Work: Lots of Politics, Big Drama

Despite trying to remain as low on the food chain as financially possible, I seem to have been drawn smack into the center of a roiling drama between two of the managers at work. The GM, who it turns out isn’t leaving after all, is quite put out with the manager of my department. My manager, on the other hand, is at the end of his fuse with the GM, who seems, according to my manager, incapable of understanding the need to make the store attractive, and of hiring enough people so that the rest of us can actually accomplish what is expected of us. One of them runs by the numbers, and seems the type to view a drop in sales not as the fact that the store is all higgledy-piggledy, but as a simple trend in sales, and therefore cuts down on staffing accordingly. That, and the fact that corporate seems to know better than those of us doing the actual work just how long everything should take. Never mind that our lovely customer base rips through the store like a natural disaster, and the employees who are supposed to pick up after them know even less where things should go than our customers.

My manager seems caught between shifting targets. First, he got tagged because he was following the directives of the GM, and suddenly we saw a shift in how we were doing things. Corporate wanted things to look nicer, and my boss seemed almost happy to oblige them. But, because we are facing a dearth of employees, this means that the warehouse is generally packed, especially if we have to spend the man hours to rearrange the store (as we had to yesterday), which apparently is also unacceptable. The fact is that we need more people, but it’s really hard to find anyone halfway decent who is willing to bust their ass in high gear for a part-time gig, making minimum wage. Of course, my opinions tend towards those of my direct boss, as he actually seems to give a damn about his work, whereas, though I may, in fact, be incorrect, the GM seems jarringly removed from the day-to-day operations of the business, more content to monitor everything from safe within the office, pouring over the labor and sales reports while glancing at the security camera monitors to make sure that everyone is, at least, appearing to be busy. Not that I’ve slacked off, but the key to surviving this, should someone not actually want to work, yet unwilling to inadvertently summon him, is to merely look busy. Walk with purpose. Carry boxes. That sort of thing. Ah, the lessons learned while ditching class in junior high!

I mention all of this because today the whole damn thing came (mostly) to a head. The Back-of-House manager called in sick (for Truck Day), and we got the GM instead. Personally, I believe that this may have been some passive aggression on the part of the BoH boss, as he’s also been getting frustrated by the lack of space remaining in the warehouse, yet also increasingly irritated by the “Do this! No, wait! Do the opposite! Sorry, do the first thing! Why are you doing it like that?! Do it the way I told you!” style of leadership that he has been forced to endure. Were I to speculate, I would suggest that he actually wanted the GM to see how unrealistic his goals were with the number of people we have. Of course, this sailed right over the GM’s head, and instead he voiced his frustrations that the store wasn’t as he wanted it. Wisely, I kept my mouth shut, as I well and truly to not want to get involved in this power struggle. I suppose that I could have thrown my boss under the bus, seeing as how it would have curried favor with the man with whom I worked today, but I just have too much respect for my boss. And I completely agree with him.

In addition, this was also a minor stumbling block on my way to livable wages. I know for a fact that I can do the job as my boss explained it to me. And I know that I could most likely do the job as described to me today by the General Manager. But honestly, while both jobs are similar in many regards, the fact is that, at their core, they are fundamentally opposed. I don’t know that I really want to do the work that the GM is envisioning. Too much cracking the whip, with little to no regard for the needs of the lowest-paid employees. Of course, it’s not like I have a lot of options at this point. I mean, as bad as I would feel about abandoning my boss, if a decent restaurant called me up and offered me Manager Money, I would probably drop everything and jump ship, especially if the commute was reasonable. As it stands right now, I have no idea what’s going through the GM’s head in regard to my promotion. He was full of piss and vinegar while we were unloading the truck, and for about an hour afterward. To his credit, he stopped short of blowing his top at the lot of us for all of the things he felt we were doing to sabotage ourselves. And he even (at least in front of everyone, as opposed to just myself) refrained from laying the blame directly at my boss’ feet. Well, kind of. I’ve been in management too long to fail to understand what “Ultimately it’s my fault for not communicating better” means. In manager-speak, he straight-up called my boss out and ripped him a new one, in absentia.

The rest of the week will be dedicated to clearing out the warehouse, and I’m grateful that my two long days for the week are done and gone. I imagine that there will be a confrontation when my two bosses meet again (think Cox and Kelso in that episode of Scrubs (actually, that metaphor works frighteningly well)). Somewhere in the balance lays my future.

My fingers are crossed.

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