His dark jet black hair fell over his hazel eyes that appeared radiant against his pale alabaster complexion. He held his hands to his mouth, fingers outstretched, revealing 8 sparkling Stainless Steel rings scattered amongst his knuckles. He would pace to and fro before the register while his digits danced before his lips, creating a rhythmic chiming throughout the store. At random intervals he would pause and toss his fingers out just above his head, “I have such marvelous ideas! So many marvelous ideas.” And just like that he would return to his rhythmic pace.
I would watch from behind the register where I would be completing the mundane managerial tasks of writing schedules, creating weekly task lists, crunching store earnings, and filling out employee action plans. For a month he had performed this same gypsy dance day in and day out. At the beginning of the month I had watched him in wonderment, imagining what it was he could be possibly envision. As a simple college girl with no past experience in retail I had been at a loss for months on how to turn this store profitable. I didn’t dare touch the store layout, for fear of making it look cluttered. And with my lack of confidence, I had no idea where to begin on stepping up and taking charge of a sales team.
That’s why we had hired Matt, and at first I would yearn to know his glorious ideas. I was thankful to have someone to share our burden with, someone to collaborate ideas for our store’s success. After a month of it though I was beginning to see that perhaps the only reason he had this job was really because he was the only applicant over the course of three months. He was closed off as a clam shell, afraid to reveal his marvelous ideas to me or the staff for fear that we would stake claim in his pearls of inspiration to his supervisors. He was afraid to perform the tasks, afraid to allow me to grow anymore as a leader, because I may just be qualified to take his job. He told me this, again and again, so the store stood static, unchanged, remaining unprofitable.
It was a Tuesday, an early day for me, chalked full of student teaching hours and classes. It was 2 p.m. and I made my way around the dark back corner of the mall (the mall management had decided to save money they would not use the lights in our dead end of the mall) only to find more darkness. Our store’s lights were still out, the doors were still locked, our store had never opened. Deputy Mcgruff (the Senior Security Guard) stood poised in front of our door with his hands behind his back as he looked me right in the eye, “Why is your store not open yet?”
I guess he couldn’t tell by my look of shock already that I had no idea the store had not been opened yet. For four months I had run this store now and this had never ever happened, what did one do? Do you fire the employee that didn’t open? Do you write them up? My mind was far from McGruff when he interrupted again, “I have been trying to reach you all morning long.”
“How would you reach me?”
“I’ve been calling *insert name of manager from three years ago here*, and the number is no longer connected.”
“Well that’s because they haven’t worked for the company in like years!”
“Well haven’t you given us your updated contact information,” his question was more an accusation.
“I didn’t know you needed it. You know I’m new, you know I had never worked retail a day in my life, I believe you would know that maybe perhaps you have yet to receive my contact information! If you’ll excuse me I really have a store to open.” I pushed by him, he was thrown off by my sudden explosion. My hands were shaking in frustration as I fumbled to open the gate and dashed to the stockroom to trigger the lights and sound.
I ran immediately to call my DM, Kandice, while hastily tearing through the pages of our communication binder for the day’s schedule. It was Matt; Matt was supposed to open. Kandice had been looking for a reason to be rid of him, suffering hiring remorse. She had seen his song and dance in person, she had also seen that he did nothing to facilitate the store. I did the paperwork, and he refused to utilize his masterful brilliance. Kandice lacked in confidence herself many times, or so it seemed, and she asked me to be the one to call him and fire him, that she didn’t want to be the one to do it. I had a moment hesitation, “but he’s my boss.”
“That’s okay, just call him and do it. If you can’t do this, then you don’t deserve to be a leader.” The words were harsh, and in the moment I felt unworthy, not yet realizing her own hypocrisy. I pursued the call. Matt was golfing with his buddies and argued with me that he had not been on the schedule. He began to accuse me altering it and not informing him. He drove to the store and looked directly at the schedule, and there it was, his opening shift. No erase marks, no cross outs, just a solid 9:30-6.
The ritual began as he returned to his pace, the clinking of his rings grinding into my insecurity and fear. “I will not give up, this is not the end,” he would cry, his fingers stretched out higher than usual upon his exclamations.
My fear slowly turned into frustration and impatience. He finally turned to me and asked, “what can I do?”
“Just give me the keys and walk out the door, your job here is done.” He looked hurt, but silently did just as I asked, leaving with his secrets, his ideas, and his pride.
About an hour later the phone rang, it was Kandice, “just curious how it went, is it done?”