tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

26Feb/131

Cats, Priorities and Worries

A few days ago two cats, Ender and Bean, came into my life. They're 3 years old and had been raised and cared for by my aunt up until now.

My Mom drove them home and dropped them off at my house on Friday, and I've barely seen them since.

There have been a few moments with one of them (I can't tell them apart yet; they're both black, sisters, the only distinguishing feature is that Bean has a blaze of white on her belly). But besides a few moments spent petting, they have spent most of the time I've been home in hiding.

What surprises me, a little bit, is that I've been worried sick about them. These two cats, who I don't know, really. I've only for sure seen Bean once, pet Ender a couple times, and that's it.

But I made a commitment to love and care for them when I agreed to take them in. I think it would be easier if I knew where they were hiding, but they are very good hiders and tend to blend into the shadows. I think they're spending time in my box spring, but I'm not honestly sure. And it worries me that I can't see them, talk to them for sure, know they're okay. I have a tendency to talk to them any time I enter a room I think they may be in. The neighbors may think I'm insane, but I couldn't care less.

It's been funny though, watching my internal priorities shift. Feeling suddenly how important these two little living beings are to me. How worried I felt when I was petting Ender last night and noticed how skinny she was (I think she's just naturally skinny, but still). How nervous I am about Bean, since I don't think I've seen her at all. Worried that this will be our life, that they will constantly be in hiding from me, that this move has scarred them for life.

Realistically, I know Bean won't let herself starve. I know at least one, if not two of them, are eating during the night. I know they have all day alone to relax and do as they like, to get the lay of their house. I know that my aunt described these as the most social, affectionate, interactive cats she'd ever had, and that eventually they'll warm up to me, leave my box spring, and start exploring the house and find lovely spots to lie.

But still I worry.

I'm sure this time in a few weeks I'll look back on this and laugh as I fend them off from my food. Right now though, I'm excited to get home, chat to them a bit, hopefully get to pet Ender again (she seems to decide to come out and let me pet her around 11 most nights) and maybe even say hello to Bean.

It's funny, how priorities shift.

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4Feb/132

Retail Not So Secrets

A few years ago, I worked for a large retail company that sold high-ish end clothing. I've been thinking about it recently, over the holidays and as I saw a few people from that job around my birthday, and it got me thinking about the things I learned there. I like sharing stories of that time, and I thought I might share a few tidbits that might interest those of you who never worked in retail. 

Though I'm of the opinion that, if only for an appreciation of retail workers, everyone should work in retail at least once.

So, I present for your interest, some less than secret secrets of retail!

  • Don't let anyone ever tell you the computer won't let them do something. 99% of the time it can, but saying it can't is just an excuse to either save the cashier time from doing something complex, or save the manager from having to make the difficult decision to violate policy or not to satisfy you. Every machine I encountered could be overridden, played with, rejigged or just in general smacked around to make it do whatever you wanted it to do. I prided myself on being able to work the cash machine like The Edge works a guitar, making it dance to my every whim to make sure a customer left happily. Course, eventually they tied my hands on that and made it so I needed a manager to do everything, but such is life.
  • The back is not some mystical TARDIS of goods, and an experienced stock person will often be able to tell you with a glance whether or not they have something in stock. They aren't (necessarily) lazy, they may just be really good at their jobs. If you insist someone goes to check in the back when they assure you they have no more, you may be just giving them an excuse to go to back, chat with friends a bit, and pop back out and tell you, gosh darn, they just couldn't find anymore.
  • The person greeting you at the door and forcing you into social interaction is not doing so out of friendliness. Well, they may be, but the primary purpose of that is to deter you from stealing something. The idea here is that if they can lock eyes with you and give you the impression that they've seen your face, well enough for a description to a sketch artist, they can deter you from stealing. It's not a 100% effective loss prevention tactic, I'll grant you, and there is a friendliness and customer service piece to this too, but the LP side of it is a big part, too.
  • When someone asks if they can help you find something while you pick through a pile, it's very possible they're saying "I know how to find that thing without messing up that pile I just spent 20 minutes carefully putting together." Accept their help, please.
  • Retail workers are often measured on carefully calculated metrics that may seem entirely idiotic to you. As a cashier, I was measure on how many people I convinced to join our email newsletter. Others were measured on those who voluntarily filled out surveys and how they scored there. Understand if they bug you about something like that, it's not a personal affront or an attempt to invade your privacy, it's something they may be forced to do. 
  • It's worth asking about discounts, but not pushing for them. If they're there, and available to you, people will give them. I had someone push and push and push for non-existent discounts, to the point of getting on the phone with customer service and still getting nothing. He was polite about it, but was also bragging about how much he was spending, which for the store overall was quite small, though. Not to belittle his purchase, just that the argument that he was spending so much money did not hold much weight there.
  • If you've lost your receipt, there is likely still an option to return or at least get something back. It's worth going in and asking. Often stores can look up your purchase with a credit or debit card, or at least offer you the current selling price in a gift card. It never hurts to ask, but you'll get a lot further asking about a return rather than demanding a return. The same is true if you're outside the return window. It never hurts to ask, and it might be good to call ahead and ask too. It could be things are inflexible, but if you're polite, you might still get something back.
  • You can do everything right, check every possible facet of an item, and still miss a security tag. It happens, and people are human. Pop back into the store, take your receipt if you can, and accept the apology of the worker you get. It likely wasn't them, but they should apologize profusely on behalf of the other worker, anyway. I always did.

So, those are a few fun facts from a few years in retail. Anyone have anything else they'd want to share that I missed?

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