re alone, and, oh yeah, why don’t you just go ahead and use this time to think about how you’re going to be alone forever, while you’re at it? Not single? Well, nothing you do (or nothing your significant other does) will be good enough, romantic enough, original enough, or over-the-top enough! Prepare for disappointment!

There’s also the small issue of the fact that, like weddings, almost everything associated with V-Day is overpriced and awful. $75 for a dozen roses? What the hell is that? I personally hate roses (the smell makes me sneeze, and they just strike me as hugely unoriginal), so I wouldn’t even spend twelve cents and some pocket lint on a dozen roses, but every guy in any kind of relationship is expected to fork out absurd amounts of money to send his sweetheart the same crappy flowers everyone else is getting. I love chocolate and candy, so I have no issue with that, but you know what I love more? Half-priced candy on February 15th. I can overlook the pink and red. Going out to dinner? I hope you’re prepared for overcrowded restaurants, terrible service, hastily cooked food, and being rushed out the door to make space for the next pair of suckers.

I’m not one of those, “I don’t need a special day for romance! I’m romantic every day!” kind of people. I’m actually sort of anti-romance, which drives my husband crazy, because he’s a romantic, thoughtful kind of guy. I think I might just be too jaded to appreciate the traditional trappings of what people tend to see as “romantic.” And since Valentine’s Day just takes all of those clichés and wraps them up into one nauseatingly pink and red package, I just stay home, watch TV, and wait for it to be over so I can enjoy my cheap chocolate.

Why winter is an asshole

I really do not understand people who love winter. “It’s so magical!” “It’s so beautiful!” “All the warm, fuzzy clothes!” No. No way. Winter is a hellish bastard of a season, and it needs to end as quickly as possible. Here’s why:

-Snow. Yes, snow is pretty when it’s delicately perched on tree limbs and blanketing the rolling hills in white. However, snow does not exist only in postcards. In order to navigate through your life when there’s snow, you have to figure out a way to get around it, through it, over it, or exert an absurd amount of energy making it go away. And then you have the added bonus that everyone forgets how to drive, and you can count on almost being run off the road by a douche who thinks that 4-wheel drive makes them freaking Zeus on his chariot, with no regard for the lesser beings who are trying to survive everyone else’s stupidity.

-Everything is cold and wet. Your feet. The floor. Your hair. The dogs. The hem of your pants. There’s just this frigid, soggy mess that attaches itself to every damn thing and won’t go away until April.

-Bundling up. Dude, it is a pain in the ASS to wear fifty layers of clothes every day. Locating lost gloves. Finding a coat that fits over the giant sweater. Having a thousand pairs of socks because the ones you’re wearing will eventually be cold and wet.

-Christmas. Yeah, I hate Christmas. I’m Jewish and I work in retail. I hate Christmas carols, I hate red and green, I hate the forced cheeriness, I hate Santa. Yes, I hate Santa. He creeps me out. I hate claymation Christmas cartoons and It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story for a month straight. And then I hate the Christmas aftermath. I don’t get how people can make a one day holiday last for ten weeks. It’s absurd.

-Heat is freaking expensive. Heating a house costs a ton of money. And you never really shake the chill in your bones.

-Driving becomes ridiculous. Aside from the aforementioned driving in snow shenanigans, now you have to warm up the car, scrape the windshield, make sure you have a shovel and some ice melter or kitty litter in the trunk. You go through windshield washer fluid like crazy, because everything has a dirty, sludgy film on it. Your floor mats become sponges for dirty, cold, wet stuff that sticks to your boots.

-It’s pitch black at 4:30 pm. Come on. My light therapy box can only do so much. Where’s the freaking sun?

Should I move away from here to somewhere that has less dramatically differing seasons? Probably. Is it easier to stay here and bitch about it? Absolutely. Plus, winter sucks so much that it makes me appreciate summer that much more.

Hell is for retail employees: holiday edition

I’ve just realized that this month marks the beginning of my seventeenth consecutive holiday season working in retail or close-enough-to-retail-that-it’s-pretty-much-retail. So it’s time for a guide to the holiday season, told from the perspective of the poor drones on the other side of the counter.

-Yes, the stores set up their holiday merchandise earlier and earlier every year. Yes, it’s appalling. Yes, it’s annoying. But, as I’ve mentioned before, the employee you’re dealing with in the store has nothing to do with these decisions. Here’s what happens: an email or FedEx package comes from corporate, spelling out exactly what goes where and when. Schematics are given. Floor sets are scheduled. And the stores have to do it. They don’t have a choice. Even if every single employee in any given store decides that Christmas decorations shouldn’t go up until the day after Thanksgiving, they can’t do anything about it. So please, don’t bitch at the store-level employees about the decorations or the music or any of that. If you see a bunch of stodgy-looking people standing around in suits, looking intently at displays or cash register setups, holding official-looking papers and wearing shoes that are clearly not made for standing up for a nine-hour shift in, that’s most likely corporate. They love to invade stores during holiday. Bitch to them.

-If you shop between the day after Thanksgiving and December 24th, the stores will be crowded. You will have to wait in line. You may have trouble finding what you’re looking for. Just fucking accept that and plan accordingly. Everything will take twice as long as you think it should. Things will be sold out. You will  be inconvenienced in some way. Just fucking deal with it like a goddamned grownup.

-There will not be enough registers open. Let’s talk about the too-few register problem for a minute. Those people in suits and improbable shoes I mentioned before? They’re looking to maximize profit. They do that by cutting costs where they can. And where they can is always payroll. So there are four employees doing the job of ten employees. And those four employees have to fight to take their legally mandated breaks, and they get yelled at because the stores are understaffed, and they’re expected to make five zillion dollars in sales per hour with not enough cash registers and no one to spare to do floor recovery, which is retail-speak for cleaning up the unimaginable shitstorm that shoppers leave in their wake. Trust me, those four employees would love to have ten registers open. But the companies won’t pay for that, so they do the best they can.

-This one’s important, so please listen carefully. If you do all of your shopping on the morning of December 24th, you pretty much forfeit your right to bitch about anything. The stores will be cleaned out. The shelves will be bare. Nothing will be on sale anymore. The great deals are gone. What you see is what there is. Get a gift card and save everyone some aggravation. Some Christmas Eve shoppers are awesome. They’re laid back and funny and know they’re sneaking in at the last minute. If you’re going to be a Christmas Eve shopper, be one of that kind.

-Regarding holiday hours: the old saying, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine” applies here. Places close early on holiday eves. They close on the holiday itself. Last year, I had to call the cops because a group, no, I’ll say a pack of men attempted to break down the door of my job because we closed at 1:00 on Christmas Eve afternoon, and these men had not yet purchased gift certificates for their wives. So clearly the most logical answer was to pound on single pane glass, screaming, “We know you’re in there!” to two reasonably concerned women. I should mention that our posted hours said that we closed at noon. We stayed open until 1:00, then decided it really was time to close up, an hour after we were supposed to. If the gate is down, and the door is closed and locked, your “But I know what I need” or “It’s only one little thing” or “I’ll just be a second” makes you an awful person. Call ahead. Find out the store’s hours. Be there before that. Because, and I speak from experience here, if we let one last minute shopper in for “just one thing,” the floodgates will never close. Plan better.

-Not being a total and complete dick is the nicest thing you can do for a retail employee during the holiday season that doesn’t involve bringing them chocolate. There are days that I would kill for one person just to be nice to me. For when I say, “Good morning!” to not be answered with, “Fifty dollar gift card.” Basic social niceties. Patience. “Please” and “thank you.” Maybe even a smile. These things cost you nothing extra.

-For those of you who like to get your panties twisted because I say, “Happy holidays” and not “Merry Christmas,” seriously, you can fuck right the hell off. I say that because I don’t know what you celebrate, if you even celebrate anything. Most of the time, I say things like, “Good luck with the rest of your shopping,” or “Drive safely out there; the roads are getting bad,” or sometimes even just “Have a good afternoon.” My not saying “Merry Christmas” is not a personal affront to you. It’s not a symptom of the war on Christmas. I personally don’t celebrate Christmas, but I don’t angrily try to impose my religious beliefs on total strangers during a two-minute interaction. So take your hissed, “Merry Christmas” in response to my “Happy holidays” and shove it up your self-righteous, xenophobic ass. But if you nicely, with good intentions, say, “Merry Christmas” to me, not knowing that I don’t celebrate it, I will always respond with a sincere “Thanks! You too!” Because I’m not a total asshole, and you’re just being nice.

-This one will come up approximately a dozen times a day for the next six weeks or so. You cannot use someone else’s credit card. I don’t care if it’s your husband’s. I don’t care if it’s your mom’s. I don’t care if you have a note. None of those things are legal, and none of them are allowable under your cardholder agreement or our merchant agreement. I don’t know if your husband just left you and you stole his cards and are charging up a storm before he finds out. If it doesn’t have your name on it, you can’t use it. Your husband or mom or whoever can call their credit card company and get a card sent out with your name on it. For free. And you can then use that card. It’s really fucking simple. And while I’m at it, see on the back of your card where it says, “Not valid unless signed”? Yeah, fucking sign your card. Leaving it blank is not a deterrent to theft, and does not automatically mean stores will ask for your ID. It means your card is NOT VALID and that if someone does steal it, they can just sign your name in their handwriting and no one will ever question them. And “See ID” is not a valid signature, but whatever, I check signatures LIKE I AM REQUIRED TO, and if your card says “See ID” and I ask for your ID, fucking have it ready to show me. And don’t get shitty because I asked for it. You’re the one who made up your own little “See ID” rule, not me. Easiest way to avoid all of this? Sign your fucking credit cards.

-For those of you who are good-natured, patient, joyful shoppers: welcome to the holiday season. I hope you find all the bargains you’re looking for and that your season is filled with family and friends and good food and cheer. For those of you who are miserable assholes who take your aggravation with life out on retail employees: online shopping is awesome. You should try it. Alone. In your house. Don’t inflict your misery on the rest of us.

Failing at feminism: girls who say “I hate other girls”

Oh, you all know at least one. Who knows, maybe you are one. A girl who hates other girls. A girl who says, “All my friends are guys.” A girl who generalizes about other girls, calling them “bitches” and “superficial” and “annoying,” and using all of those things to justify to other people why you don’t have female friends. Here’s a newsflash, cupcake: you don’t have female friends because you’re an asshole. And quite possibly a huge bitch.

There’s nothing wrong with disliking other individuals, regardless of gender. But when you start proclaiming for everyone to hear that you’re just too awesome to hang around with other people of your gender, you’re saying less about their personality flaws and more about your own. You’re so convinced of your own amazing special snowflake-ness that you’re completely discounting the fact that there may be more women out there just like you. If you don’t like girls who are into fashion and makeup and like to go to the mall, I promise you that you aren’t alone. If you’re annoyed by girls who seem to expend all of their energy on getting guys to like them, there are tons of girls who also hate that. If you like sports or cars or computer programming or video games, well, these are not the domains of men exclusively. Think about it. You’re a girl. You possess all of these qualities that you value in a human being. Why would you choose to believe that you are the only one out there who possesses those qualities as well as being female? It just doesn’t make statistical sense.

Why the need for an “I hate other girls” proclamation? Is there some underlying desperation for male approval, some need to prove that you’re so different from all the other girls out there, when all that boils down to is that you’re one of those chicks who just wants dudes to like her. And does it by insulting and generalizing about other women. And here’s the thing, once you do it, you start to make it OK for everyone to do it. So saying, “Girls are bitches” or “Girls are shallow and catty” just opens up the door for guys to say those things. And I know that girls who hate other girls are the first one to say, “Oh, I’m not like that. I’m like a guy! I like guy things, and guys are easier to be friends with.” So you probably shouldn’t be surprised that all those women that you’re being an asshole about aren’t banging down your door to be your friend. Because by saying all that shit, you’re being shallow and catty. You’re reducing women to stereotypes, while somehow frantically begging everyone not to apply that stereotype to you.

Not to mention, female friends can be awesome. You have stuff in common! You can have easy conversations, or crazy adventures, or build stuff together. You can play video games, or go to baseball games, or take apart engines. Whatever it is that you like to do. Why is it that so many girls think that they can only do those things with guys? People deserve better than to be reduced to their gendered stereotypes. I have awesome female friends. I can have heated discussions about TV shows or great novels or how to best insulate a drafty house against winter winds. We quote bad movies and veto outfits and critique each other’s writing. With some friends, I do “girly” stuff like go to the mall or shop for makeup. But that’s not the sum total of our friendships. We are complex, whole people who interact with each other in complicated and interesting ways. If I were to decide one day that I’m too good to have female friends, or that I hate other girls, I’d be denying myself some of the best and strongest relationships in my life. And, frankly, I feel a little sorry for those girls who have decided that they’re just better than the rest of their gender. Because they’re missing out. We’re awesome. You should want to be our friend.

The Grammar Bitch wants fewer mistakes

This one is so easy, and yet so rarely followed. Use “fewer” for things that can be counted. Use “less” for things that cannot be counted.

  • Oranges can be counted. Therefore, I bought fewer oranges this week than I did last week. Fruit is the collective quantity, so this week, I have less fruit (but fewer individual fruits).
  • People can be counted. Company A has fewer employees than Company B. School A has fewer students than School B. Some reality show has fewer contestants than last year.
  • Emotions cannot be counted. I have less enthusiasm than she does regarding word choice. I have less anger than she does about grammar.
  • Liquids are tricky. There are fewer glasses of water, but there is less water overall. (Because you can count glasses.) Water is the collective quantity.
  • Time is tricky. I worked fewer hours this year, resulting in being paid for less time. Again, time is the collective quantity and hours are the countable units.

Hey, grocery store? “Twelve items or fewer.” Whole Foods may be expensive and pretentious, but they know their grammar. TBS? “More movies, fewer commercials.” Hearing “More movies, less commercials” in EVERY SINGLE PROMO is infuriating. How many people signed off on that so that such an obvious, glaring mistake gets aired during every damn commercial break?

Failing at feminism: Facebook edition

Facebook is an endless source of amusement to me. It’s like some odd mix of nosiness, schadenfreude, and mild revulsion that’s bewitching and addicting. One of the things about Facebook that’s both an advantage and a drawback is that you get to know way more about people than you previously did. In some cases, this is a good thing, like old friends I’d lost touch with, or acquaintances from my past who I now find I have a lot in common with; things I’d never had learned if not for the weird cocktail party that is Facebook. In some cases, though, I would definitely have preferred ignorance. I hate learning that someone who I had previously liked, or even just felt sort of neutral about, has political views that I find abhorrent (and I’m sure they say the same about me), or that they’re a thinly-veiled racist, or an insufferable preachy “believer,” or that they bought their dog from a pet store. Certain things I’m just happier not knowing.

One of the most annoyingly fascinating things about Facebook is seeing what people “like.” Sure, TV shows and stores and chocolate cake, that’s all innocent enough. But then the “Go make me a sandwich” groups pop up. And the “Curvy girls are better than skinny girls” one. And the “I’m too hot to be a feminist” one. And, my favorite: seeing “So-and-so likes ‘hitting bitches'” pop up on my newsfeed. And on and on with the oh-so-witty and hilarious woman-hating groups. You’re so funny! You’re so edgy to have clicked that “like” button! You’re… a girl?

Come on. Seriously? I expect it from certain types of people, most of whom I’ve defriended or hidden from my newsfeed, but I don’t expect to see it from women. And it makes me sad and it disappoints me. I have a number of people who are Facebook friends who are younger, in their late teens and early 20s, and this is a big chunk of who I see doing these things. I’m sure all of us have done stupid things and pretended to like things we don’t, and it’s often for a guy, sadly enough. But to actively support something, even something as dumb as a Facebook group, that insults and dehumanizes you, or worse, encourages violence against you? How does that make sense?

I can sort of see some of the underlying reasoning. “I don’t want guys to see me like every other girl out there,” “Guys like girls who like ungirly things,” even, “I’d rather be the one making fun that be the one being made fun of,” but publicly showing support for these things is not the way to go about proving you’re different. It doesn’t make guys like you. It makes them think you’re on board with them treating you like shit. And so they will.

The body-shaming groups are a little different. I think in some cases, like the “Curvy girls are better than skinny girls,” the person joining really might think they’re advancing the “beauty at any size” movement. Or showing that they’re proud to look the way they do. The trouble is, they’re taking the age-old route to get there of building one group up by insulting another. And that’s not advancing anything. It’s setting us back. Of course, not everyone looks at the world through feminist-colored glasses, so they might not even think to examine what a group like that is really doing.

Casual sexism, like casual racism and all types of casual assholery, is pervasive and damaging. You don’t need to self-identify as a feminist to realize, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s really insulting to women. And the sandwich thing is old, tired, played out, and not funny, on top of being insulting.” All of those little clicks and “likes” and updates are showing people little slices of who you are. Don’t show them that you’re a self-loathing jerk.