Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Every train needs an engine or two or three or more. We push things along, pull them if we have to, work, work, work to get things done. You can have a train without an engine, but it ain't goin' nowhere.
Every train used to have a caboose. The caboose gave shelter and a place for rest as well as a serving as a spot to look out for trouble like shifting loads and broken equipment and potential fire. But trains don't have use for the caboose any longer. Technology advanced, FREDs could monitor the train electronically and the caboose was loosed. Train lovers romanticize the caboose. It's the old way, the way it should be, trains just aren't what they used to be without a caboose. It's a cherished relic.
Engines are what you have to have. They're accountants, they're clerks, they're line workers, customer service agents, network administrators and HR specialists. Cabooses, however, make things interesting. They are artists, musicians, chefs and poets. Sometimes I have to be the engine, but I much prefer my time as the caboose.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Six hours in a rag top Jeep with big Al. The malls of Tulsa needed more music stores and we knew how to open them. So off we rode, tanked up on coffee, armed with Reba, Nanci and Randy, ready to oblige.
In the late ‘80’s, the mall was king. Great, gleaming polished stone, sparkling fountains, painted women with big hair and money everywhere. And Trans World Music was expanding rapidly to claim their share of it. So rapidly that a district manager wasn’t available to set up and oversee the Tulsa openings. Enter the dynamic duo.
Ads had already been placed, dates were set for cattle call applicant speed dating, stores were… not ready. The construction workers were on strike. Not to be beaten, we rescheduled freight, hired staffs we could not yet train, did what we could outside the wrath of the union, and wasted time. The lessons learned were invaluable.
- Oklahoma liquor laws are crazy.
- Bar-b-qued baloney was on every buffet and it was surprisingly good.
- Bar-b-qued everything was on the bigger buffets and it was not all good.
- If you slide a 4’ x 8’ piece of glass on its edge along carpet, tempered or not, it will build up enough static electricity to shatter.
- Nanci Griffith is one of the most intriguing songwriters of her generation.
- Corona with lime, even 3.2, is most refreshing while soaking in a hotel hot tub.
- Every Randy Travis song on “Storms Of Life” can be sung to the tune of “Diggin’ Up Bones”… after enough 3.2 Corona.
Stores were opened, we returned to St. Louis, the market changed, the record industry went into spiral, stores closed. But our trip was not a waste. BBQ, Corona, Nanci & Randy are forever. “Diggin' up bones, I'm diggin' up bones… Exhuming things that’s better left alone…”
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Saturday, January 07, 2012
"Re-tales" will be a reoccurring feature, remembering stories from a career in retail.
An era was ending in retail. Career positions were increasingly exclusive to management. Heels preferred, not required. Outdoor plazas were turning into malls and I was learning how to steam on a hook. Formalities still lingered. Even the assistant manager, just two years my senior, was addressed as Mrs. Hall, not Lynne. Some stores still had porters, gentlemen who unloaded and moved product, lest the ladies run their hose. It was a different world, one I was anxious to see turn, except for Miss Sally.
Miss Sally was a fixture at Northland. In her many years with the company, she had seen, done and re-done it all. Darn right that hairdo was really hers, she bought and paid for it! She still wore a girdle, not a foundation garment, and if anyone needed a safety pin, Miss Sally and her girdle would provide. Everyone was Missy or Miss Lady, customers and coworkers alike. Laughter came loudly and often, but when you worked with Miss Sally, you learned.
Probably the most important lesson I learned from Miss Sally was to take things in stride. Let whatever it is roll off your back and keep going. “You never know what anger a body walks through that door with, their bad day don’t have to be yours.” Words to live by in retail. Second best lesson? Always bring a second pair of comfortable shoes. Many days, the second was the first. Hard to be philosophical when your feet hurt.
Miss Sally also taught us the sneaky toilet paper trick. Shoplifters often will hide product they are planning to swipe, compiling a cache of many items in one spot close to the exit, then leave and come back later to make a quick grab and run. Watch them stash the goods, wait until they leave, then replace the collected goods with a roll of toilet paper. Tell all the staff, watch and wait. Laugh your ass off when they find it. Seldom is more fun had on a sales floor.
It’s been nearly thirty years since Miss Sally and I watched the thieves run, police at their heels, from the broken display cases of Lotus Jewelers, past Lerner and out to parking lot points unknown. Most likely she’s gone, just like Northland. Just like those formal days of retail. Luckily, we are all the sum of our past, so Miss Sally lives on. Take that, shoplifters! Wipe it and weep.