Monday, February 14, 2005

Travel Plans Update

I know the blog has been a leaning heavily in the "critical-of-corporate-retail" direction lately, but, hey, that's my life.

The schedule for the week I am supposed to go visit my potential grad school was up today. The day after I got their invitation, I told my manager which weekend I would be unavailable. When I looked a the schedule today, not only did I find myself scheduled to work that weekend, but found I'm scheduled to work EVERY DAY.

"I couldn't give it to you off," my manager said, "I don't have enough CSR's (customer service representatives).

So, because the company I work for has decided to keep our store running on a skeleton crew, I'm not supposed to go on a trip that could determine the course of our lives the next three years?

Admittedly, this is a mere personal difficulty. It sheds light, however, on an aspect of corporate retail life I've noticed but haven't commented on.

The corporation hires people at low wages, offers few benefits, and limits the hours employees can work. Yet, they expect employees to have no other commitments, to be available whenever the corporation calls. I was once summoned to an emergency meeting at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night. I could understand that kind of drop-everything and rush to work mentality if I were a surgeon, but for a video clerk?

For a lot of people, this isn't much of a problem. They live alone and fritter away whatever time they don't spend at work on their cherished amusements. If you do have commitments or other aspirations, they will inevitably clash with the corporate will.

I'm wondering if working in corporate retail is this bad everywhere, or if I've just stumbled into a particularly bad store or a particularly bad company. Any stories about what working for other corporate retail outlets is like, good or bad?

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