Monday, October 17, 2011

Frustration.

My store had its holiday floorset this past weekend; the last 2 nights/days were a hellish, chaotic mass of stress and physical exertion. It was probably my 10th floorset, at least, but this time I couldn't help getting extremely frustrated and surly towards the end.

I love my store and can't deny having contemplated some kinda management role from the very beginning. I like coordinating people, and recently I've wanted to hold people accountable for things like tasking pace. But as exciting as that could be, I'm not so sure it's what I want anymore.


Naturally, it can be a long process to become a manager, but I'm aiming to get the seasonal shift lead position at my store this holiday season. Essentially it's a temporary key holder position meant to help with the extended hours and rise in traffic. It can also lead to further management positions.

While this is a perfectly exciting possibility, it will be stressful. Hopefully I can figure out how to keep that stress from turning to frustration and thus surliness. Stress itself isn't the problem, especially when handled well; it's when I let it get to me, get under my skin and sour my mood.


I feel like I've become more aware of some of my store's underlying problems (or at least the more superficial trouble they cause). I feel I've even begun noticing patterns. But I don't feel like there's much of anything I can do to 'save the store'--and yet feel somehow like I have to.

Like, we have issues with payroll. Serious issues. Like, we get called by home office and yelled at. A lot of things probably contribute to being over hours, but one thing I could point out is a lack of accountability and time management.

I feel like nobody's enforcing efficient use of our payroll hours. We're a tiny store that gets, like, little enough payroll to work with as it is without it getting wasted. Too often, associates just fritter away time or don't multitask enough or simply go too damn slow, and it eats up payroll because nobody calls them out on it or does anything (it seems) about it.

Then there's the failures of coordination. I feel like there's a lack of planning and good decision making in certain areas, and that it's killing us as a store. It doesn't help that we're understaffed half the time but when my manager gets sucked into something and loses track of everything else or when she starts driving us like she drives herself (as far as I can tell, she doesn't sleep, eat, take breaks, or otherwise behave like an ordinary human/organism) or when she demands specifically unnecessary levels of perfection, it kills our hours, our ability to actually get this shit done, and even our overall enthusiasm.


I feel so married to my store, see. So when I see it not only struggle and not only continue to struggle but struggle in ways that feel so unnecessary and resolvable/manageable, it really pisses me off. The savior part of me wants to fix it and make it all better, but I feel helpless. And that's what pisses me off.

I've been gritting my teeth through writing most of this post--it has me on edge just thinking about it. I keep waiting for the store to figure itself out or someone to say something, but it's just not happening. Fact of the matter is, it isn't even really my concern. I make it my concern by wanting to please my manager and worrying about manager-things instead of my own job. However this store and its management don't make it easy to maintain those kind of boundaries.

This past weekend was especially rough because I saw and experienced all of the things that piss me off at this store and, I feel, saw them more objectively. And by the end of it I was so over it; I turned surly and grumpy.


I don't want to give up. I don't want to miss an opportunity for growth, experience, responsibility, and all that. I don't want to let my store or my manager down. I feel like I'm running around in circles/into brick walls, and that I could be putting my time and energy and focus and shit into something more (read: actually) productive.

And it's a funny thing, this resistant urge to stay. Why do I feel so obligated to stay? So goddamn much is demanded of me and I will push myself to the point of exhaustion to do it because...? I'm not sure.

But I think that's a lot of what made this last floorset so angering: it seemed so damn pointless. So unnecessary. We're making ourselves crazy and running ourselves ragged over a job that only pays us minimum wage for it.

I don't know I want this anymore. It's been fun and invaluable experience, but couldn't I find a better, more exciting, more fulfilling job? Hell, maybe even one that pays better.

Last night, I put my foot down. She said we'd do what we could, clean up some, and leave the rest to get worked on tomorrow (ie, today); that we'd be out by 10. 11:15 rolls around and we've got the all the big things she'd listed taken care of and closed down the store. We're tired, frustrated, and grumpy. But suddenly we're launching ourselves into the ratsnest of clearance in the stockroom.

Enough was enough. I could understand needing to stay extra to help wrap things up; an extra hour and a quarter's pushing it, but ok it may be pissing me off but I'll play nice. But then adding on an extra hour or two or more's worth of shit last minute?

No. I was going home. I didn't make any big fuss out of it, I didn't even fuss at all. I just asked if I could go now; they said I could--they said it with that subtle implication that I would be judged somewhat less dedicated, less good an employee, of course; that little twinge that usually guilts me into staying and slaving myself harder, longer.

But I stood firm, and left for the night.


It felt good. Relieving. I looked at what they were undertaking, and chose not to take it on. I was still frustrated, but I was learning to let it go. We'll see how long that lasts.


Sigh.

I'm going outta town the rest of the week. I definitely need at least this much: time away from this infuriating mess. Maybe that'll help me sort it all out. Meanwhile, I need to work on setting boundaries and sticking to them. Something I've always been bad at. But I honestly think it's the only hope I have for staying sane.

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